The internet has irrevocably changed how people shop. Now, shoppers know exactly what they want to buy before they walk into a store, or are more likely buying it online without even stepping into a physical location!
Today, 88% of consumers research products and services online before making a purchase decision, and 71% begin their research with a search engine query. It’s no longer feasible to wait for consumers to find your business, you have to be proactive!
That means creating a marketing strategy that targets consumers at each stage of the online buyer’s journey with a strategic marketing mix that includes SEO, PPC, and social marketing.
How the Web Has Changed the Buyer’s Journey
In traditional marketing, there are three key buyer’s journey stages: awareness, consideration, and decision. That in itself hasn’t changed, but the way your business targets each stage has. Thanks to analytics software and cookies, we have more information about consumers than ever and have tools that can track their activity and market to them at each key step.
These marketing innovations have spawned a fourth step: retention. Thanks to these tools, there are a wide variety of ways to keep customers engaged with your business after their purchase and ensure that they’ll return to you next time they need a similar product, rather than going through the buyers’ journey stages all over again.
Online Buyer’s Journey Stage 1: Awareness
In the awareness stage of the consumer journey, your target customer is only beginning to recognize they have a need that must be fulfilled. Your marketing strategy at this point should be focused on accurately addressing the consumer’s pain point and showing how your business can alleviate it.
For instance, a PPC campaign for a pest control company, like our client Terminix Canada, can target keywords like “what to do about mice” so that they can introduce their brand to people in their service area who are searching for tips to get rid of mice.
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Even if such a PPC campaign doesn’t generate a huge amount of conversions initially, if it has a high number of impressions, then you can rest assured that a large number of people looking for pest control solutions will become aware of your brand as they do more in-depth research.
Whether your business is product-based or service-based, B2C or B2B, the key thing is to accurately assess your high-value market’s pain point and why your company can be trusted to deal with it.
For instance, our client American Tall is a specialty clothing retailer that takes great pride in providing well-fitting clothes to tall, athletic men who struggle to find suitable clothing in brick-and-mortar stores. In our campaigns for American Tall, we’re very careful to tailor the message for this demographic and convey that we understand this unique pain point from their perspective, and offer clothes specifically made for their body type.
Online Buyer’s Journey Stage 2: Consideration
Once consumers become aware of their pain point, they will begin researching different companies or products online to see whichever best suits their needs, primarily using different Google searches.
Making sure your website ranks organically in Google for branded search or specific products and services you offer is very important for acquiring hot leads. The more often you can rank highly in these types of search results, the more likely you are to end up in your high-value market’s final buying decision.
An important marketing strategy to use in the consideration stage is having well-optimized products and services pages and a frequently updated, relevant blog that educates your audience in their research and piques their interest. A strong social presence will also keep your brand top of mind.
During this stage, consumers will visit a number of different websites and companies, and very often will abandon their cart without making a purchase. That’s why retargeting campaigns are important for making sure consumers who previously showed an interest in your offerings ultimately return to your site.
In case you aren’t sure if retargeting is worth your ad dollars, keep in mind that visitors who see retargeted display ads are more likely to convert by over 70%.
Online Buyer’s Journey Stage 3: Decision
At this stage, the consumer is ready to make a final decision and it’s up to your website’s content to win them over with value-driven materials including case studies, white papers, and testimonials. Your website’s voice and content need to convey that you are an industry leader with the best products and services for their needs.
In particular, having a large number of positive Google reviews and testimonials on your website goes a long way towards assuring consumers that your products/services are high-quality, and that your impeccable customer service continues after the transaction is complete.
For instance, our clients at Binns Kitchen + Bath Design make great use of GuildQuality to increase the credibility of their testimonials. This independent service doesn’t just publish testimonials, but surveys customers about various performance areas and averages out those scores.
Most importantly though, all your website content must feature a strong call-to-action. A CTA is a carefully worded final sentence that encourages customers to convert, for instance, “contact us today to place an order,” or “schedule a free consultation today.”
Whether your desired conversion is a simple call or directing them to a product page depends on your business and your goals. But either way, careful thought needs to be given as to how you want to lead consumers through your website, and ultimately towards making a purchase.
Online Buyer’s Journey Stage 4: Retention
Just because you’ve closed a deal, doesn’t mean the buyer’s journey is over. If you don’t make an effort to keep clients engaged with your business after their initial transaction is complete, you’ll be missing out on a huge number of conversions and sales.
Luckily, building and tracking brand loyalty is easier than ever with tools offered by digital marketing platforms.
For instance, by encouraging them to sign-up for your newsletter before checkout, you will have a guaranteed audience for your next sale or promotion with a high chance of converting. By encouraging them to follow you on social media, you’ll also foster customer loyalty as they begin to identify with your brand and voice and share your posts with their network.
Additionally, remarketing campaigns can be used to target consumers who’ve previously made a purchase from your website with special claim offers specifically for returning customers. If they’re happy with their previous purchase, there’s a high chance they’d be willing to buy from you again with a little extra incentive.
With a strategic marketing mix targeting each stage of the consumer journey, you won’t only attract more prospects, but better prospects who are looking for exactly what you’re offering. That’s why we describe our approach as “magnetic marketing,” with our methods, your ideal customers will be attracted to your business like a magnet draws metal.
Still curious about how to effectively adapt to the online buyer’s journey? We’re hosting a FREE magnetic marketing seminar on October 30th in our Vaughan office. From awareness, to consideration, to decision, to retention, we will help you formulate a magnetic marketing strategy that attracts your target audience across the buyer journey map.