A guiding strategy to drive results
What do we do now?
How to use audience understanding and touchpoints to achieve the results you want.
This is a summary of steps to follow to produce a thoughtful marketing campaign which delivers results. It covers changes in approach, opportunities in the market, and the main things to remember.
The customer journey
The customer journey has changed and is constantly evolving. There needs to be increased relevancy and flexibility in the model so that we can interact more meaningfully, provide value when and where it matters, and increase effectiveness – whether selling a product or service.
The funnel that we’re most familiar with typically consists of:
Is the marketing funnel model/metaphor still relevant?
The decision journey continues to change and its evolving nature needs to be thought about. The more traditional funnel view still has value but there is much more to be explored.
What are the important factors now?
Touchpoints need more careful consideration. Understanding touchpoints and target audience(s) gives us a solid foundation to build a campaign on. With complete definition of touchpoints and audiences in place, we’re left with a map pointing us in all the right directions – from here, the plan is waiting to be found.
Are there any models that are more relevant?
Touchpoints have changed in many ways: this includes our behaviours in the process, as well as the number.
McKinsey now has a database that covers more than 125,000 consumer decision journeys, across 350 brands in 30 different industries. Initial assessments based on examining the purchase decisions of almost 20,000 consumers across five industries and three continents led to the proposition (in 2009) of the consumer decision journey which looked at a range of factors and suggested that today’s consumers take a more iterative journey with 4 stages: consider, evaluate, buy, and enjoy, advocate, bond.
The consumer decision journey opens up the marketer’s view to a more realistic approach:
What does this tell us?
These insights help to better indicate how to deploy resources to align them with where consumers are spending their time. Resources need to be used efficiently to ‘pull’ the consumer towards the desired goal, through thoughtfully placed content and delivery.
What can we do to address gaps?
The areas previously less explored include the interactions which occur after purchase. These are significant moments which can make or break an existing relationship and guide the beginnings of a new relationship – with public-facing content often playing a large part in dictating the purchase behaviours when a consumer is exploring their options.
One of the most powerful influencers to buy is advocacy (eMarketer) and there are ways that organisations can take better control of this and maximise the positive potential in this part of the journey. Reviews play a big part in the journey and whilst an organisation can’t control all elements in the delivery of every product or service, valuable efforts can be made in the customer experience. Brands can build a positive and friendly atmosphere and nurture valuable consumers – consumers who have purchased with you have the potential to:
- Quickly move through their journey and skip the first steps (remaining within buy-enjoy-advocate)
- Distribute content which encourages positive action from others (purchasing or moving closer to this stage, perhaps narrowing down their options)
- Distribute content which sparks doubt and causes others to look at more options, evaluating the potential against a wider field of choices
This is an example of an important area of consideration and chimes with the feeling that there is frequently a mismatch between market allocations and the touchpoints where decisions are really influenced.
Where is the opportunity?
Rather than focusing on spend across specified media, the thought needs to be in where in the customer journey the resources should be placed – resources covering content, spend and the people and tech needed to deliver the desired experience. Consumer experience is the focus.
The overall consumer experience, and staying tuned in to what matters to them, so that you can stay relevant in consumer journeys (for future consideration) is crucial.
70% to 90% of spend is reportedly in the consider and buy stages yet people are often more influenced in the evaluate and enjoy, advocate, bond stages.
Here, there is opportunity. Some brands are reacting to changes and focusing on customer experience better than others. Tune in to what your consumers are asking for, and provide authenticity, and you’re in the top tier.
This prompts the need to focus more on how to provide consumers with the information and functionality they need to interact with your brand, for you to nurture relationships, and ultimately grow your network and pipeline. You need to be in their mind in the consider stage and repeatedly give them reason to keep you in their journey as they look for more information to guide their decision.
Are there specific channels to focus on?
The ways that consumers communicate with others and potential brands leads to a focus on touchpoints in owned (organisation’s website and email marketing) and earned media channels (reviews, media coverage).
This doesn’t mean that paid media is irrelevant – it proves valuable in creating momentum, helping brands be noticed for consideration, and should be used at well-defined points in consider, awareness, purchase.
With creative ideas, compelling content and thoughtful execution, (digital) PR and marketing efforts can improve your SEO, bring consumers to you, and provide you with a framework that promotes positive relationships with consumers and encourages long-term connections.
How does COVID-19 affect all of this?
Of course, at the time of writing this, we are still dealing with the effects of COVID-19 and whilst there are many more changes to experience in the economy, there are some significant changes to reflect on…
In March 2020, the UK experienced a boost in online shopping in most retail categories, representing an overall year-on-year increase of 12.5%. However for the retail industry as a whole, there was a 5.1% drop in sales volume for the same month. Product pricing across the UK retail sector dropped by 2.4% in May, according to insight from the BRC-Nielsen Shop Index, as reported by the Retail Gazette. Looking ahead, 2 in 5 UK shoppers say they will make more online purchases after lockdown ends (insight from ChannelAdvisor and Dynata).
Operations in-store and online are continuing to adapt and as the renewed logistics unfold, a watchful eye needs to be on changing consumer behaviours – ensuring activity remains relevant and valuable. Supportive and authentic brands shine through. Necessary adjustments must also be made with content type and any media spend – eyeballs and ears aren’t where they used to be, and priorities aren’t either.
What’s the most important thing to do now?
Stay informed about changing consumer behaviours, focus on your customer experience, and think about the content you can provide to help consumers, and in turn, your organisation.
Producing compelling content which is thoughtfully distributed, to be picked up by intended audiences, remains top of the agenda. Getting this right will strengthen your SEO, boost the sales pipeline, and with the appropriate focus on experience, improve your brand profile. Handle these elements well and the cycle will gather positive momentum.
Keep these three cornerstones in mind, map out your audiences and touchpoints, and everything should (hopefully) look a little clearer.
… What are you talking about?
In case words/phrases/abbreviations have been dropped in with no time taken to explain appropriately…
Terms of reference:
SEO: search engine optimisation. Moz explains it best… https://moz.com/learn/seo/what-is-seo
Touchpoints: points of contact or interaction, especially between a business and its customers or consumers.
Earned media: (stolen from HubSpot…) any material written about you or your business that you haven’t paid for or created yourself. Although this type of media is always published by a third party, there are ways marketers can position themselves for earned media opportunities.
Owned media: digital marketing channels that a company exercises complete control over.
Or, as ever, I’m around to chat – firstname.lastname@example.org.
With complete definition of touchpoints and audiences in place, we’re left with a map pointing us in all the right directions – from here, the plan is waiting to be found.