The Customer Decision Journey in Bridal: Evaluation Stage
This is our third installment of The Customer Decision Journey in Bridal series. If you haven't read the previous posts, I recommend you do so before reading this. (Find the first post here and the second here)
Before delving into the ‘evaluation stage’ of the customer decision journey, I’d like to mention that while each industry is different, there is one fact every industry, bridal included, has to keep in mind when making sales and marketing decisions:
At least 74% of business buyers conduct more than half of their research online before making an actual purchase.
What this means is that marketing is now responsible for a bigger chunk of your business strategy. With that in mind, let’s delve into what the evaluation stage entails and the type of actions we need to take to facilitate a smooth transition for the customer.
After the bridal boutique buyer realizes he or she is missing a certain price point or style your brand can fill, they will begin their online research and will likely seek advice from their peers as well (word of mouth is very important). At this stage they’re evaluating you and your competitors (that’s if they’re able to find you online and your brand stands out enough to be noticed--this is why brand awareness campaigns are important--read my previous blog on brand awareness here), and your goal here is to convert the buyer into a lead.
A lead in bridal is a buyer who wants to receive more information about your brand and is willing to give your their email and other contact information to receive a newsletter, look books, bridal market info, etc. This is where your website plays an integral role because you want the buyer who lands on your website to provide these things to you so that you can market to them.
Now in order to incentivize your web visitor to give up their contact information, you need a lead magnet. That is, you need to provide them with a useful piece of content that will compel them to opt in to your email list. This could be anything from a useful bridal market checklist, to a wedding industry report, or a VIP invitation to an event. The bottom line: provide them with something of value if you’re going to ask them to provide you with their business information.
Because at this stage your prospective customer is researching, you have to make sure your website has a clear value proposition. Tell them what makes your brand special and different, and provide proof as well--reviews, a blog featuring real brides, and anything else that will help you make your case to a buyer that has myriad bridal brand choices.
In the evaluation stage, then, you need to help your prospective customer access as much information about your brand online as possible.
Find out what type of information is important to your specific target customer in making purchasing decisions and give them easy access to it. They might, for example, need proof that you will deliver quality gowns (customer reviews help here), or that they can count on quick turnaround (this can be part of your value proposition), or that you’re keeping up with trends (an active blog helps here), or that you have an active social media presence.
Take the time to understand what drives your prospective customer and invest in each stage of the decision journey. As we all become more digitally reliant, it also becomes more important to acknowledge that we need to provide buyers the information they need when they need it. Because online is where most of the lead-to-revenue cycle happens, investing in your digital presence is more important than ever.