If you have been in business for a while you know that not everyone who visits your website or your store is ready to buy, able to buy or even interested in buying. The four stages of the customer buying cycle are a helpful way to not only understand how sales is a process but also how to develop a helpful plan to prepare your sales staff and your website to effectively connect with potential buyers and progressively move with them through these stages so that you maximize your sales. A great first step is to identify how long the typical buying cycles for your products are. A buying cycle for an HVAC system can average years whereas sunglasses could be days of even minutes depending on situations. A person who sits on their sunglasses just went from Stage 1 to Stage 4 in a second.
So how does one go about building their website for sales cycle optimization so that they can best engage prospective buyers at each stage of the buying cycle? Let’s explore the opportunities!
Stage 1: Uninterested and No Need
Most people in Stage 1 of the customer buying cycle will not be seeking out your website. Which means that you will need to draw them in. This can be done by branding; slow, steady, ongoing, today, tomorrow and forever branding. Building your brand so that it is recognizable and comes to mind when people think about your product or service is essential.
A brand that you work to make recognizable and trustworthy is a great place to start. Also making sure that your website has a simple (think memorable) domain name, is mobile friendly, simple to navigate and expressive of your values, quality and products or services is a non-negotiable. If you plan to be in business for more than 3 years, then you must commit to your future customers. Build your brand to make sure that yours is the first one they think of when they come to the 3rd and 4th stages of the buying cycle (desirous and then ready).
Stage 2: Building Familiarity
When potential customers get to Stage 2 of the customer buying cycle, they need to learn about you as one of the two or three companies that they are aware of offering the products or services they are thinking about. They aren’t ready or necessarily interested in buying but they have become familiar with your products or services and hopefully your brand. This means that when they get on Google or their favorite search engine and they type in “best local (your business/product or service)” you want them to see your business name on the first page of their search results. What your website needs is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This is the most important aspect of online advertising for Stage 2 and beyond.
When these potential customers see your business name on their search results they will likely check out your products and/or services on your website. What you want to be able to do is collect their information so that you can continue to make contact with them over the coming days and weeks (or months if necessary). In addition, your website needs to have a landing page on every page that nudges or entices visitors to give you their information. You can offer a discount on their first purchase or valuable information in the form of newsletters or white pages, if they give you their email address/phone number/Linkedin or other social media handle.
What you have just done is opened the door for you to personally or automatically continue to communicate with these Stage 2 customers; your brand, your trustworthiness, your expertise, your product line, your services, and whatever else you believe will build a relationship with them. In this way you build familiarity with your customers and trust in your brand, products, services and field expertise.
Going even further, it is great to include product displays, pictures, prices, sizes, etc., because they are fantastic tools for building website visitors’ familiarity with your products and building understanding and trust with your customers.
Stage 3: Creating Desire
At this point of sales cycle optimization you will be working with a person who is beginning to feel the need for what you are offering. You can probably see how if you have connected with this person through the first couple of stages they will likely come back to your website when they reach this stage. It is at this stage that your website needs to be able to grab their attention, deepen their interest, hold their attention and be a source of highly relevant and helpful information. It really should deepen their desire to have the very thing that they have begun to feel a need for in their life.
How do you make this happen? How do you get your website to turn these stage 3 ‘lookers’ into buyers?
One solution is, you have customer service/sales people available to help move them towards buying what they are looking for from your website. Another is, you have products and services beautifully displayed, described, pictured and packaged for them so that their decision is easier to make. Building a website with these kinds of displays is not easy or inexpensive but it will make it far easier to create desire in any visitor to your website and especially in those who have already worked their way through the first two stages with you.
Stage 4: Ready to Buy!
This is the stage in sales cycle optimization that we all want our potential customers to get to. When a person gets to this stage they have already decided that they want, need and are ready for what you are offering.
If you have done your marketing correctly through the first three stages, then you are the first place that comes to mind when people get to Stage 4! Because you have been there since stage 1, at the point when they are ready, you are top of mind. Your branding has paid off and your company has earned their business by earning a share of their mind over the course of many moons.
But you can still lose them at this stage if you miss your opportunity or fail to be first or best in their mind at the point of purchase. So your website needs to be memorable, first in their search engine, responsive, quick, informative, trustworthy and simple to use and especially easy to make purchases from.
The process of getting your company’s website ready to address the various needs created by the customer buying cycle of your potential clients requires many steps and processes that may not be familiar to you. Branding, SEO, mobile-friendliness, website design, effective landing pages, automated follow-up with contacts, quick and responsive checkout and many other essentials for a successful website are challenging to master for anyone, even those who have worked hard to master these skills.
While there are SEO agencies that can help you with that they are likely unable to help with branding or website design and vice versa. This is where a full-service advertising agency can be a tremendous asset for your business.
Approaching a full service marketing agency with your goals in mind, and working with them to hone your brand, design an overall marketing plan that is tailored to your company, and letting them develop and grow your quality inbound business leads can smooth that journey, create cohesiveness in the processes and multiply your overall effectiveness.
Here at zo agency we work to build long term relationships with our clients. We call it Tribe! We work diligently to discover your vision, your passion, your needs, your hopes and dreams for your business and then we create an overall marketing plan that meets your needs and fits your budget. Visit us today at www.zo.agency