How To Use Visuals Through A Buyer’s Journey
The average eCommerce buyer goes through four distinct phases before they complete their transaction. The first step is knowing that a problem exists. The ‘problem’ here could be as simple as realizing that they do not have enough work clothes. This is followed by research and interest in the various solutions that exist for the problem. Through their research, the prospective buyer builds a desire for certain products or features which finally triggers an action.
Together, these stages are known as AIDA - Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action.
In brick-and-mortal retail, direct sales and ‘touch and feel’ play a critical role in building desire and triggering action. ECommerce businesses, on the other hand, rely on visuals to influence the buyer at each stage of their customer journey. Let us take a look at a few examples of how visuals play a role in the buyer journey.
A customer who realizes they have few work clothes or their running shoe is getting old tend to start researching solutions proactively. Such customers are targeted with the help of online ads over search engines like Google. Also, the customer tends to browse through dozens of articles during this research phase.
Influencing Decision: Google favors long-form text content in their search results. With short attention spans, such articles do not however help influencing decisions, since readers tend to skim through the content. Videos are however very effective in capturing the viewers’ attention.
REI, a cooperative eCommerce store includes information-rich videos within their lengthy articles. Not only does REI rank on top for relevant keywords this way, but also captures the visitor’s attention and influences their decision making process.
Problem Awareness: Products that fall in the impulsive purchase category could be a challenge for marketers. Buyers, in this case, do not recognize the problem till they look at the solution. Here is a social media promotion of an alarm that falls strictly in the ‘impulsive purchase’ category.
Prospective customers browse product catalogs of various competitors either over their social media pages or directly from their eCommerce website. Captivating visuals of your product help generate interest about your product.
Here is Paul Smith Clothing generating interest for their “Red Ear” collection through Instagram.
It is worth pointing out that the visual itself is only one part of the story. While brands like Paul Smith have hundreds of thousands of followers, smaller eCommerce websites may look at tying up with influential partners with larger following. Visuals showcased from these larger accounts have resulted in a significant increase in interest among prospective buyers. Fashion accessory company Madewell, for instance, reached over a million users with their visuals through their influencer partnership.
Generating interest is the easy part. Turning this interest into a deep desire to own the product can take a lot of effort. Visuals help captivate the full functionality of a product and are thus instrumental in building desire.
A popular way to do this is to display videos within the product page. This is similar to the use of videos to create awareness. The difference is in the fact that the user is already interested in the product. Demonstrating its full capabilities with the help of videos thus reinforces its value to the customer.
Amazon is a good example of building desire with product videos. Here is an example from their product page for Fire HD. The video demonstrates the real-world capabilities of Alexa and how consumers can enjoy its hands-free technology.
The objective of visuals here is to simulate the ‘touch and feel’ experience of brick and mortar retail. If video demonstrations of your product is not feasible, you may also look at uploading high quality images of your product that allow the prospective buyer to zoom in. Additionally, a 360 degree view of your product can give the buyer a complete picture and allay any fears or concerns regarding the build quality.
Once a prospective buyer has been convinced about a product, the next step is to trigger conversion. Marketers invest a lot of time in building the right call-to-action (CTA) and making sure that all other communication (like shipping, return policy, etc.) are communicated effectively to trigger conversion.
Visuals can complement this stage of the buying process. A lot of this is user-generated and is provided in the form of testimonials from past customers. Amazon, for instance, allows customers to review their products with rich visuals of their purchase.
From a buyer’s perspective, these testimonials, along with the images, allay concerns regarding the functionality of the product. If you are a lifestyle product, user-generated-content of other customers using the product may accelerate the decision making process and help with quicker action.
Author Bio: Anand Srinivasan is the founder of Hubbion, a suite of free business apps and resources. Check out their latest tool for conference room booking!