When we think about how we used to make online purchases, it's amazing how far we've come from the 'Click to Buy' transaction a few years ago. Social commerce has brought the opportunities to make the emotional connection with the vendor before we buy. The new way of classifying goods for sale democratises data, allowing it to be shared with our friends and colleagues.
Good marketing campaigns get much further reach and a greater awareness than ever before, and peer recommendations encourage further sales.
The challenge that marketers have is our current mind-set. We're unsure what's happening to the economy. When will it recover? Will it recover? How are we going to manage right now. Our survival instinct kicks in, we tighten our belts and we stop purchasing the very things that marketers are trying to get us to buy. We search for more affordable things - and this drives our behaviour.
We use comparison websites, we surf channels for the best deals. Our purchase decisions are all driven by the bargains we can get. Consumers are often not making the decision to buy something in the shops - the impulse to buy is delayed until they have done some research online, read the reviews about the product before they make their decision.
The way we shop has changed too. There are 3 roles that consumers fall into:
- The end user: For them shopping is done almost exclusively online. They shop from home and they use price comparison websites extensively
- The shopper: They walk around town, visiting shop by shop to see what's on offer. They then use the web to see if they can get a better deal online
- The buyer: They buy physical items in real shops. Yes, they'll shop around, but they make the purchase at a physical store. Its a real experience for them
The challenge for the marketer is that the power has shifted from the brand to the consumer. The consumer makes the decisions about where, when and how they will shop. With over 300 million applications for smartphones and tablet devices like the iPad, media has shifted from Marketing media to My media, to Our media (through sharing). The right technology allows consumers find the best product for them and buy it at the right brand. It allows them to build a relationship with these brands.
So how do you break through all of your competitors, and the competitive clutter to target your audience with relevant messaging from the brand? how do you enlist your brand advocates to spread the word on your behalf?
Brand advocates are really important in your marketing and advertising efforts. Getting a good dialogue with your brand evangelists as I talk about in my book is key to broadening your message out beyond the first tier of connections. Your message gets shared and amplified.
Factor in these 5 concepts to connect with your customer:
- Every customer has a lifestyle which goes way beyond your product. Study their lifestyles to really understand how to market to them. If you know your customer
- As a marketer, you have an opportunity to delight customers by providing timely and relevant content in the right place - on the right device. Make sure your content is compelling and interesting.
- Social Coupons which can be shared - and can go viral are much better than paper based coupons. They have a huge reach and return. See the reach that Threshers had with their very successful viral coupon campaign and the associated commentary here and here wondering whether it was a genuine mistake or a fake viral campaign
- Consumer promotions and brand advertising work well together and have a higher return that just a TV campaign on its own. Think about a co-ordinated approach similar to the Old Spice US marketing campaign
- Give them the campaigns that they want- in the form factor they want - on the device that they want. Don't make them change their behaviour to suit you
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