Consumers: the control is yours
Whether you are purchasing for yourself or a business, the process for making that purchase has largely changed over the last few decades.
It used to be that the seller was in control.
30 years ago, information was scarce. As a consumer, you had three possible resources: catalogs, a brick and mortar store, and the phone. The info-gathering journey on the phone and in the store was led by a salesperson. The catalog was heavily influenced by the company and how they chose to position their products.
Now, the consumer is in control.
What is the first thing you do when you consider a purchase? 88% of the time, you head to the internet first, according to a recent United States E-commerce Country report.
If a company aligned with your purchase is doing it right, they will show up high in your results, with links targeted at your search terms.
But, several other results come up, including reviews. Peer feedback is increasingly important to buyers. The oft-cited Global Trust in Advertising Report from Nielsen shows “Recommendations from people I know” as the most-trusted advertising tactic.
This goes for the products themselves and the people surrounding them. As a consumer, you can flatline a company with a single bad customer service experience (or worse, a video of that experience). Or, you can boost a business by laughing at yourself wearing a Chewbacca mask in the parking lot.
If you’re responsible for marketing, you’re challenged to develop a strategy that places you in the right place at the right time – to guide the journey as much as possible.
1. Know your consumer and be where they are.
Businesses can no longer open the doors and wait for customers to come in. It takes a proactive strategy that includes a mix of media tactics and messages aligned with your target consumer’s interests. This takes research, planning, and ongoing optimization. And many businesses have multiple consumer types, which come with their own strategy, tactics, and messaging.
2. Nurture leads.
Someone who takes the step to raise their hand is a prime lead. But, they’re not always ready to convert to a sale. In fact, it may be one step in their info-gathering journey, and they’re adding you to the mix of information available to them to consider. So, staying in front of them is key. A marketing automation tool is a great resource for supporting a nurturing strategy – it helps minimize manual intervention and allows you to deliver custom, timely messages to move consumers toward conversion.
3. Properly Manage Consumer Reviews
This is two-part: asking for them and responding to them. There are tools dedicated to seeking and managing consumer reviews, and incentivizing feedback works well for many companies. (i.e. leave us a review and be entered to win a gift card.) If you get a bad review, don’t ignore it. Good, swift customer service can quickly overcome a bad experience.