Not all the visitors coming to your website are ready to convert. Each user will pass through a process before they have the intention to purchase a certain product or service. At Blue Mango we call such process "the customer journey".
The journey is unique for every user and consumer. It can be more or less complex depending on the product, the personality of the user or the situation in which the user is for example.
From a marketing prospective is important to recognize that every user faces different situations through this journey towards conversion, and a standard message won't be as effective in different situations.
That's why here at Blue Mango we are working on a way of making advertising smarter and more efficient based on where the users stand in their journey towards the conversion.
The four main stages
Inspired by Khalid Saleh & Aya Shukairy (2011) we identified 4 main steps of this journey.
Stage 1: Early stage
The early phase user doesn't recognize that he is interested in buying something. He doesn't know exactly what he needs or wants yet. The need is recognized based on:
- an Internal stimulus when the stimulus is based on the customer's internal system. For example, when a consumer is hungry or sleepy, the consumer recognizes that he must do something to satisfy his need.
- an External stimulus when the stimulus is based on external factors which trigger the customer to recognize a specific need or want.
In this case the advertising (the external stimulus) is effective when it helps the user to recognize a need.
To reach this goal it is necessary that we catch the user's attention and create his interest with the content shown. In such a phase it can be effective to persuade on an irrational level, since most likely the user is in an unconscious state of mind, or as Kahneman would say, he is thinking fast.
Stage 2: Middle stage
The middle stage buyer is in a more complex situation.
He is aware of his need, and he is in a more rational state of mind, or as Kanehman would say he is thinking slow. So he knows what he wants to buy, but he is not sure from where or who he should purchase. He is carefully evaluating the alternatives he has in order to satisfy his need.
Life is hard for the Middle Stage buyer, and he is taking a lot of effort to take the "right" decision and have the best value for money. For users in this stage, a relevant advertising should answer the question: "Why is your company/product best suited to meet my needs?"
That's why an effective advertising is helping the user to compare, providing the information needed. Then the content for an effective advertising is more rational and focus on information.
Stage 3: Late stage
Only 10% to 20% of website visitors are in the purchase stage. Such visitors are highly motivated to complete the buying process. The Late stage buyer knows exactly what will satisfy his need. He has narrowed the field of competitors, he looked into detail for terms and conditions and looked into the reputation of your brand.
Since these visitors require the least amount of persuasion to convert, they should have the highest conversion rate. For an ecommerce website, this visitor will add item(s) to the shopping cart and go through the checkout process. However they might leave your website due to usability issues, lack of trust, increased levels of uncertainties or doubts.
Therefore, effective advertising for a user in the Late stage should be brief and straight to the point, without providing much information that the user has already, but mainly focusing on the "call to action".
Stage 4: Post-purchase stage
The user in the post-purchase stage has already purchased a certain product or service, and now the customer evaluates the purchase. Although this stage of the buying process does not have impact directly on the conversion action that just took place, it does impact the possibility of the customer placing future orders on your website. The unhappy customer could also cancel or return the order, or spread bad word-of-mouth feedback. This is a very delicate phase, and it is important to pay close attention to this stage.
Therefore, it is important to consider the converted users in you online advertising strategy.
The goal of this targeted advertising is to keep the satisfaction of your customer, for example by providing tips and tricks about his new product, information about your client service or ask for their feedback.
A happy loyal customer is very valuable, that's why specific advertising for this target needs to be in place to show them how important they are for your business.
Keep evaluating and evolving your strategy
Customers go through these steps in a sequential process, moving from one stage to the next until they reach the loyalty stage. Creating a loyal customer is the goal of conversion optimization; it is about keeping customers happy, engaged, and coming back to your website.
Since these 4 stages are so different in terms of needs and information that customers are looking for, it is very important that you keep evaluating and evolving your strategy. Although you provide different types of information for each buying stage, how this information is created and presented must appeal to the various personas.