AdWords Keyword Research: How You Can Leverage the Buying Cycle to Create Effective Keywords

The buying cycle is the process that consumers go through when making a purchase. During the buying cycle, consumers go through five stages and consider different buying needs at each stage. The five stages and related needs are:

  • Awareness: Customer becomes aware of their needs or problems.
  • Search: Customer searches for potential solutions to fulfill their needs.
  • Evaluate: Customer evaluates different options to fulfill their needs.
  • Decide: Customer decides on a solution.
  • Evangelize: Customer becomes an active advocate of the product or service.

Because of their specific needs, consumers at each stage of the buying cycle have different search objectives and use different kinds of search keywords to find solutions to their needs. For example, in the Awareness stage, shoppers may use general keyword such as “Vancouver sunglasses” or “Vancouver laptops” to gain general information about the product or service they are seeking.

You can leverage the buying cycle to target your audience more effectively by developing tailored AdWords keywords based on the stages the shoppers are in. Here’s how you can do it: 

  1. Awareness Stage

    In the Awareness Stage, the audience has two main search objectives:
     
    • To look up generic information about a certain topic or industry
    • To look up something they have heard about from a friend or from the news about a certain topic or industry
    To target shoppers in this stage, include general keywords such as “bodybuilding” or “whey protein” (B2C example) or “selling online,” “e-commerce,” or “Internet marketing” (B2B example) in your Ad Group because the consumers are just gathering general information about product or service they want to purchase.
  2. Search Stage

    In the Search Stage, consumers have three main search objectives:
     
    • To search for potential solutions to a specific problem
    • To search for second opinions on an answer to a specific problem
    • To search for information on obvious or underlying symptom
    To attract the target audience in this stage, include problem-based keywords such as “trouble gaining muscles” or “CLA to lose gut” and symptom-based keywords such as “skinny with gut” or “big belly” (B2C example) or “ROI for social media” (B2B example) in your Ad Group because consumers at this stage are searching for solutions to their problems by entering the problems or symptoms in the search box.
  3. Evaluate Stage

    In the Evaluate Stage, shoppers have two main search objectives:
     
    • To search for answer to a question
    • To seek support for a product already purchased
    To target the audience in this stage, include question-based keywords such as "should I workout at night" or best time to take CLA" (B2C example) or "how to use social media in B2B" or "how to track phone calls through analytics" (B2B example) in your keyword list because consumers at this stage are looking for answers to their specific questions by entering the questions in the search box. 
  4. Decide Stage

    In the decide stage, consumers have four search objectives (the first two are same as the ones from the Evaluate Stage):
     
    • To search for answer to a question
    • To seek support for a product already purchased
    • To find vendors for a specific product
    • To compare prices for a specific product
    To attract shoppers in this stage, include product names and part numbers-specific keywords such as "superwhey 100" or "super CLA 200" (B2C example) or "1-day digital marketing workshop" (B2B example) in your keyword list because consumers at this stage have already decided which products or services they want buy and are looking for vendors that carry such offerings or researching the product or service more thoroughly.

    Hence, you should bid on product names and part numbers-specific keywords so your ads appear so you can attract qualified users with your search ads.
  5. Evangelize Stage

    In the Evangelize Stage, consumers have one search objective:

    • To do research on product features
    To target these consumers, bid on brand-based keywords such as your company name or website URL plus keywords such as "case study," "proof," "compare," or "testimonial."

    By understanding and leveraging the buying cycle, you can attract shoppers at different stages of the cycle through the development of customized keywords based on the buying stages the audience is in. This advertising effective in helping you push your target audience across the sales funnel and convert them into paying customers and brand advocates.

    If you have any questions on defining keywords using the buying cycle, download our P.A.C.E. eBook, register for our monthly P.A.C.E. Digital Marketing Training Workshop, or contact Ray at ray.wang@smartt.com.