With the advent of the Internet and advances in mobile technology, the consumer decision-making process is not as linear as it once was.
Consumers can now read dozens of reviews and do in-depth research on products before purchasing. Traditional marketing strategies are no longer enough, the days of flipping through local newspaper ads are long gone. Instead, one morepersonalized customer experiencewhat is exciting and attractive is now preferred, and93%of marketers now see effectiveness in interactive content.
When it comes to the decision-making process, consumers exhibit both practical and emotional needs. Before money changes hands, the consumer goes through some crucial decision-making steps. Businesses need to focus on this to provide additional value to consumers and convert them into buyers.
This guide will explore the five stages of the consumer decision-making process and how to master it each step of the way.
What exactly is the consumer decision-making process?
In 1910, John Dewey stated that there were five stages in the consumer decision-making process. While inventions such as the Internet have magnified the internal and external factors that affect this process, the theory remains. In a nutshell, the consumer decision-making process looks like this:
- Problem or need for recognition –The first phase is when a consumer realizes that he needs a particular product or service.
- Search for your chosen product or servicethe consumer starts looking for descriptions and reviews about the product or service. This step has evolved considerably in recent years thanks to the internet.
- Considering other options -This is a more evaluative stage where the user begins to weigh the pros and cons of their potential purchase against other options. They must feel that they are making the best decision.
- purchase time -the consumer now decides whether to buy or not.
- Post-purchase review -the consumer evaluates his purchase decision. Are they satisfied? Was it worth the money? Would they recommend or buy again?
Awareness and understanding of the consumer decision-making process is crucial to turning these hesitant prospects into buyers.
With many businesses now operating online, the possibilities to gain deep user insights to implement more targeted marketing strategies make mastering the consumer decision-making process more valuable than ever. Thanks,customer experience analysismake it easier than ever to collect and analyze customer data to create insights.
Now is the time to take a deeper look at the consumer decision-making process as it works today. So get yourssales engagement platformBrace yourself as we learn how to turn those leads into customers.
Stage 1: Problem or Need for Acknowledgment
The customer journey starts with a problem or needs recognition.
Essentially, your prospect recognizes a problem and needs a product or service to solve it. Needs are triggered by internal and external stimuli.
internal stimulithey refer to personal perceptions felt internally and are linked to emotion. Obvious examples include thirst and hunger.
external stimulirefer to outside influences such as advertisements and spoken word testimonials. An example might be recognizing that you need a Christmas tree after seeing a seasonal ad.
Mastering this step from a marketing perspective requires understanding the specific needs of your target market. The good news is that you can influence your prospect's decisions at this early stage. Let's look at two ways to do this.
Find customer search engine trends
there is an estimate5.6 billion Google searchesper day, then your potential customers will most likely start looking for what they need here. This gives you the opportunity to understand their needs by researching the keywords they use.
For example, you have an electric bicycle business and want to diversify. Keyword research indicates that your target market is often searching for terms like "Are electric bikes safe?" or “How to avoid crashing my electric bike”. These surveys indicate that safety is the top concern for this group.
These findings can inform your strategic marketing decisions. In this example, you would trade your bike's SEO content around its safety features.
Appropriate tools for collecting search trends include Google Trends and Quora.
Ask customers direct questions
Simply asking customers direct questions about your product or service is an effective method of gathering information and measuring engagement. But how do you do it?
Surveys and focus groups are good options forhow to measure customer satisfactionand also ask important questions. This information will help you understand the needs and expectations of the ideal consumer when it comes to marketing.
Stage 2: Investigation of the required product or service
At this point, the consumer has decided that he needs a product or service to satisfy a specific need.
This is where they will start investigating your product to find out if it solves their problem and meets other expectations.
Essentially, the potential customer starts looking for your product and if things work they should be directed to yours. It's worth being aware of some of the main reasons why consumers trust brands (see table above). Trying to cover them will help ensure consumers choose you early on.
Invariably, however, this stage will merge with the next stage of the consumer's decision-making process.
Stage 3: Consideration of other options
The importance of optimizing your online content to make yourecommerce store stand outis crucial at this point.
For example, if a potential customer searched for "Safer Bikes USA 2021", they shouldoptimize your site for local searchesfor them to find you Unfortunately, this is also the stage where consumers will start to consider alternatives. So staying on top of your SEO is crucial.
Another effective way to elevate your product above the rest is to use user-generated reviews. Positive reviews are great for your brand, but they will also make your online store more visible in search engine results by providing you with a consistent source of relevant keywords and material.
Step 4: Purchase time
This crucial step is where prospects make the most important decision: will they buy?
At that point, nothing is guaranteed and potential customers can choose your product or service. In fact, there are some common factors that discourage consumers at this stage, including:
- A poor checkout experience riddled with bugs and broken buttons.
- Many options to choose from.
- Shipping costs are too high.
Don't let these issues put potential customers off. But to avoid being leftdeal with angry users, he must:
- Make sure your checkout process is smooth and 100% functional.
- Include user reviews on the checkout page to reaffirm why your product is the best choice.
- Consider free or reduced shipping for new customers.
use a goodpoint of sale systemto collect as much data as possible while you finally get your prospects to the point of sale. Even though your prospect has already shelled out the money, the decision-making process isn't over yet.
Step 5: Post-purchase evaluation
Now that the lead has become a post-purchase customer, they will reflect on their purchase decision.
If your customer is dissatisfied in any way, your post-purchase review may lead them to look for better alternatives in the future and leave negative feedback.
To avoid post-purchase blues, follow these helpful tips.
Collecting and analyzing customer feedback is a great way to gain insight into your product and business. What are some of the common issues, if any? Would buyers recommend the product to others? It's more important,how to effectively manage customer feedback?
Collecting feedback shows that you value your customers' opinions and will use them to inform future decisions.
Some direct ways to communicate with consumers during the post-purchase stage include:
- junk mail
- focus groups
- Collection and analysis of emotional analysis
- Social listening tools
- Explore customer review sites
Develop relationships with customers
Acquiring new customers is just the beginning. To keep them on board, you need asuperior customer retention strategyto help foster a positive relationship between the customer and your brand.
Customer loyalty programsand other incentives will increase the likelihood that consumers will return. They are also more likely to recommend your product or service to others.
Example of consumer decision making process
Now that we've explored some strategies for the consumer decision-making process, let's look at a real-world example:
Stage one -David's washing machine is not working properly. It's too old to fix, so David decides it's time for a new washing machine.
stage two -David searches online for the latest washing machines to see what's available.
stage three -With a better understanding of the features of modern washing machines, David narrows them down to two options and considers their features and cost effectiveness.
David notes that his only option has negative reviews, including an issue with the screen. The second option is more expensive, but David noted that it has five-star reviews and reported no issues.
stage four-Since David needs a high-quality washing machine without any problems, he decides to buy the most expensive option with good reviews.
stage five -It's been six months and David is happy with his purchase. In turn, David now leaves a review of his own for the benefit of future buyers.
Whether it's a new cloud-based service aimed atsmall business call centers, or a brand-new appliance, consumers will inevitably embark on a similar decision-making process.
Understanding this process from start to finish is critical if you're going to attract more prospects and convert them into buyers. By breaking down the consumer decision-making process into the steps above, you'll begin to understand how to get the most out of your marketing efforts.