How Do Your Customers Decide Whether To Buy Your Product or Service On The Internet?

To sell anything on the Internet you have to understand the typical steps that your customer will take before handing over their hard earned cash.

This is called the online buying process.

It is relevant to every product or service sold online, but becomes more relevant the higher the price and the bigger the commitment the customer is making.

The process follows five steps:

STEP 1 – Awareness of Your Product or Service

The buyer is made aware of your product or service through:
  • The search engines
  • Referral from friend or colleague
  • Reading a review
  • Advertising
  • Etc.

STEP 2 – Visit to Your Website

The customer visits your website and reads as much as they can, to get a sense of both your business and the product or service you are selling. The content on your website has to build trust or the prospect will quickly leave and never return.

Dropout rate: 80% - 99%

STEP 3 – Contact

If it is a reasonably high priced product or service the prospect will make contact with the company via email or phone. This may be to get a genuine question answered, but is just as likely to be part of the trust building process. They want to know whether there are real people behind the website? How quickly they will get a response? How well their question will be answered? Do you understand what they want? Etc

Dropout rate: 50% - 70%

STEP 4 – Internet Research

The next critical step the prospect takes is to undertake some Internet research, to see what OTHER people are saying about you, your products and your business. You have no control over what they will find. If the majority of comments, reviews, testimonials and blog posts are positive, this will greatly increase your chance of getting the sale. If the majority are negative you can almost certainly kiss goodbye to that customer.

Dropout rate: 20% - 100%

STEP 5 – Decision to Buy

Finally the prospect brings together everything they have learned and makes a decision. The choices they have are:

  • Buy your product or service
  • Buy a competitors product or service
  • Buy nothing

Lessons to Learn

The lessons that Internet entrepreneurs can learn from this process are:

  • To be in the race you, your website and product have to be highly visible on the Internet
  • The content on your website has to build trust with readers
  • You must respond promptly and professionally to all customer and prospect queries
  • Your reputation on the Internet must be overall positive
  • Your product or service has to be good

These points can be boiled down into understanding how your brand and reputation is created on the web. The formula is simple:

Reputation/Brand = Web presence/Credibility + Product Quality + Support

If these three elements are not in place your business will struggle to have a long term future.

If they are all in place and you get a good online reputation your business can grow rapidly through ‘word-of-mouth’.

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