Let's be honest, life as we know it is changing quickly, almost too quickly. The same business practices of old that did a great job of generating new customers are completely different than they are today, leaving these outdated practices basically useless. But why is this happening? The short answer is…technology has changed the buyer’s journey!
About a decade ago, businesses and marketers began to utilize the power of online advertising, racing to be the first in search results, and since then this race has only intensified. Today, businesses of all sizes are constantly fighting to push their message on consumers, yet they pay little attention to the buyer’s journey.
Due to the rapid growth and adaptation of new technology we are currently living in a world saturated with advertising messages. Whether it’s a sponsored ad on facebook or a pop up message that appears while surfing the web, people are constantly being bombarded with messages all because of technology. In fact, the average American of today is exposed to 4,000 to 10,000 ad messages a day. With this explosion of content and messages many companies are completely lost. They are either copying what their competitors are doing, or they’re sticking to old practices, and have have no idea how gain the upper hand in this battle for consumer dollars.
So What Can You Do?
Let’s be clear. Although the world does seem to be overflowing with ad messages, ultimately this is not why businesses are failing to get their consumers attention. The reason why your message gets ignored while others prevail is because you are failing to adapt to the changes in your consumer’s buyer’s journey, and probably have no idea how to interact with them through it.
Long gone are the days where consumers had to rely on the expertise of salesmen to guide them through their journey. In today's world consumers are their own expert! All the information they need to know is in the palm of their hands, and if you don’t understand how to gain their attention during their journey, you have no chance of winning them over. But first things first: what the heck is the buyer's journey, & how can you use it to grow your eCommerce business? Good question.
What is the Buyer’s Journey
The buyer's journey definition states that it is a framework that acknowledges a buyer's progression through a research and decision process ultimately culminating in a purchase. The idea of the buyer’s journey was first introduced by Frank Hutchinson Dukesmith in a 1904 article of salesmanship magazine. This article was the first outline of the four steps process of the buyer’s journey that would be later nicknamed “AIDA” short for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action.
This first draft of the buyer’s journey map was based on the need for salesmen to guide consumers through the purchasing process. Salesmen used the AIDA acronym to create a sales funnel they could easily replicate. Salesmen would draw prospect’s attention by first introducing the product. Form there, they created interest in the product by providing specific details about its features and other details to demonstrate the value of the product. Next, salesman transitioned into desire. Skilled salesmen were able to convince people that they absolutely needed what they were selling, and could get them to believe that their product would enhance their quality of life. Lastly, through a little negotiation, they would wrap up this ADIA dance with a strong action, and go for the close.
The New Buyer’s Journey
Since Dukesmith’s article, the ADIA process prospered as the go to method for conducting B2C sales for the next hundred years. However, as technology began to evolve so did the buyer’s journey. ADIA swiftly gave way to “ACD” short for Awareness, Consideration, and Decision. This modern buyer’s journey differs from its former self in two very distinct ways:
Problem-Specific, Not Product-Specific
Today, modern buyer’s journey begins when buyers develop a specific pain point. There is something going on in their life that they have identified as a problem that calls for a solution. Buyers aren’t being dragged through the sales process by a sales rep anymore. Instead they define their own pain points and begin seeking solutions. They do not start with a product, but instead begin to educate themselves on how to solve their problem.
Buyer-Driven, Not Rep-Driven
Since buyers are independently researching their problems, the modern buyer’s journey is focused around their needs. Instead of attempting to control the buyer’s journey, sellers need to understand how they naturally fit in the journey and how they can be useful.
eCommerce sellers who understand the modern buyer’s journey identify with their prospect’s pain points and position their product as the best solution. For you to gain entry into their buyer’s journey you have to correctly engage with them no matter what stage of the ACD model they’re in.
Statistically speaking, at this point of the article about 25% of the people who have stumbled upon this blog post have already left. It’s okay, I understand you probably got distracted. With so much noise out there it's hard to gain viewers attention and turn them into first time buyers, and it's even harder to keep them engaged with your brand.
The awareness phase is all about bringing attention to your product. So how do you gain and keep their attention you ask? Well it may be an ad seen on TV/print, radio message, word of mouth, online ads, email, PPC (pay per click), etc. But some way or another you need the buyer to become aware that your products or services exist.
