Introduction

il 430xN.169962313 The 3 Phases of the Online Buying Cycle

Results of "Handmade Jewelry" in Etsy

When people make purchases online, they conduct many searches.  They use major search engines like Google as well as internal shop search engines on sites like E-bay, Amazon and Etsy.  Most potential customers go through three different phases before they actually make their purchase.  Those phases are interest, research and purchase.

For the purpose of this blog post, I will use the example of buying a piece of jewelry.

Phase 1: Interest

The first phase of online shopping is “Interest.”  For this example, we are going to use someone interested in buying some jewelry.  They will start off a search with only 1 to 2 keywords.  These keywords could be as simple as “jewelry,” “handmade jewelry” or “silver jewelry.”

This person is most likely not going to buy anything.  They will casually look through the results and maybe “favorite” things they like.  If you’re on a system like Etsy you can see people who have hearted/favorited your shop.

However, in most cases, these people will just move on and not purchase anything.  These people don’t really know what they want. They are just searching around.  Occasionally, someone might buy on impulse during this phase, but  in general, they are just poking around.

Phase 2: Research

il 430xN.157038225 The 3 Phases of the Online Buying Cycle

Results of "Handmade Silver Jewelry" in Etsy

The next phase is “Research.”  Let’s say our imaginary customer has been playing around on the Internet for a few minutes to even hours and have started to see some items they like.  They know they want some handmade silver jewelry.  They might type that in, but it will give a lot of results.  In general, this person is going to use 2 to 3 keywords.

Once again, this not the phase in the buying process where you want to aim your ads or tags.  This person has a much higher potential of buying than someone in the interest phase, but there is still a lot of comparing of different items going on.

This person might be using keywords like “review,” “compare” or “blog post.”  So an example of a search might be “silver earrings compared to silver bracelets.”  Another one might be “review of large silver cuff’s” or “Blog on Cuttlebone Casting.”  A last example is “Thoughts on buying dinosaur bone.”

Although there are more then 2 to 3 words in each one of those sentences, the keyword phrases are still within the 2 to 3 range.   Now someone at the beginning of the research phase is not that focused.  By the time they get close to the purchase phase the hunt for what they want is generally pretty focused.

Phase 3: Purchase

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This Brooch uses the tag "Chinese Turquoise" instead of just "Turquoise"

By the time the “Purchase” phase rolls around, the buyers know what they want.  They might type a search query like “Sterling Silver Wire Bracelet with Turquoise for Women.”  In that search query, there are 4 keywords or keyword phrases.

At this phase, the online shopper will use 3 to 5 keywords or keyword phrases.  Online shoppers will often use keywords like “buy,” “purchase” or “order.”   By this point, they are no longer causally surfing the web hoping to find something.  The customers completely know what they want and hopefully they will land on your items.

So What Does This Mean?

Now many people might say, “This is too complicated. I will let fate guide people to my shop!”

That is the completely wrong attitude.   Keywords, or tags, are potential customers.  And the key thing is aiming those keywords, or tags, at the right phase of the online shopping cycle.  There is some debate about this topic. Some say only aim at the purchase phase.  Others say aim for the research phase.

Personally, I believe in aiming at the late research phase to early purchase phase.  That is a grey area where the customer is pretty sure they know what they want but can still be swayed by something similar.  I find that later in the purchase phase online shoppers most likely have their minds made up and it is hard to sway them.

So how do you aim for the sweet spot of the land between research and purchase phase?  Think long and hard about keywords or keyword phrases that describe your work in detail.  Don’t just use the word “turquoise.” Name the specific kind of turquoise, such as “Mexican Turquoise,” “American Turquoise” or “Chinese Turquoise.”   Don’t use general tags like “bracelet.” Use “silver bracelet” then make another tag  “sterling” so it can be slapped on front when needed.

Conclusion

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The Tags purple stone, silver pendant, purple agate are use for this item

For many people, selling online seems like it should be easy.  The cycle should be: put my stuff up on the web, people find it, they buy it if they like it, and then repeat.   Sadly, it does not work that way.  Selling is always tough, and if you get annoyed with selling online, remember that craft fairs or trying to sell in brick and mortar shops isn’t easy either.  Just keep playing with those keywords/tags and think about which stage in the buying cycle you are aiming for. You want people to find your products, and if they like it, they just might buy it.

Posted by Silver Drops Designs Blog

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Much of this information I learned while taking an Internet Marketing Class this summer taught by Pat East of Hanapen Marketing