Cracking The Code Of The Online Buying Process
The online buying process is different to the offline buying process. As an online business owner you rarely, if at all, have any direct face-to-face contact with your customer. A prospect finds your products online and then decides whether to purchase or not.
It’s important to understand a typical buying process and sales cycle, so you can move your prospective customer from first encountering you or a particular product, all the way through to buying your product.
There are basically 5 steps to the typical online buying process.
What Are The Five Stages of the Consumer Buying Process?
The messaging you put in front of your potential customer at each of the following 5 stages can make all the difference between a sale and a pass, and between a happy customer and a disgruntled one.
- Identifying a problem or need
- Researching solutions
- Comparing solutions side by side
- Follow-up and customer satisfaction, or a request for their money back
FREE Checklist: Create An Effective Online Sales Funnel
1. Identifying a Problem or Need
You need to have a good understanding of your niche in the first place and most of your marketing will be in relation to this phase. Your whole website or blog should have content that speaks to the needs of your target audience. Take the time to learn about the “pain points” or problems people commonly have in relation to your niche. If you know your audience when writing content for your website you can address these issues. People buy from businesses they know, like and trust. They don’t just want to be sold to. But they are also busy and eager to find solutions that work. By creating this kind of helpful content on a regular basis, you are positioning yourself as an expert in your niche worth paying attention to.
2. Researching Solutions
Your potential customer has realized they have a problem and that there may be solutions out there for them if they could just find them. They will be researching the various options available to them to solve their problem. Your website will show that you understand the main problems in your niche, and offer viable solutions at the right price.
This stage can take some time in the buyer’s journey. Some people research their options for months or even years before deciding. How expensive or life-altering the choice is, will influence how long it takes. As long as you continue to offer content that fits in with your goal to help them solve their problem, it will be easier to transform them from leads to customers.
Retargeting will keep your products under consideration as they go around the internet researching solutions. Many top websites allow for retargeting, so your prospects will see your product X over and over again. If they do buy product X, then the retargeting ads will no longer be shown. But if they have clicked on other products at your site, they can be retargeted too.
3. Comparing Solutions Side by Side
At this point, your prospective customer should be getting to the narrowing down process. Side-by-side comparisons with similar products, but which show the value that you offer, can sway their decision in your favor. Table, charts, diagrams, features and benefits, testimonials and reviews, are just the types of content they will be looking for.
When a customer buys from you, be sure the online buying process carries forward on the page into a receipt they can keep. Also send an email thanking them for their purchase. Segment them onto a customer list for that product so you can support them with any customer service issues and personalize your email marketing to them by putting the right offers in front of them, not offers for items they’ve already bought.
5. Follow-Up and Customer Satisfaction, or a Request for Their Money Back
Putting them on a customer list for a particular product can put you in direct communication with them in case they have any questions or problems. You can also add real value with hints and tips, a quick-start guide to using the product, and so on. These little surprise gifts and bonuses don’t cost much in terms of time and effort, but they can have a huge impact in terms of customer satisfaction and their perception of your business.
Consider sending them a coupon as well. Studies have shown that those who purchase once are likely to do so again shortly afterwards if they see something else they really need from the same company and the price is good.
If you do get a request for a refund, give it promptly and courteously. Do ask the reason, but don’t demand one. Leave them in your customer email list, but, personalize their offers by not continuing to promote to them the item they have already decided to return.
Free Checklist: The Online Buying Process Sales Funnel
A sales funnel is a valuable tool to help you get deeper into not only how to market, but why and when to do certain things when implementing your overall marketing strategy. It’s especially helpful when creating content and products that educate and serve your audience.
When you create an effective sales funnel it puts your online purchase decision process on autopilot and consistently turns prospects into paying customers if you structure it the right way. To learn more, you can download the free Buying Process Steps Checklist which outlines the best practices for making your online buying process produce the intended results.