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October 16, 2018

Digital Tactics Throughout the Buyer’s Journey: Decision Stage

In our three-part blog series, we’re breaking down each stage of the buyer’s journey and what tactics work best for reaching and engaging audiences online. To get all the details in one spot, watch our on-demand webinar recording:

As audiences transition through the buyer’s journey from awareness to research, they eventually move into the decision stage. While digital tactics continue to play an important role during this stage, some of the tactics that worked well for capturing attention early in the process have less of an impact during the decision stage.

Rather than adding new tactics, the decision stage is all about focusing on those that can best deliver the information a consumer needs to decide your solution is the best one.

How to Activate Audiences in the Decision Stage


Remarketing involves continuing to display your message on sites and blogs your prospect already trusts. This tactic plays a significant role in the decision stage. With added insight into what pages or sections of your site a potential client or customer visits, remarketing can be fine-tuned to deliver more relevant content over time.

Search advertising

Search ads also play an important role and add another layer of insight into your target’s mindset.

Of all the tactics employed during the decision phase, few have the ability to deliver active leads accompanied by clear evidence of exactly what information they need to make a decision the way search can.

Search behavior changes as consumers work their way through the decision-making process. Their search queries become more specific, shifting from general topics in the awareness stage to queries that include brand names, product names, specific features or benefits, or comparison terms during the research stage.

And during the decision phase, they shift again, this time to include words that indicate intent to purchase:

  • Pricing
  • Shipping
  • Discounts
  • Warranties

For B2B services and high-investment transactions that are typically completed offline, search queries may shift to:

  • Contact information
  • Reviews or testimonials
  • Case studies
  • ROI examples

Content marketing

Marketing tactics that focus on educating your target audience continue to deliver through all stages of the funnel. Prospects who noticed your guest posts, product reviews or videos during the awareness stage may actively return to that content now to confirm details or compare your product’s features against a competitor’s.

Content marketing continues to send relevant information to their inbox, and white papers, case studies or testimonials can provide the final push they need to make a decision. These types of formal, downloadable content can be especially helpful in cases where the person gathering information isn’t the final decision maker. Arming a middle manager to make a recommendation to a higher-up who will approve the final transaction means making the manager comfortable that that recommendation will result in a positive experience.

Making the conversion

For all the time you spend building up to it, conversion is almost anticlimactic. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a single point in the process rather than an extended stage. Extending a discount, an extended warranty or free shipping via online ads can certainly sway a shopper at the last minute. And for a B2B prospect who’s considering purchasing software or a subscription-based service, sending an offer for a free trial via email may nudge them along in their final decision.

In reality, however, the customer journey isn’t actually neatly linear…

The lines between the stages are fuzzy, and consumers may bounce back and forth between stages, discarding options and starting the process over, or repeat the same activities in one stage for an extended period of time. Customers who are making low cost, low-risk purchases may move through the process quickly, and impulse buyers may appear to skip stages altogether. For high risk, high-cost purchases the entire cycle could take months or even years.

The key to reaching and converting customers even through their unpredictable behaviors is to build a digital strategy that provides content relevant for every stage of the funnel – including the stage after conversion.

Post-purchase marketing: It’s equally important

Post-purchase marketing is often overlooked in marketing planning, but it’s an important part of creating a positive, lasting relationship with your customers. The old adage holds true: It’s easier to generate additional revenue from a customer you already have than to acquire a new one.

For products or services that aren’t simple or straightforward, post-purchase marketing helps reassure your customer that they made the right decision, and makes the implementation process less stressful and frustrating.  If you’ve ever resorted to searching YouTube videos to figure out how to assemble a product, or tweeted at a company on Twitter when a service you paid for wasn’t up to par, you’ve already experienced how online marketing can support and reinforce a purchase decision.

Some digital tactics you can incorporate to create value for customers post-purchase:

  • Use organic social media to re-engage customers and provide valuable customer service
  • Encourage customers to become brand advocates by sharing reviews and testimonials
  • Keep existing customers up-to-date with newsletters focusing on new features, updates or iterations of your products
  • Use blogs and content marketing to provide helpful information to customers during adoption and implementation

Now that you understand the tactics that work through the stages of the buyer’s journey, the next step is to create a strategy and budget that aligns with your goals.

Watch our on-demand webinar to learn how to plan your digital tactics to boost the results of your digital marketing strategy.

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