Content for the Customer Buying Cycle
Ken Colborn May 20 2014
Are you looking to bring in more customers to your site and sell more products? One way to do this is by looking at the customer buying cycle (also known as the marketing funnel). This helps meet the needs of your customers at every step of the buying process.
Every time a customer makes a purchase, they go through certain step to determine what they want to buy and eventually, where they want to buy it from. By looking at these stages, you can find out what areas you already cover on your site and find the areas that you need to build up additional content. The holes you find in your buying cycle coverage brings in additional opportunities to attract new customers and with it, new sales.
The customer buying cycle, breaks down this process down to simple 5 steps.
The Customer Buying Cycle
- Awareness – The customer identifies a need or becomes aware of a product or service
- Research/Consideration – The customer does some research. They are trying to find answers to their questions and compare different choices. They will be comparing your site against others.
- Decision – A customer makes a choice of one product or service
- Purchase – The action of purchasing the item and/or service from your site
- Retention – (Support/Repurchase): After the original purchase has taken place, how do you support your new customer so they will continue to use your services or purchase from you again.
Let’s go through each one and see what kind of keywords or topics you will use for each one. From this you can determine if you need to make additions or edits to your site.
Imagine that you want to start biking into work and you are looking for a new bike. You might start off your search with some terms like this:
- road bikes
- commuter bicycles
- commuter bikes
- online bike sales
These are some basic terms that people use when starting out a search. You want to make sure that you have some good pages that can give the potential customer the information they are looking for.
Now you have a little more information about bicycles, but you still have to figure out which is the best for your commute. Your searches start looking like this:
- best bikes for commuting
- bike commuting in seattle
- bike commuting in the rain
- commuter bikes vs road bikes
- rain gear for bicycles
- types of commuter bikes
- commuter bikes reviews
- commuter bike videos
You can see here that the customer is getting a little more focused, but they haven’t made any decisions. You can help give them more information via pages on your site, blog posts, or YouTube videos. You might also develop guides that they can download or infographics that can help them understand concepts.
Ok, you’ve learned a lot so far. You got some good information and now it is time to decide where to buy your bike. To do this you are going to look for information about the purchase of the bike like price, shipping costs, shipping times, store reviews.
Here are some of the searches you might see:
- cannondale commuter bike
- cannondale commuter bike sales
- cannondale commuter bike free shipping
- cannondale bad boy commuter bike
You should have your product and category pages optimized for these long-tailed searches. This will allow the customer to find what they are looking for and help them make the final decision.
And now you found a bike and price you like, but you are looking a little closer at the store:
- REI shipping costs
- REI shipping times
- REI store locations
- REI Seattle
- REI coupons
At this point the customer is about to purchase, but is getting the final information before making the purchase. Make sure that you have information for all of these types of searches on your site. If you also have physical stores, make sure you are showing up in local search and have clear information on your site about each location.
You will want to make sure that your checkout process is simple and easy to complete. Review each step to make sure you remove any issues standing in the way of a customer trying to complete their purchase.
The sales funnel is a good place to run A/B testing to make sure it is optimized to its fullest.
At this point the purchase of the bike is done and your new bike is on its way. You will want information on when your bike ships, as well as tracking information. This information should be supplied via email but also be available to the customer via the website. If you run into any problems after you get your bike, there should be clear ways to contact the company via email or phone.
At this time the customer might be looking for some more information about accessories for their new bike. Make sure you have content that includes accessories and other related services:
- bike tuneups
- cycling rain gear
- how to fix a flat tire
- bicycle tire repair kits
You can also automate emails to be sent after a purchase with related accessories or with a coupon for their next purchase.
What to do Next
Now that you went through the entire conversion full, you should see places on your site that you have missing or weak content to cover your customers needs at each of the stages. As you add this new content you will be able to use analytics to track how the pages are performing and which pages are the most popular. This can guide you in further updates to the site by letting you know what to focus on most.
Ken Colborn is an SEO Specialist at Portent. His main focus is analytics and SEO, but in the past 15 years he has worked on everything from content marketing, user experience, email marketing, conversion optimization, programming and design. Read More