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ecommerce buying cycle - awareness



Phase 1 of the Ecommerce Buying Cycle: Awareness

I was recently reminded at a conference that there are two main ways to convert a lead. The first is to provide facts and the other is to evoke emotions. Sounds simple enough, right? We all make decisions based on facts or emotions, sometimes both.

This is a good reminder that customers don’t make buying decisions on an island. There’s a process they follow when deciding on a product or service, and it may not always be linear. In this three-part series, we’ll discuss three steps of the ecommerce buying cycle: awareness, consideration, and decision.

Awareness

Awareness in the ecommerce buying cycle is two-fold. First, customers must be able to identify their need. Second, they must become aware that your online business can serve their need. 1

Customers still base decisions on personal experience and on the advice of family, friends, and strangers. And now they also have the ability to conduct online research. Search engine results prove to be critical because what appears can influence buying decisions. Here are two tools to consider when it comes to online search: search engine optimization (SEO) and pay per click (PPC).

SEO

SEO is, “the process of getting traffic from the ‘free,’ ‘organic,’ ‘editorial’, or ‘natural’ search results on search engines.” 2 Search engines use algorithms to rank web pages and content according to what they determine users will like the most. It’s important to note that companies cannot pay search engines to optimize organic search.

SEO includes making sure that the right words, titles, and links appear on your website so your content can get picked up by search engines. It also means making sure that you have engaging content on your site that’s updated regularly. There are many facets of SEO and it can become complicated, so consider seeking a trusted advisor to help build your SEO strategy.

PPC

Another tool at your disposal is PPC. Also called cost per click, it’s when companies pay a website owner whenever their ad is clicked on the site. PPC can highlight or promote your website using special callouts that put your name and brand center stage. You’ll have to compete with other companies also using PPC, some of which might be your competitors.

Earlier we stated that awareness is two-fold. First, the customer must be aware of their need. When the customer identifies their need, they often go online to search. Both SEO and PPC can help drive awareness and get them to believe that your online business can solve their need. The information you provide, or the emotion you evoke, after they open that door (that is, click through to your website) matters more than you might think. That’s the consideration phase, and we’ll discuss it in part two of this series.

1 HubSpot, http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/19022/How-to-Leverage-the-5-Stages-of-the-Customer-Buying-Cycle-for-More-Sales.aspx, 2011.

2 Search Engine Land, http://searchengineland.com/guide/what-is-seo.

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