Article

How Companies Should Approach the Customer Journey in the Digital Age6 min read

Mike Soden May 17, 2018

In the last decade, where we shop, how we make purchasing decisions and how we engage with brands went from being part of a linear model to being a customer-centric model.

Due to this shift, the customer journey in the digital age is no longer defined by the traditional marketing funnel.

The outdated model looked like this:

  • Step 1. Awareness. The consumer was exposed to a brand
  • Step 2. Familiarity.The consumer became familiar with the brand through repeat exposure
  • Step 3. Consideration.The consumer is now considering buying something from the brand
  • Step 4. Purchase.The consumer ends up making a purchase
  • Step 5. Loyalty.The consumer continues making repeat purchases and becomes a loyal customer

Years ago, it made sense for companies to guide their marketing strategies based on this funnel. The consumer started with an initial number of brands in mind, while marketers’ role was to help them reduce their choices until they decided to make a purchase.

Today’s consumers want to be more informed, which is why brands need to leverage various digital channels to communicate and engage with them.

Because of this, the marketing funnel is much more complicated nowadays and a more sophisticated approach is needed if companies want to win new customers.

McKinsey Identified a New Customer-Centric Model For The Digital Age

McKinsey analysedhe purchase decisions made by approximately 20.000 people across three continents and five industries.

Their research revealed three important aspects:

  • marketers need to find innovative ways to be included in the first step of the consumers’ decision journey because pushing information about their products and services is not enough anymore
  • in the digital age, the communication is always two-way
  • marketers should understand the moments of maximum influence in a consumer’s life and direct the marketing messaging at that exact moment because buyers make more impulsive decisions nowadays

According to McKinsey, the decision-making process which defines the customer journey in the digital age is circular and has four phases:

  • Initial consideration. The consumers gather as much information as possible about the brands they consider and narrow down the options
  • Active evaluation.The consumers have made a decision and purchased a product/service from a brand
  • Moment of purchase.After the purchase, the consumers will form an impression on the brand and on the overall experience

Because the process is now circular, it means brands can leverage various strategies to interrupt the decision-making phase for example and enter the consideration phase. Ultimately, they can even eliminate their rival and win the moment of purchase.

Companies need to align their marketing activities by keeping in mind this consumer decision journey in order to avoid wasting money on ineffective strategies.

How to Approach the Customer Journey in the Digital Age

1. Encourage consumer-driven marketing

The research conducted by McKinsey showed that in the active evaluation phase, reviews and recommendations from friends and family represent the most influential customer touch points.

Because the reviews and the recommendations come from third parties, they are perceived as being more authentic and genuine. In fact, user-generated content influences the buying behaviour more than advertising.

The connected consumer is dependent on reviews and recommendations, whether they’re looking for a place to eat or a new car to buy.

Consumer-driven marketing becomes increasingly important in the active consideration phase.

Ask yourself this: are you encouraging your customers to write positive reviews about the experience they had with your company?

If the answer is no, then you should consider including a site such as TripAdvisor in your marketing strategy or leverage social media to receive more reviews.

Today’s customers are no longer happy with receiving quality services or products. They want more, so the key is to actually set realistic expectations and then exceed them by over-delivering on the promises you make.

For example, if you own an eCommerce business, you can say it takes 3-5 days for an order to arrive, then do your best to deliver the orders within 1-2 days.

This approach will most certainly make the majority of your customers become more involved with your brand and leave positive reviews.

2. Create engaging content  

Consumers hope the search for informational content is going to help them in the purchasing decision, but they also want to find engaging and entertaining content, such as contests, behind-the-scenes videos, giveaways or games.

People don’t need to be urged to purchase something from you whenever they enter your site or social media profiles. Instead, you should find ways of creating value-added content.

By doing so, consumers can become loyal to your brand even before they make a purchase. Today, people expect more out of brands and the information about their products or services represents the bare minimum companies should offer.

3. Leverage mobile strategies  

Nowadays, marketers are no longer constricted by time or location when it comes to reaching potential customers.

Mobile devices represent our main communication hub, our primary source of media consumption and where we get access to real-time information which serves our needs.

Studies revealed more than 70% of mobile users used their smartphone to do a product research and more than 50% used their device to make a purchase.

This shows that it’s a must for your brand’s web presence to be optimised for mobile because the consumer expects a flawless experience regardless of the platform they’re browsing.

4. Engage in a two-way conversation   

Traditional marketing has always been about the company communicating a message to the consumer. But now, the consumer is also the one who engages with the brand and expects for them to do the same.

This meaningful interaction helps companies learn about their customers and so they will be able to tailor the offers and the promotions based on their preferences.

In the end, this is going to be a win-win for both sides because the marketer won’t waste the budget on ineffective strategies and the consumer will receive messages he’s actually interested in.

Instead of targeting potential customers or actual customers with poorly targeted ads and campaigns, companies should first gather as much data as possible about them and then craft the campaigns accordingly.

 

Final Thoughts

Brands need to adopt and embrace the new customer journey in the digital age in order to avoid becoming obsolete. Now it’s the perfect time to reanalyse the marketing funnel and prioritise objectives and spending.

If, for example, your brand has a strong position in the initial consideration phase, then you may want to consider strengthening your position in the active evaluation stage.

Even though companies have been aware for a long time that there have been profound changes in how consumers research and buy products, many of them have yet to determine how to reach their customers when they’re most likely to be influenced to make a purchasing decision.

If you want to:

  • improve your company’s digital ecosystem
  • establish your customers’ touch points
  • connect with your audience
  • stand out from your competitors
  • develop successful digital campaigns

Then it’s time to start working with us. Our primary goal is to help brands become a digitally focused brand, while keeping ahead of the technology curve.