It all begins with awareness! At this stage of the journey you, the seller, can be sure of two things: 1) they are unaware of your company, and 2) they have a need to be met. In the awareness phase, the buyer has realized they have a problem and have begun researching for answers. As a seller it is your job to ensure that you create an avenue for buyers to find your company. How will anyone ever know they are interested in your product if they don’t know you exist? Research is almost always the first hurdle of the awareness phase, and it pays to know that during this phase 72% of buyers will turn to google for answers.
Successful eCommerce sellers understand that landing on the first page of Google search results gives them the best chance of being discovered by potential buyers. Utilizing SEO (search engine optimization) strategies makes it easier for buyers to find your website or content. Implementing SEO techniques like long tail keywords, inbound links, and compelling meta descriptions help you rank higher in search results. However, keep in mind that buyers may not be ready to decide if your product is the best solution to their problem right away. As you already know, you have competition, so you can’t blame the buyer for looking around first.
Even though they may leave your website initially, you will want to leave them with something enticing so they’ll want to return. Providing helpful or useful content like newsletter subscriptions, whitepapers, case studies, videos, blogs, etc. increases your chances for converting in the future. If the content catches their attention chances are that when it is time to make a purchasing decision your company will be first to come to mind. During the awareness phase try to lay off the heavy sales pitch.
Remember this phase is all about discovery and creating awareness around your product. You want to make sure that your website is one of the first pages the buyer sees, and that the content on your page is engaging enough to leave a positive impression on first time visitors. Giving away content to prospective customers is all apart of lead nurturing, and when done correctly, can create a funnel that streamlines buyers to your product. To learn more about SEO strategies check out some of the videos and blog posts at MOZ, they really know their stuff.
Once someone has researched various solutions they transition from the awareness stage to the consideration stage. During this stage, the potential buyer narrows down their choices to just a few companies. If you have prepared an engaging strategy during the awareness phase, you will be one of these companies.
According to Pardot’s State of Demand Generation report, 70% of buyers return to Google at least 2-3 times during the course of their buyer’s journey. Each time they dive deeper into each company’s specific offer to see how they can solve their specific pain point.
You will want to have a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software that tracks the activities of potential customers on your website and gives you insight into what is working well on your website, and what can be changed to increase conversions. With CRM software not only can you discover what viewers find helpful, but you can also track how often they visit.
Product content is key during this phase. It is important for you to cease this opportunity to really show off your product's effectiveness and reliability. Detailed product content and product reviews really leave strong impressions on buyers. When providing product content it helps to know your customers.
Your website should provide information that answers any questions they may have. Also, include all contact/support phone numbers for your company, just in case they have a unique question your site does not answer. After all, you’ve come to far to drop the ball now, so make sure you don’t lose them over lack of info.
Product reviews give potential buyers the chance to experience how your product will add value to their lives without actually purchasing. Once they see that others have found a solution through your product, they feel that your company can also relieve them of their pain points. For more tips on how to create compelling product descriptions click here.
The final stage of the buyer’s journey is the decision process. After all the research, comparing, and reviewing, the buyer has made their choice, and congratulations you're it! You have done everything right and have created a new buyer for your company. However, the buyer’s journey isn’t over just yet. Now that you have earned this buyer's patronage, you will want to take extra precautions to ensure that they become a loyal customer for the company.
To turn a new buyer into a repeat customer, make sure that the purchasing process is a pleasant experience. Purchasing online has some risk involved, and as the seller it is imperative for you to ensure that the buyer is comfortable purchasing from your website. Make sure that all data collected from your website is secure and that the buyer can see it is secure. Sellers should also, send a follow up email to customers with a thank you note and tracking info so they know where their package is and when to expect their new product. Now is also a good time to throw in a little extra content to entice them to return. This could be anything from a recommendation of other products they may like based on their purchase or a special discount.
Now that the you have a better understanding of the buyer's journey it's time to review and repeat. Use that CRM software to analyze your metrics and discover exactly what worked for this buyer and others, and start making smart decisions about your website, content, and products. It may be difficult to cater to your business to adapt to the modern buyer’s journey, but it is worth it. Learn how to create awareness around your brand, how to peak potential buyer’s interest, and make the decision process as enjoyable as possible, and you will have a winning formula to generate more business.