The Customer Journey To Online Purchase

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

shoppingUnderstanding the process users go through when making an online purchase is an essential part of creating a successful online marketing campaign. The way people decide which product or service to select is drastically different on the internet due to the wide range of choices and ample information available instantly. Furthermore, the ways people search also impact their search journey, including search terms and keywords. Understanding how your customers think is key to providing the right information and offering the best choice for them.

Step 1: Awareness. This is the first step toward making any purchase – being aware of a need, but not necessarily the best way to go about having it met. This is your chance to get ahead and pre-meditate what the customer is looking for. They may not even understand all the different options and considerations themselves, so if you can offer them information on this right away you have an advantage. Use their problem or query (eg, “how to send out email newsletter”) to craft landing pages that provide relevant information. Mastering keyword intent is an essential step.

Step 2: Comparison. Here is the biggest step that is affected by the online environment. With so much information available at once, it’s possible to make instant comparisons and seek out the product that best fits the customer’s agenda – whether it’s lowest price, highest quality, brand recognition or customer service. This means that online retailers need to be very competitive and point out the benefits of their product over other options. Learn the difference between explaining features and benefits, and how customers require each.

Step 3: Decision. Once the customer has made their decision, you need to make it as easy as possible to utilise your website to make the purchase. Ensure you either have a streamlined online checkout process, or are available to respond to enquiry calls immediately.

Step 4: Support. Offering support for your product or service is essential for encouraging repeat business – which is far easier than seeking new clients. The product search journey can in fact become a loop, with familiarity playing an essential part in how online customers make their decisions. With so many options available, a previous positive experience (or recognition through social media or online marketing) goes a huge way towards pulling a customer towards a certain product choice.

A key consideration is anticipating the customer’s needs and desire to compare and contrast. Unlike traditional retail, they have an enormous range of accessible choices and are in a completely different buying pattern than “yes or no” to a single item in front of them. Therefore your website needs to anticipate this, as well as your wider online marketing strategy.

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Katie is a lover of words and art, born and raised in Christchurch. With a BA in English and Japanese, she’s happiest tapping away at her keyboard writing copy or articles, or else working on the latest illustration. To balance the creative side, Katie is also very motivated and a bit of a perfectionist, which helps with her SEO duties. Although her hobbies could probably be described as art, art and more art, she also enjoys long walks, good friends and travel.

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