Are You Using the CBD Model to Understand Your Customers’ Buying Decisions?

October 14, 2013 Dustin Heap

Companies continue to shift money to content marketing and content “experts” abound. However, many marketers still miss the mark with content strategy because they don’t understand their target audience’s consumer buying decisions.

Understanding the consumer buyer decision (CBD) model will help your content to be effective—not just present.

Here’s a quick refresher on what exactly the CBD model means.

Using the diagram, CBDs can be explained in a matrix consisting of “level of involvement” on the horizontal axis and “perceived differences” on the vertical axis. The result is four very different consumer behaviors. Each quadrant will require a different type of content and will be critical to the overall success of your content marketing.

Complex Buying Behavior

Characterized by high involvement and significant perceived differences, complex purchases are usually “big ticket” items. Due to the perceived risks, buyers will spend a lot of time doing pre-purchase research.

Content for these buyers must be in-depth. Detailed specifications, user-generated reviews, and side-by-side comparisons are perfect for the complex buyer. Animated videos and memes are not the type of content for this situation. Detailed content will allow the consumer to research the product before actually deciding to buy. Not providing this type of content to potential buyers is a ticket to failure. Big car sites, such as AutoTrader, are perfect examples of companies who understand this. Their sites have a plethora of information and tools for consumers to research their dream car without leaving the website, enabling them to reduce their risk of buying a car.

Dissonance-Reducing Behavior

Dissonance-reducing behavior is where there is high involvement of the consumer but few perceived differences. Examples of this behavior include purchases like hardwood flooring. This entails a big cost, but different types of wood flooring are similar. The consumer still faces a risky and expensive purchase but spends less time making a decision.

Content needed for dissonance-reducing behavior is largely post-purchase content. While this may sound counterintuitive to marketers looking to acquire new customers, remember that satisfied customers refer new customers for less than the cost of acquiring new ones. Thus, customer-acquisition content can work to highlight the perceived differences, while still reassuring the consumer they’ve made the proper decision. This can be done through follow-up emails, a company blog, or other marketing collateral.

Variety-Seeking Behavior

Variety-seeking consumers exhibit low involvement despite significant perceived differences between products. These are consumers who like to try new things and switch brands—not out of dissatisfaction, but simply to try something new like clothing or cell phones.

Because they aren’t loyal, content for variety-seeking consumers should have a two-fold focus. First, retain customers by continually communicating the product’s benefits. For example, cell phone commercials touting the faster network of cell phone company “x.” Secondly, acquire new customers. Since these consumers are prone to switch, content should focus on highlighting the many perceived differences and then offer promotions to entice the customer to follow through. For example, how often have you seen advertisements for a better network and a free phone for new customers? This is a perfect example of communicating value on perceived differences, while also offering something to get the customer to act.

Habitual Buying Behavior

Habitual buyers are buyers who simply purchase out of habit. Habitual buyers are those who neither spend time researching nor see any difference between products or services. Grocery purchases and daily visits to a certain website (a form of a purchase) constitute these types of decisions. Ultimately, it takes a great deal of effort to move consumers into this category and an even greater effort to make them switch.

Content strategies for habitual buyers require a keen understanding of the consumer. Using the example of a daily website visit as a “purchase,” be acutely aware of what content types have high user-engagement metrics and how these differ by location. Content can then be tailored to regional interests. Further, memberships, opt-ins, and tools to personalize the experience can ensure the visitor regularly “purchases” from the same website by visiting frequently. These “purchases” increase brand advocates and have a direct impact on profitability for websites that have an ad revenue economic model. does a great job of this by offering the ability to personalize the experience with favorite teams and building out content around regional hubs with similar interests and behaviors.

With content, it is imperative to understand what type of purchase your product or service entails for consumers. Doing so will allow you to not only acquire new customers at a lower cost, but retain them for a longer period, increasing their lifetime value. Then, and only then, will your content be king.

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