Marketing executives spend a lot of time, resources and money to attract customers but the most effective marketers focus on the customer journey. Keeping the customer journey (or buyer’s cycle) top of mind will help your business address the unique problems your customers are experiencing and give them the solutions they need.
It will also help you strengthen your search marketing efforts through conversion rate optimization. Conversion rate optimization (CRO) applies to every online marketing channel in some way shape or form.
The Four Stages of the Customer Journey
How artfully you steer the consumer to your business through digital marketing can make all the difference on the journey. To do this it’s important to understand the stages of the buying cycle. Consumers go through four stages before they become customers: awareness, attraction, acquisition, and advocacy.
Let’s take a look at each of these stages:
Awareness. In this stage the user is in a state of unawareness. They may know they have a problem or need but have yet to find a solution or service to address it. It’s likely that they do not know you have a product that can address their problem. In other cases, they may be unaware they had a desire to fill until they come across your product.
Considering what the potential customer needs to see or hear should be a primary motive at this stage of conversion optimization. Social media and the nature of sharing and digital virality often play a heavy role in generating awareness for many brands.
Attraction. In this second stage of the sales cycle the consumer is now in a “problem aware” state. Understanding the specific questions of each buyer persona is highly valuable in this stage of conversion optimization.
Determining the information, features, and benefits you need the consumer to think about is critical at this stage. Search engine optimization (SEO) efforts plays a large role in making your valuable website content visible to consumers and attracting them to your product.
Acquisition. The consumer is “solution aware” at this stage. The consumer knows the problem they need to solve, the type of product or service they need and has become a “shopper.” The customer knows they have options and are seeking out the best value, the most effective solution, and the most trustworthy source to provide it.
At this stage, the most important thing you want the consumer to do is become your customer. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns play a pivotal role in this stage of the sales cycle. Text ads in search engines, product listing ads, and remarketing all aid in placing your company, product, or service in front of a potential customer at the moment they are ready to purchase.
Advocacy. Advocacy is the final step of the buyer’s cycle and happens when a customer becomes a promoter. Word of mouth is still one of the best forms of advertising, and in the digital age there are a lot more avenues for that word to spread – from social media to Google reviews.
[How well does your website convert visitors into customers? FIND OUT!]
The customer experience is crucial at this stage. Bad service and poor products can undo all the efforts built in the first three stages of the cycle. This makes reviewing your customer’s online experience a must. Is your site slow to load? Is your website difficult to navigate? Does the shopping cart on your ecommerce site function properly?
When you can convey what the customer cares about through your website and the shopping experience you will have a raving fan and a whole new source of promotion for your brand, product or service.