We can’t reiterate enough the importance of the buyer journey. Not just the transaction itself, but the entire customer experience.
Research shows that 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience and 33% of customers will consider switching brands after just one poor experience. When planning your marketplace, try and get inside the mind of your customers to provide an engaging and effective buyer journey and focus your attention on how to improve their experience.
What is the buyer journey?
Put simply, it’s the pathway customers follow while interacting with your marketplace up until the point a transaction is complete. Having a good understanding of this journey allows you to tweak the architecture, design, copy and content on your site to reflect their needs. Creating a connection between visitors (i.e. potential customers) and your brand makes it easier for you to guide and nurture them through each stage of the process as you persuade them to ultimately make a purchase decision.
There are three key stages to the buyer journey:
Meet Freddie (our example buyer persona). He is frustrated with his wireless headphones which have poor battery life and are uncomfortable to wear. He knows he has a problem and has decided to do something about it by searching online for an answer. Freddie is in the awareness stage of the buyer journey.
Think of this as the research stage – Freddie isn’t looking for a particular brand or vendor at this stage, he just wants a solution to his problem. This isn’t a decision stage, but a customer-centric approach that lets buyers like Freddie know that you understand the problem and that you have a solution.
As the owner of a marketplace, you can help people like Freddie find what they are looking for by considering the questions and pain points they might want answering, then create content related to those queries. This will include customer reviews and examples of good customer experiences or creating blogs that directly address their most common FAQs. Doing so will help them associate your brand with the answers to their needs.
Freddie is now officially interested. He knows that comfy wireless headphones with a long battery life exist. This is the stage at which Freddie is weighing up his options by comparing and contrasting similar solutions to find the best one for him.
So now Freddie knows that you exist. Your next trick is to demonstrate why you are the best choice, explain why other customers chose you with customer feedback, and demonstrate how you will make life easier. This includes highlighting the benefits – and value – of your solution (via blogs, videos, testimonials, case studies or user guides where appropriate) on the landing pages across your site.
Freddie is now at the final stage of the buyer journey and ready to part with his money. He knows a solution to his problem exists, he simply needs some final persuasion to decide who is the best vendor for him. At this point, a live demo, product comparison, free trial, or money-off discount code could make all the difference.
Your job now is to persuade Freddie that you’re the number one choice and also highlight why now is the best time to buy. Creating a subtle sense of urgency, such as ‘This offer must end soon’ can sometimes provide the tipping point.
Need help mapping the customer journey?
The key thing to remember throughout all three of these stages is to keep everything customer-centric and make your site and content more about your customer than about you. Focus on the value your products or services provide and you will more likely come across as the best option.
A big part of the customer journey is the design of your site, and this is backed up by research that suggests 75% of internet users judge a business’ credibility solely on how their website looks.
The stages that we just spoke about should be the foundation of your marketplace design – awareness, consideration and design should be mapped on your site to ensure your visitors can easily find what they need at each stage of the process, no matter how they arrive at your site.
Little improvements to the design of your buyer journey can make a big difference to your conversion rate, sales and brand loyalty. A few things to note about each of these points:
Pop-ups: While you need to tread carefully with pop-ups so they don’t become annoying, they can aid in converting visitors so include them in your considerations.
Testimonials: A huge 92% of consumers read online testimonials and reviews when considering whether or not to make a purchase. Make sure the consideration stage of your customer journey includes reviews, case studies and testimonials.
Easy login: Everybody wants an easy journey through a site. That’s why, as already noted, including third-party sign-up services are so popular as they let users sign up using other existing accounts without having to fill out a laborious form.
Keep it simple: A ‘busy’ site with too much content can be overwhelming and hard to navigate. Although it may be tempting to try and seduce visitors with all of your wares, remember that less is more and quality trumps quantity every time.
Add videos: Our brains are hardwired to process visual information quicker than text. Mashable reported that adding videos to your most-visited landing pages can increase conversions by 86%.
Make it speedy: Your marketplace can be packed with the best content designed to influence how your customer interacts, but if it’s slow to load it’s all for nothing. Your visitors will most likely leave a site that takes more than four seconds to load so make sure it’s fast!
Loyalty pays: Consumers want a brand to establish a trusting relationship with them before they’ll consider a purchase or interaction with your brand. What’s more, if they feel loyalty to your brand they are more likely to recommend you via word of mouth to family and friends.
Mistrust costs: One study found that 94% of respondents who distrusted a website based that mistrust purely on the site’s design elements. The importance of creating a customer journey that is easy to navigate and with content that adds value can’t be overestimated.
Case Studies: Nothing inspires brand loyalty more than a good case study. Positive testimonials and reviews encourage potential customers to trust you which will increase the likelihood of a conversion. This should be considered by content marketers as part of your marketing strategy.