Understanding the Buyer’s Journey

Understanding the buyer's journey: Man on Bridge

In all likelihood, your company website is missing out BIG on its web traffic conversions.

The truth is, you spend so much time and energy on growing your website, but the vast majority of your traffic disappears into the ether, never to be heard from again. We covered this concept called ‘Website Traffic Evaporation’ in another post which expanded on the effective use of Calls To Action.

Most websites do an excellent job of attracting a specific type of visitor: those with their wallets already in hand. Perhaps they’re ready to buy before they’ve even landed on the site. Some of these people are loyal customers while others are website visitors that you simply caught at the right point in time.

While it’s great to have these customers, and we definitely want them coming back, what about everyone else?

Why Are So Many Leaving?

While you’re already a top-notch company, there’s a really good chance that your conversions could be much higher. One of the main reasons people leave is because your website only captures the attention of buyers who already have the mindset to make a purchasing decision. And that’s a problem.

Some customers will land on your page knowing exactly what they’re looking for the moment they arrive at your website. However, these folks are generally few and far between, when compared to your overall website traffic.

Most potential customers are not ready to make such a commitment. Not yet, anyways.

Checking the Numbers

According to a study from Retailing Today, 81% of shoppers will research their options online before deciding to make a purchase. If this is the case, it means that less than 20% are ready to make a buying decision when they first start looking around.

What about this larger group of site visitors? Who are they, and how can more of them become satisfied customers?

Enter the Buyer’s Journey

These potential customers are in what we call the Awareness and Consideration stages of the Buyer’s Journey, and capturing their attention while they’re in these stages is a crucial step in further expanding your business.

Failing to do this is the main reason that more visitors don’t stick around.

Ensuring that their needs are addressed while in these early phases will take potential customers through to the third stage of the Buyer’s Journey – the Decision stage. But how do you get there?

The problem is that most websites are not equipped to properly address the needs of site visitors other than those who are already in the Decision Stage.

The reason is because they’re not taking this larger group of potential customers into consideration.

They may offer great products and/or services, but they do not offer any content that caters to the mindsets of visitors in these earlier stages.

Stage One: Awareness

Cartoon person expressing awarenessBuyers in the Awareness stage understand that there is an issue that they’re trying to solve. Somewhere. They may be interested in making an improvement to an existing situation they have, or they may be trying to solve an underlying problem. In either case, they’re not really sure what they need to do to make things better. They know that some symptoms exist, and they’re starting to do some research on the matter.

One way to help them out is to offer an ebook on the subject at hand. This not only helps potential buyers to figure out the best way to solve their problems, it also gives your company the opportunity to build credibility – bringing the customer one step closer to doing business with you.

Cartoon person reading book.Stage Two: Consideration

Once a potential customer goes beyond Awareness, they move into the Consideration stage. While this phase is a little more involved, the customer is now one step closer to making their final decision.

In this stage, potential buyers have clearly identified the problem they are looking to solve. Their main interest now is in more refined research. Identifying these potential customers and being ready with a relevant case study or white paper is an effective way to take them to the third and final stage – the Decision stage.

Stage Three: Decision Time

happy cartoon person thumbs up.The third and final stage in this progression is the Decision stage. In this stage, customers know what they need. They will likely visit the sites of competing companies to look for the best deal, but at this stage, they’re ready to buy.

Guiding your web traffic into this stage involves careful attention to detail and a willingness to share information.

With an endless amount of options, buyers go with who they trust, and developing that trust involves understanding the perspectives of potential customers as they exist in each of these stages. The goal here is to build credibility while educating the consumer.

Why Do These Stages Exist?

In the early days of the internet, websites were much more simplistic, and most business transactions occurred in a face-to-face environment at a store. It wasn’t that long ago that the best of websites were limited to pictures and words structured in a very self-centered format.

The internet of today is much more interactive.

A 2015 report from the Pew Research Center shows that over 60% of Americans are now smartphone users. This means that the amount of research one can do prior to making a buying decision has never been greater, and this changes the game for companies of all shapes and sizes.

The use of smartphones and tablets has created a buyer that is much more sophisticated than those of previous generations, because a vast array of knowledge is right at their fingertips at all times.

A more informed customer base demands helpful web content from the sites they visit. With so many choices available, the best way to stand out is to develop relevant web content that is not only high quality, but also that is tailored to the specific needs of a wide array of potential buyers.

The growth of your business is therefore shaped by how well your company can deliver knowledge to your potential customers who are not quite ready to commit to making a purchase.

Nurturing Through Automation

Your content should serve the needs of potential customers, but it should also guide them through to the decision stage. This is a necessary step in growing your business. After all, you don’t want those in Awareness and Consideration to turn into a one-time visitor that eventually does business with one of your competitors.

Making a concerted effort to grow your business this way will most likely involve a little automation. This approach also serves in retaining the types of visitors that are likely to become qualified buyers and weeding out those that have no use for the products and services that your company offers.

This does not mean that you should create an overly-scripted web presence. That type of one-size-fits-all approach will probably turn many visitors away.

Instead, the approach should be tailored, in a more individualized sense, to the specific needs of visitors as they exist in the three different phases of the Buyer’s Journey.

Each site visitor has a unique set of interactions with your website, which gives you the opportunity to personalize, in a sense, their website experience with your company.

One way to achieve a more personal experience on your website is by developing a set of automated workflows that the visitor is entered into based on the offerings that they select and their actions on the website.

It’s very important to remember to keep the lines of communication open. One effective way to do this is to offer some ebooks and white papers for free in exchange for an email address or other type of contact information.

These consumers are entered into a workflow, where a series of emails related to their interests can be automatically sent to the prospective buyer to pique their interest which (1) builds credibility for your brand and (2) helps move them through the different stages of the Buyer’s Journey. The type of content in these email messages should be genuinely helpful, as it is geared towards the predicted stage of the Buyer’s Journey that the visitor is currently in.

Staying in touch this way will increase the likelihood that these visitors in the early stages of the Buyer’s Journey will become happy customers.

Enhancing Your Website’s Effectiveness

Making these kinds of adjustments to your already functioning website will help significantly with growing your customer base, as well as increase the odds that previous customers will stick around.

Updating your website with the Buyer’s Journey in mind will allow your business to cast a much wider net over its website traffic. It’s about demonstrating your worth as a company by understanding the perspectives of the customer that visit your website.