Navigating the customer journey has never been smooth sailing. Prior to the digital age, businesses had more control over their brand and Strategy for the nonlinear buyer's journeymarketing messages (whether in print, radio or television), which were able to pave the way for a defined set of actions to lead a prospect to purchase. Still, even a straight path from awareness, and consideration to conversion was never an easy one to master.

According to a recent McKinsey study, consumers now use an average of six different interaction channels throughout the decision journey, and 65% of them are frustrated by an inconsistent experience. It takes a fair bit of prep to coordinate efforts in harmony, so in this week’s post we’re tackling the strategy and ways businesses can adapt to the ever-changing customer journey.

More options = More (In)decisions

Today, with the proliferation of data we have more information than ever at our disposal in order to make better decisions about the purchasing path. However, customers are also empowered with an overwhelming amount of intel, and have similarly changed their course to one that takes a more unpredictable route. Attempts to visualize this change in behavior are understandably complex and resemble a french horn more than the traditional funnel.

Consumers are starting their buying cycles earlier and extending them across multiple touchpoints. These engagements are likely to encompass both online and offline steps, sometimes beginning online with research and eventually leading them to an office or location to complete the transaction, or vice-versa. According to some studies, 67% of the buyer’s journey is now performed digitally. However, direct contact remains integral to the ultimate decision, and 83% of consumers require some degree of customer support while making a purchase, even if it’s online.

Evolving customer preferences

The results of such surveys show that an overwhelming number of consumers are aligned in their preferences. They like to be left to their own devices to research solutions via unbiased third-parties, consult outside sources, and check up on the reputation of possible solutions. It comes as no surprise that 72% of buyers will turn to Google while in the research stage. This phase can seem like a delicate dance between the prospect expressing interest followed by small retreats, but do not mistake silence for dropoff because at any point a well-timed message or offer could pull them back into the cycle.

However, if and when a prospect is ready to speak with the business, directly, it’s vital that they have access to experts who can ease any lingering doubts they might have, and demonstrate their business is the best for the job. According to Google, 62% of customers find it extremely or very important to be able to call your business at the purchase stage. Oftentimes, they’re almost ready to seal the deal at this point, so if you’re unable to answer or if they call after-hours, chances are that they’ll move right along to the next business on their list.

Signpost automatically captures every call made to your business (including the ones you miss!), and seamlessly creates a customer profile, so you never miss out on business, or have prospects move on to a competitor. Get introduced to the platform, today!

Be everywhere your customers are

Businesses looking for inspiration on how to be everywhere at once, can find it in the response large brands have adopted. The most innovative are taking a comprehensive approach, so that they are everywhere their customers or future customers spend time. Ranging from digital efforts through email marketing, social media marketing (organic and paid), SEO, paid search,  to more traditional mainstays, such as print, radio, television commercials, outdoor display ads (billboards, subway ads, etc.) there are an endless combination of times, places and opportunities to establish a vital connection with their target customers.

Though being everywhere isn’t likely an option for a majority of SMB’s, it is essential to determine which channels yield the greatest returns with your audience. Don’t be afraid to test with small time or money investments, accordingly. Be sure to track all efforts and continue to refine until you see an uptick in results. Be careful in considering all options that weigh on consumers’ minds during their buying process. It is essential to establish trust, a commitment to quality, and mastery of your trade. Distribute efforts evenly to minimize dropoff during the sales cycle. Again, it’s important to consider investing in a comprehensive solution that can take these off your plate. Signpost’s solution focuses on keeping a careful customer records to provide support for a variety of touchpoints throughout the process, including reputation management (which helps boost SEO!), email and SMS marketing to drive more new and repeat business.

The data’s in the details

The famous, old, advertising adage goes, “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”. In 2017 this quandary should finally be vanquished. There is no excuse for wasting time and money on marketing investments that don’t deliver a proven ROI. However, with an influx of data and possibilities for customizations comes more challenges.

By segmenting email and SMS lists by buying preferences and consumer interests you can ensure that you’re being both respectful of your customers’ preferences and increasing the likelihood that they’ll want to buy whatever your selling. It’s important to remember that you’re marketing to people, not segments, demographics, or any other dataset. Personalization is the key to marketing communications that convert. Make sure that your brand voice is authentic, realistic and not too polished.

The Age of the Consumer

As always, it’s important to remember that we’re squarely in the Age of the Consumer, and all your efforts and strategies should embrace and embody that guiding principle. Businesses should align all marketing efforts and communications to the concerns, questions and pain points of their customers so they can be sure their messages resonate in a personal and impactful manner. You can then build out touchpoints customized to these specific preferences and needs to create a valuable (and hopefully lasting) connection.