Web Design for the Buyer's Cycle

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

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.

Stage 1: Awareness

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.

Awareness Stage strategy: empathize and connect

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.

casper mattresses screenshot

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.

Web design for the awareness stage

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:

  • Content: We audit your site’s content to determine which pages (or sections on a page) target users in the awareness stage. Depending on your site, we may need to create additional pages or sections or even revamp your site structure to better attract that audience. Then, we apply our approach to powerful website copy to craft content that empathizes with users’ needs and concerns.
  • Design: Next, we use design elements that impact user experience (like white space, color scheme, and font) to organize that content in a way that’s visually pleasing and consistent with your branding. We also design calls to action that grab people’s attention and encourage them to move to the next stage in the buyer’s cycle.
  • SEO: We start by analyzing your search engine rankings and researching long-tail keywords that you may want to start targeting. We evaluate how your current site targets those keywords and prioritize which ones should have the highest priority. In some cases, we may recommend starting a PPC campaign to help attract new users searching for those target keywords.
  • Marketing: Avenues like blogging and social media are quite helpful in spreading awareness of your business — in fact, small businesses that blog get 126% more leads than those that do not. In your blogging efforts, brainstorm topics that are most likely to resonate with users in the awareness stage and write a long article (1,000+ words) that genuinely helps them find solutions to their problem. Link to other pages on your site throughout and at the end of the blog to show them how you can solve their problems. (We can also help with regular blogging if this is not your forte.

Stage 2: Consideration

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.

Consideration Stage strategy: educate and convince

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.

Web design for the consideration stage

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:

  • Content: The most helpful types of content for users in the consideration stage are pricing pages, downloadable PDFs, FAQ pages, support guides, technical specifications, customer service information, and detailed product pages, which we add or expand on as needed. Here, we go deeper than just describing the problem — we make a clear connection that shows how your product solves their problems. The goal here is for users to imagine a world or life where their problems are nonexistent, thanks to you.
  • Design: Calls to action are our main design focus for this stage of the buyer’s cycle. Little details like a thorough footer, a push-to-call button on mobile, your key contact information in the page header, and noticeable and enticing calls to action on each page are also very important here. Your site should convey features and benefits quickly, so whenever possible, we include videos, pictures, screenshots, or other forms of media. We imagine that your user won’t read any of the content — because they may not — and use the design to convey your message anyway.
  • SEO: We research your top competitors and other companies in your industry and craft a strategy for bringing users to your site who may be considering those companies. We then create landing pages with tables, features, and/or pricing information that highlight how your solution is better than the other solutions out there.
  • Marketing: Once users have shown some interest in your company, you’re in a great place to begin marketing methods like email marketing. Consider how you can capture users’ emails — a call to action that includes a form comes in handy here — and thoughtfully segment those users. Send out periodic emails to highlight your features, announce new products, give exclusive access to sales, and encourage users lingering in the consideration stage to go ahead and make a purchase.

Stage 3: Conversion

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.

Conversion Stage strategy: evaluate and celebrate

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.

Web design for the conversion stage

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.

  • Content: Think of all the conversions that a user can make on your website. Whether that’s signing up for your newsletter, purchasing a product, or filling out a contact form, you need content that loads after they complete the conversion. For these examples, that may be a confirmation email about their newsletter subscription with additional resources they may want, social sharing of the product they just bought, or text that describes what they can do next while waiting for you to respond to their inquiry. But regardless of where this copy appears, it should focus on the customer’s newly positive feelings now that your product solved their problem. Do they have anyone else who could benefit from your solutions? Doesn’t it feel great for that annoying problem to be solved? We help you elicit these ideas with upbeat, positive content.
  • Design: Thoughtful and eye-catching calls to action are only as effective as the process that kicks in after the user takes that next step. Do your high-converting pages have clear, noticeable social media share buttons? Does your after-form submission page or thank-you page include links and visuals to other helpful forms of content? Does that ebook download confirmation include links to related ebooks? Put yourself in your customer’s shoes, complete the conversions throughout your site, and look for opportunities to help urge them along.
  • SEO: A simple but effective thing we do here is to make sure that your Google Maps listings are updated and verified. When they are, a user can search your company’s name, find your listing in Google Maps, and leave you an official review. We make it as easy as possible for those happy customers to leave you online reviews so that they actually do, because studies show how important those are to your bottom line. According to the Spiegel Research Center at Northwestern University, displaying reviews led to 380% more conversions for higher-priced products and 190% more conversions for lower-priced products.
  • Marketing: If you’ve built up your following on social media or you’ve established a great email list with high open rates, we may recommend launching a referral or sharing campaign that encourages these customers to spread the word about your product. Also consider reaching out to happy customers asking them to leave reviews — only a small percentage of Americans regularly do — provide testimonials you can use in other marketing, or to allow you to write a white paper/case study about how your product benefited them.

Web design & the buyer’s cycle: be proactive and think cyclically

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.

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