There’s never been a better time for marketers for to see, understand and respond to the customer journey. Today’s “open social age” has created a “looking glass” for companies to understand the complex nature of their customers as millions of them are broadcasting their opinions, attitudes, behaviors, experiences and even unmet needs on a real-time basis.
In fact, society is rapidly approaching a complete digital state. New technologies have transformed the way people work, learn, communicate and share. And consumers freely share their opinions and experiences on social networks, blogs, micro-blogs, message boards, forums, mainstream news sites and a variety of other online platforms.
According to Dimensional Research, over 90 percent of these consumers rely on independent reviews of products and services before they make a purchasing decision.
An "Always On" World
While many within the marketing realm point to the customer journey fragmenting between the offline and online worlds, the mobile revolution is actually pulling these worlds more closely together than ever before. No longer are customers tethered to their computers. Today they are ‘always on’ and connected to a myriad of shopping tools and social sources, empowering them and driving the ‘age of the consumer.’ In fact, according to a Morgan Stanley study, 91 percent of mobile users keep their device within three feet of them 24-hours per day. Mobile devices are now widely a standardization of life; people watch TV with them, make medical decisions with them and certainly shop with them.
This ‘always on’ state that mobile online accessibility facilitates is particularly transforming the way we all undertake traditional offline shopping activities, from conducting product comparisons and identifying best prices to locating coupons or offers and getting opinions and reviews. This, along with the all-time accessibility of mobile devices has made the wealth of information ubiquitous in the ‘offline’ world.
A Versatile Journey
The empowerment consumers have with this information access presents a challenge for marketers to keep pace with the journey, which is ever changing. The inundation of information creates a myriad of paths customers can take towards their purchase. This wealth of information also increases the velocity of purchase decisions, often compressing the time between demand moments and decision points, making it even more challenging for marketers to identify and influence the purchase.
The key to driving success is for marketers to deeply understand consumers, continually map the journey and leverage this insight to drive messaging, education, promotions and innovation to align with the customers’ needs (met and unmet) and wants.
Understanding the Journey
The basis of understanding the customer journey today is mapping it with advanced social intelligence. To adequately accomplish this it must be derived from the ‘big data’ mining of millions of daily consumer social conversations. Simple in concept, but challenging in technical execution. This is why so many leading brands are turning to advanced, streaming ‘big data’ solutions to deliver deep market and customer insights on rapid basis.
The ability to analyze millions of customers and prospects allows for deep insights and the
construction of key strategic journey components, which enables the organization to strategically drive decisions
and innovation. For example, this segmentation of Apple customers was initially built analyzing over 2.2 million rel
evant social discussions by Apple customers.
Within the dominant group, in this example, the “Brand Addicts,” 57 percent reveal a need to acquire new Apple product immediately. Many are not only “addicts,” but also evangelists for the brand, responsible for introducing new consumers to the Apple ecosystem. Specifics within these types of detailed segments provide great value to the brand’s ability to strategically message, promote and ultimately drive sales.
Along the same lines, using advanced social intelligence, the customer journey and particularly the critical path-to-purchase can be mapped to detail the specific demand moments and decision points driving the final purchase decision.
Many marketers think that this path-to-purchase mapping is only relevant to larger ticket items, like cars or electronics due to the array of features and options and higher prices. While the customer journey is very relevant towards helping to influence these types of purchases, they are very applicable to low-ticket items.
As an example, here is the path-to-purchase for potato chips assembed across the social commentary of 18,000 consumers of the snack food. This illustration reveals a variety of steps many consumers go through in their decision process even for a low priced snack food, ranging from nutrition and health considerations to lifestyle aspects and purchase pattern changes to product discovery.
An Intelligence Impact
Today, with advanced social intelligence accurately personifying customers and mapping their journey’s has never been easier, more accurate or powerful. Leading corporations are adopting this methodology to drive their product innovation, packaging, messaging, promotions, positioning, placement and ultimately their bottom line by delivering what the consumer wants based on their own requests, interests, activities and attitudes.