Be there early – meet your customers as they start out on their journey

In our highly connected world the modern consumer has become more empowered than ever. When making a decision about a purchase, very little is left to chance. As they research, consumers will have somewhere between 7 – 10 instances or “micro moments” of interaction with your brand before they become a customer.

By understanding what happens during this research phase of the customer’s journey towards your brand, you not only pick up valuable data to refine your marketing strategy, you’ll gather greater insights into your customer’s behaviour which may just revolutionise the way you do business. Let’s take a look at an example.

Rod is in the market for a new bicycle. He wants to upgrade from his rusty old run-around to a smooth new ride to get to work every day. He has a general idea of what he wants and a few bikes on the road have taken his eye. He starts his journey where many do, on Google, and searches for bike stores in his area. The result is a range of retailers, one of which grabs his attention. He jumps onto their site and navigates around, learning more about his options as he goes. While on the site, he watches some videos, reads some articles and signs up for a newsletter.

But Rod still isn’t ready to buy. He takes some time to think, consider his budget and chat to his bike riding friends – all of whom offer slightly different advice. During that time, Rod receives a welcome email from the bike retailer he visited online. The email offers him helpful advice on selecting the right bike and highlights some current deals. Later on, Rod visits their Facebook page and decides to follow along. Eventually Rod finds the time to visit the store in person knowing exactly what bike he wants to buy and the rest, as they say, is history.

Even from this simplified example, we see that not only does Rod seek out information on bikes numerous times, but he does so both offline and online, on numerous platforms, probably across multiple devices. As Rod learns more, he develops a clearer picture of how his needs can be met and who he trusts most to meet them. Not surprisingly, he wasn’t persuaded by TV advertising and he never once picked up a cycling magazine.

What’s clear here is that the days of the silver bullet mass marketing approach are long gone. Your customers are well informed and it’s a given that they have researched your brand before the make contact with you. The question then is, are you there to meet them with the information they seek leading up to purchase?

Before you jump into every marketing channel though, consider which ones are right for you and the product or service you offer. It’s better to do a good job on the right channels than an average job on every channel. Think about your customers, the various segments among them and how they go about their pre-purchase research.

The key here is to be present on the channels that they’re most likely to use and provide information and messages that resonate with their experience. The earlier you can be there for potential customers the more you can position yourself as a credible option.

For me, the customer experience is everything. The way a customer discovers your brand and the interactions they have with you along the way are the most valuable opportunities in marketing. Create a fantastic experience and you’ll have customers for life! My passions lie in exploring customer journeys with brands and uncovering opportunities to generate value while also optimising experiences. Striking this balance is motivated by the idea that a customer is for life. Great marketing works interactively with the customer through their lifetime, solving their problems and meeting needs along the way. When I’m not rocking out lifecycle marketing strategies, you’ll find me hanging out at cafes and record stores or playing guitar somewhere - always geeking out about the intricacies of music past, present and future. Otherwise, I’ll be pottering around in my garden attempting to grow some veggies!

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