5 Stages Your Customers Go Through When They are Looking at Your Products & Services
Your customers typically go through 5 stages in their buying process. Knowing these stages will help you reach your customers and potential customers where they are at so that you can tailor your messaging to their needs.
Stage 1 - Problem Recognition
The first stage is problem recognition. This is when your potential customers first realize that they have a problem they are trying to solve or a passion that they are trying to grow. At this stage, they are not ready to make a purchase, they just know that there is a problem they are trying to solve.
Sometimes however, as a business owner, you may feel like you offer a product or service that isn’t intuitively recognized as a problem. In this case, you can kick off the problem recognition process through content marketing.
Stage 2 - Information Search
The second stage is searching for information. Put yourself in your client’s shoes. Let’s say your phone started acting up. What would you do? Odds you are going to get on your computer and look up what might be the issue. With that you begin to look for information. This is where great Search Engine Optimization comes into play. The website with the best SEO will rank towards the top. However they usually rank towards the top because they anticipate and answer the searchers questions in the most accurate way. This is where you want your content to be.
Note that, in our example, if you did not find what you are looking for from the first try, you then modify your search inquiry in a way that is more detailed. Your customers are doing the same thing. They begin with the general inquiry, then become more detailed.
This information is usually collected through a variety of places that can either be organic or paid. This can be Google searches, ads that appear on Instagram or TikTok as a person is scrolling through, banners, and YouTube ads, to name a few.
One of the best ways to help your potential customers in this stage is through influencer marketing. These are the thought leaders of your industry. By collaborating with them you ensure that your brand is connected to their audience as well.
Note, they do not have to have millions of followers for them to be influencers. You can work on a small scale depending on your budget.
Stage 3 - Evaluation of Alternatives
Going back to our example, you may have conducted a research and realized that your phone cannot be fixed, so you decided that you need to buy a new phone. With that plan in mind, the next step is to compare alternatives.
Most likely, this is the same step that your potential customers are taking before investing in your products or services.
They will typically compare things like price, features, benefits, and functionality. Knowing what they are looking for you can provide that information. It is your chance to let your products and services shine.
The best way to do that is by taking the extra step to conduct the comparison for them and keep them on your site. By doing so you make it easier for these potential customers and that creates a positive association between your brand and their search, and it also establishes a trustworthy relationship because it takes the way the thought that their business is just a number.
Stage 4 - Purchase Decision
After going through the evaluation stage, the customer makes an informed decision to buy one of the products they evaluated. However, since people typically change their minds, it is your job to remind them of your product or services. This is called remarketing.
The purpose of remarking is to remind the potential customers of why they needed this product or service in the first place. Here it is important to highlight the benefits that are associated with your brand in particular vs the competitors.
This stage ends with the purchase.
Stage 5 - Post Purchase Behavior
After a purchase has been made it is important to follow up with your customers to make sure that they are satisfied with their purchase. This is done for several reasons, one because a happy customer is an advocate for the brand, two because getting feedback can help you reevaluate and better your products or services, and three customer retention costs a lot less then customer acquisition.