Consumer journeys are becoming increasingly complex – what should marketers do about it?


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According to Google and YouTube data and research, ‘Consumer journeys are becoming increasingly complex’ is the No. 1 insight that they uncovered in the year 2019 and they expect it to continue into 2020.

Some of the key findings of this research include:

  • “Simple” + “ideas” mobile queries have grown by over 60% over the last two years [i.e., simple dinner ideas, simple costume ideas, simple drawing ideas]
  • Mobile search for “personalized” have grown by over 60% in the past two years [e.g., personalized gifts, personalized stockings, personalized blankets, personalized necklaces]
  • Mobile searches for “rewards app” have grown by over 90% in the past two years
  • 83% of U.S. shoppers who visited a store say they used online search before going into a store
  • 45% of global shoppers buy online and then pick up in-store, which offers them a more flexible way to purchase and receive their items
  • More than 55% of shoppers say they used online video while shopping in a store

What do these things mean to a marketer?

Digital channels, touchpoints and choices continue to expand – web, social, offline with shoppers jumping between online and offline channels. Also, Omnichannel is gaining a lot of traction. This results in complex customer journeys.

For marketers, making sense of how to engage customers in their preferred channels has never been trickier.

What should marketers do to sail through this complexity?

Most marketers make the mistake of looking at it from the operations perspective and not from the business and customer perspective. They end up buying expensive technology that can deliver all the channels. Let us assume that you have all the channels that your customers would probably like, you still have to make sure that those channels are serviced and make sure that it works for you.

Let us look at a step-by-step approach of how your digital marketing can be structured keeping in mind the evolving complexities of the customer journey.

Let us assume that you know who your target customers are and the value of what you are selling them. What you need to crack here is – how do you engage them and how do you take their conversations to conversions. The key steps that marketing should look at include:

Identify your channels and equip yourself to serve!

Email, Web, Chat, Voice, Video, Social and Offline are the possible channels and there are subsets within them. On the social, you are looking at Facebook and Instagram if your target customers are millennials and LinkedIn and Twitter if your target customers are B2B.

Besides, you would also have information related to how your website is being used, how your social channels are used, how your customer service and customer support are used. Based on this, you can make an informed decision to enable the channels that your customers and prospects are most likely to use.

Once you have identified the channel, you have to figure out a way by which you intelligently route conversations and interactions to the right resources within your organization in a real-time manner. Only then, it would provide the necessary experience.

Ensure that you have the right technology to make this possible and ensure that you have the right resources available to address the needs of your prospects and customers.

Keep your website mobile-friendly

Mobile offers ubiquitous-ness and immediacy to everything that the user does. Most searches originate from a handheld or a mobile device. Any friction in that experience will result in lost revenues.

Single view of the customer

You need to have the right technology to ensure that all the interactions and conversations of customers and prospects are captured. This would allow your marketing message owners and agents to provide the right information, upsell, cross-sell and resolve issues – allowing your customers to experience your offerings positively. 

Personalize. Personalize. Personalize.

You understand the habits of your visitors to your website, eCommerce platform, social pages, and chatbots among others.

Make sure that you dynamically deliver what the user is most likely expecting to see. For instance, if the user’s preference is all about expensive watches, ensure that it is displayed as soon as the user logs in to your site.

Another example can be, when you know that the user has surfed your banking site for business loans, show them the offers on business loans when they login again. That makes the experience worthwhile for the users and it makes business sense for you.

Have a content plan

Content budget in most organizations go up year-on-year. However, they don’t have a formal content development or management plan.

Every content piece that is created should have a purpose – target audience, expected results, asset reuse in different channels, multimedia to go with the content like images and video. There has to be a way to measure the results on how the content is performing and that should be a part of the feedback loop on what gets generated month-on-month.

In essence, marketers need to look at their marketing holistically and it is cyclical as well as structural in nature. The three key things to look at are:

Customer insights–track and analyze customer behavior. Deliver insights regularly to the decision-makers

Customer experience – define and design customer journeys based on insights. Integrate functions and features to deliver a great experience

Measure effectiveness – continuously track and manage the programs and campaigns. Adapt based on the feedback. Customers are using possibly all the available channels to arrive at their purchasing decisions. As a marketer, use data to map customer needs, wants, and desires and use those insights to develop superior customer experience.

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