4 Steps Customers Take Prior to Making a Purchase


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While impulse shopping will likely never disappear, most customers engage in a fairly scientific marketing process before they eventually purchase a new appliance, outfit or vacation. If your business is looking to convert more prospects to customers, paying attention to these steps will help you increase conversions and sales.

Following are the 4 key steps customers take prior to making a purchase as well as hints for maximizing this information for your business:

1. Judge a book by its cover.

In other words, consumers review websites and marketing materials to determine whether they like and trust your company.

When consumers judge a book by its cover, they are making a quick, instinctive decision about your company that is not based on research. With this in mind, it is critical that you have trustworthy and eye-catching marketing materials and messages for customers and prospects. In seconds, your website, display, flyer, photos, social media and other marketing materials need to convey that you have exactly what customers want. To that end, make sure that your company’s materials are engaging, easy to read and easy to understand. Offer a strong call to action and visible contact details for more information. Finally, it is important that your site pops up towards the top when it comes to search engines; ensure that your site is optimized for mobile and keyword searches so that customers can quickly and easily find that first positive impression of your business.

2. Compare pricing.

While price is not the only thing that matters to consumers, it definitely does matter. Most customers will take the time to compare prices among leading retailers for a particular product or service, especially when it is a high-ticket item.

Some companies choose to make this easy for potential customers, providing price comparison information for competitors on their own sites. If customers find you via online searches, you can create targeted landing pages that offer pricing details. Regardless, it is critical to stay on top of what your competitors are doing: What are they offering? What are they charging? What changes have they recently made to their product or service? Ensure that your business regularly engages in price comparisons as well; if you charge more than competitors, let your customers know why and what they will get above and beyond, whether it is a lifetime warranty, a coupon for a future purchase or a bonus nights’ stay at your resort. When you offer sales and specials, communicate the news far and wide to entice more budget-conscious customers.

3. Read reviews.

If your business sells a service, then you likely know that your customers are visiting sites such as Yelp or Google Business to listen to what others have to say. On the other hand, if your company sells products, your potential customers are visiting sites including thesweethome.com or brandballot.com to scope out more unbiased information about your business. Ninety percent of consumers state that positive online reviews influenced a recent buying decision while another 86 percent said that a negative review also impacted a buying decision, according to Dimensional Research.

What does this mean? You must have a reliable number of positive reviews on these sites (however, if they are ALL glowing endorsements, customers sometimes get suspicious). Whenever you have a positive interaction with customers, encourage them to share the good news. Whenever you make a sale, offer an easy way to provide a follow-up endorsement. Likewise, take the time to regularly read reviews on your company and follow up with any less-than-thrilled customers.

4. Perform a final evaluation of the product or service.

Before clicking the “Purchase” button on your website or bringing the product up to the counter for checkout, most consumers perform a final overall evaluation of your product or service. This evaluation can incorporate word-of-mouth feedback, a trial run or a final comparison with competitor products. At this point, they are still willing to walk away so your marketing must continue to draw them in. 

If someone has visited your website and shared contact information without making a purchase, follow up with them to encourage a sale. If your business is brick and mortar, every employee should be skilled at connecting with potential customers, offering further information and assistance. If you know that you have the best product or service around, make sure that you regularly share that news with prospects and customers.

After a customer makes a purchase, the process does not end – rather, it’s the beginning of a true customer relationship. This is where you have a chance to build lifelong loyalty. Make the return/exchange process simple and straightforward. Stay in touch and continue to offer deals and ongoing communication. Finally, companies with outstanding customer service can continue to seal the deal and create fans, rather than just customers.

Daniel Scalco
Dan Scalco is the founder and director of growth at Digitalux, a digital marketing agency located in Hoboken, New Jersey. Throughout his career, he has helped hundreds of businesses save time, increase leads, and maximize sales.


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