Buying Stages and Ad Campaigns

By | November 21, 2015

One common misconception about conversion rate optimization is that it begins once a prospect lands on your site. Optimizing your conversion rate should start before a prospect ever lands on your site. For example, if you are investing in campaigns focused at driving traffic to your site, you should be planning those campaigns to match your intended prospect’s buying stage.

Buying Stage Definitions

If you’re new to our blog, buying stages refer to how ready a visitor is to buy from you when landing on your site. We break buying stages down into early, middle, and late stages. An early stage visitor has identified a need or problem and it still conducting research to find the solution. A middle stage visitor has identified an interest in purchasing a certain kind of product and isn’t exactly sure which yet. They are continuing to gather information and narrow down their selection. A late stage visitor has already conducted research about the product and knows just what product they want to buy. Their aim is to compare manufacturer’s and companies before they feel confidant in taking action.

Not Just for Web Pages

Buying stages don’t just apply to your site, but to all of your marketing messages. Take PPC campaigns for example. With PPC campaigns, you have total control of the keywords you are bidding on, the messaging in your ads, and the landing pages that you are driving traffic to. Don’t make the mistake of bidding on keywords, using campaign messaging, and driving traffic to a landing page with content that speaks to the needs of prospect’s in different stages of the buying process! Are you investing in a marketing effort that is very likely under-performing for no good reason?

The Example

Why is maintaining the same buying stage messaging so important throughout a particular campaign? Let’s take this hypothetical example:

It’s November and Christmas is just around the corner. You need to start thinking about a Christmas present for your 6 year-old niece. You really don’t have any idea what little girls like these days. As a caring aunt or uncle you want to get her something you know she will really like, so you begin an online search using the keyword term “favorite toys for 6 year old girls.” (If you have read our description of buying stages you will know that this keyword term is likely an early stage keyword). How would you react after clicking the search button and seeing the very top PPC campaign that pops up onto your screen say something like this?:

Great Prices on Fijit Friends

Buy 3 Fijit Friends, Get your 4th friend free.

Great gifts for kids. Shop Now!

If you have little exposure to kids you will likely have no idea what a “Fijit Friend” is and will likely pass right over the ad. The copy of the ad is intended for someone that has already done the research on gifts for 6 year old girls and knows just what they want to buy online. They are just looking for the right vendor. In other words, the ad is directed towards someone in a late stage of his or her buying process, when, in our story, you are still in the early stage. That’s money a company is investing in an ad that is losing prospects, and we see similar things happening in real life everyday! Make your PPC ads match your prospects’ buying stage.

The Remedy

If you were this hypothetical advertiser, a great place to start cleaning your mess up would be to review the keywords you are bidding on. In addition to sorting keywords by category, it’s a great practice to sort them into buying stages. Some examples of late stage keywords that would be appropriate for our ad example would be “Buy Fijit Friends,” or “Cheap Fijit Friends.” In other words, keywords that display brand knowledge and a high intent to purchase. Just make sure the landing page you serve from your late stage keywords and PCP ads is also geared toward late stage buyers. It would be another mistake to feature a list of favorite toys for 6 year old girls on the landing page. The appropriate thing to feature would be your cute Fijit Friends along with deals and offers prominently on the page, a clear call to action above the fold, and reassurances on the page about why a prospect should buy from you versus one of your competitors.

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