Originally Published September 2019. Updated October 2021.
– The customer journey is rarely – if ever – linear.
– You need to win over customers during the research phase of thier journey, the consideration phase.
– SEO and search performance are vital discovery points for new customers.
– Shoppers are using customer service, social proof, and company responsibility to decide where to spend their money.
At this point in the game, the odds are pretty good you’ve been through a few discussions about the customer journey. You’ve heard that the customer journey is not linear and that people don’t always take the shortest, fastest route through the sales funnel. What you haven’t heard much about is the consideration stage – yet this pivotal period is when it’s most critical to reach your customers with relevant, targeted marketing messages.
What happens during the consideration stage? In simplest terms, this is when a person identifies and evaluates their options in an effort to determine where they’ll be happiest doing business. Consideration is an important part of the customer journey because it’s during this phase that you’re most likely to enjoy the customer’s focused attention. They are actively trying to make a good decision. At this point, providing them with a satisfying customer experience means providing them with content and interactions that answer their questions and make them feel valued.
What goes into a customer’s decision-making process during the consideration phase? Reviewing your data, including your website analytics, pay per click advertising reports, and social media metrics reveals the type of content your customers engage with most during the consideration phase. For most brands, that includes these 4 items:
#1: Product or Service Specifications
Customer search often begins with the customer knowing they need a solution, but they don’t know what that solution is, exactly. During the consideration phase, the shopper will consider product or service offerings from several different brands. In addition to product listings, customers may watch videos, read blog posts, or engage with social media posts about specific offerings. Another important data source: customer calls to your store.
Knowing what products or services receive the most attention, as well as what customers want to know about these items, is a valuable customer insight that can be discerned from behaviors exhibited during the consideration stage. You can use these insights to better optimize your keyword selections for PPC marketing, and potentially be able to identify portions of your market that could flourish with just a little additional attention.
#2: The Customer Experience
During the consideration stage, customers try to determine what it’s going to be like doing business with you. Some of these considerations are logistical:
- is your shopping cart easy to use?
- is the returns policy easy to find?
- how much will shipping cost?
and others are emotional:
- do your customers feel respected?
- is the person answering chat messages or emails friendly and professional?
- is shopping with you fun?
Again, you’ll find a deeper understanding of what shoppers are learning about the customer experience you provide during the consideration stage by examining your data. Another key point to consider: customer reviews. It’s often here that customer service issues are highlighted.
#3: Credibility of Business
Today, anyone can have a mostly-legit-looking website online in a couple of hours. People are afraid of being scammed. During the consideration phase, they’ll be looking for signs to reassure them that your business is reliable and trustworthy.
In addition to verification from third-party providers like Verisign, shoppers will look to information like a website’s About Us page or a social media profile to learn more about your company. Check your data to validate this investigation is happening: if it’s not, it may be that shoppers are having a difficult time finding the answers they want on your website.
#4: Social Proof
A final factor during the consideration stage is social proof – in other words, reassurance from other people that doing business with your company is a good idea. Primarily this comes in the form of reviews and testimonials, both on the digital channels you control – your website and social media – as well as on third party sites, including Google My Business listings and relevant review sites.
We know customers look at more than the number of stars when considering reviews. They also pay attention to whether or not your brand replies to individual reviews, and what those reviews look like. There will always be negative reviews. During the consideration phase, shoppers notice how you handle these situations. It gives them a clue about how they’ll be treated if they have a problem.
Consideration is Critical
When someone’s in the consideration stage, it doesn’t mean they’re ready to buy – but it does mean they’re moving closer to making a decision. The consideration phase can take quite some time, and shoppers may visit multiple digital channels when doing their research. The best platform to reach your customer is the platform your customer’s already on. Discerning this begins with an examination of your data. If you’re not sure where to look or what questions you should be asking, give us a call. We’ll be happy to help.