Purchase Flow. Part 1: Online Is Different Enough

Almost any offline marketologist know about sales funnel (may be any one should know). This is very important concept in offline marketing – many strategies, plans, budgets starts from it. I don’t like to much than offline marketing terms comes online. There is another concept in online marketing. It looks very similar, but in fact it is different thing – because of its online nature. This is purchase flow or purchase chain.

Many business owners, and even marketologists came from offline don’t understand this thing and importance of it. Meanwhile understanding of purchase flow stages could separate very successful online business from budget wasting and even epic fail.

What is purchase flow? – It is very simple

Stage 0: Need

Everything begins from need or demand. This is alpha and omega of marketing (offline, online, any kind). When I need something I want to do something.

Let’s consider the scenario. I have a problem – I loose my hair. (This is very common problem of 40+ years old men). Actually a problem is a base of many needs. But problem itself doesn’t mean much yet. If I don’t care about that – kinda “Let it be, let it be” – there is not any need, any demand. But otherwise…

Otherwise I want to solve my problem. I want to save my hair. But I don’t know how. So from here starts…

Stage 1: Searching for Solution

I start to look for solution. In online terms that means, for example, I go to Google and start search “How to save my hair in 40+”. Wise Google gives me 3 ways. Let’s imagine:

  1. Some chemical way – some shampoos, some creams, other products.
  2. Some herbal way – some herbal shampoos, some herbal creams, other herbal products.
  3. Exotic way – some voodoo, magic. There are almost always some exotic ways – People believes in a miracles:)

I have to make decision. So, I don’t trust chemicals too much. And, of course, voodoo is not my way. I choose herbal products.

Ok, we have pass first stage – we’ve chose our solution. I want use some herbal goods.

But there are so many herbal products available on the market. So, we need go further and perform…

Stage 2: Serching for Product

We go to Google (or some other searching system, or use another searching methodology) and analyze available products:

  1. Herbal shampoo 1 is too expensive for me.
  2. Herbal shampoo 2 has a bad feed back.
  3. And herbal cream 1 is ok.

We’ve just chose product. And only now we can start…

Stage 3: Searching for Seller

Again, many of seller propose herbal cream 1. But:

  1. Seller 2 has too high price.
  2. Seller 3 has too bad reputation.
  3. Seller 1 is ok – that’s our choice.

So, we have a winner. Congratulations! If you are seller 1, you’ve just sold me herbal cream 1 – may be two packs, or even three. So…

What benefits can we take of it?

That’s a theory. May be good, may be not. But theory by itself without practical aspekt gives us nothing. So, in practical way you should be:

Relevant to the stage

This is the main point.

Human brain is one-thread system (usually). And we CAN’ T JUMP OVER STAGES. We can’t choose product until we didn’t choose solution. We can’t choose seller until we didn’t choose product. And till we will decide what to choose – voodoo or chemicals – we will not consider any particular kinds of voodoo or shampoo types.

So, you should understand on which stage of purchase chain your potential client is (this is not so hard, but this is another topic) and provide relevant things: ads, landing pages, content, banners, etc.

It will be useless (at least) to tell man that didn’t choose solution (chemical or herbal way) about your wonderful shampoo 1; or tell man that didn’t choose product (shampoo 1 or 2) about your wonderful offers. Let you are selling both shampoo 1 and 2. He will not mind on you (generally). You will waste ads budget, decrease your CTR, loose your search engine rates etc.

So, you should provide relevant staff. But you CAN intercept thread. You can (actually you should) give man something relevant – for example some article about every solutions’ pros and cons – and after satisfactory explanation (with focus on your niche, of course) provide him path to content about different products – and then your offers by chain. More about that in part 2.

Second thing is difference from offline

Yes, like I said, online is different enough, very different. Offline, you are looking for customers. You’re setting your nets to catch some fish – your clients. You are using so many advertisements, so many marketing actions. Offliners call it “to warn” clietn. “Warming” is a part of some online marketing strategies. (Don’t miss with the branding – branding is strongly recommended, it should be always. But it is dedicated topic, outside this post.)

In online “warming” is not absolutely necessary. Many people comes online “hot” enougt already. They already want buy something, just don’t know what. On different stages you just need to provide them information – relevantly to the stage, off course. “Warming” actions could be too expensive, inefficient, even harmful (sometimes). On the other hand relevant and properly provided information can give you mush more. Offline marketing often is an art of sales (improperly) – online marketing very often is an art of analysis.

So, this are just few of considerations. But even them are not practical enough. Each situation is very special. There are many options available in each real case.

In next post we will take real world scenario – with real need, real solutions, etc. Using real world example it will be much easier to you to understand how can you behave in different situation. Because only practice is a criterion of truth.

Will see in next post. Can’t wait for.