The “customer adoption cycle” is the name of the overall process of a customer learning about your product through to purchasing it. It is made up of five stages that tend to be similar for most businesses and when applied to your business you will turn it into your sales funnel.

It is important to understand each of the five stages and how customers pass through them because as your business grows you are going to want to optimize each stage. Doing so will get you more potential customers at each stage which ultimately leads to more purchases. Spend some time figuring out how you can record data about each person in each stage.

There are a few instances where stages might be skipped such as the trial stage for low-cost impulse purchases.

Awareness

The awareness stage is where a consumer learns that your product exists. This is not a stage anybody can skip over and this is what you will spend a lot of time on early in your business. This is where your marketing strategy comes into play.

If people are not moving past this stage, then that means that you have not done a good job getting the word out about your product in which case you will want to try new messaging (use different words to describe your product and the problem it solves) and new marketing channels.

Interest

At this stage a consumer has learned about your product and displays a bit of interest. That can be visiting your website if you are selling online or stopping at your kiosk if you are selling something at the mall.

Think of this stage as a “first glance”.

Evaluation

At this stage the consumer will examine your product and its features. They will also compare it to other competing products based on price and quality. They might even do research and seek out reviews or ask people they trust for recommendations.

The higher the price point of your product or service the longer the evaluation stage takes. If you are selling to businesses, you can expect this stage to take weeks if not months.

At lower price points this can happen in a minute or so such as when comparing ingredients in the cereal aisle of the grocery store.

Trial

This is when somebody tests your product out. With an app for the phone you might offer a free version with limited features. For a service, you might offer the customer a limited time trial (i.e. a 14-day free trial) where they will be able to make sure that it meets their needs.

With physical goods, you can see this in action when you get a free sample at the grocery store or when you take a car for a test drive.

Adoption

The adoption stage is where somebody is ready to make a purchase. At this point, somebody has spent a bit of time learning about and evaluating your product so you do not want to do anything that can jeopardize that. Make sure the payment process is as smooth as possible and that they do not run into any unexpected surprises. If somebody struggles with completing their purchase they might never come back to try again.