Online shopping was already gaining popularity in the years leading up to the COVID pandemic. But when the world went on lockdown, online shopping became commonplace. According to Forbes, nearly 40 percent of U.S. consumers were purchasing retail goods online as of July 2020, and the trend has shown no signs of slowing down since stores started to re-open. The pandemic fueled an online shopping trend that’s here to stay, forcing many brands and companies to re-evaluate their digital marketing techniques and offerings.
Why People Like to Shop Online
There are many reasons why customers prefer to shop online. The most obvious reason is that it’s much more convenient in most cases. It’s also easy to get precise information about a product or service, which is why 21 percent of customers shop online. 35 percent of customers shop online to read reviews about the product they’re considering and look for real-life images from customers so that they know what to expect after making a purchase.
With 39 percent of customers shopping online to avoid sales pressure, the last thing a business would want to do is make their marketing objectives evident by trying to push their products. These days, brands need to build trust and make customers feel good about buying products from them if they want to be successful.
How Do People Shop Online?
While it’s pretty simple for the average consumer to tell you why they like to shop online, not many people can explain how customers shop online. Unless you’re into marketing, you may never have given the topic a thought at all. However, there is a process to how people shop online, and it’s mainly psychological. It’s called the buyer’s journey, and it’s broken down into three stages: awareness, consideration, and decision. Each stage requires the brand or business to create different types of content that will successfully lead the customer through the process to making a purchase.
Let’s say an internet user is searching for an e-commerce website builder. The types of content that will lead customers to each stage include:
· Awareness: E-commerce store home page – to provide an overview of your business
· Consideration: Product category page – to demonstrate your industry expertise
· Decision: Product page – to help the user finalize their decision
In this 3-part article series, we’ll focus on each stage of the buyer’s journey to help you create the winning content they require. Let’s begin with awareness.
Step 1: Awareness
The first step in a buyer’s journey is awareness. Awareness begins with the customer recognizing that they have a problem that requires a solution and hopefully ends with the customer discovering that your product provides the ideal solution to their problem.
During this stage, the customer is in the midst of identifying a challenge or an opportunity they may want to pursue. As they move through the stage, they’ll decide whether or not the challenge at hand should be a priority in their life.
It’s helpful at this point to focus your business or brand’s writing for this stage on laying out the symptoms of the potential problem the customer is facing and the potential solutions that the brand or business can provide. To fully understand what a customer is going through in the awareness stage, it can be helpful to consider the following questions:
· How would a customer describe their challenges or goals if they were looking for your product or service?
· How would a customer go about educating themselves on these challenges or goals?
· If the customer chooses a path of inaction, what would the consequences be?
· Are there any common misconceptions that customers may have concerning the challenge or goal?
· How might a customer decide whether finding a solution to the challenge or goal should be a priority for them?
When you consider the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey from the buyer’s point of view, you can get a much clearer picture of what your potential customers are going through, which in turn will help you create more meaningful content for them.
The Importance of Nurturing Prospects
Most potential customers don’t end up on your site ready to make a purchase when they’re in the awareness stage. Chances are, they’ve just realized that they have a problem or a need and are in the middle of gathering information about it so that they can fully understand it and how to solve it. Instead of throwing a bunch of ads or pushy sales copy in their faces and either scaring them off or having them make a one-time purchase from you, you have a chance to nurture them and help them build trust in your brand, potentially converting them into long-time buyers. You can do this by creating the best types of content and providing it in the right places and at the correct times, helping to gently usher them toward making a purchase.
Types of Content to Focus On
There are various types of content a business can focus on to walk potential buyers through the awareness stage. These include:
· Blog posts
· Landing pages and/or detailed service pages
· Guides and eBooks
· Social ads or PPC ads
· Webinars that focus on the potential problem
The purpose of creating content at this point in the buyer’s journey is to present problems, symptoms of problems, and solutions. When addressing the customers’ issues, you need to focus on big-picture, industry-focused content. This type of content is best presented through advertisements, social media posts, PR, and sponsorships.
When you’re presenting solutions to the customers’ problems, your content should educate the customer and help them evaluate buying criteria. This type of content is best delivered through eBooks, White Papers, webinars, videos, and reviews.
The All-Important Blog Post
The blog post is one of the easiest and most common types of content that can help convert a customer in the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey. When creating a blog post for the customer in this stage, you’ll want to keep it free of sales copy and only make brand acknowledgments if absolutely necessary. This type of post should be purely informative – remember, you’re simply trying to answer questions and help solve problems. The content should be written in a friendly tone and be easy to understand while also being educational enough to show that your brand or business has expertise in the industry. The ultimate goal is to showcase the value that doing business with your brand can provide the customer.
For example, suppose you’re in the business of selling weight loss supplements. As you’re creating blog posts for the awareness stage, you wouldn’t want to plunge them into salesy articles about how your supplements can help them lose weight. Instead, you want to create content that they can relate to – pieces about general ways in which a person can lose weight, for example, and somewhere in there mentioning how supplements can help.
Remember to Keep an Objective Perspective
Remember that no matter what type of content you choose to create, your number-one goal is to understand your customer and feed them content that’s helpful and relatable. If you want to create genuine content that will win the hearts of your prospects, the best thing you can do is leave the sales-focused mind behind and keep an objective perspective.
Stay tuned for the next article in the series, where we’ll be discussing the next stage in the buyer’s journey: consideration.