The Customer’s Journey to Purchase

Nov 7, 2016

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The Customer's Journey to Purchase -- RedMoxy CommunicationsHow can marketers even begin to form a marketing strategy without first understanding the purchasing path that their typical customer takes? Purchasing the product or service is certainly not the first step of the process. Discovery, education, and decision making all come before the customer makes a final choice. Furthermore, purchasing is not the last part of this journey. After getting their hands on the goods, they must experience it and in some cases have a reaction that they share. An effective marketer will research this journey and develop a plan based on how the customer is expected to behave. 

The Customer’s Journey to Purchase

There are four stages in the journey as shown by consumer behavior research: Awareness, Advice, Purchase and Experience. Breaking it down in four simple steps does not show how complicated and time consuming it truly can be. Let’s start with a few simple questions.

WHO? WHERE?

“Analyze your audience” is a piece of advice that is repeated over and over, but that is because it cannot be emphasized enough. An easy way to hear from your customers is to interview your own employees or your customer service department to see what current customers have been saying to them. Demographic research is a key component but doesn’t tell the whole story. Take a look at your target audience. Who do they follow on social media? What types of publications do they read? Who influences them? A number of tools for conducting this research are at your fingertips, such as Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn or just a simple Google search, if you cannot afford to conduct formal, expensive audience analysis studies. You want to determine the best way to reach your target audience so that your efforts are not wasted by blasting every channel or the wrong channel with your content.

WHAT?

Once you know what channels your targeted customers use, then you can finally create the content. Understanding what platforms they prefer will guide you in deciding what form most interests your audience, whether it is a video, a photo, or text-based.  Consumers have nearly endless options. How will you catch their attention in a sea of options and hold it, motivating them to action? Today’s consumers actively pull information constantly because of the open access the internet provides. This means they are bombarded with information from all directions, whether they seek it out or not. Your brand must stand out. You must be direct. Your content should say, “Hey, I’m talking to YOU!”

WHY?

Consumers make purchases because they believe it will benefit them in some way. They make decisions by comparison. Unless you have a completely unique offering, you most likely have thousands of competitors – remember how much is available online with just a few clicks, not to mention the physical competitors in your area. Consumers need to be told what is being done for them. They expect to be asked, so to speak, “What can I do for YOU?” Show them why you are the best purchasing decision by displaying the value and improvement it will add to their lives. You want their purchasing journey to end with your business.