What Is The ‘Messy Middle’ Of The Purchase Journey?
In the pathway to forming conversions, there is a decision moment whose intricacies are unknowable by marketers. Many SEO experts at Google & beyond have called this the “messy middle” of the purchase journey. The messy middle is when decisions are made – and marketers have a lot to learn by studying it. Analyzing consumer behavior and psychology has taught us that people do not make choices in a linear fashion. Time passes, and much can occur between the moment they first learn about something and the moment they decide to buy it. This complex space between knowledge and trigger and trigger and purchase is the messy middle.
Are search engines the place where people decide what they’re going to buy? It very likely is – because, in addition to people searching for products, they can search for products that fit specific criteria by modifying their search with words such as “best,” “discount codes,” “deals,” “cheap,” and “reviews.” Depending on a customer’s priorities, they may seek a more expansive set of options or zero in on the one or two closest fits for what they need. This is where branded searches and search-related ratings and reviews content play a critical role. Thinking strategically, is your product one that encourages customers to explore everything out there or evaluate specific details? Or both? Getting expansive or evaluative are the two predominant mental modes of customers in the messy middle – and, to complicate things further, people often oscillate between the two.
How can a brand stand apart during this complex back and forth in customers’ decision-making processes? One answer is to hyper-focus on content marketing and SEO; offering useful, value-adding material that enriches your customer and builds momentum and trust. Reassurance is a salve for both expansive and evaluative customers. Good, well-crafted content is a sure way to build SEO representation, credibility, and to connect with prospective customers.
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