Consumers are changing the way they interact with brands and make purchases.
Shopping Behavior in the Digital Age
Successful marketing reaches consumers at moments or touchpoints that will most influence their decisions. It’s becoming increasingly obvious that performance marketers need to focus on the end-to-end customer journey and utilize every touchpoint as an opportunity for a meaningful conversation.
For years (and even now), the customer journey has been viewed in the form of a metaphorical funnel, which implies the customer journey is linear.
However, the emergence of digital channels and an increase in brand choices have created a culture where consumers are not going shopping; they’re always shopping.
Not only do we need to re-win loyal customers, but we also need to utilize every impression as a meaningful moment with our potential customers. We can do this effectively by revising the traditional linear marketing funnel. At SocialWithin, our approach is a bit different— it is circular.
There are five phases in a consumer’s conversion cycle: initial consideration, sample selection, active evaluation, conversion, and postpurchase. Each phase is a chance to have meaningful interactions with your customers, which will make them more likely to choose you over the competition.
- In the initial consideration phase, consumers are either not looking or don’t know they need your product or service. During this phase, brands have an opportunity to build a case for why the consumer should first consider their product/service, and second, why they should invest in it.
- In the sample selection phase, consumers know they want to invest in a product/service. Now is when consumers choose a handful of brands they’d want to shop from. In this phase, brands are either making first impressions or reminding their customers that they’ve met before.
- In this stage, consumers are researching and using the process of elimination to commit to one brand.
- Finally, the consumer lands on one brand and has made the conversion. One inconvenience during this process could be enough to turn the customer away, which is why brands must make sure website flow, especially checkout flow, is seamless.
- After the consumer has converted, you want them to come back to you for their next purchase, gloat that they purchased from you, and spread the word. This is an opportunity for brands to deepen their relationship with their customers.
How To Maximize The 5 phases on Paid Social
Unlike the traditional model, the circular approach recognizes that you’ll always be up against new brands vying for your customer’s attention. For this reason, it’s essential to maximize your presence during each phase. Here’s what we’ve seen perform the best on paid social:
Build for Mobile
- Nearly three-quarters of all internet time is spent on a mobile device (via IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report). If you want to make a significant impact on your current and potential customers, you’ll need to optimize their mobile experiences.
”Google found that 51 percent of consumers look unfavorably on brands with mobile sites that are not designed for use on a smartphone. More shockingly, Google found that almost half of smartphone users will not consider purchasing from brands that host poorly designed mobile sites.”
Identify Your Customer
- Do your research and get to know your audience and when they are most likely to converse with you.
- Understand where your customers are browsing and where they’re making the purchase. Although mobile is on the rise, desktop is still important. Implement omnichannel analytics like Facebook Analytics, which tracks your customer’s journey whenever and wherever they choose to convert, even while they’re shopping anonymously.
Direct the Conversation
- Once you’ve identified where your customers are likely to browse and shop, meet them there. Decide what conversation they will be most receptive to and build as personalized of a message as you can.
Step-by-Step Customer-Based View
With e-commerce and social commerce on the rise, it’s getting easier to build a conversation with your customers and reach people who are most likely to relate with your product. But the cost per acquisition (CAC) is not cheap. So how do you make your brand the most memorable? How do you make an impression that will shorten the purchasing journey and make your customers come back?
Initial Consideration, Sample Selection, and Active Evaluation
Your goals during these phases are to get consumers to purchase and to build loyal customers. People will remember you through your branding, messaging, and value propositions. Tell your potential customers why you are the best choice by relating your brand to their lives in moments where it can make a difference.
Purchase: In-Store vs. Online Experience
We need to meet customers where they are and give them what they want, not just online, but also in-store. With 95% of consumers preferring to be left alone when shopping, the traditional in-store experience is shifting to mobile. Shoppers are turning to in-store technology for information before they buy, and to friends and family for advice via social media while browsing (via HRC Retail Advisory).
Nike’s app is an in-store shopping win. It puts the retail experience in the customers’ hands by showing them what’s available in-store, allowing them to reserve items, and unlocking app-specific discounts from Nike and its partners. It also lets clients decide whether they’d like to shop alone or get help from an employee.
What Happens After Purchase?
Postpurchase is a crucial touchpoint that can be used to create customer loyalty. After surveying 60 customers over two weeks, McKinsey found that consumers want their online and offline experiences to connect.
Relevant retargeting drives revenue growth. But how do you know what will be considered relevant as opposed to intrusive? McKinsey also found that retargeting after the purchase was well-received when it:
- Helped the customer discover a new option in a category in which they were shopping
- Arrived at a time when the customer was actively shopping
- Reminded them of things they were interested in
- Rewarded their loyalty
Customer Loyalty and How to Gain It
Every touchpoint is an opportunity to exceed your customers’ expectations. Respond to accolades, complaints, and questions on every channel. Nurture relationships. If you want to create customer loyalty, you have to be memorable.
Reward your customers by:
- Offering VIP incentives such as early access
- Creating reward programs
- Sending a personalized message after they make a purchase
- Mailing hand-written thank you notes
Rising consumer expectations call for a finely curated omnichannel experience. When brands understand the circular customer journey, they can dig deeper into each touchpoint and create connections that draw their customers closer.