Customer Buying Cycle: Importance, Stages and Benefits

Did you know that before deciding to buy a product or hire a service, the user goes through a series of phases? 

This is known in marketing as the customer buying cycle or buyer’s journey. Yes, before buying, the user detects a need or problem within their Customer Journey, looks for a solution and compares different options. 

If you want your prospects to become customers, pay close attention to this post.

What is the customer buying cycle?

The customer buying cycle is the process a user goes through from the moment they discover a need or a problem until they decide to buy what satisfies them or solves said problem.

It is related to the 5 states of consciousness described by Eugene Schwartz in his book “Breakthrough Advertising”.

These are the states:

Not aware. The audience is not aware that they have a problem.

Aware of the problem. The audience recognizes that they have a problem but does not know the solutions.

Aware of the solution. The audience is aware that there are solutions to their problem, but they don’t know which products to choose.

Product aware. The audience is aware that our product is a solution to their problem, but they are not convinced that it is the ideal solution.

Aware of the offer. The audience knows that our product is the ideal solution and they want our product, but they want to negotiate conditions, price…

This journey can be measured whether it occurs offline or online, although it will always be easier to analyze the steps followed by the consumer if they move through the online channel, since users seek or need a specific type of information in each one of the phases or perform different actions to continue moving towards the purchase.

The Customer Buyer’s Journey

The buyer’s journey or purchase cycle goes through a series of stages, which are usually represented as an inverted pyramid. In the highest part of this pyramid, that is, the widest, is the first phase of the process: discovery. Let’s go with her!

Discovery

At this moment the consumer detects that he has a problem, a lack, a need that he must solve. It is then that he begins to look for information to clarify his doubts and find an explanation for his situation or a solution. In many cases, this search is done on Google, so it is essential to appear on the first page of the search engine, either organically or paid.

To reach this user organically, we advise you to have a blog in which you deal with topics related to your business. For example, if you have a computer repair and sales store, your blog can try to answer questions such as: “What can I do if my Mac won’t start?”, “Why is my computer so slow?” or “The keyboard does not work”. In this way, if the problem is small, he will solve it himself and remember your brand for future reference; and if the problem is more serious, he will go to the technical service of your business or buy the devices he needs.

On the other hand, you can invest in advertising (both in Google Ads and in Facebook and Instagram Ads) to reach these users who are in the discovery phase. Continuing with the previous example, you can advertise your computer repair services.

Consideration

Once the user has passed the first phase, it’s time to capture his attention: he should consider having your brand to solve his problem or need. To do this, you must offer alternatives and solutions to choose from.

The user, in this second stage of the purchase cycle, must evaluate the different options and consider which one is the best. It can depend on something as obvious as the location of your physical store, so we recommend you work on your Local SEO and appear on Google Maps.

Knowing in detail what the competition offers is key to being able to give them reasons to opt for your products or services. For example, you can dedicate a section of your website to giving value to your brand: what differentiates you from your competitors? Why should they buy from you and not from them?

Decision

We have reached the third and final phase of the buyer’s journey! This is the definitive phase, in which the client goes from being potential to being official and the company closes a sale or contract.

This decision does not have to be made in a completely linear process. The ZMOT or ‘zero moment of truth’ is present throughout the purchase cycle and refers to the need to have a presence and provide valuable content to users so that they find us and value us positively. The ZMOT takes more weight in the consideration and decision phases, since it allows the user to compare the opinions of other users about products and brands, and to create a positive or negative opinion prior to the experience with the brand.

Within the stage called decision, certain things must be taken into account so that the client does not back down at the last moment.

It is very important that the process is as simple as possible.

At the time before cto miss the sale or service, it is good to offer gifts, offers, advantages or similar promotions that make the customer satisfied with their decision.

If the purchase has been programmed to be carried out in a few quick steps, the website does not present any technical problem and the customer is offered all kinds of possibilities, the process will have been a success and the purchase cycle will be satisfactorily closed.

What content to offer to users in each phase of the purchase cycle?

In the discovery stage

When we consider that a user is in the discovery stage, we have to give him as much information as possible so that he becomes aware of his situation or his problem. To do this, we recommend writing content based on the search for problems, for example, on the blog or on YouTube. Guides, e-books and other downloadables that delve into the pain point and serve to convert those users into leads also work very well. The company or its products should not be discussed at this time, but it is advisable to provide knowledge to the user simply.

In the consideration phase

At the consideration stage, we can include mentions of our solution, addressing the benefits that the user would obtain and trying to iron out the pain points. It is time to enhance the value proposition and why they should choose your product over the competition.

Comparison content, product samples, demos, tutorials, and how-to guides work great. In addition, we recommend email marketing and sending them more in-depth content such as videos or webinars for the users we have already identified as leads.

In the decision phase of the customer buyer’s journey

The decision stage is the most purely commercial since the users of this phase have already decided to hire a solution to their problem, and your company may be one of the options they are considering. Product samples, success stories, free studies, discounts and offers can be offered…

But, what arguments can you offer them to show them that you are the best option? This is where the competitive strategy of the brand, product or service comes into play.

You can compete on price or compete on differentiation. The first option is hazardous because someone will always be able to do it cheaper than you. When faced with two equal solutions, the user will opt for the cheapest one. 

However, suppose you try to add value to the user. In that case, you take into account what aspects your buyer persona values ​​most (for example, after-sales service, personalized attention, location, etc.), you try to be different, unique, the user will opt for your solution without hesitation.

Can the user interrupt the purchase cycle?

Although these are the stages of the purchase cycle, you should know that the consumer can interrupt it at any time. To avoid this, we recommend you monitor these stages, analyze your strategies and optimize the messages according to the phase of the purchase cycle in which users are. You can do this with the help of marketing automation tools. 

Why you should know the buying cycle of your customers

Having a well-defined buyer’s journey that users follow until they become customers will allow you to improve the overall experience with the brand, generate the most appropriate content and messages for each moment, and improve business results in the long run. In addition, it will help you arouse interest in your products or services and even generate a need for them.

It is vital that you analyze and understand your ideal client perfectly to better plan your commercial and marketing strategy.

With QuestionPro CX management software, you can connect with your customer and empathize with their concerns and motivations.

It is also essential to encourage conversion and loyalty. You must analyze the points that fail during that purchase process and what improvements could be made so that the largest possible number of users close a sale.

Measuring all this will allow you to make decisions based on facts. Assumptions and intuition seldom work in marketing and sales.

In short, understanding users’ purchase cycle will help you considerably increase your business’s sales. And you, have you identified the needs or problems that can lead your buyer person to buy your products or hire your services?

Start following your customer’s journey. QuestionPro offers some of the most advanced customer experience tools available. Gain valuable insights into your customers’ thoughts and feelings using QuestionPro CX today.