Business leaders – and marketers especially – focus heavily on increasing conversion rates by better understanding how their customers behave. There are various models which describe this customer journey. Let’s take a look in closer detail.
The Purchase Journey
There is a five-step process which each customer will follow when moving through a buying situation. The flow of activity is principally as follows:
- Stage 1: Recognition
This occurs when they decide they need or want something
- Stage 2: Search
At this point, they will go in search of a product or service that can meet this need, in essence, looking for a solution to a problem.
- Stage 3: Comparison
They will have a range of options to consider after carrying out the search, so they will compare them at this stage to identify the best fit.
- Stage 4: Decision
At this point, they will have picked the winning solution and will purchase it.
- Stage 5: Post-purchase
Most models add this in as the stage at which a customer will work through when weighing up the purchase decision and deciding whether or not it was a good one.
The Factors that Influence the Customer Journey
A number of factors also influence how a customer will travel through this journey to the purchase point. These can be grouped as psychological factors, personal factors, social and cultural factors. Let’s examine each in more detail.
1. Psychological Factors
We may not be aware of them, but these factors deeply shape our attitudes and experiences of the world. The factors include perception, motivation, experience, learning and consumer beliefs. For example:
- Motivation: As a consumer, this will focus your mind on a desire or goal. the need that you are seeking to fulfil through your purchase can fall into any level, from a basic security need through to a more advanced social or self-esteem need (such as being accepted by your peers) or even an advanced self-actualisation need.
- Perception: This will define the way in which you see the world and will be unique to your personality and experiences. This means that every consumer has a unique and very individual set of decision-making criteria which they may or may not be aware of.
- Learning: It’s typical today for a customer to research a product before purchase, particularly if it is a high-value item or something that needs to last. This is especially true where there is no prior knowledge of that brand. Brand experience has a huge impact on eventual purchase.
- Belief systems: The beliefs and attitudes of customers strongly impact purchase decisions. Brands whose values do not align with individuals will find it very difficult to capture a sale. One key example of this lies in the field of sustainable and environmentally-friendly business practices, with many customers actively seeking out companies which display their ‘green’ credentials.
Remember that with these factors, brand perception can be created with a strong marketing campaign, or even adjusted with an effective rebranding campaign.
2. Personal Factors
Also known as market demographics, these factors encompass a wide range of variables such as career, age, interests, personality traits and even financial position. Each of these factors will move over time and vary in their influence during an individual’s life cycle. It is often possible for marketers to group individual consumers into certain niche demographics to more accurately predict behaviour and tailor marketing campaigns accordingly.
3. Social Factors
The pressure of society is intense and social factors will have an influence on purchasing decisions depending on social group membership, role in society and social status. This is why the rise of social media has gone hand in hand with the rise of influencer marketing. Opinions of peers are similar to cultural factors but more open to adjustment over time. It’s important to note that these social factors can also be leveraged online and influenced by digital fads and trends.
4. Cultural Factors
This category overlaps with social factors but includes social class and culture. These two factors, combined with personal values, will strongly influence purchasing decisions and marketers should concentrate on delivering campaigns which align brand values with the social and cultural classes which the product or service is designed to target. For example, some social classes are strongly influenced by a desire to find the best deal.
In combination, this framework gives marketers a valuable way of building up a campaign that can influence the purchasing behaviour of target customers, thereby significantly increasing the chance of a sale.
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