If you’re like most business owners, the main goal of your website is to bring in visitors and increase sales. And if you’re like most business owners, you may pin your website’s worth on whether or not it meets that goal — if it brings in leads, it’s a success, and if not, it’s a failure.
But what many business owners fail to see is that your website’s lead-generation abilities depend on a whole host of factors, many of which you can control by paying special attention to a little something called the buyer’s cycle.
The buyer’s cycle is a term that marketers use to describe the various stages a person experiences when they interact with a brand. Depending on where you hear the term, it can describe anywhere from 3 to 7 stages, and you’ll hear several different terms to describe each stage. For the sake of this blog, we’ll stick to 3 stages and call them awareness, consideration, and conversion:
The buyer’s cycle challenges the black-and-white idea that a website is either effective or ineffective. Instead, it encourages you to think carefully about what your target audience is experiencing and create a website that appeals to that audience at each stage of the buyer’s cycle, encouraging them to move further along the cycle.
This makes for more attainable and measurable marketing and sales goals, but it also gives you an edge over your competitors.
“About only 3% of the people who visit your site are going to buy your product. What’s happening to the other 97%? … Anyone who didn’t convert is at some other phase in the buying cycle. They might not ever convert. They might someday. You need a marketing strategy that is actively targeting the vast percentage of your website visitors.”
— Neil Patel, Marketing Expert, Co-Founder of KISSmetrics, Crazy Egg, and Hello Bar
The best websites are consistent and comprehensive, but they also target users in each stage of the buyer’s cycle to provide clear next steps. Here’s how we here at Trajectory account for each of these steps, and how we use web design principles to encourage your site visitors to move on to the next stage.
Most business websites focus primarily on this stage. Here, business owners typically think about what they can do to drive more visitors to their site and often measure this by how many visitors their website brings in.
It’s always important to think first about what your target market is experiencing rather than thinking in terms of what you can offer them. This is particularly true in the awareness stage.
Too often, businesses figuratively hit new users over the head with benefits and features. And then what do your potential customers do? They often tune it all out.
Instead, try thinking of what your lead is experiencing and what triggered them to search for your business in the first place. Instead of starting with “here’s what my business offers,” start with “here’s the problem my target market is experiencing.” You want to describe the struggles they face, showing that you empathize with their needs and you get where they’re coming from.
For example, if you’re a mattress company, your customers probably start their search because they aren’t getting good sleep. But what’s the bigger problem? This lack of quality sleep is making them grouchy, leading them to be late for work, and stripping away that one opportunity for rest from all of life’s responsibilities.
When you work with us to design your business’s website, we start with this thought process and then segue into how your business addresses those specific problems. So when potential customers land on your site, they’ll feel an immediate and personal connection to your brand and think, “This company understands me.” This is how you start to win over your audience’s trust, which is a crucial element to their ultimate purchasing decision.
For the awareness stage, you’ll want your business to be visible to a wide audience of potential customers. To accomplish this, we focus on the following areas to reach people who are likely to be interested in your product:
Once a person is aware that your business exists, they move into the consideration stage, where they begin to look at the details and benefits of your product or service. When developing the content for your website, this is the main stage to address.
This stage provides an opportunity for you to dig deeper into the problems your users face. It’s also an opportunity to focus on how your product solves their problems and to create pages that explain this in detail.
This is the stage where your lead is actively looking for information, and they’ll leave your site as soon as they aren’t able to find it. So we recommend answering every single question a potential customer might possibly have about your product or company. This will help you stand out from your competitors and snatch up easy conversion opportunities.
With this strategy in mind, it’s important to include a variety of pages with a variety of different focuses (and, ideally, a variety of different media). Your users need to consume several pieces of content before they’ll be ready to buy — typically about 3-5 — so think about how you can recycle content and present it in new formats. This is also where that call to action placement is extremely important, giving your users a clear way to move from consideration to conversion.
In this stage, we work with you to clearly show how your company provides solutions to the problems that you addressed in the awareness stage. Typically, this process includes:
The conversion phase is often the moment when a lead becomes a customer. It’s what so many businesses hope to achieve with their website, but it’s also a critical opportunity to encourage repeat purchases or social shares that some businesses don’t consider.
If a user is so convinced by your business that they make a purchase, you’ve probably done something very right. But now is the moment when you need to do more than just be happy that your website led to a purchase.
Three key things you want to do here are:
1. Evaluate what made this purchase happen.
2. Encourage the user to make another purchase in the future.
3. Compel the user to be an ambassador for your brand.
First, knowing what exactly worked leading up to this purchase is invaluable information that can inform your efforts for other users who are still in the awareness and consideration stages. It should also inform which of your marketing efforts are most worth the continued investment. Whether you keep track of this information in Google Analytics, the back-end of your website, or in a simple spreadsheet, it’s important that you track it.
We set up all of our client websites in Google Analytics so you can easily track your site’s performance.
Second, you went through all the work to encourage this particular user to make a purchase. Now, they’re in a fantastic place to jump into the consideration stage for another one of your products or services. Or, if you only offer one service, you’ll need to proactively encourage users to take advantage of your services again in the future.
Third, the biggest asset you have in your marketing efforts is a loyal customer base. They’re the people who share your product with their friends, help make your social media campaigns a success, provide testimonials that you can use throughout your marketing, and much more. But all of this is dependent on you giving them the opportunity to do that.
In this stage, it’s important to think about how you can accomplish the strategy above after the user makes the purchase or converts in another way. At each point, think about ways that you can make it as easy as possible for a user to let everyone know they had a great experience when they purchased your product or used your service.
The “cycle” in “buyer’s cycle” implies that it’s a process that repeats itself. This is true with the buyer’s cycle in your web design. First, remember that buyers can go in and out of each cycle — and, just because you want them to move forward in the cycle, it doesn’t necessarily mean they will.
For example, 7 out of 10 customers abandon items in their online shopping cart, which is a very frustrating statistic for e-commerce website owners. But it may simply mean that a customer who was ready to convert has now moved back to consideration. How would you address this user differently than someone who comes straight from awareness? You may want to go searching for elements that are acting as obstacles for your customers.
Just as importantly, you’ve got to focus on leading first-time customers through that cycle over and over again. In some cases, abandoning them after they make that commitment can even leave them with negative feelings about your business. Focus on highlighting the positive and give them many opportunities to become aware of your other products and services.
Now you can see how your website is about so much more than simply succeeding or failing to bring in leads. You may also see several opportunities that you’ve been missing on your own website. The key? Consider your user’s experiences, where they are in the buyer’s cycle, and how you can connect with them on a deep level that encourages them to move forward in the cycle.
And of course, if you need any help along the way we’re happy to chat. Get in touch to get the ball rolling and start connecting better with your audience.
Ready for a slick new website, increased traffic and more converting customers? Tell us a little about your business and we’ll reach out to get your project underway.