What is the buying cycle?

The "Buying Cycle" may seem a familiar concept as it's likely we've all experienced it once or twice.

In Today's blog, we'll discuss what we mean by the buying cycle, its purposes, and the stages it consists of.

What is the buying cycle?

The buying cycle is the process every consumer experiences when considering a purchase.

Why might you be interested?

Research suggests, with a clear understanding of the customer buying cycle, your company is more likely to drive more traffic, achieve higher conversion rates and increased revenues. - http://www.forentrepreneurs.com/buying-cycle-and-triggers/

How do you gain these increased revenues?

Creating content that reflects to buying cycle is likely to lead to greater revenue. Experience tells us that creating this content targeting every stage of the cycle should deliver more qualified traffic. This should be relevant and engaging, meaning it would prevent visitors from losing interest and looking elsewhere. - http://www.forentrepreneurs.com/buying-cycle-and-triggers/

You may think the purchasing process can be fairly instant and on impulse. Let's take a step back and look at the gradual steps which drive you from 'See' to 'Buy'...

For clarity, there are many variations of the buying cycle but all consist of similar key stages.

'Pre-Awareness'

The pre-awareness stage is when you're exposed to information whilst being unaware you have a problem, or may have a problem in future. From personal posts online to large advertising campaigns, often subconsciously, customers can recall this information once they have become aware of their problem. At this stage, people are not going to be actively searching, so content could be focused on brand, reviews, product innovations and market trends.

'Awareness'

So the latest iPhone and Samsung have been released, and you've gone and smashed your phone screen. Coincidence maybe, but this is where the buying cycle journey accelerates, when a consumer recognises a need whilst becoming aware of a solution.

In this early stage, consumers may not have specified their exact requirements, so broader search terms are more commonly used, such as 'Smart Phone'. This type of keyword phrase drives a lot of traffic because the term is so general. Your content strategy could focus on broad product reviews and descriptions.

'Consideration'

During this early stage, the consumer may evaluate offerings from both your company, and your competitors. This helps them specify their exact requirements. The consumer is likely to judge each offer based on elements most important to them. A 'smart phone with the highest quality camera' or 'hiking boots with maximum durability' for example.

Once the consumer becomes more qualified and better understands their options, more specific search routes can be taken, such as a 'long tail search term'; a 'smart phone with 12 hour battery life and 15GB data' for example. Long tail key phrases get a lot less traffic but are much more qualified customers which generate more conversions. - http://metheney.com/blog/understanding-longtail

Research suggests, companies with the ability to convey features beneficial to their consumers have increased conversion rates and by measuring the content existing customers engage with, can also target the behaviour for future customers which in turn, can increase sales. - http://conversionxl.com/ways-to-increase-your-conversion-rate-right-now/

'Preference'

In this stage, the favoured product is often determined by the customer's rational and emotional preference and may depend on which is higher in beneficial value and practicality.

A clear example of this is the overall rating reviews representing the Nikon D750, assessing important features such as the 'design', 'features', 'performance', and 'practicality' of the camera showing key elements that are most important to the customers. - http://www.cnet.com/uk/products/nikon-d750/

While it is harder to target shoppers at this stage, you could be generating content that will reassure customers that you can fulfil their exact wants and needs. Studies consistently demonstrate that the majority (70% or more) of the modern sales process takes place in searching, surfing, browsing, and listening long before deciding on the products and services they want. - http://www.brickmarketing.com/blog/buying-cycle-seo.htm

'Purchase'

Continuing to deliver positive customer service is crucial at this point. By presenting user-friendly website UX (user experience) and providing clear navigation, customers may be less inclined to turn away, as confusion can damage the customer experience with the company, its product and/or its services. This stage is responsible for developing a continuing company-customer relationship; delivering support and proposing levels of loyalty.

'After Sale'

Once the product has been purchased, the customer may choose to compare their product experience against their original, pre-purchase product expectations. During the After Sales stage, if your product or service delivers on expectation, customers are likely to return when considering their next purchase. Experience tells us that this returning, loyal traffic converts at a higher percentage than first time buyers.

Providing content that helps customers use your products or get more value out of your products can help create returning traffic and contribute towards developing a loyal customer base.

These positive experiences may also result in brand and product advocacy and referrals. Creating an online forum for advocates to share their reviews and experience of your products may well increase traffic to your website and contribute to higher conversion rates of first time customers.

Wherever your potential customers are along the buying cycle, your company will most likely gain value if you are present and ready to help at all times. This should not suddenly stop after a purchase! Search engine optimization and content marketing can help assure your customers you are there for them, throughout the whole process.

In summary, experience tells us that developing an understanding of your customers buying cycle is likely to improve effectiveness of your marketing and promotions and so increase the ROI on your marketing spend. - http://smallbusiness.chron.com/buying-cycle-stages-60966.html

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Published: 14 Sep 2015

Author: Alix McGregor

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