The buying cycle, also known as the marketing cycle or sales cycle, is the process that consumers and progress through when considering a purchase. Various steps have been assigned to this process. However, the basic elements remain the same across most models. Understanding the pattern buyers go through is key to effective marketing, promotion, and earnings.
The first step in most buying cycle depictions is awareness. It is at this point that a buyer recognizes that he/she needs something. While most companies’ market research and promotions are geared to reach customers during this stage, affiliate marketers who run product review sites won’t often find folks in this stage to be of much benefit, especially when promoting a program like Amazon, which offers a short 24-hour cookie. By the time people in this stage purchase something, they have often researched multiple options so an affiliate cookie set at this stage is often overwritten by an affiliate later on down the line when the person actually is ready to make a purchase.
While “review site” marketers may find this stage useless, webmasters who run email marketing campaigns and those who build out brands with a social media following may find this stage to be very beneficial as it allows them to make potential customers aware of their offerings and how they fit in with what the customer is looking for.
The next stage in the buying cycle is typically “consideration”. During this stage, the buyer determines which features and options are important to him. A typical buyer might be comparing the features of different models of a product that he is interested in at this stage. The ability to describe features and benefits of specific models that coincide with the customer’s needs is crucial during this time. Websites that offer product comparisons often target buyers who are in this stage.
It’s crunch time! The customer has settled on a specific product and is taking his wallet out. He is looking for the best price and/or a trusted source to purchase from. If you can capture buyers who are at this stage of the buying process, you can close sales with very high conversion rates. Product review sites often attempt to intercept buyers at this stage, knowing a purchase is often imminent.
Marketers who also incorporate list building into their strategies also attempt to capture customer email addresses at this point in an effort to develop an ongoing relationship for future sales. This is where “the money is in the list” comes from.
Although many buying cycle models include awareness, consideration and purchase stages, not all go beyond that. However, the “after-sale” phase can be a lucrative phase to target – especially for those marketers who build email lists and those who build communities.
Ultimately, the opportunity that comes with the “after-sale” phase is one in which the marketer can often make repeat sales to the buyer since the marketer has already earned the buyer’s trust through the initial sale.