Understanding your customer and what makes them tick is, of course, integral to any marketing campaign. The key aims of any marketer should be to attract attention, encourage purchase and build up trust. In order to achieve these goals, it’s important to consider the journey consumers take up until the point of purchase – and beyond. In today’s landscape, digital marketing plays a vital role in this but first, let’s explore basic customer-brand interaction.
How the journey has changed
In the 1960s, it was all about the ‘purchase funnel’. This was a development of the AIDA model outlined by E. St. Elmo Lewis, which suggested there were four stages to the customer journey – awareness, interest, desire and action. As the ‘funnel’ analogy suggests, from a pool of potential individuals, you end up with just a fraction who are converted into customers, following a reduction at each stage – not everyone who is aware of your brand will be interested; not everyone who is interested will choose you over competitors; and even then, not everyone will make a purchase.
One fault of this traditional model is that it doesn’t account for what happens post-purchase. Brands want to retain existing customers, so more modern models of customer interaction aim to reflect the truer, circular nature of consumer buying habits.
McKinsey & Company’s ‘consumer decision journey’ (2009) demonstrates how existing attitudes to brands can impact future purchasing decisions and takes the following structure, looping back to the beginning each time:
- Initial consideration set
- Active evaluation
- Moment of purchase
- Post-purchase experience.
Refusing to become complacent upon purchase, by ensuring your customers enjoy a positive post-purchase experience, will help secure loyalty to your brand. It is therefore important to trump your competitors by constructing a profitable consumer decision journey.
Where does digital marketing come in?
One way to develop a model that will generate a commercial return is by implementing a considered digital marketing campaign and there are a variety of effective tools this encompasses.
Customer-brand interaction is reciprocal and the same goes for the research carried out pre-purchase. Potential customers take the time to evaluate brands, so it makes sense for you to do your homework, too.
Before you put pen to paper, work out what makes your consumer tick. This can be done with a relatively small budget using a variety of tools, such as:
- Google Analytics
- Competitor analysis
- User testing
- Focus groups/surveys.
How many times has a technical issue hindered you from making an online purchase? If you’re anything like me, a lot!
That’s why it’s vital to ensure that the technical performance of your site is at peak performance before investing heavily in a digital marketing campaign.
In order to convert as many customers from initial consideration to closure, your website must be easy to find using search engines, quick to operate and simple to navigate. Your site’s architecture should also be reviewed regularly to ensure that visitors’ experiences are of a consistently high quality.
One of the first things a potential customer will do upon visiting your site is to compare its content to that of your competitors. This is part of the journey they make when evaluating whether your brand is right for them.
Your initial consumer research will be extremely useful when developing your content strategy and determining exactly the style of content your consumers will be drawn to and driven to sharing.
Calls to action should be clear and as well as directly promoting your product or service, your website should feature a well maintained and engaging blog to boost consumer interaction further.
Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)
When it comes down to it, your entire digital marketing strategy is geared towards one thing – converting sales and increasing your bottom line.
That’s where Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) comes in. This process allows you to test different ideas, such as colours and page layouts, to see which your visitors respond to best.
In as little as six months, you can see increased conversions and sales as a result of a continuous testing plan.
Using PPC is a great way to ensure that you stay at the forefront of a potential customer’s mind once they’ve initially recognised your brand.
Tools allow you to improve visibility through the creation of well targeted and visible adverts aimed at giving you the upper-hand over your competitors and driving traffic to your site.
Ads can be created to appear on the search engines of visitors in particular locations, of a certain age, at specific times. You can even feature positive reviews from previous customers to tempt prospects even further!
Social media provides your brand with another platform to attract customers. Well, platforms to be accurate.
It’s actually the growing number of social networks that causes the most confusion when it comes to marketing your brand in this arena.
As you get to know your consumer, you’ll know which platforms they use most frequently, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, for example.
Then you can use the most appropriate networks to host content that not only promotes the product or service that you offer, but also demonstrate your brand’s unique personality.
If this is done correctly, customers – old and new – will become affiliated with your tone of voice and hopefully, keep coming back for more!
The customer journey may seem like a long and winding road of considerations to make, but it’s certainly a route worth taking and one that both your customers and profit margin will thank you for!