One thing that all customers in all purchase situations share is the Buying Decision Process. In this process, customers go through several stages before reaching their purchase decision. Your keywords and message need to change depending on the stage you want to target.
- Need Recognition:
In the first stage of the purchase decision process, your customer is trying to find a solution to a problem. Search queries at this point are very generic and broad. Unless the purchase decision is simple, your prospective customer will not be ready to buy at this stage. So avoid advertising in this stage by not using short and generic phrases as your keywords.
Example keywords for this stage: Vacations, home improvement, business ideas.
- Information Search
In the second stage, customers are looking for alternative products or services to solve a problem they have previously identified. Unless you have a large advertising budget or your product is intended to be informative (such as a book, for example), you may want to stay away from this stage too. Do not target how-to phrases or undeveloped sentences.
Example keywords for this stage: Vacation destinations, How to fix a leaky faucet, Accounting services.
- Alternative Evaluation
At this point, customers have an idea of the kind of product or service that will satisfy their needs. Their search terms become fully developed and they expect to arrive at websites that will provide them with the right solution. This is the stage you want to target. Use long-tail search terms containing product features.
Example keywords for this stage: Hotels in Downtown Miami, Plumbing services in Miami-Dade, CPAs in Brickell.
- Purchase decision and post-purchase behavior
Hopefully, the purchase decision will happen on your website and you will convert your visitors. After every purchase decision, your customers will evaluate if they made the right decision. This is a great opportunity to reinforce this decision and offer your customers other products or services. Target your brand term plus any other additional products or features relevant to the customer.
Example keywords for this stage: Travel rewards for ABC Hotel in Miami, ABC Plumbing services, John Doe, CPA audit services.