In order to best leverage your inbound marketing strategy, you probably know by now that the customer buying cycle plays a big role in helping you fine-tune and cater your inbound strategies to your specific customers (personas help, too). But just in case you need a reminder, the buying cycle is defined as the process your customers go through that ultimately leads them to buy your product or service. There are five stages in the customer buying cycle, including:
Awareness: Customer identifies a need that you can potentially fill.
- Consideration: Evaluation of how your product or service may meet their need, as well as how others may as well.
- Intent: The logical or emotional inclination towards one provider or another.
- Purchase: The act of buying from you.
- Repurchase: The logical process that the customer goes through to purchase from you again.
Now that we’ve identified the stages of the cycle, you need to understand how your specific customers travel through it and how you can better position yourself to cater to each phase. To help you do this, answer these questions with regard to your business:
Question #1: “How do our customers typically recognize that they have a problem we can solve for them?"
Every organization is different; a plumber knows that a person running to Google something like, “emergency water leak in Grand Rapids,” identifies professional plumbers like themselves through some diligent Search Engine Optimization (SEO) work. However, someone in the manufacturing industry could be going through a much longer, and more complex process of identifying the right vendor to fill a need. Ask some of your current customers what identification process they went through when they purchased from you, and why you were the most capable vendor to solve the issue. Once you have this information, you can cater your marketing content and information more appropriately to target those same problem-ridden customers.
Question #2: “How do we improve our response when potential customers are searching for us?”
When a customer is searching for your product or service, you want it to be easy for them to get the results they are looking for. Your business should quickly identify itself as an industry leader or an expert within your specific field. Doing so increases your credibility and helps the information search process by keeping your business in front of the customer and ahead of your competition.
Question #3 “What’s my competition doing, and how can I do it better?”
Standing out as an expert is great, but doesn’t always seal the deal of the purchase in your favor. Customers today want to make sure they have done enough research before making a final decision, so they are doing even more research. Even if a customer is 99% sure they are going to do business with you, they may still want to compare their options just to reinforce that they are making the right choice.
The best way to handle this is to help them through the process. Be up front and honest about your services against your competitors. Offer cost comparisons or blog posts highlighting the differences between your products. Doing so helps save the customer time since they are not forced to dig up the information somewhere else (or with someone else) and could potentially sway them in another purchasing direction. Additionally, providing this information helps establish a trusted business relationship that can be built upon for future purchases.
Question #4: “Why do our customers buy from us time and time again?”
Honestly ask yourself: what is it that makes your current repeat customers love you? Do you consistently hear from them that it is your great line of products? Special discounts? Do you deliver awesome customer service? Do they love your company atmosphere? Identify what it is that makes people love you time and time again and capitalize on it! Survey the customers who have bought more than once and use their responses as a tool to educate new and first-time buyers. Craft content that is based on the responses you received and promote it through social media, blog posts and the customer referral area on your website.
Question #5 “How do I best target each phase of the buying cycle?”
As we’ve been saying, the content you are sharing depends on your type of business and the product or services you offer, but there are some commonalities of how to best market at each stage:
- Awareness: This is primarily done through SEO and Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising as well as through informational blog posts, eBooks, and infographics.
- Consideration: After a search is conducted, customers should be directed to keyword-heavy landing pages and comparison content to help them move further into your buyer’s cycle.
- Intent: Your business website will do the work in this stage. Your product descriptions and overall branding should be clear and inviting. This helps to ensure your customers feel comfortable and confident enough to give you their contact information using the website.
- Purchase: You can use this phase to “seal the deal” with coupon codes or special discounts. Customers should be finding these through automated emails or social media.
- Repurchase: This is where workflow emails and social media works to harvest your customers to keep them engaged and active with your business. Reach out to these previous customers to let them know you still care about them, even after a sale.
While it’s common for online business owners to focus on simply closing the sale, it’s important to remember that your customers are scattered across the various stages of the customer buying cycle. By guiding them through the stages using a variety inbound marketing tools, you’ll be able to enjoy a much more dependable and flowing customer pipeline.