Understanding how customers move through the sales funnel, why they make their decisions and how you can help them along the way is an organizational-wide effort. Examining that journey, and its many twists and turns enables companies to better understand their customers, better predict and forecast sales, improve customer satisfaction and loyalty—and ultimately boost revenue. As our team prepared to write this blog, we posed the question, “How do consumers decide what they want to buy and who they want to buy it from?”
The journey is first influenced by awareness of your brand. It’s about how many people have heard of your brand, but it’s not just about how many people know what you do or who you are—it also takes into account whether they feel positively toward you. If they do, that means they’re more likely to take action on what they’ve heard (whether that action is buying from you or recommending your product to others).
“Awareness typically begins on social media or YouTube with witty or inspirational storytelling. For me to consider the product further, the company’s branding and website/app need to be current and visually appealing. The higher quality the brand identity, the more I trust that the product, service, and employee/community treatment will be of high quality as well. If the product or service is highly rated by customers, and if most of the previous points are checked, free shipping will seal the deal.”
– Josh Schimke, Creative Strategist, Busy Parent, Millennial
Once a consumer knows your brand, they enter the consideration stage. They’re weighing the value of your brand’s key benefits and deciding if they trust your brand and its products. They’re deciding not just to buy or not, but whether they feel you are credible.
“Oftentimes, consumers determine what they want to purchase when discovering a need they have. Once they have solidified their purchasing decision through an emotional brand connection, those consumers will start researching their desired product or service from the company they trust. Many consumers are more willing to dedicate their time and finances not only with those they trust but with those that will meet them where they are. Trust and convenience becomes driving factors when determining your purchasing decisions and with who.”
– Elizabeth Nemer, Sales Director, Mom to Boys and Substitute Soccer Coach
It sounds simple. Make a connection with your consumers, build trust with them, and influence future purchases in your business category. But to create that influence, you must be where your customer is. Your marketing will need to find them naturally, in the paths they take through social media, internet, and even conversation. Awareness begins when consumers see something they want to buy or do something they want to try—it could be an article on social media, an ad on TV, or even seeing someone else using the product in real life.
“The post-consumption consumer has access to everything they need, whenever they need it – save for one thing, time. So that consumer seeks out products and services that save them time – however they define it. As a marketer I focus on how the customer decides where that attention goes and it is broken down into three phases. Feelings – they tell themselves they feel like there is a desire that needs to be satiated. Story – they tell themselves a story about why the deserve to give into those feelings and the last phase, Fact Finding – where they search for data to support their story.”
– Eric Hultgren, Director of Branded Content, Creator, Media Junkie and Gen Xer
The Decision Journey is the transformation of a potential customer into a loyal, brand advocating customer. By understanding what drives this journey and how to influence each stage of it, you can create more loyal customers who will buy your products again and again.