Marketers Can Shine in the Middle of the Purchase Funnel

BY Kathy Crosett
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Decisions, decisions. These days, consumers face an overwhelming amount of information when making a purchase, and what they see in the middle of the purchase funnel makes a difference. This is especially true as more consumers shop online instead of in a traditional store where they’re only evaluating the products in front of them.

Consumer Purchase Activity is Shaped by Exposure and Evaluation

The strategies your clients use to attract consumer attention can make or break the sale. Consumers must first be exposed to a product, service or brand. They then evaluate their options in what Google researchers call the messy middle stage. “When exploring, we add brands, products, and category information to mental portfolios or ‘consideration sets’. When evaluating, we narrow down those options.”

How Consumers Search

Over the past few years, consumers have changed the types of searches they conduct online, and your clients’ content must take these changes into account. Google analysts report that ‘ideas’ and ‘best’ are two increasingly popular search qualifiers. Consumers will look for ‘birthday gift ideas’ or ‘best seafood restaurant.’ Consumers also understand that they can search for reviews about businesses they’re evaluating. All of these findings allow consumers to narrow the products or vendors they’re interested in into the ‘consideration set.’ If your clients don’t have content that pushes them high onto the search engine results page, they won’t make it into the ‘consideration set.’

How Consumers Evaluate

In a 31,000 person study, Google researchers attempted to study how consumers decide what to buy once they are in the middle of the purchase funnel. Specifically, they looked at brand importance and several cognitive biases. Your clients are likely tapping into cognitive biases in their advertising. For example, scarcity bias means that consumers may take action when they realize they have a limited time to act on a promotion. Consumers might also be more likely to purchase a product with a five-​star rating because they believe in the social proof bias – because the product is popular, they’ll buy it.

If your clients are competing against a well-​known brand in a category like broadband service, they can influence consumers to consider them if their promotions include phrases associated with what consumers want in that product category. For example, the phrase ‘unlimited monthly usage’ in promotions convinced 57% of tested consumers to change their preference from one brand to another.

The Middle of the Purchase Funnel

When your clients are rolling out an entirely new brand, they face an uphill battle. They first need to score a spot in the ‘consideration set.’ Then, to ensure they’re not lost in the middle of the purchase funnel, they must speak to consumers’ cognitive biases. Google researchers remind brands that, “any gaps in your media plan could see you locked out of the loops as consumers begin exploring their options.” Don’t let this happen to your clients. Run a Digital Audit on them and review their online presence and how it connects with audiences that are likely to buy their product. The Digital Audit tool is available at AdMall by SalesFuel.