You’re online browsing for a shirt and find a few options. You decide to look into one option and decide it’s not the right one for you and abandon the cart. Soon after, you start to see display and social media ads featuring that shirt until finally you decide to make the purchase.
For consumers, buying items online is as simple as viewing an item, adding it to your cart and making a purchase. However, this is not the case for brands connecting with consumers. There are stages to the consumer journey, and it’s important to create a strategy for each because consumers not only purchase from you but will come back to your brand.
The 5 Stages of the Consumer Journey
There are five distinct stages:
- Awareness. At this stage, the consumer discovers products and starts to get interested in making a potential purchase.
- Consideration. consumers are not quite ready to make a purchase at this stage. They take time to evaluate the product by looking at prices, reviews and delivery time.
- Motivation. This can really be the moment to help lead into the next stage of conversion. Specific conditions could encourage a decision to make the purchase, such as low stock notifications.
- Conversion. It’s self-explanatory, but this is the stage where the consumer makes the purchase.
- Loyalty. While businesses may consider conversion to be the end of the journey, it’s important to remember that these consumers can become lifelong buyers of your brand and might even become ardent supporters.
Tips for the Consumer Journey Stages
There are two types of awareness: pre-awareness and product awareness. With pre-awareness, consumers are not looking for any specific product and are “window shopping” online. Product awareness is the time period when the consumer has a broad idea of what type of item they want to purchase. Intentional strategies can help you reach consumers during this stage.
A great place to start is marketplace advertising such as Amazon Advertising. In fact, our recent global survey showed 89% of shoppers browse items on online marketplaces like Amazon or eBay without the intention to purchase. This is a great opportunity to bring your products or brand to their attention as they search for products.
Strong social media presence is a must in this day and age. Forty-seven percent of 18- to 25-year old consumers discovered products they purchased through social media feeds such as Facebook, Instagram or Tiktok. Create social channels on these platforms and target audiences with paid social ads like Facebook Ads or Stories Ads. Find influencers to work with who use and love your brand too.
Don’t underestimate TikTok, in particular. Forty-eight percent of Gen Z is on TikTok, and millennials, Gen X and baby boomers make up 51% of the user base. This is a channel you don’t want to miss out on when it comes to advertising. From In-Feed Ads to Brand Takeover Ads, the platform offers plenty of ways to get in front of potential consumers.
In this stage, the consumer has found the product they are looking for, but they are not quite ready to hit purchase. They want to do some more research and take a look at reviews, return policies and prices.
Price is something a lot of consumers consider when making a purchase. The vast majority (83%) of consumers in our online consumer behavior survey said they usually compare prices before making a purchase. Provide ways for consumers to consider the best deal such as signing up for a newsletter or giving discount codes.
Aside from price, consumers want to know everything they can about the product they are purchasing online. A robust and detailed product description will help to sway consumers to purchase. Amazon is a great example as 50% of consumers trust the marketplace giant to have the most accurate product information. Add high resolution photos, videos and item specific details on the page. Be consistent across all channels on which you list the product. consumers are more likely to shop where they find accurate product information.
Motivation can be tied closely to the consideration phase. At this point, the consumer is really on the fence about purchasing the product. They can be swayed one way or another at this stage.
You want to find ways to encourage and entice them to make the purchase. Think about retargeting efforts. Retargeting ads can be a good place to start. Keep your brand in front of these consumers by splitting retargeting efforts based on visitor behavior. It could target those who clicked through your site and pages and showed interest in your product or brand.
Think about cart abandonment emails. consumers may add products to their cart and decide to sit on whether they should or should not follow through with their purchase. Sending staggered, personalized emails will help bring these products back to their attention. Providing an incentive with discounts like 10%-15% off their first purchase can really make the difference here with over 75% of consumers stating that price is very important when choosing products.
A pro tip for this phase is to remember that finding the right motivators to entice consumers to complete a purchase may take some trial and error. You may need to create A/B test emails with different messaging or content — but remember to only change one element when executing the test emails (for example, change the subject line or the images used).
If your consumer has reached this stage, they are ready to complete their purchase, so what could possibly go wrong? Well, cart abandonment remains a possibility. According to our online consumer behavior survey, over 50% of consumers have completely abandoned their cart due to an out-of-stock product. More than 40% suspected the product price could be better or be lower in the future.
Make the checkout process as easy and seamless as possible to avoid hesitation during the conversion. Think about whether your checkout experience is mobile friendly as consumers browse and purchase from their phones.
Other ways to make the experience simple is to allow consumers to check out as a guest to bypass the tedious process of creating an account. Provide multiple payment options and remove surprise fees or shipping costs.
Give consumers multiple options for how and where they complete their purchase, such as the ability to “click and collect” (buy online, pick up in-store). In the US, fifty-seven percent of consumers have used the “buy online, pick up in-store” option when shopping online. If it’s possible, give them this option.
Finally, the consumer makes the purchase. Your work is done, right? Think again. Even after the purchase, you want to foster loyalty with your consumers, so they will come back to your brand when they think about purchasing again.
Send them clear post-checkout communications such as a “thank you” confirmation email and keep them updated on the progress of their shipped package. You’ll want to reply to any questions consumers send quickly, and ask them for feedback on their experience with your brand and the product. Respond to the good and the bad.
Stay regularly engaged with these consumers in the long run through newsletters or exclusive discounts. Using your brand’s social presence, you can maintain consistent connection by creating a social experience for your followers through giveaways or rewards.
Consumers want to feel appreciated and part of something unique, so having loyalty clubs only consumers can join or providing unique advantages to existing consumers will help encourage them to continue considering the brand and keep coming back.
Learn more about the latest online consumer shopping habits and trends from our 2022 Online Consumer Behavior Global report, infographic and on-demand webinar.