Buyer Journey (Customer Purchase Process)
Welcome to my article on the buyer journey or: The (typical) customer purchase process.
The principles apply to both, online as well as offline/local businesses, although my focus will be on the online process.
Let’s dive in.
What’s Your Niche? (Target Market)
First, we need to clarify what your chosen niche is and what target market you are trying to reach.
What’s the industry / niche / vertical that you plan to serve?
Important: Is this a buyer-friendly niche?
You might think buyers are in almost all niches, and you’d be right about it.
But there are certain verticals that are known to be less buyer-friendly than others.
Example: The minimalism niche.
More important questions to ask:
- Are there many (affiliate) products available in that niche?
- Do people frequently buy more and different products within that niche?
- Do I have an interest in that niche, can I produce helpful content for it?
These are good starting points.
Who Do You Want To Reach? (Client Avatar)
Please read this article - I wrote it a while ago but it’s still very relevant.
It’s very important to get a deep understanding of your customer/client avatar.
In fact, you should obsess over it to some degree.
Time well spent, trust me.
Truly understanding your customer is sometimes tricky to deal with.
How well do you really know your niche?
A couple of starting points:
- Do you read regularly about your niche?
- Can you effectively communicate with others in your niche?
- Do you comprehend customers issues?
- Can you come up with your own “pros and cons” for each customer situation (product, service, etc)?
- Do you understand the core problems within your niche?
Where Are They Hanging Out Online?
Now we’re getting to the nitty gritty…
Your target market, where do they hang out online?
Where can you find them online?
Example: If you’re targeting primarily business owners, check out LinkedIn, and start providing value on that platform.
Chances are, no matter what your target market is, they hang out on social media like Facebook.
Unless you’re targeting very young or very old people, you should have no problem reaching your target market online - and that’s our focus here.
Even if it’s some obscure niche, there’s likely a forum for it.
If you really asked yourself the questions I mentioned here, you’ll know exactly where to find them online.
What Are They Doing Online?
Here are a couple of ideas where you might find them… Due to their online activities:
- Social media platforms
- Search engines
- News sites
- They might be researching a certain topic
- Where are they buying stuff online?
- They might enjoy entertainment (video platforms!)
- Many people are mindlessly drifting, playing video games, …
- Or they are playing around with a new app
- Also, think about online to offline (or offline to online!) activities, like reading a book, consuming ebooks
- They might be reading blogs (which ones?)
- Reading the news, bidding on stuff, dating, …
- Learning or taking classes, reading on wikipedia, …
- Hanging out in specific groups or forums
- etc. etc.
These are all places where you could place your message in front of them.
Via ads and/or helpful content and comments.
When And How Exactly Do They Buy Stuff Online?
Now we’re finally getting to the most interesting part.
How do people buy stuff online?
Remember, it’s 2021.
That means, people buy stuff on their terms.
And that is great.
We know quite a few facts about modern buing behaviour:
- Customers rarely buy on their first point of contact to an offer
- It usually takes a person 7 touch points (website visits, emails, messages on social media, calls, etc.) before they make a purchase online
- Customers do not buy from people they don’t trust
- Customers are exchanging their hard-earned money for something that will improve upon their existing situation
- People have more access to product information and reviews online than they ever have
- Most people can see through scammy promotions, and are turned off by it (nobody likes to be sold)
That’s how most people in 2021 and beyond buy (almost anything) online:
If they don’t know the product yet, or they haven’t used it before, they’ll likely research it.
Then they’ll make a decision on moving forward or not.
If they come across a few really negative reviews, it’s usually game over already.
If they decide to get the product, they look for the best place to buy from (in terms of money, convenience, speed, bonuses, …), and then make the purchase at their chosen outlet.
When you’re producing content online, it’s important to understand at what awareness stage your visitor is:
Customer Awareness Stages
- Problem unaware
- Problem aware
- Solution aware
- Product aware
The process follows this route:
Awareness -> Consideration/Comparision -> Decision
The Research Phase
People love to learn before they buy.
They’re looking for information on a particular topic/subject.
However, most of them have no product awareness yet.
