My Buyer Journey To A New Website Host Proves Buyers And Content Drive The Buyer Journey

We humans are rational creatures, but there’s typically a lot going on when we’re in a decision process, so complex calculations can look erratic and irrational, in retrospect.

We’ve written extensively on who actually drives the Buyer Journey or sales cycle. In this post, we anchor our claims to an actual example. 

The  problem all started with my website (yes, this website) being slow. I have a Dedicated Virtual Server (on which the site you’re reading sits) with 2 GB of memory and 60 GB of storage space. The CPU is 2.1 GHz, which is slow. I knew it was time to either get more performance out of it, or move on. But the upgrade options for my current provider were limited. Basically, I’d pay double the price for slightly better performance.

I did some Internet searches to look for fixes:

  • “How to speed up WordPress.” I’d looked into this, and based on what I found – which I didn’t know I’d find when I started my search – I learned that my site was already optimized.
  • Then I searched for “How to speed up Plesk Obsidian” (the server panel), another layer of the technology stack that serves-up the website. I dug into some options with NGINX, PHP settings, memory settings and allocation. I’m not a network engineer (anymore) and I didn’t want to go screwing around. There was one lead: something called WebP compression, which could produce images 30% smaller than .jpg with no loss of quality. A plugin I had was unable to perform WebP compression. I continued to look at new solutions.
  • I went to a technical contracting site (which I already use, or I’d have had to do a Google search for that service, also) to find an expert who could either optimize Plesk’s PHP, NGINX, and WebP settings, or possibly perform a server migration. I hired someone, but then discussion of backups and a general tone of uncertainty emerged. I decided to pull the plug on that option. This was another seemingly random direction change that was actually a logical adjustment, in light of a changing circumstance.
  • I decided to move FlashPointLabs to a new hosting provider, without knowing who. From a marketing standpoint, this is called a ‘prospect level lead’ – I knew I wanted the service, but I didn’t know from whom. Compare this to a ‘product level lead’ – where I need reasons to buy it from a specific company. These are worlds apart in terms of the content I would be seeking; one makes a case for a better/faster solution class, and the other makes a case for better/faster solution provider.
  • I searched for “fastest hosting,” and up came countless results. Like anybody, I initially only click on the first page or so of links. I found content including comparisons, shootouts and benchmarks from third parties and hosting platforms alike. I also tried “What to look for in a Plesk host” and searching for speed-testing tools. At this point, I was a couple degrees of separation from the original search and solution profile. This is how all Internet purchases go, and why targeted ads can’t keep up with the buyer-driven Buyer’s Journey.
  • After some time, I’d narrowed the field of about 10 hosting platforms down to just three. I had all three tabs open at the same time. I used their on-site tools and configured them to host Plesk and be able to host 100 sites, and they ended up costing about the same as what I had. Better performance was just going to cost me, it seemed. One host offered unlimited bandwidth. One offered a free migration. The other was the lowest overall price. I tried calling them all. Nobody answered. All of these concerns – bandwidth, price, free migrations, being able to get a person on the line – were unknowns that weren’t at the top of my mind when I began my search.
  • I went back and re-included some hosting solutions I had excluded earlier, just wanting to make sure. I also performed another top-level search for “fast hosting” and clicked some lower links and videos to make sure I didn’t miss anything.
  • Based on some content I’d encountered, I went to my current hosting provider – not from my internal dashboard, but from the outside web. I learned that plan I was on was a legacy plan, and that their newer plans were very competitive with the other three hosts in terms of price and performance. I knew I could get a person on the line through my provider – they were great with that. They offered unlimited bandwidth. The only questions were a) what was the CPU speed for their new server (I already knew the memory and storage offered), and b) could they waive the migration fee?
  • I called my existing provider on the phone. They confirmed the CPU was blazing fast, and said they wouldn’t charge me to put me on another of their servers.

When you purchase something, you’re confronting a series of *known unknowns*, but also *unknown unknowns*. There are often solution *types* (not providers, but *classes*) the buyer is unaware of at the outset of the Buyer Journey. There are standard features, new innovations, hidden costs – a whole world surrounding the solution to your pain-point. And the more the conversion threshold is (cost), the more these details get considered. Content drives the sale and is essential. 

When you purchase something, you’re confronting a series of *known unknowns*, but also *unknown unknowns*. There are often solution *types* (not providers, but *classes*) the buyer is unaware of at the outset of the Buyer Journey. There are standard features, new innovations, hidden costs – a whole world surrounding the solution to your pain-point. And the more the conversion threshold is (cost), the more these details get considered. Content drives the sale and is essential. 

I did all that solution-finding only to end up where I began – with the same server/hosting company. But I learned. And this is how and why content is king, because it was through content that I learned. Content from third parties, but also content published by hosting providers. And nowhere did I seek sales copy or ads.

So, studying this, what do we see?

  1. I didn’t know what I didn’t know at the beginning of my Buyer Journey. I needed a solution to a pain-point (the slow server).
  2. There was more than one potential solution.
  3. The ultimate solution I chose was not the one I thought I would. I thought I had to switch service providers. I didn’t know I was on a dead-end track, with expensive and limited upgrades, but that the company I was with offered an entirely different set of solutions.
  4. While it’s true, I needed some seller-centric copy, prices and specifications from sellers, to compare, the hosting providers with the most content ranked better because of that content, and also because of domain authority.
  5. I didn’t click on a single ad. And believe me, there were a lot. Server fees can cost thousands of dollars a year, so ads are prolific.

The point is that my Buyer Journey was a search, and it was a process of encountering content. It might seem disordered, in that it was not predictable, but it was highly logical. When I started, I didn’t know what form my solution would take. Once a brand, product or service has the awareness of a consumer, this journey might be simpler, but buyer-driven search, and the ingestion of content, is how commerce happens nowadays. 

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