In part one of the series, we got to know your target audience by refining personas, but in this segment of the series we will talk about defining how those personas work by evaluating their decision process and mapping those out to understand how they overlap.
Defining the Buyer’s Decision Processes
The overlapping points of the personas’ buying decisions will give you a clearer map for developing your site map, your site navigation, and even the proper organization of the site, all leading to what the user feels is an intuitive site architecture creating a more engaged and loyal visitor.
Identify the Stages in the Buying Cycle
Once the personas are defined you will need to identify how many consideration stages are in each buying cycle. Some personas are fairly confident after relatively few touch points and hardly any research. Other personas are thinkers or socialites and will research details either on your site or in your social media profiles ad nauseum.
They require the ability to access and progress through their stages of the decision process with enough information and engagement to maintain their attention and fulfill their curiosity. Either way, you should come to a general understanding of each persona’s needs and their average decision process to be able to organize your navigation, site flow and page structures. There are few greater frustrations as an SEO than to find people entering a site search on your site for information that existed and finding that visitor leave because you didn’t present it in a consumable fashion for them.
Establish a Master Funnel
After you make the determination of the steps for each persona to make their decision, you will want to establish a master funnel which covers all personas. While this seems counter-productive to the step you just completed, the reason for your funnel is to operationalize the site architecture to be intuitive to all visitors.
The navigation should provide the opportunity for all visitors to gain access to the elements that are commonly used when making a buying decision. This will give enough clarity in the organization to know that you know all of your visitors and can properly serve all of them without over complicating the process.
The wireframe for this page should have suggested readings to clarify personas on the right side of the page and possibly some pieces of content that represent the next stage in the decision process. For a few statistically related personas and the researcher or visitor with more interest than time, include internal or house banner ads at the bottom of the page that advertise gated content as a point of immediate conversion. This type of visitor flow enables you to gain insights about the visitors and the volume of those visitors even before they complete a form fill.
The Conversion Path
Outline specific conversion path for each of the personas within the funnel, then allow the opportunity for that persona to follow their path while providing that ‘carrot’ that draws them to conversion without requiring them to leave your site for the information they seek. This is a very difficult thing for some corporations to stomach because it relies on the objectivity and transparency of content that will be valuable, as opposed to the propaganda that is comfortable for a company to publish.
The value of the content is specifically a result of the audience engagement it drives and less about the branding and sales support that it provides. This is the point that some companies will diverge to serve the more immediate function of sales rather than the more important need of their prospects.
It takes a mature company to push through the comfortable to become useful and valuable to the audience. The other major advantage of this valuable type of content is to establish your authority in a specific space. The more a visitor and researcher can rely on you for awareness level content, the more likely they will do their research on your site and convert on your products or services. It has even shown that your price points become less important for competition when you are perceived as a reference in a space as opposed to merely a competitor.
It is in our next segment of this series where we will discuss how to operationalize all of this research into the structure and content of the site. You will learn about identifying possible causes for a continual volume of traffic that behaves similarly on your site and places where valuable visitors are flowing away from your site before converting. As always, if you have questions or are looking for specific answers to challenges you are facing – please feel free to reach out and let us help.