By Laura Giffard
Creating and managing a compelling purchasing journey is an ongoing, cyclical process – a process which is no longer linear and of which businesses are no longer in control.
Mobile technology has changed purchasing journeys as we know them. It’s no longer a top-down relationship where businesses choose what information about products, pricing and distribution they are willing to share. Nowadays, people are continually comparing, searching and learning everything there is to know about a brand, product or service along every step of their journey – and if they can’t find what they want, there will be a competitor ready to fulfil that particular need.
Businesses must accept that the purchasing journey can no longer be controlled, but that with the right communications used at the right time, they can create a more compelling customer experience, strengthen relationships and build a proposition that drives sales and helps to build a loyal customer base:
Be customer obsessed
Be customer first – invest in truly understanding your customers’ wants and needs. A personalised approach is essential to stand out and cut through the noise and is always preferred to a one-size-fits-all approach. We now benefit from insights into customer behaviour like never before; Google predicts the future of effective communications lies in highly personal communications and interactions with customers, moving away from traditional segmentation and tired categorisation. It’s time we forgot about treating people like ‘business buyers’ and ‘consumers’ and remember that we are human beings, with individual wants and needs.
Create searchable, relevant content
77% of purchases begin with a search; make sure your content is easily found and is interesting and engaging. Personalised communications are key to ‘disrupting’ customers’ filtering process to cut through the noise –content must be helpful and relevant with emotive appeal. Interesting content that is valuable to your customers will result in referrals, growing your customer base.
Online and offline can no longer be picked apart; the two have merged, with people just as likely to visit a store after an online search as they are to compare a price in-store from their phone and buy from a competitor. Huge opportunity lies in embracing ‘micro-moments’ and opportunities for interaction to capture the hearts and minds of customers. Context, relevance and immediacy are key to winning such moments.
Make the buying process easy
Thousands of shopping baskets, both physical and virtual, are abandoned every day due to a lack of customisable options, slow queues, lengthy forms and unexpected added costs. Once customers have made the decision to buy, all they want is to own and enjoy a product or service – it’s your job to make the process as straightforward as possible.
Win brand advocates
Getting a sale is just the beginning – once a customer owns your product or service, huge reward lies in moving them from a “I’m buying” to an “I’m enjoying” mindset, with the aim of reaching the “I’m recommending” mindset. It’s important to engage with your customers in such a way that they become brand advocates – continued care and communication after the purchase is your most valuable tool in encouraging repeat purchase and attracting new customers. Don’t forget to reward loyalty – offer exclusive content, pricing and events.
Businesses that succeed in keeping their customers in the know, interested and engaged will build a better, stronger business that is fit for the future.
Laura Giffard is founder and strategy director at brand and design consultancy, Perq Studio