Today’s retail consumer journey resembles an unplanned adventure rather than a direct path. As Bazaarvoice points out, every consumer takes an individualized path to purchase, typically shopping for multiple items at once.
Sources of information and influence are more abundant than ever, with social media, consumer content, editorial content, advertising, and much more.
“Predictable shopping patterns, once so fundamental to marketing and advertising strategy, have gone by the wayside. Persona-and demography driven strategies now fall short – the winners in this new era are the brand and retailers who’ve put a plan in place to meet actual shoppers anywhere along their path to purchase.”
That being said, how are you supposed to find, reach, and win shoppers in today’s noisy retail landscape.
1. Aim to Reach People, Not Personas
Conventional marketing methods relying on demographics or personas (semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers based on market research and real data about your existing customers) to find in-market shoppers (those who plan to purchase within a finite period of time) fall short, wasting investment on audiences who aren’t truly potential buyers, and missing audiences who are.
“Mass-market campaigns are inefficient, but demographic targeting doesn’t get you close enough either,” says Bazaarvoice.
While shoppers give all sorts of signals that they are in-market for particular products, a substantial portion of the marketing research happens away from the final point of purchase, making it difficult to find in-market shoppers early in their process. In fact, research by Bazaarvoice shows that only 17% of marketers are able to view customer behavior beyond their own properties.
That’s just not good enough when you consider the variety of touchpoints that occur during a shopper’s research process. After all, they’re conducting research both in-store and online, as well as bouncing around between different brands and retailers and devices.
That means your data is only giving you a partial view of some consumers. Try investing in advertising solutions that integrate shopper signals and know who is in-market right now. By targeting people, not personas, you’ll be able to find the right consumers in the right moments.
2. Deliver a Good Experience on Mobile: The “New Storefront”
If you still think of cell phones as a handy tool for conducting shopping tasks on the go—including price comparisons and inventory searches—you’re probably not taking advantage of their pivotal role in today’s retail customer journey. With the rise of payment apps, larger screen sizes, and more opportunities for engagement, mobile’s importance has been elevated to “default shopping channel” for a multitude of consumers.
Bazaarvoice research discovered that online content plays an important role in the offline shopping experience, indicating that shoppers interact with consumer-generated content previous to 45% of in-store purchases.
“Consumers use mobile devices to augment and enhance in-store shopping experiences, and phones increasingly stand alone as the shopping channel of choice for many people. They research, compare, and read consumer content on mobile. Visual content plays an increasingly important role in mobile research too. Social media influences shopping behavior from discovery to purchase – often in real time, while shopping takes place. Even when it’s not the last touchpoint – mobile is incredibly important.”
In March, Google announced their Mobile-first Indexing initiative, meaning they will use the mobile version of web pages for indexing and ranking, to better help primary mobile users find what they’re looking for.
That means you not only need to deliver an easy-to-use experience for researching and buying, but you need to build marketing campaigns with a mobile-first focus.
3. Provide Credible Content At Each Touchpoint
Consumers weigh purchases against a number of individualized factors. They are deliberate about shopping, even for items that may seem menial.
People are savvy with the abundance of information available to them, and consumer-generated content is an essential part of their shopping experience, whether their research takes one day or two weeks and regardless of whether the retail customer journey ends online or in-store.
Because it’s hard to pinpoint the research and purchase process of consumers without robust data, providing relevant and trustworthy content throughout the shopper’s entire journey is paramount.
Yes, shoppers look for consumer feedback along the way, but there is more to it than that…they’re also seeking out specific information that will answer their questions. Consumers want insight from like-minded folks who are looking to solve the same problem and/or have similar purchasing patterns.
It’s no longer good enough to simply create great content. Today, your content must be easy to find, relevant, full of value and easy to use, whether it’s on your web page, in social media, or in apps. In a world where shoppers hop from site to site during the research process and throughout the path to purchase, delivering exceptional content at every touchpoint is crucial!
Authentic ratings and reviews, questions and answers, and visual content all matter. Make sure that content is prominent in web, mobile and in-store. In other words, deliver content consumers trust, at all the moments that matter.
As Bazaarvoice points out, consumer research typically happens at the manufacturer, retailer or editorial level. But changes have been unfolding over the last several years that now require restructuring of your marketing, content, and investment strategies.
Today it’s become necessary to move beyond your web properties to find and influence consumers at every stage of the shopper’s journey. To accomplish that, it’s important to reach out to people—not persona’s. You’ll also need to optimize your mobile strategies and provide trusted content at each step of the shopper’s journey.
Learn how to further enhance the retail customer journey with Music Shop 360.