The customer journey has never been as complex as it is today.
Digital channels, especially social media and mobile, has disrupted the way consumers perceive and interact with brand’s message and has drastically shifted the power from brands to consumers. “Empowered” consumers are now sharing information with thousands, and sometimes millions of other shoppers in different parts of the world. The customer journey is no longer a simple linear process where consumers move along from awareness and discovery to purchase, based on what the brands dictate. Many factors are impacting how people interact with brands and for brands to successfully market their products and services and influence consumer’s decisions, it is essential to be in the right place at the right time. The digital customer journey entails brands to craft strategies that take advantage of technology and enhances customer’s experience.
Impact of Social and Referral Channels
Brands are turning to multiple channels to reach their target market and influence their purchase decisions. Different marketing channels will have a different impact on customers based on where they are in their journey and thus picking the right channel and the right messaging is crucial to optimizing your marketing strategy. As a result of the analysis of millions of consumers through Google Analytics, it is revealed that social and referral channels significantly impact the customer journey during the initial stages of awareness and discovery. Also, the smaller the brand, the more relevant social channels are closer to the end of the customer journey as opposed to bigger brands. This finding implies that brands should customize their messaging on social channels to offer more valuable information and focus on brand awareness as opposed to making sales. As for referral channels, they assist customers closer to the final interactions or in other words the final purchase.
Online Referrals: User-Generated Content
Previously, brands were the big drivers of marketing strategies and communications. However, nowadays consumers actively seek or in other words “pull” information from trusted sources such as their peers or online review sites. One of the factors behind the changes in the consumer journey is the emergence and popularity of user-generated-content. Consumer communication is becoming increasingly two-ways and is shifting from “push” to “pull”. Consumers do not like to be talked to by brands. Through blogs and consumer review sites, people are sharing what they think about products and services. This authentic source of information is becoming an essential channel for customers to inform their decisions before making a purchase. The problem, however, is that brands do not have control over these channels.
Tapping into the Power of Influencers to Impact Customer Journey
Collaborating with bloggers and social media influencers is an effective way to influence these online conversations and impact customer decisions in a more authentic way. Reported in a recent survey by Research Now, 84% of consumers make a purchase based on a blog post. Bloggers and social media influencers are product savvy content curators who are passionate about sharing their opinions about their favorite brands with others. They have built a unified and highly targeted network via social media and have great influence over this network. Influencer marketing nurtures a two-way and mutually beneficial relationship between the brands and consumers which are often absent in the conventional channels of advertising. Through the power of influencers, brands can turn prospects into loyal brand advocates, and consumers, on the other hand, can get access to a trustworthy source of information.
With the advancements in technology and the rise of social media and mobile, it is essential for brands to identify the optimal channels by which they can impact the customer journey and ultimately influence their purchasing decisions. This journey is not a linear and simple interaction anymore. Consumers are gaining more power and those brands who effectively customize their message and marketing channel based on where their consumers are and what type of information they want to receive are the one who can successfully compete.