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The buying experience: 5 strategies to convert more customers

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The buying experience: 5 strategies to convert more customers

In today’s ultra-competitive, global marketplace, a new and powerful differentiator is emerging — the buying experience. 74% of consumers are likely to buy based on experiences alone. And 87% now expect a personalized and consistent experience across different shopping channels. So, if you don’t want to lose prospects to your competitors, you need to align your marketing and sales activities with these expectations. 

According to Gartner, “During the buying journey, companies that deliver a great buying experience grow twice as fast as those that deliver average experiences.” Providing a positive experience will make your customers stay with you longer, return in the future and recommend you to their network. This means that you should pay close attention to your prospects at every stage of their journey — which begins before buyers realize a need to the time they complete their purchase.  The question is: How does one design a successful buying experience to win over their customers? 

First, you need to understand what the buying experience is and how your customers operate. 

What is the buying experience? 

The buying experience is a game changer that is significantly reshaping marketplace dynamics. It refers to the buyer's perception of the entire buying process – from recognizing a need, to exploring available options and finally making a purchase. It's formed by multiple interactions between your prospect and your business. Also called touchpoints, these interactions come in different forms: social media content, email, digital advertisements, customer reviews and even word-of-mouth. Mapping out these touchpoints is crucial to creating an outstanding buying experience. 

How is this different from the customer experience (CX)? The buying experience typically focuses on how your potential customers experience the entire buying process of a product or service, from identifying the need through to the final purchase and after-sales from a revenue-facing perspective, while CX focuses on existing customers and their overall experience with your brand from a customer satisfaction standpoint. Friction in the process, inconsistent or unavailable information and poor personalization can easily lead to cart abandonment and prevent customers from ever returning. 

Understanding the motivations and mindset of your customers  

To offer great buying experiences, you must first understand how your customers operate. How do buyers get from point A to point B to point C and so on?

The way brands interact with customers requires a basic understanding of the customer journey. It’s best to create a customer journey map that details how your customer becomes aware of your brand and their interactions with your brand from then on. 

According to Survey Monkey, “the customer journey is the complete sum of experiences that customers go through when interacting with your company and brand. Instead of looking at just a part of a transaction or experience, the customer journey documents the full experience of being a customer.” 

Put simply, it’s about nurturing consumers throughout their journey. When your customers buy a product or service you offer, they’re anticipating a pleasant feeling to accompany that purchase. This feeling of satisfaction that people get from finding what they want, going through the buying process and then enjoying what they just bought is exactly what you’re trying to keep constant — even after sales.  

To help you analyze the stages and the timeline your customers will go through, consider the following: 

  1. Actions — Ask yourself what the customer is doing at each stage. For example, what would their expected response be after they visit your store or hear about you through a review? 
  2. Motivations — What will encourage your customers to move on to the next stage? What kinds of emotions would you want them to feel at each stage? 
  3. Questions — What are the possible pain points of your customers? Where would they potentially meet challenges with your brand? If your product is inherently complicated, how can you improve their customer experience? 
  4. Obstacles — Think about anything that might cause the customer to give up and not complete the sales cycle.  

By understanding what really drives your customers, you can develop a more compelling and authentic buying experience. 

Do you want to find out how investments in customer experience pay off?

Get our whitepaper to discover all about Return on Experience (ROX).

5 strategies to improve the buying experience and convert more customers

The buying experience can make more of a difference than your product and price. Once you fully understand your customers’ experience with your business, you can delight them at every stage of their buying journey. Here are some strategies to consider:

Be consistent 

The average consumer uses almost six touchpoints when evaluating and buying a product. And 90% expect their interactions to be consistent across all channels. Whether you’re selling B2B or B2C, customers want a seamless, easy-to-navigate omnichannel experience. If what’s written on your online platform does not match what’s in your actual physical store, customers are more likely to discontinue their journey with you. Worse, they may tag your company as unreliable and share their unpleasant experience with friends.  

