01 Jun Developing a Digital Marketing Strategy
In order to develop an efficient digital marketing strategy, it’s important to understand all the components which influence the buying behavior of an online customers. It’s not just a matter of focusing on the end goal – purchase. The purchase is the end result of a complex decision making process that the online purchaser goes through before each buying decision.
We are going to dive into the steps involved before and after a purchase is made to help us understand all the things that need to be in place to have a successful online business.
1. Establishing a Need/Want
The recognition of a need or want is the most important step of the buying process. If there is no need for a product or service, then no purchase will be made. The recognition of this need/want within a consumer happens when there is a difference between a customer’s actual situation, and their ideal situation.
But how does a consumer recognize that their situation is not ideal?
The following situations most commonly evoke this state:
Problem: When a customer finds themselves in a place when they cannot do what they want, they internally decide they need to find a solution.
Driven by Competition: This occurs when a person sees someone else in a better situation and realizes they need to improve.
Become Aware of Possibility of Improvement: When a consumer is made aware of a product or service that would improve their situation, which they previously were not aware of, they now want that product or service to reach a newly discovered ideal situation.
The key for digital marketing in this first step is to cause your target customers to realize their situation in not ideal. Digital marketers can cause a consumer to consider an ideal situation, and can be an available/ viable solution when the need/want occurs.
You want to come into contact with your target audience and show them why their situation is not ideal and how you can help to overcome their issues. Coming into contact with consumers in your target audience can be done through online advertising, SEO, social media, email and blogging; just to name a few. The goal is to get your “ideal situation” exposure. You will want to create content through these channels that communicates clearly the message of your product or service’s benefits. By doing so, you can create the need or want.
Once the consumer has identified the need, they will then seek out information about possible solutions to the identified problem. They will be investigating whether you are in deed the ideal solution to their problem. In today’s technological times this phase is quite easy for consumers. The world is at their finger tips!
The information which is weighed during the research phase will come from two places:
This is the information already present in the consumer’s mind. It is generated by previous experiences and opinions they may have of existing brands. Businesses can become a part of this internal information, and gain an advantage, by creating a presence online. The main components of this presence include a website, a blog, testimonials, reviews, active social media profiles, advertising, word of mouth, previous shopping experiences, and email newsletters. When these elements are present, consumers become familiar with a brand and begin to trust them before a need or want is even identified. Then, when a need or want becomes present, the brand is already in their mind as a potential and viable solution.
External information is found through a purposeful research process on the part of the consumer, after the want/need is identified. During this process, consumers will perform Google searches to find different options available, and ask their friends and family for advice. In this phase, it is helpful to have web content that ranks well on search engine results so that your page comes up as a viable solution. Additionally, the loyalty and experiences of past customers will come into play as consumers research reviews and ratings of your product and service.
As a business, you must provide the answers consumers will be looking for during the research phase. This requires both building an ongoing presence for consumers before they even have a need, and providing the answers about your product or service, which they will be looking for when researching a solution for their identified need.
3. Value/Cost Evaluation
After the research phase, the customer will enter into the value/cost evaluation. Here, the consumer will evaluate the different options available to him or her which were found in the research phase, in an effort to find which is the most suitable for his needs.
In order to make this decision regarding the purchase, he or she will evaluate attributes on two different levels. First, the objective characteristics, such as functionality and features of the product, will be considered. Also, the subjective features, such as the perceived value and perception of the brand, will be considered.
The consumer will then narrow down the options and make a final decision.
When the decision is made, we have entered the purchase stage. The consumer has evaluated different products and solutions and will be able to choose the product that is appropriate for their want and need. They will then proceed to the actual purchase
It is at this stage that user experience on your website and the checkout process is important. When making a purchase, lengthy forms, poor return policies, long waits, error messages and unexpected shipping prices can cause shopping cart abandonment. This is when a customer leaves in the middle of a transaction, and is a very real threat. It is important a significant level of testing goes into the website for this purchase so you are not losing revenue at this late stage in the buying process
5. After Purchase Evaluation
After the purchase has been made, the consumer will be evaluating the purchase compared with their original needs. They will attempt to determine if they have made the correct choice in purchasing the product. They will either feel satisfied or unsatisfied. The opinion reached during this stage of the buying process will influence future buying behaviors and decisions. If the brand has brought satisfaction to the consumer, they will be able to minimize stages of the buying process for the next purchases by dealing with the same brand. This leads to consumer loyalty. If the consumer is disappointed with their purchase, the buying cycle will begin again for the next purchase.
During this phase, it is important to nurture the customer and ensure satisfaction. This can be done by a follow up email sequence which thanks them for their purchase, asks for their feedback, asks if further support is needed, gives them multiple ways of getting customer service and offers recommended products or services related to their previous purchase.
So there is digital marketing in a nut shell!
Don’t forget to keep the customer in mind when thinking through the perfect strategy for your business