You’ve invested in a well-planned marketing campaign. You have a good mix of marketing activity across both digital and traditional mediums, and your sales team is ready to go. But you’re not seeing results.
For any new purchase of a product or service enquiry, a prospective customer typically runs through a series of steps before they finally make a purchase. We refer to this as the buying cycle.
We generally look at the customer buying cycle as having five key stages:
- Awareness (first becoming aware of a need or problem)
- Research (researching the best solution to the problem or to fulfil the need)
- Consideration/Intent (having identified the best solution, evaluating who can best fulfil this need)
- Purchase (the actual moment of purchase)
- Loyalty/Retention (repeat purchases, referrals and creation of brand advocates).
All marketing is based on well-reasoned and researched assumptions about your target audiences and their habits. Before you can evaluate the success of these assumptions to make adjustments, you need to gather enough data to make an assessment.
One of the biggest mistakes many businesses make here is canning their marketing too early, without considering what an appropriate amount time for their average buyer’s cycle actually is.
Additionally, some products or services have a shorter buying cycle than others.
For example, you may be ravenously hungry, have fifteen minutes for lunch, and need to make a fast decision between three takeaway options close to your work before the next meeting. In this case, the leap from awareness to purchase is within minutes.
But other purchases can take a lot longer. You may feel like you need a break. So you start by researching holiday ideas. What dates can I go? How long? Local or international? Do I need to get any vaccinations? After a week you decided to plan a trip to Spain, so you’re stuck in the consideration stage of researching which tour best suits your needs. This could go on for weeks or months.
Cost, value and need all factor into the buying cycle and influence the time it takes to move through the five stages.
Once you have a good idea of how long each stage should take, you can start to assess where the campaign is working best. This is where good data and reporting across all stages is critical.
If you’re seeing strong engagement on your articles and educational resources, then you might need to look at your price point or selling messages. However, if you’re not seeing engagement with your content, then perhaps your advertising targeting is falling flat.
Going back to basics, for your marketing campaign to be successful, all four of the marketing P’s need to work together: Product, Price, Promotion and Place.
Also, don’t forget the rule of seven. On average, a prospect needs to see or hear your message at least seven times before they’re likely to engage with it.
The great thing about digital marketing is that you can speed up the process and test your marketing assumptions at a much lower cost before investing in traditional advertising.
But be patient. Success takes time.