This article looks at why customers expect different interactions with you depending on where they are in the buying cycle. It also examines how specific events trigger them into a buying mode. It then explains how you can use this information to make your marketing more effective.
The Customer Buying Cycle
A simple way to look at the buying cycle is to break into three stages:
- Awareness – when a customer first becomes aware of your product. Or could also refer to the point where a customer first becomes aware of a need that they want to fulfill.
- Consideration – when a customer starts evaluating solutions to their need
How Buying Cycle impacts the sales approach needed
Imagine that you wandered in to a clothing store while walking around the neighborhood. You didn’t have a particular idea of anything you want to buy. You are approached by a hungry salesperson who is convinced they can get you to buy something. You are are annoyed by too much attention, and feel that they are ruining the peaceful browsing experience that you hoped to have.
Now imagine that you have gone into the same store. However In this situation, you have a urgent need to purchase a black sweater, and don’t have much time to waste. You want a salesperson to help you immediately, so you don’t waste your time looking for the item. However you can’t seem to get the attention of any of the salespeople. You are highly irritated by the lack of attention.
What’s the difference?
The difference between these two examples is where you are in the buying cycle. In the first situation, you are early in the Awareness stage, and in the second example, you are right at the end of the purchase cycle.
Depending on where you are in your buying cycle, your expectations for how the sales people in the shop should treat you are different. If you are early in the cycle, you want to be largely left alone to browse around and get educated. If you are later in the cycle, you want highly responsive help to complete the purchase. Using the wrong sales approach leads to buyer frustration.
How do you adapt Marketing to a buyer’s stage in the cycle?
In the online world, we need to provide different paths through the website that are appropriate for each stage. It turns out that visitors will self-identify where they are in the buying cycle by the paths they take, provided you give them the option.
What to do with visitors that are not ready to buy? (Lead Nurturing)
Since visitors who are early in their buying cycle are NOT likely to buy on their first visit to your web site, we need to know how to best handle them in case they do turn into buyers later on. This is a path that I am surprised to see is often not given the right level of attention and results in leads leaking from the funnel and lost marketing investment.
The key is to do a great job of staying in touch with them over a period of time, and building a trusted relationship (Lead Nurturing). Then if they do hit an event that triggers a buying cycle, your product is likely to be the top of their shopping list.
To allow us to do this, we need their email address. Since website visitors are initially reluctant to provide that, we need to entice them with something of value to them. How to do this has been covered in other articles in this blog (When selling is the worst way to win customers & Optimizing your customer acquisition funnel).
Once we have their email address, we can nurture them through the buying cycle using a customer success stories, a blog, newsletters, webinars, etc.
Lead nurturing is best done with marketing automation software like that provided by HubSpot, Marketo, Eloqua, etc. Those products allow you to segment your customers to make the messages you send most directly relevant to them, and therefore most likely to be read. They also allow you to track who is advancing in their buying process by observing whether they come back to visit pages, such as the pricing page, that indicate buying intent. You can then apply more expensive sale resources to those leads, knowing that they are qualified enough to warrant the additional cost.
Effective lead nurturing is all about accelerating leads through the consideration process. Customer success stories, product comparisons, etc. all help to provide the data and info that a prospect looks for in their own research. If you provide it for them you make it easy for them to consume that info and move to the step in the process.
How on-line lead sources relate to the Customer Buying Cycle
Different lead sources produce buyers at different stages of the customer buying cycle:
- People that are later in the buying cycle are most likely to be using tools like Google, and review sites to search for vendors and products to solve a problem. Those leads are highly valued because there is a high level of buyer intent. They are usually in the Consideration or Purchase stages of the buying cycle.
- Many other lead sources (e.g. social referrals, Twitter, Facebook ads, banner ads, pr stories, educational presentations at conferences, etc.) produce buyers that are earlier in their cycle, and frequently just becoming aware that there is a potentially interesting product now available.
Market maturity also plays an important role in the stage that your leads. For early stage markets where there is still a lot of education required, most leads will be very early in their buying cycles.
For the rest of the article https://www.forentrepreneurs.com/buying-cycle-and-triggers/