The customer buying cycle defines the stages a customer goes through while making a purchasing decision.
The purchasing cycle is important because customers need different information at each stage of the process.
In order to maximise the effectiveness of your website in generating revenue you need to optimise your website to help the customer at each stage.
The Purchasing Cycle
Lets look at each stage of the customer purchasing cycle.
Recognition of a Need
The customer has identified that they need a certain product or service.
This is where your marketing campaigns can be used to raise awareness of your products and services. Think email newsletters, search marketing campaigns etc…
This is the information gathering stage. The customer maybe weeks or months away from making a purchase.
The internet is increasingly becoming a tool for product research, so it’s vital that you provide as much information on your website as possible to help potential customers at this stage.
Because a customer maybe months away from making a decision it's a good idea to try and make sure you can proactively contact them to remind them of your company’s products and services.
Try to get them to sign-up to email newsletters, request a call back at a specified time etc.
The customer has decided they need your product or service but they have not yet committed to purchasing it from your company.
They are now looking into the features and benefits of your product/service and comparing it to your competition.
You need to provide your customers with your unique selling proposition (USP) - Why should they purchase from you?
Consider the power of testimonials from previous customers to give people confidence in your company and its products and services.
Make it easy for the customer to compare the features of your product/service with your competitors solutions.
Provide detailed and accurate product specifications so the customer can determine whether it meets their needs.
The customer has decided to purchase and is buying your product.
This is your opportunity to offer them special offers, convince them to purchase a different product or service or additional products.
Post Buying Stage
Product/Service has been purchased. You will need to follow up the purchase with good customer service keep your customers satisfied.
Remember: Retaining existing customers is important as attracting new customers is much more difficult and costly in comparison.