In this guest blog post we're joined by Esosa Ighodaro, the President of Cosign, as we discuss influencer marketing, the customer journey, and the path to purchase!
Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You: Meeting Consumers Where They Are in the Customer Journey
Retail marketing has undergone a major shift in the past decade. As the customer journey becomes increasingly fragmented, the reactive marketing of the past – only serving up ads to consumers after they interacted with a brand or product – has given way to the necessity of proactive marketing. It isn’t enough to know what the consumer wants. You need to know what they want before they even know it themselves.
That’s why it’s increasingly important for marketers to reach customers, both prospective and current, where they are within the omnichannel journey. 73% of consumers report using multiple channels and devices during a purchase process. They not only want brands to recognize them as they channel-hop, they demand it. Consumers are more data-savvy now than they’ve ever been, and they understand that in exchange for data like their name, email, location and purchase interests, they should be receiving offers and advertising that’s tailored to them. Ultimately, consumers will convert on their own terms when they feel ready, and the path to that conversion will likely be nonlinear. So, how do you reduce friction and increase conversions in an omnichannel world? You don’t wait for the consumer to come to you, you go to them.
Show Them You Know Them
Where are your customers spending most of their time online? Tracking consumer behavior across devices is a key aspect of omnichannel marketing, allowing you to understand both where consumers are spending their time and on what type of device. For example, consumers spend an average of 4 hours a day on their mobile phones, and almost 50% of that time is spent on social media apps. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others are sucking up an impressive majority of consumer attention, and brands should be paying attention.
Social media is one of the most personal ways to reach consumers. People build their personal brands via their likes, dislikes,
Influencers as Publishers
Who consumers follow on social media is as much a part of their personal brand as the content they post themselves. Through a social lens, the field of potential publishers widens to include one of the most powerful advertising opportunities available – social influencers. In fact, 71% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on seeing a product referenced/present on social media. The idea of individuals as “publishers” isn’t new. The original version of it could be considered as celebrities wearing a certain designer’s clothing on the red carpet. Instead of paying a publisher for advertising space on their website, brands can pay influencers for a place in their social posts. And it pays off, with the average business generating $6.50 for every $1 invested in influencer marketing.
There’s unmistakable value in social media influencers as publishers, but a common mistake is the assumption that the more followers an influencer has, the better they are for a brand. The truth is that it’s audience relevance, not quantity, that matters. Influencers should be considered as a form of new wave native advertising or physical content marketing – ideally, a consumer believes enough in the authenticity of a post and an influencer that the “advertising” aspect becomes secondary to the quality of the post. Rianna posting a photo of herself drinking coconut water with a caption about how much she loves it? Not nearly as believable as a makeup artist with a smaller but fiercely loyal following talking about how much she loves a new Revlon product.
The personal nature of social media, both in what it offers consumers and the opportunity it presents to brands, requires consistency in brand ethos and messaging across channels. Influencer marketing is one piece of that puzzle, and one of the most important if marketers choose to utilize influencers-as-publishers. A social influencer should appear to be a seamless extension of the brand. The real-life answer to the often-asking marketing question “If your company was a person, what type of person would it be?” As marketers increase consumer awareness through search, display and other channels in addition to social, and the goal should always be authenticity. The version of the brand a consumer sees on Facebook should be the same as the version they saw on a display ad on their favorite blog site or at point-of-purchase in a pop-up shop. While the importance of this authenticity is more obvious on social media, where brands can interact with consumers in real-time on an individual level and influencers bring brands to life in an organic, native way, it should be at the forefront of every marketer’s mind regardless of channel.
Get Down to Business
Brand consistency, authenticity and audience awareness can all come to nothing if the ultimate steps to conversion become complex. The final steps of the customer journey should be as smooth and simple as possible. Think one-click purchase options and other in-app and in-feed opportunities to take immediate action.
This is particularly important on social media. A brand has already “intruded” into a consumer’s personal, albeit digital, space in the form of advertising – ideally, it’s a welcome intrusion that requires little interruption from the consumer’s current activity. It’s a perfectly-designed influencer post or an in-feed display ad featuring a product the consumer has left abandoned in their shopping cart. But meeting the consumer where they are is a moot point if the process after that meeting is a bumpy one. That’s why the opportunity to create a truly non-disruptive path to conversion should be embraced. Shoppable influencer posts are one such non-disruptive example, empowering consumers to click through, purchase and return to their previous activity in a matter of moments.
Overall, by focusing on consistent omnichannel messaging and creating a simple path to purchase regardless of channel or device, marketers can increase conversions and build stronger relationships and lasting loyalty with customers.
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