I tend to spend a lot of time think­ing about how other peo­ple arrive at their pur­chas­ing deci­sions online, but I’ve never really scru­ti­nised my own buy­ing habits.

I fig­ured then, it would be inter­est­ing to break down the steps of how I arrived at the check­out stage for my last pur­chase online.

The most recent occa­sion  was to buy a hard copy of Paul Roetzer’s The Mar­ket­ing Agency Blue­print.

£13.99 is towards the upper ech­e­lon of what I’m pre­pared to pay for a book nowa­days, so when I spend that much, it really has to be a con­sid­ered decision.

It wasn’t an impulse buy; most book pur­chases I make tend to be quite con­sid­ered (although I am prone to the occa­sional rash pur­chase in char­ity shops).

Any­way, here’s how I ended up part­ing with my hard card earned cash for Paul’s book and the var­i­ous ‘moments of truth’ that hap­pened along the journey.

N.B. Why I buy what I buy is prob­a­bly a rel­a­tively inane blog post sub­ject for most peo­ple, so I don’t blame you if you switch off here…

Aware­ness & Evaluation

The first time I can remem­ber becom­ing con­sciously aware of Paul’s book was through Andria Sarachino’s blog post: Why Hybrid Mar­ket­ing Agen­cies Rule the Con­sult­ing World (and How to Pre­pare Your Agency for Dom­i­na­tion), which is a pretty glow­ing review of the book.

There’s quite a few fac­tors at play here that made me sit up and take note:

  • It’s on the Con­tent Mar­ket­ing Insti­tute, which I’ve found to be a pretty reli­able source of information
  • It’s writ­ten by Andria Sarachino, who’s head of out­reach at Dis­tilled — so an author­ity fig­ure from an author­i­ta­tive agency
  • The title sug­gest a unique take on a sub­ject that’s very rel­e­vant to me

After that post though, I kind of for­got about it. I prob­a­bly made a men­tal note that it sounded inter­est­ing but I didn’t dig any deeper.

Then a few weeks later, I stum­bled across Paul Roet­zer again, this time on Mitch Joel’s Six Pix­els of Sep­a­ra­tion pod­cast and whilst I don’t think he was plug­ging the book, it prompted me to  make a con­scious effort to fol­low him on Twitter.

Unusu­ally, he fol­lowed me back. The guy’s follow/follower ratio is circa 90/100, so I’m guess­ing he fol­lows most peo­ple back who aren’t spam­mers or robots. Still, most peo­ple of note don’t fol­low back.

Whether this had any bear­ing bear­ing on my future pur­chas­ing deci­sion, I’m not sure. Either way, when I noticed the fol­low back it prompted me to think about the book again.


It’s dif­fi­cult to remem­ber when exactly it ended up in my Ama­zon bas­ket, but all of what pro­ceeded kept the book in mind for when I needed some­thing new to read.

I tend to make an effort to ignore reviews on Ama­zon, as they’re usu­ally too polar­ized. My bas­ket is nor­mally nar­rowed down to 3/4 books I’m inter­ested in read­ing; one or two of these are bought, the oth­ers con­demned to ‘Save for Later’.

This is the really crit­i­cal stage of the process — I’m stood at the edge of the cliff, umming and aahing whether to com­plete the trans­ac­tion. My ‘Save for Later’ is a grave­yard of books that have tick­led my inter­ests before, but for what­ever rea­son fallen short when it’s come to crunch-time.

What swung it then? It sounds rel­a­tively silly, but I really liked the graphic design and I liked the fact it was hard­back. So much for not judg­ing books by their covers.

I also spent a fair whack of time going through the reams of con­tent on the book’s web­site, which reas­sured me it would be a worth­while purchase.

All of what hap­pened in the run up to this moment added to my per­ceived value of the book and con­vinced me to take the plunge.


On reflec­tion, what’s inter­est­ing for me is what I didn’t do: I didn’t search ‘mar­ket­ing books’ click on the top result and, oh hey, I’m at the check­out. Sounds obvi­ous, but writ­ing it down helps crys­tallise my own under­stand­ing of the funnel.

