7 Ways To Influence Purchase Decision Using Social Media

The consumer purchasing process is a series of steps that you make when deciding to buy a product. According to San Diego State University, the 5 stages of the consumer purchasing process are: problem recognition, information search, alternative evaluation, purchase decision, and post-purchase behavior.

Social Media Affects All Points of the Purchasing Process

According to Pew Internet Research, 66% of online adults use social networking sites, so it is good business for your company to be in the same place as your target market. (Brenner, 2012)  Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are unique marketing opportunities because they are touch points for every step of the purchasing decision. Social media relationships are peer oriented, which means there is plenty discussion going on about what brands and products they think are best or worst. Peer decisions are a known influence on purchasing.

Brand discussions, branded posts, and ads, cultivate need awareness.They are also providing discussions and presenting facts and experiences that shape the content of the information search. Branded posts are able to influence evaluation of alternatives. Once a purchasing decision has been made, a link within the social media platform can be used to make the purchase.

The post purchasing decision is also affected by social media. Readily available polls and questions will draw responses from recent buyers. For example, Cafepress has a Facebook page where customers can upload pictures of their latest purchases and discuss why they bought it. Such forums create a feedback loop that can spark further purchases as values are shared.

Using Social Media To Influence All Points of the Purchasing Process.

Here are some suggestions for how to use social media marketing to increase sales and benefit your company’s bottom line at each point of the purchasing process, and beyond.

1) Get Involved in Need Recognition (influence need recognition)

Before a purchase is made, an individual has to first determine that there is a need. Need recognition can be internal or external. Internal recognition occurs when the consumer perceives a need independent of marketing stimulation. External recognition occurs when the the customer detects a need because they are reacting to your marketing stimulus. Commercials and ads are a types of external stimuli. Every need detected has a value assigned to it.

Your company can use social media to initiate discussions about products you want to promote. You can also have contests, offer free giveaways or sell discounted items. All of these actions will ramp up discussions about your products.

2) Get Seen During Information Searches

The awareness of need drives the search for information as to how the need will be met. The information that is obtained allows consumers to determine the best possible selection. Information gathering, or the search for ways to obtain the value that the customer wants, has two steps: internal search and external search. According to San Diego State University, internal scanning is provided by the customer’s memories and past experiences. Friends, family, product reviews, sales people, ads and company websites are external search sources.

Ads and brand discussions on social media provide a very rich source for external searches. They provide a unique opportunity for your company to present the facts and cases for why your product is the best to a vast audience.

3) Make Your Value Outweigh the Competition in the Alternative Evaluation

If resources (funds) are scarce, consumers will look for alternatives. After consideration of options, a decision is made to buy. Alternative evaluation is the process of assessing value. At this stage, objective qualities for all product choices (such as durability and ease of use) and subjective qualities (such as prestige) will be considered.

Social media posts give your company the opportunity to openly declare the reasons why your products are superior to the competition.

4) Put Your Product Links in the Vicinity of the Purchase Decision

The information that is obtained allows consumers to determine the best possible selection that is most consistent with their resources. This is the point where the decision is made to buy a product. When a consumer buys a product, they are actually purchasing value.

Posting links to landing and sales pages can help you to speed up the time from the decision to purchase to the actual purchase. It also reduces the hassle for consumers to purchase a product.

5) Engage the Customer to Create Positive Post Purchase Behavior

This is the stage where a customer decides whether or not they are satisfied or dissatisfied with the product. Satisfaction and dissatisfaction are determined by how buyers experience the product, and whether or not the experience falls below, matches or exceeds their expectations.

Post purchase confirmation emails have one of the highest open rates of any type of email campaign. They provide you with one of the best, easiest and least expensive ways to solidify the purchase experience and bond with the customer. Ideally, the content and appearance of the post purchase email should be integrated with all of your company’s other email campaigns. Post purchase confirmation emails are also a great opportunity to cross and up-sell your products.

6) Use Search Engine Marketing

SEO or search engine optimization is the ongoing process of creating content that is easily found on the web. This involves skillful use of keywords, inclusion of reputable links, and frequent posting of quality content. The process of SEO is search engine marketing. The more highly ranked your site is, the more likely you are to have search engines refer traffic to your company’s website.  Quality involvement in social media will help your search engine rankings.

7) Send Out Powerful Social Signals

In addition to search engine marketing, the quality of your engagement in social media is also affected by social signals. Social signals are parameters that are used by search engines such as Google to determine the quality of your social media presence and engagement. Strengthen your social signals by creating good content, engaging others in conversation, sharing information by way of Facebook,Twitter and Google Plus using high quality links and this will create the web presence desired by marketers.


By Yi Yun 

About Yi Yun

Yi Yun Lin is well versed in visual and graphic marketing. He is a content contributor of Social Metrics Pro.

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