The Four Stages of the Buyers Journey Explained
Last week, I introduced you to the overall concept of the Buyers Journey. This week, we’re going to delve a little deeper into things, looking at the various stages of their purchasing process and why you should care about each of them.
What are the stages of the Buyers Journey?
Most SEO experts will probably tell you about the three main stages:
Acknowledging the problem
However, I would argue that there is also a fourth and perhaps most important one:
So, let’s stop beating about the proverbial bush and just get to the nitty-gritty of things:
Acknowledging the Problem
At this point, the customer knows that they need something, but they aren’t sure what it is yet. For example, if you are a Design Agency, a customer might acknowledge that their website isn’t working for them. However, at this stage they have no idea what the problem is.
At this point in their journey, they are likely to be searching for guidance towards what has gone wrong so that they can then figure out their next steps. Therefore, the customer is not going to be making a purchase from you because they’re not ready to.
Why is this stage important? You might be wondering why you should bother if you’re not going to make money here. However, for a Design Agency, this is a crucial time to build trust which could be done by helping the customer to find out what the problem is; perhaps by showing your expertise in blog posts, articles etc.
You could even offer a free consultation to encourage them to approach you and guide them towards understanding where things are going wrong. This will build trust as well as initiates the beginning of a relationship, allowing to potential customer how well they would be able to work with you (and vice versa!)
It’s also worth focusing heavily on this part of your website because people that are here in their journey are likely to be asking a lot of questions to help them properly gauge what they need and questions (or long-tail keywords if we’re truly talking in SEO terms) are the hot spot for organic traffic. So, pull your audience in here and guide them smoothly towards a purchase (hopefully!) because although they might not make a purchase just yet, if you offer excellent advice, they’ll remember you and when they are ready, they’re more likely to consider you. So, put in the effort and reap the sweet rewards.
When the customer is in the Knowledge phase, they probably know what the problem is, but they want to gain more information about the best methods of fixing it. Ultimately, they probably want to figure out if they can fix things on their own – perhaps with a little guidance – or, if they would be better hiring someone to do it for them.
Again, at this stage, the potential client is not going to buy from you, because they are still gathering information to help them decide.
Why bother focusing on this area? Although the customer still isn’t quite ready to make a commitment to a company, they will be “feeling around” to see who offers the most advice and guidance, without making them feel pressured into handing over their cash.
This is where you should be completely honest with the customer. If it is possible for them to fix the problem on their own, tell them so in your copy and offer guidance of how they can do it.
This might seem counter-productive when you’re trying to make money. However, you need to trust me on this one, because although it might be possible for someone to fix a problem alone, they might not want to.
Clients might not have the time or patience; they might not have the technical savvy or they might not feel confident to not “screw things up” and so despite being offered everything they need, they might prefer to pay someone else (someone who has just proven to them that they know exactly what they’re doing) to do it for them.
No surprise, this is where you are going to make the most money!! (not, not sorry for the use of exclamation marks).
When a customer is here, they are ready to hand over their hard-earned money. They know exactly what they are looking for and will arrive on the actual product pages. However, the most complicated part of this stage is that it’s also the one with the lowest traffic potential. Of course, some people will search for a specific product, however in most cases, they are more likely to do what is called a Direct Search, which means they type the specific website address.
Why bother focusing on this area? You’re probably questioning why bother at all, if the search traffic is so low. And you’re partially right. Focusing on both the first two stages will greatly enhance the likelihood that someone will return to your website to make a purchase. You need to persuade them to come back to make the purchase. However, product pages are the key to a purchase. There’s no use drawing a customer to this page via the previous phases, if you’re not giving them what they need to make a purchase.
This isn’t just a nice and obvious Buy Now or Add to Cart button. It’s not even explaining to them the benefits of the product (or service). It’s showing them exactly how this product will make their life easier or better. They don’t want to purchase something that is likely to incur further, unexpected costs of their cash or time, in the future.
This is where transparency is key; if they’re going to need assistance installing something, you should let them know.
Adding reviews from verified customers is another simple method of encouraging sales. However, don’t be tempted to delete negative reviews (unless you have good reason to, of course) because again transparency helps customers to make informed decisions, and bad reviews (that are constructive) don’t necessarily put people off.
This is a stage that is often overlooked, in fact, it was one that I wasn’t even taught, but I definitely feel needs including) because it is crucial to remember that once you have the cold, hard cash in your bank account that is definitely not the end of the journey for the customer.
They are going to use the product or service, and, in most cases, everything will go smoothly, however sometimes things don’t. Therefore, ensuring that you have a solid After Sales section on your website is crucial. This could include:
User guides. Remember just because you supply user guides with all products, that’s not to say they won’t get lost, eaten by the dog, zapped up by aliens
FAQs focusing on any common problems that could be solved easily
Contact details so that customers can contact you for help and assistance
Why bother focusing on this area? This is all about building relationships with your customers, gaining their trust and influencing both repeat custom and word-of-mouth. If you can offer them all the information that they need to help with their purchase, they are more likely to keep coming back whilst telling others about you, which is a key part of most businesses.
Focusing on the After Sales stage can help to emphasise your expertise, boosting your overall reputation. Plus, these types of content are great for long tail keywords in SEO.
How well do you know your customers, and do you fully understand their journey? If so, are you utilising this knowledge fully across the areas of your website? For advice and guidance, get in touch today and I’ll help you figure it out.