Customer loyalty depends on ongoing confidence in your brand. To offer a solid buying experience, you must employ different channels but also keep your communication consistent across multiple touchpoints throughout the sales cycle. A mismatch of information damages how your customers view your brand and it can have a lasting impact on customer loyalty. Thus, you must unite your efforts rather than siloing them by channel and create clear standards for your visual and written materials to maintain consistency in your messaging.

Focus on convenience

Over 90% of buyers are more likely to choose a retailer based on convenience than any other factor. Consumers overwhelmingly feel that convenience is crucial when they’re shopping and they’re willing to pay for it. Your goal is to deliver the right information, at the right time, to the right person, on the right platform. This is the essence of convenience. How do you do this? By reducing friction. 

So, in today’s tight marketplace, you should design the entire experience — from discovery to purchase — through the lens of convenience. To ensure that consumers convert, it’s crucial to offer convenient options – such as next-day delivery, curbside pickup, guest checkout, inventory updates or a buy online pickup in-store (BOPIS) service. Fine-tune your online platforms and offer a seamless, user-friendly shopping experience to boost ROI while still satisfying your customers.

Leverage technology to personalize the buying experience

The shift from multichannel to omnichannel marketing in recent years reveals a demand for a customer-centric approach, where technologies are employed strategically or according to consumer behaviors and expectations across channels. Finding the right digital tools for your business will not only enable you to attract and convert your customers effectively but will also offer a business advantage over competitors who have yet to align technology with their buyers’ experiences. 

To craft better cross-channel experiences, fuel brand loyalty and drive sales growth, businesses must leverage the power of technology — such as customer data platforms, data management systems, machine learning and AI-driven solutions for automation. Those who get it right see great results. According to a McKinsey & Co’s study, 35% of Amazon’s consumer purchases come from their personalized recommendations and 75% of what Netflix viewers watch comes from their algorithm recommendations. 

Offer after-sales support 

Don’t assume that once a deal is closed, your job is done, and the newly acquired customers will figure out everything on their own. Investing in an excellent after-sales strategy will give endless returns in the form of customer retention, great reviews and a positive brand image. Keep your customers engaged post-sale with interactive product tours, educational video tutorials or product guides.  

Topping off a positive buying experience with great onboarding will help increase your customer retention and brand loyalty. A final but key step in providing a good buyer experience is making your customer feel heard. Elevate your customers by giving them the opportunity to provide feedback via customer satisfaction (CSAT) surveys, pop-up surveys, email surveys, social media polls, etc. Remember: ongoing success relies on the benefits that loyal customers bring to the table. 

Invest in a Product Information Management (PIM) system

Your customer often doesn’t have the time to seek out your product or service, to research it in depth or to navigate a clunky purchase flow. It’s your responsibility to reach your customers where and when they want, to make the buying process as intuitive as possible and to remove any obstacles. 

To meet these demands, companies need a powerful solution that can centralize, streamline and simplify product data management in an efficient and cost-effective way. A seamless omnichannel customer experience cannot be delivered without establishing a well-cataloged product portfolio, that includes attributes, product descriptions, images, videos and more. This is where a Product Information Management (PIM) system comes to the rescue. 

An advanced PIM solution acts as a catalyst for personalization and contextualization, enabling you to adapt product information in real-time to different users, in different contexts and channels. Accurate, consistent and compliant product data is the key to creating outstanding shopping experiences. Implementing a reliable PIM solution can help you build a solid foundation to enable seamless buying experiences, improve ROI and ensure the long-term success of your business. 

Ready to deliver a winning buying experience?

The buying process involves hundreds of touchpoints and depends on multiple factors including consistency, convenience, emotional connection and organizational responsiveness - each of them shaping the buying experience. Thus, brands that focus on these factors remain highly competitive in whatever industry they’re working in. Approaching the sales process with an "experience-first" mentality and providing a simple path to purchase is the way forward.