All marketers are familiar with the traditional Consumer Purchase Funnel:
This 5-step journey is what brands attempt to take consumers on, starting with awareness of it, making a opinion of it, considering it, building a preference for it and then finally purchase it. Unless you don’t already know, I am here to tell you that these “touch-points” extend beyond the “purchase” stage. With the emergence of social media, marketers have learned that by gaining an online presence where brands can interactively engage with consumers and build relationships, they can reach consumers at every moment that influences a consumer’s purchase behavior.
Brands now attempt to take consumers on this new “Consumer Decision Journey”, involving the following steps:
So what’s different?
Step 1: Online consumer reviews drive brand awareness and consideration.
Step 2: Another consumer supports product, utilizing owned media communication tool, “youtube”, driving further evaluation of your brand’s offering.
Step 3: Before consumer buys, the consumer posts a picture of the product online, and the brand sends consumer an online coupon. This interaction causes the consumer to finally purchase the item in store.
Step 4: Consumer decides to further interact with the brand and “follows” brand on social media (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
Step 5: Consumer creates online content by posting on an online forum advocating for the product by commenting on the helpful advice given to them by a store’s representative during the purchase.
Step 6: Consumer bonds with the brand, shares their experience online through foursquare, boosting product’s positive word-of-mouth and tipping off friends.
I’m sure you can guess… This consumer process is all driven online and initiated by the consumers themselves. They are in control. This idea of giving the control to consumers, is a powerful way to gain loyal, long-term brand advocates. Social Media is a form of what’s called “owned/earned media.” And it is simply that; it gives consumers the control of whether to involve itself with the brand or not.
Social Media is an important component of the consumer decision journey, and is the only form of marketing that touches consumers at every “touch-point” in the consumer decision process.
But how do you effectively use social media to bring consumers to interact with you brand?
- As a brand, reach out to online users and help them discover you. Not many people will find your marketing efforts (such as coupons, white papers etc.) themselves; you need to market to them. Involving social media in these efforts will increase your reach.
- Drive sales leads through consumer exploration. Let consumers explore your brand and listen closely for leads, then interact with them (online) to move the consumer closer to the “buy” stage.
- Engage with consumers online to build long-term brand loyalty. By engaging with consumers online, this will build more trust and lead you (your brand) to become more responsive to your customers, positively effecting their purchase behavior.
This idea of utilizing social media to engage with your customers gives consumers the control. With that idea, consumers feel less pressured by “interruptive marketing” and feel free to make their own judgments, purchase decisions and are more likely to become advocates of your brand. So don’t make social media a side job; integrate social media into your marketing strategy as a whole.
Thanks for reading, and feel free to give me future insight in the comments below!