Phase 2 of the Consumer Decision Process (Information Search) Explained
In this post I will discuss phase 2 of the buying process – Information Search. If you haven’t read phase 1, you can read it here first. Here’s a quick refresher on the full buying process.
The 5 Stages of the Consumer Decision Process
- Need Recognition: “I don’t like the alignment of my teeth” – In this stage the consumer acknowledges some kind of problem.
- Information Search: “what are my options for straightening my teeth” – In this stage customers seek out information or methods that will straighten their teeth. Some people may talk to their friends or read up online about the pros and cons of traditional braces, veneers, Invisalign® etc.
- Evaluation of Alternatives: “I’ve decided on Invisalign®, which dentist should I see” – In this phase of the buying process the customer has decided to use Invisalign® to straighten their teeth, and focuses on WHICH dentist to go see. The customer will have a set of buying criteria to determine who to go see. Subconsciously most people have a few criteria that are really important and others that aren’t so much. Buying criteria may include price, proximity to their home, ease of access, whether their insurance is accepted, perceived quality, etc. Often patients get information by asking their friends or researching nearby dentists online.
- Purchase Decision: “I choose this office” – In this stage of the buying process the consumer decides which office they are going to go see. Typically this decision is made as a result of a direct referral, a conversion optimized website, a rock-star receptionist who answers any questions (objections) and closes a consultation, and finally a good sales pitch by the dentist.
- Post Purchase Evaluation: “I love my new smile” – The last phase of the buying process is deciding if they made the right decision. If the customer is happy you should be able to leverage them with rebooking’s, referrals, and reviews. If they had a bad experience they may write a negative review or tell their friends not to visit you.
Let’s talk a bit about phase 2, Information Search.
More often than not, people will go online to research how to solve a problem. Have you ever travelled and Googled “things to do in [city name]” or “places to eat in [city name]”? Of course you have! Anytime people make a purchase some thought goes into the decision. For small purchases with little risk, we are more experimental and open to trying things with the understanding we might be unhappy (like trying out a new restaurant). With bigger purchases with more risk (often the risk is time, money, or health) we are more inclined to conduct research so that we don’t experience “buyers remorse”.
Proof Points / Validation
One of the things customers are looking for when determining WHAT METHOD they should use to solve their problem is validation. Especially when it comes to medical treatments, it’s really important to prove that treatments are safe, effective, and proven to work.
Often you’ll hear things like “Our FDA approved technology has been used for over 1 Million treatments and has a 97% satisfaction rate.” Statements like this will definitely help the consumer feel more comfortable with their decision.
In addition to more objective validation, people searching for more information will often talk to their friends both offline and online (social media). Make sure you ask your happy patients to refer their friends to you! You can use social media campaigns and newsletters to have “top of mind awareness” so that even if a patient hasn’t seen you in a while, they will remember you if their friends start talking about a service you offer.
Educational vs Transactional Keywords
It’s important to make sure you are investing most of your time and money with SEO and Adwords on TRANSACTIONAL keywords. These are the keywords that drive decision.
Here are some samples:
- best dentist (transactional)
- how to fix a sore tooth (educational)
- how to straighten my teeth (educational)
- best cosmetic dentist near me (transactional)
Exercise: Are you currently paying someone for SEO or Adwords? If you are, have them send you a list of your primary and secondary keywords. If you notice most of them are EDUCATIONAL keywords, it means they have no clue what they are doing and you should fire them!