The customer buying cycle is a process that everyone within digital marketing should be familiar with. Whether you’re redesigning a website or improving the site structure the stages within the customer buying cycle should be considered at all times.
Identifying what your potential clients are searching for and the content required for each stage is paramount to turning a shopper into a client.
Whilst it’s common for online business owners to always focus on the sale, it’s important to remember that shoppers go through a purchasing funnel before they become customers.
Search queries are the golden ticket in identifying what your customers are actively looking for. Targeting customers at each stage of the journey is vital for achieving the sale.
The quality of a landing page sets the foundations of the user’s journey. So, if it doesn’t relate to their search query users will most likely bounce off the site, therefore resulting in a lost sale and poor engagement signals with search engines.
Kissmetrics make a very good point that window shoppers that walk past a brick and mortar store are just the same shoppers that hover around online. The difference with online shoppers is you can find out exactly what they are searching for and how they are behaving online. That way you can make more informed decisions about what content is needed for each stage.
Don’t worry if you’re unsure of how to find out the search queries, the next section covers this.
But first we need to identify the search terms shoppers are using at each stage of the buying cycle. To put it into context I have used mascara as an example.
1. “mascara” – This is a generic term that indicates the first stage in the buying process. The customer is aware that they need mascara but hasn’t considered any preferences yet.
Example content- Category page that includes all of the mascaras
2. “Compare mascaras” or “best mascaras’”– The consideration phase normally results in the shopper comparing products. The need to compare products indicates that they haven’t yet made a selection but are looking broadly at what’s to offer.
Example content- Blog post that compares the mascaras
3. “Lancome mascara”- The preference phase usually takes place once the shopper has reviewed the products there are to choose from. In this case with a mascara, the shopper has selected that the brand they prefer is Lancôme.
Example content- Sub category page that includes Lancôme’s range of mascaras
4. “Lancome doll eyes mascara” – The shopper knows exactly what they want and are intent on making a purchase. This is a very specific query that includes the exact product name as well as the manufacturer. This refinement in the search query indicates that the shopper is either looking to find this product on a website or is evaluating prices.
Example content- Lancome doll eyes mascara product page
There are a number of tools you can use to dive into your search queries. I have listed below the top three search query tools I like to use.
If you want to discover more tools in addition to those listed above, my colleague Bobby recently wrote a really useful blog post which goes into further detail on all the tools you need for keyword research which is definitely worth a read.
The most important step within the buying process is how we convert shoppers into customers. The last page a shopper will engage with before heading to the checkout is usually going to be the product page. This page should contain all of the content required to encourage shoppers to make a purchase.
There’s nothing more frustrating than enticing customers all the way through the site for them to drop off during the purchase stage. With abandonment rates at 68% shoppers are failing to check out their goods, but why? There are a number of reasons why this can happen.
The most common reasons why people abandon their shopping are:
Giving customers the best shopping experience will resonate with them when you make future contact. You want your customers to want to hear from you and be excited when they do. Econsultancy shared some great examples of how ecommerce sites have driven engagement at each stage of the buying cycle.
The process of re-engaging with clients that are already satisfied is the easiest part of the process. If they had a good experience with you they are more likely to come back and purchase from you time and time again.
Types of content that will drive repeat business:
Understanding shoppers search habits enables you to create targeted content to help support each stage in the buying process. Focusing on the needs and expectations your audience at each stage of the buying process will help your business achieve its end goal which is for your customers to purchase from you.
Do you have any other suggestions on how e-commerce sites should leverage the 5 stages in the buying cycle? Please let me know by adding a comment to and I’ll add them to the list. I look forward to hearing from you.