One of the biggest challenges of digital marketing is getting the right information to the right customer at the right time. In the simplest of terms, this can mean knowing whether or not your customer is ready to compare or to buy. This one, simple distinction is the key to understanding what type of information your customer needs and how to best deliver it.

Customers who are ready to buy are looking for a different user experience when they reach your web page than those who are still comparing cost and other benefits. The customer experience consists of how a customer finds, interacts, and either ends or continues their relationship with your company.

An easy way to identify which stage your customers are at is to understand the purchase funnel, also called the AIDA model, which illuminates a customer’s journey from general interest to making a purchase. AIDA stands for the four main phases a customer passes through on their way to swiping that credit card or handing over the cash.

Awareness – the customer is aware that a product or service exists

Interest – the customer shows an active interest in a product or service

Desire – the customer is drawn to the particular attributes of a specific brand or provider

Action – the customer is ready to purchase the product or service

Those who know what they want are looking for a quick, easy way to verify price and availability and get to checkout, putting them in the Action phase. If you put too many obstacles in a buying customer’s way, they will get frustrated and move on.

Customers who aren’t quite sure what they want to buy yet are looking for a way to compare their options and identify the product that ultimately delivers everything they need. They are in the Interest phase and it’s your job to move them on to Desire. If you add barriers to comparison shopping, like lengthy customer info questionnaires, they will likely give up and go somewhere else where they can get the answers they need without a lot of hassle.

Understanding these subtle differences gives you an edge when it comes to designing your website to appeal to each stage of the purchase funnel. Everything from the layout of a web page to calls to action and placement of crucial information like pricing and phone numbers can be targeted to meet your customers in their current state and move them through the process to the purchasing phase. To better understand how this is done, let’s take a look at some companies that know how to do this and do it well.

Internet and TV Services

When a customer is expressing general interest in purchasing Internet and TV for their home, they are likely to enter a search term like, ‘internet providers by zip.’ The results will be a page like this, which offers a comprehensive listing of the services and products available in their area.


The only thing the customer has to do to get to the info they desire is enter their zip code. That’s quick, easy, and immediately grants them access to all the information they need to compare products and services that are available in their area. There’s no pressure or pop-ups to buy now or enter more personal information. The customer is allowed to browse and take in the information they want without being pushed to buy before they are ready.

Once the customer knows what they want to buy, they will conduct a much more targeted search for the exact product they want, like “Frontier FiOS Internet and TV.” That search takes them here, where it is easy to see all the prices, including any specials that are available.


To take action and make the order, all they need to do is enter their zip code or call the number prominently displayed at the top of the page.

Included just above the number, with a notice that ‘agents are available now!’ is a countdown which creates urgency for the user, encouraging them to call now to make sure they get the best deal and can start enjoying their new services as soon as possible.

Home Security

A customer who is ready to buy a home security package and has already done all the research doesn’t want to have to wade through a bunch of red tape and extraneous information before they can take action. That’s why a page like this one, for ADT Security, cuts right to the chase with package options, features, and prices. The top of the page alerts the customer to current deals available and highlights the number to call to place your order.

SafeWise adt

By contrast, a person who is simply looking into the possibility of a home security system will likely make a general search for ‘home security,’ that will take them to a page like this. This page establishes the expertise and authority of the information being provided, easily ranks the companies, and provides a quick, but comprehensive break-down of each security company and their services.

SafeWise compare

Customer reviews are prominently displayed by stars for each company, with a link that will take the user directly to reviews to find out what others think about the product. Links to more detailed information are available, but in an unobtrusive way that ensures the information is paramount, not the sale.

Online Dating

People looking to dip their toes into the pool of online dating are often a little bit gun-shy. This is why it’s so important for a customer’s initial experience to be exactly what they need to make a decision about moving forward. A low-pressure comparison page gets it right by including easy-to-understand ratings, simple one-line descriptions, links to user reviews, and a prominent way to easily move to the different sites for a closer look.

Dating sites compare

Once the customer has picked out the site that is right for them,’s registration page makes it simple and easy to start the process. All that is needed to get started is a zip code and an identification of what kind of dating you are interested in (e.g. Woman seeking Man).

There’s not a lot of busy, distracting information – it simply takes the user right to the heart of the matter and lets them move forward with ease. The most important messages are that you can start for free and it won’t take a ton of personal details to get things going.

Household Products

Some purchases may seem less likely to be researched online, but these days with so much information available, consumers want to make the smartest decision for every purchase – from kitchen knives to a backyard grill.

General search terms like ‘compare kitchen knives” will take the customer to a detailed comparison page. The page starts by presenting a broad overview that educates the user on what makes a quality kitchen knife stand out, and then proceeds to break down the ones they’ve picked as the best. One of the smartest things this page does is limit the large block of content at the top to a few lines, with the option to click in order to “Read More.” This eliminates what could be an intimidating amount of copy at first glance.

Similarly, a general search for ‘best charcoal grills’ will lead the user to a page that simply describes and shows the top 10 grills selected by a grilling expert. The grills featured range in price and function to give the customer a broad education to the pros and cons of different barbecues. The format is narrative, which takes away all selling pressure that can turn off a customer who hasn’t made it to the Desire or Action phase yet.

However, once a customer has all the info they need to take the next step, they will search for the specific knife or grill they want to buy. The specific product pages eliminate most of the clutter and focus on the primary object of desire. The features, benefits, and price are emphasized and it’s easy for the user to add the item to an online cart or find out if the product is available in a store nearby. Everything is designed to allow the Action to take place that results in the successful purchase of the product.



As demonstrated in each example above, the bottom line to making sure you appeal to customers in an appropriate manner for their stage in the purchase funnel is to clearly delineate comparison, “browsing” information from focused sales information with strong calls to action. If you don’t separate information to appeal to these different phases you risk losing customers and seeing sales decline.

Take the time to do a content marketing audit of your website and different web pages. Look at how robust your blogs are – you need to provide more narrative information for those customers who are in the Interest phase. Test your calls to action – are they hard to recognize or confusing? Have you emphasized any current discounts or deals available for those who take immediate action?

Examine your home page. Customers should be able to clearly recognize why they should do business with you and what the benefits of working with you are over the competition. Make sure you have an effective headline and use effective graphics to guide the user through your website.

By recognizing that not all customers are in the same stage of buying readiness, and making a conscientious effort to address those stages you will be able to increase the conversion of visitors into paying customers. Complacency is your enemy when it comes to digital marketing. To stay at the top of your game, make sure you are always examining your online message, looking at your presence in social media, and testing user response.