Search strategy plays a big role in internet marketing and understanding consumer buy cycle is essential to develop an effective search strategy. Length of a buy cycle depends on the complexity of the product. Higher ticket products have a longer buy cycle and vice-versa. Every consumer buy cycle chiefly consists of four main stages.
The awareness stage
This is the first stage of consumer buy cycle. It is marked by search for generic keywords with the intent of collecting information, for instance, ‘travel deals’. Probability of a purchase is very low in this stage. This is a great place to introduce your brand, but it can prove to be expensive. It’s not the best stage to attempt keyword ranking, unless your site is highly authoritative.
The information refinement stage
In this stage, users search for specific products or services. Instead of using generic one or two worded keywords, here users refine their search using long tail keywords, for instance, ‘California beach hotels’. This is the most productive zone for PPC campaigns. Keywords in this stage have the power to create brand awareness as well as conversions. It’s best to first target long tail keywords before going for more generic terms.
The comparison stage
Consumers in this stage are close to making a purchase, but needs reassurance that they are making the right decision. Here consumers search for value additions and reviews about the selected product or service. So an effective remarketing campaign offering specific purchase incentives can be very effective at this stage.
The advocacy stage
This stage is important for creating long term relationships with customers and gaining benefits of word-of-mouth publicity. Although search doesn’t really play a role in this stage, search strategies like PPC campaign or interesting blog posts can be effective here.