Understanding how a buyer goes from the realization they need something to actually purchasing something can make a huge difference in how a company markets online.

Far too often companies tend to go for direct marketing of their product or service without taking into consideration the steps one goes through to arrive at that decision.

In this article, we will cover the steps a buyer takes to make a purchase decision.


Step 1: Discovery

Before someone decides to purchase something, they come to a realization that they need or want that something.

Usually, this phase occurs as a trigger to some kind of event.

Let’s take a new cell phone purchase as an example. What brings a consumer to a realization that they need or want a new cell phone?

When something is a need, it is often triggered by a problem. In the cell phone example, the consumer may have just lost their phone or their phone is exhibiting an issue. Once again, the problem triggered the discovery of the need.

On the other hand, when something is a want, the trigger will look different. Wants are a desire to have something. In the scenario of a cell phone purchase, the trigger could have been an announcement of a new model releasing or a suggestion from someone.

In this step, the consumer may start asking a lot of “how-to” or “why” questions.

As a company, you want to be present in this step. Content marketing with a blog or how-to section to address problems and provide solutions is a great way to make yourself present.

To address “wants”, think of creating lifestyle ads that put your target consumers in scenarios that will drive emotion to trigger that want.

Step 2: Research

Once a consumer discovers they have a problem or a want, they enter the next step, research.

This is the step where they start asking “what is” or “which” questions.

In the example of a new cell phone purchase, a consumer will start asking questions like “what is the best cell phone” or “which service provider offers the best service”.

Think of your product or service and ask yourself what questions your consumers might ask that can potentially lead them to you. Once you figure this out, be present in this step.

Once again, having a blog section to addresses these anticipated questions is a great way to get in the mix with this step. Anticipate these questions and establish your authority as a subject matter expert in this area.

When the consumer finally lands on some options of what they need or want, they move on to the next step which is exploring options on what to purchase.

Related Article: What is Content Marketing and How Can It Help Your Business

Step 3: Explore Options

In this step, consumers begin reading reviews or comparisons of products, services, and even companies to finally lead them to their purchase.

In the example of a new cell phone purchase, a consumer may have decided on an iPhone but now wants to potentially compare an iPhone X or an iPhone 8. Or maybe they already decided on the iPhone X but are now comparing which retail location to make this purchase.

There are several avenues as a company that you can take to make sure you are present in this stage. Finding authoritative reviewers to give your product a review on YouTube or on their site is one way. Having product comparison pages on your website is another option. Keeping your current customers engaged in writing reviews about your product, service or company is also a good practice.

Your goal here is to ensure when consumers are exploring options that you are present and designing a compelling reason to choose you over the competition.

Step 4: Purchase

As the steps progress in this process, this is the crucial stage where the consumer finally decides on what they will purchase.

If you followed the other 3 steps effectively, the purchase to come to you should be natural if you were present in their purchase journey the whole way through.

In the example of purchasing a new cell phone, if the consumer has decided on an iPhone X, they will now be very direct on landing on where to purchase.

In this step, you want to make sure your SEO or local SEO (if you are a physical store) is on point. Anticipate consumer questions like “where to” and ensure your SEO titles capture buying keywords like “buy”, “purchase”, “best”, “get” or “deal”.

Typically, companies get this step right. To make this step flow better in your sales process though, try to integrate the other 3 steps above into your process and introduce step 4 in call-to-action formats.

Another way to effectively execute this step is to integrate landing pages with your digital advertising efforts. A good landing page should be very direct to buy now. Eliminate menu buttons or options for consumers to bounce off of the buy now page. If you are implementing the other 3 steps properly, this landing page should serve solely as step 4, purchase.

Step 5: Purchase Again

Now that you have a happy customer, you want to make sure you retain this customer.

This is where email marketing comes in. Keeping consumers updated on offers is typically what companies do, but don’t forget to integrate the other steps of a consumers buying process. You want to use this opportunity to engage your audience to potentially capture them when they eventually enter their process again.

Also, if your product or service has a predictable natural cycle of repurchase, having a good CRM to send targeted emails within that cycle will give you the best shot at retaining your customer.

If you are having trouble identifying how to capture your potential buyer in each of the stages, drop us a line at info@retailorsgroup.com and we will be more than happy to strategize with you on the best way to match the buyer process with your selling process.