The buying cycle has gotten a bit more complicated with the evolution of and adoption of online in our daily lives. The online space is a large influencer and giant step in the buying process. People spend a great deal of time online for all sorts of purpose such as social communication, entertainment, education, shopping, and researching. Many of these purposes align with various points of the buying cycle.
It used to be that marketing would help at the top of the funnel. Marketing influenced people by making them aware of your product or service and attempt to compel their interest with a well-crafted marketing message. It is currently being suggested (and we highly agree) that marketing follows the buyer through more steps in the funnel. Marketing in many cases will not replace the actual sales steps but it certainly helps with much more the process than it did formerly. People are much more empowered with information at their fingertips. They do their own research online. They ask for friend’s and stranger’s opinions and. highly regarded them prior to making a purchase or visiting a store.
We had a client a few years back that owned a car dealership. He wanted to have more people come into the dealership. His highly trained sales staff wanted to walk through all the features of the vehicles and make sales, but his foot traffic into the showroom had declined significantly. We tried to explain to him that much of this is researched, learned, and considered far before they came into the showroom. Consumers watch videos, read, and consider purchases long before they consult with someone from a company. Many times they decide which model they are buying or what their issue is before calling or coming into the store. By the time they enter the store, they have their options narrowed down or are ready to negotiate what they already know they want to buy.
So what does this mean to businesses today? Businesses need to adapt to the new buying cycle and put a priority of being in more online spaces as well as generating more content as well as a variety of content. Old marketing measures alone will not drive sales. Long gone are the days that you put an ad in the phone book or roll out a TV or Radio ad and watch the people flood in.
While people do still watch TV and listen to the radio (but not use the phone book), it is less common that they do this exclusive of any other online activity. Fifty-seven percent of adults report using search engines to look up information after seeing an ad on TV and 46% say they have searched online after seeing or hearing something advertised using media outside the home (something other than TV).
What about being present on social platforms? We would suggest it is important and the stats confirm this. Sixty-four percent of shoppers say that video on social media influenced their buying decision. TV ads prompted 40% of people to visit a Facebook page or post a message on Facebook. These online behaviors not only include Facebook but also Twitter and Instagram.
The buying cycle has certainly shifted. Marketing is required and relied upon throughout more of the buying process. This is largely in part to the activity around online activities. If online is a place your company feels they need to be more active in, chances are you are right. If you feel overwhelmed with marketing your company online, you are not alone. Online marketing is a lot to manage and many early adopters to online marketing have seen over time it is far more than what can be handled in-house effectively. The learning curve can be steep and it is ever-changing. Most often it is too much to keep up with and effectively grow your business and manage your staff and serve your customers. After all, you want to run your business not a marketing firm. These are good reasons to hire a trusted firm who can handle this for you.