In 2021 and beyond, people solve 95%+ of their research needs online.
Virtually any information can be found through a simple, quick websearch.
That’s why the majority of people in the research phase can be found (and approached) here.
In my opinion, the best way to approach people in this phase is to get them onto your mailing list.
Now you can teach and show them the rest of the process.
Keep in mind, you likely don’t make a lot instant sales in this phase.
But if you continue to build the relationship with your subscribers via email, they might buy down the road.
Typical keywords in this phase are:
- how to XXX
- what is XXX
- successful XXX
- how can I XXX
- what’s the best way to (do) XXX
- ways to XXX
The Decision Phase
Most people go through a decision phase in which they research a number of products and/or services and decide which one is best for them.
In this phase, they’ll look at reviews and personalized opinions of others.
If you present products that are highly relevant, helpful, and of high quality, you might get the sale.
Create and publish an honest, quality review to help them make a decision.
Let me repeat: People at this point are typically looking for product reviews or further information about a certain product via search engines, or asking on social media, or looking for help on YouTube.
Typical keywords for this phase are “product or brand name” plus:
- vs (versus)
- best XXX
- top 10 XXX
People are likely to buy at this stage if you can help them and build trust by providing an honest review and in-depth information about a certain product that they haven’t seen before.
Action / Purchase Phase
People in this stage have done their research, made the decision, and are now 100% ready to buy.
Ideally, you could capture all people in this stage.
But, truth is, their research and search phase is over at this point.
However, typical keywords in this pase are:
- best price for XXX
- purchase XXX
- buy XXX
- order XXX
- best bonus for XXX
- where to buy XXX
- best offer for XXX
- where do I buy XXX
- best deal on XXX
- XXX ebay (or amazon)
The best approach at this stage: Help them to get the best deal and buy.
Simply point people in the right direction of the product they are looking to buy.
Obviousely, you want to use your affiliate link in this stage.
But let’s be real: This is the most difficult phase with tons of competition…
Making Them Take Action, Now!
He came, saw, clicked, bought, and lived happily ever after.
Unfortunately, that’s NOT how most (purchase) stories go.
You’ve got to be really helpful and build trust with people.
In most cases, this is a process that doesn’t happen overnight.
But if you’re prepared to play the professional long-game, you’re having the right mindset to make affiliate marketing work and prosper over the long-term…
An Important Reminder For New Affiliate Marketers
It is much more work to walk someone through all the stages of the purchase-cycle, and it typically requires several follow-ups or touch points.
But at the same time: It is a much larger audience!
The key is to understand who your customer is and understand what they are really looking for.
And then helping them in the best way possible.
A Simple But Powerful Exercise
Look at your own behaviour!
When and what was the last purchase you made?
Where did you start and where did you end up?
Did you purchase the same day that you started looking, or not?
Were you exposed to positive or negative advertising about a product?
Did you see the product/service in a magazine or on TV before you saw it online?
Was the price an issue for you?
Did you encounter any other issues?
What was the last phase in the buying process before you actually purchased the product?
Did you go on Facebook, or Twitter, or YouTube, or Google, or some other place for help and/or reviews from other people who bought before you?
My point is: You are a customer yourself, so take advantage of that.
There are many things that you can learn from taking a look at how you purchase something online.
By modeling (or reverse engineering) your own purchase behaviour, you will get a lot of insight as to how people behave before making a purchase.
Being A Cool, Helpful Human Being
I mentioned it before, but it’s worth repeating:
Don’t be a dick. Don’t be self-centered, greedy salesman.
In 2021 and beyond that’s a surefire way to lose.
Instead, be helpful, and provide tons of value upfront.
Then, you’ll soon see the commission checks flying in… :)
It is at least 3 times harder to sell to a new, prospective customer than it is to an existing client.
Therefore, with the initial purchase, the relationship between you and your client ideally should just be starting out.
To do this, you will need a way to collect their contact information and get in touch with them - repeatedly.
Here you can learn exactly how to do that.
PS: This is exactly how you can start and grow your online business in a professional way, from scratch, so you too can enjoy true freedom.