One thing I some­times see and don’t like, is the ten­dency in online mar­keters to over sim­plify the sales process as a means get­ting peo­ple to invest in SEO. “If peo­ple are look­ing for x prod­uct and you rank #1 for it then $$$”

This isn’t really how buy­ing any­thing on the inter­net — or any­where else — works. Either way, it’s inter­est­ing to med­i­tate on how you jour­ney through the text-book mar­ket­ing fun­nels and indeed, the whole ‘inbound’ thing..

I’m still wait­ing for the book to arrive, so I can’t com­ment on whether it was worth the money. If you work in mar­ket­ing I think it’s as impor­tant to ques­tion and scru­ti­nise your own buy­ing decisions.

How unique these steps where to me, I’m not sure. Hope­fully under­stand­ing what trig­gers my own pur­chase deci­sions will help me work out how to influ­ence other people’s.

Post By Michael Smith (31 Posts)

Michael works at 9xb Dig­i­tal Agency in Har­ro­gate, Mon­day to Fri­day. Click here to fol­low him on Twit­ter or have a look a his Google+ pro­file.

Web­site: →


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4 Responses to The Last Product I Bought Online

  1. Peter says:

    Hi Michael,

    I think you’re wrong that this post isn’t of inter­est to other peo­ple. As a fel­low mar­keter, I’m deeply inter­ested in the buy­ing process, and this is the kind of anec­do­tal, ‘actual expe­ri­ence’ post that’s quite hard to find in the sea of ‘do this, do that’ list posts that never include proof or evidence.

    In fact, this is a sub­ject I gave some thought to myself about ten months ago, when I came to look for a Span­ish accoun­tant (and also, later, a pen­sion plan.) Inter­est­ingly, the thing that finally swayed me in both cases was the qual­ity of the com­pany blogs. The accoun­tant I’ve ended up using has just about the most use­ful blog on the topic I’ve found, and that will­ing­ness to openly share real, use­ful infor­ma­tion (as opposed to the usual sea of generic rub­bish) really con­vinced me.

    Like you, I can’t speak for how typ­i­cal my expe­ri­ences are (I might have been influ­enced by the fact that I’m a con­tent mar­keter, and here was good con­tent mar­ket­ing) but it’s nonethe­less inter­est­ing to dis­sect my own buy­ing processes. I think I can extrap­o­late that I’m not totally unique, and use my dis­cov­er­ies about myself to feed into my work, and how I attempt to influ­ence poten­tial customers.

    Thanks for a great post,



    • Thanks Peter, really appre­ci­ate the kind words, it’s nice to see some­body else relate. Was a bit unsure about pub­lish­ing it at first because I was wor­ried it might come across a bit narcissistic!

      At the other end of the spec­trum with the con­tent, if you see a load of garbage on there it can be enough to make you think twice. I sup­pose it all feeds into the per­cep­tion of what you’re buy­ing and your final deci­sion — whether we’re con­sciously aware of it or not.

      How typ­i­cal our buy­ing expe­ri­ences online are really inter­ests me too. Even if our means of research­ing and buy­ing do rep­re­sent a small propo­si­tion of online con­sumers, I think it’s prob­a­bly a grow­ing frac­tion. A few year ago, my par­ents wouldn’t enter­tain the idea of buy­ing any­thing online; now a par­cel arrive every other day. I keep mean­ing to pry into their brows­ing habits and deci­sion processes a bit more!



  2. Henley Wing says:

    Really inter­est­ing post, Michael.

    If I look back at my prior pur­chases, I go a very sim­i­lar process. I bought a book from “Prag­matic”, a tech pub­lish­ing com­pany, and it didn’t come from a sim­ple search. I first heard about them from Hacker News (Red­dit for tech geeks). I then scoured Twit­ter and G+ for men­tions, and found a lot of men­tions about them. Their cover design looked quite sleek and “sexy”. And I ulti­mately bought 2 books from them.

    In many cases, rec­om­men­da­tions from influ­encers in your indus­try are much more pow­er­ful than rank­ing #1 for a key­word. They’re more sta­ble too, since a #1 rank­ing can’t be relied on forever.


    • Thanks for read­ing my post and com­ment­ing Hen­ley.
      Com­pletely agree about rec­om­men­da­tions, espe­cially from indus­try influ­encers. Guess whether you’ve a prod­uct or ser­vice, it all boils down to cre­at­ing some­thing worth rec­om­mend­ing!
      Going to check out a few Prag­matic books now btw ;)


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