Strengthen Your Business Website: Helping Your People Through Their Buying Journey

I generally try to avoid “marketing speak” – and I’m particularly aware of some people’s issue with the word “journey” – but for today’s post, this is where we find ourselves.

You see – whether you’re selling products or services, going straight to consumers or commercial clients – the buyers’ journey can help us understand what we need to say to the people we can help.

Because your website isn’t just for the sale

Imagine, if you would, I’ve taken up chocolate making as a hobby (I was going to use running as my example, but that’s a level of imagination I’m not going to ask you to exert). I’ve got some ideas for potential recipes but I need to go shopping before I can start, so I pop out to the local high street which – luckily for me – has two cooking stores to explore.

Shop One – I walk around the shops’ chocolate-making goodies (marble slabs, thermometers and more), a little bit awed and unsure of what I need. Approaching the assistant behind the till, I ask for some advice “What shall I start with?” 

I’m told – with a smile – “For chocolate-making, it’s that aisle. We’ve got a special offer on this thermometer; you’ll find what you need there”. With no advice on offer, I’m left to read the labels on the products to work out what I need.

Shop Two – the shop, the products and the layout are very similar (it’s amazing they can both make money on this fictional high street), however, the assistant in this store is welcoming customers and tidying the shelves. Again, I find the aisle I need and stare in wonder at the range of mixing bowls on offer. As I turn to enquire, however, the assistant is already there, the question “can I help you?” on their lips. Reviews of the products are offered and questions are asked about my plans and experience. 

I leave the shop with a bag full of equipment, but also ideas for recipes and a good feeling about my experience.

Which of these shops is most like your website?

Stepping through the buyer’s journey

You may have come across some variation of the buyer’s journey before, these are the stages someone will pass through when buying a product or service.

I’ve focused on four steps in the buyer’s journey. While the example above shows how different places handle customer enquiries in different ways, the examples below will explain them in more detail, showing how you can help your audience at each of these stages to serve them better.

In the example above, although I was hoping to buy utensils and ingredients, I needed some guidance before I was comfortable to commit; and given the option of two providers I chose the one who helped me with the information I needed (even though the first shop had special offers available).

Your website may be one of many (thousands) offering services like yours, offering support at each of these buying stages benefits your visitor – and therefore benefits you.

Let’s look at these stages and think about how you’re using your website to support potential customers through them.

1. Awareness of Need

This is the moment your ideal client realises they need SOMETHING… whether they’ve just used the last of the milk or discovered the microwave door is broken.

Replacing the milk is a simple buying decision with likely only two steps… 

Step 1. “I need to replace the milk”.

Step 2. Milk is bought from the preferred supplier.

Discovering your microwave is broken prompts a complex buying decision with more steps which we’ll look into further.

How does your website help people who have become aware of a need?

 Your website needs to show visitors that you understand their current needs and you’ve helped people with such problems before. You may offer a solution your website visitor hasn’t encountered before – microwave repair courses. They’re not looking for that, their internet search was ‘microwave door broken’, so you’ll need to help them understand why your solution is the best one – leading us to…

2. Research and Evaluation

Let’s go back to the microwave example and how we progress when we become aware of that problem.

Step 1. “The microwave isn’t working because the door is broken.”

Why does this prompt a complex buying decision? Because it looks something like this…

“Do I need to buy a new microwave? Can I afford a new microwave? What about fixing it? Could I fix it? What about Mike the Microwave Repairman? Ooh look, there are microwave repair courses. How quickly do I need the microwave working?…” And on, and on.

The complexity of every buying scenario will depend on the product for sale and the person doing the research – many of us will skip quickly over the idea of self-repair, but not everyone!

How does your website help people who are researching their needs?

You can help by providing the information your audience is looking for to guide their decision-making.

Your website is the ideal place to lay out the benefits of your products and services, showing your ideal clients how you can improve their lives.
And, don’t forget your blog (I know you wouldn’t). Think of all the additional help you can provide there… case studies of people who have been through this process before, product reviews, or checklists to ensure nothing is forgotten.

I talked about this more in the posts Help Your Audience By Blogging, 4 Steps to Show Them What You Know and The Accountant Who Gave Away All Her Secrets.

3. Decision and Purchase

Once the research has been done, your customer will pick a solution and make the purchase. How easy is this?

How does your website help people who are making their buying decision and purchasing?

Your process will depend on your product and other considerations, but it’s worth reviewing it from the customer’s perspective.

How easy is it to find what they need? Can they easily see how the process will work, how much it will cost, and when they will get access to their solution? Are you offering them any reassurance they’ve made the right decision?

Examine any information you have available – where do people drop out of your sales process? And why?

4. After Purchase

Some discussions of the buyer’s journey don’t include this stage but I think it’s really important. Whether you’re hoping this sale will be a recurring arrangement or just a one-off if you can keep your buyer happy there’s far more chance they’ll come back to you in the future or recommend you to others.

How does your website help your customer after their purchase?

Maybe the purchase will prompt an email signup or inclusion into a group or community.

Additional content on your site might include tips and recommendations for users and shared customer stories. Make it easy for people to find answers to questions and support if they need it. We know it costs significantly more to find new customers than keep existing ones – make sure your website is helping with that.

Helping your customers when they need you – even if they’re not ready to buy

Understanding who you can help and what they need at that point is just one part of this story. By showing you understand the journey and helping your customer explore their options you’ll be gaining trust for the point when that decision is made.

Is your website doing this much work for you? Helping your audience at every stage of their journey? Maybe I can help – drop me a mail.