Customer Decision Making Process

by : Bobette Kyle

An important question to answer when creating or revising a Web site is 'What are the goals of this site?' because the answer will drive your site design and marketing decisions. A good way to choose the correct goals is to think in terms of the customer decision making process.

Customer Decision Making Process

Not all visitors to a site have the same needs. Karon Thackston, copywriter and proprietor at explains by breaking the customer decision making process (i.e. buying process) into at least four stages: Need/Want Recognition, Information Search, Evaluation, and Purchase.

If a visitor has already made the decision to purchase a product or service, for example, she needs easy ordering options. If the customer is early in the decision making process, however, she needs more general information.

Information or Sales?

Dee Kreidel, owner of Dax Development Corporation recommends identifying a site as either an information site (for early decision stages) or a sales site (for late decision stages), but not both:

'Our experience with our clients demonstrates that most people will not shop at a site if they see it as an informational site because their state of mind/focus is different when they are there - they aren't necessarily looking to shop, they are wanting information.'

One way to keep sales and information content separate is to set up a 'hub and spoke' system of Web sites.

Putting it Together with a Hub and Spoke System

James Maduk developed and runs his own 'hub and spoke' system of Web sites. He uses a two step process to guide potential customers from his informational 'hub',, to one or more of his 55+ sales 'spokes' (summarized here on the James Maduk hub site).

'The purpose of my main site (hub) is not to sell. Rather its to 'buy',' James explains. 'I want to 'buy' my visitor's email address.'

Step one in his sales process originates from the hub. James does daily online events for free, radio broadcasts, live webcasts, gives away free ebooks, asks for newsletter subscriptions, etc. for the express purpose of collecting a new visitor's email address and educating them.

'I want to earn the right to sell something to them. I want to earn their trust and rapport.' By providing an email address, potential buyers open the door for James to do just that.

James helps a visitor through the decision making process by initiating step two of his sales process - an autoresponder series - after she has opted in with an email address. Each email, one to three a week, includes a short tip and directs readers to one of James' sales pages or his small business internet marketing 'member's only' site.

Attract the Right Visitors

By understanding your site visitors' decision making process and providing them with the right information, you can convert more visitors to purchase. Attracting more of the *right* visitors can improve conversions as well.

In Part 2, 'Reach Your Web Site Marketing Goals: Profit By Attracting the Right Visitors' , I will take a look at some tips for attracting the right customers to your site and ideas for profiting through information sites.