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Brands want less lead time, more sales and more loyalty.

Consumers want more convenience, more simplicity and less frustration.

It is only when we think about our consumers’ journey that brands can hope to meet their needs, exceeds their expectations and builds loyalty. This can be done by optimising the consumer experience through removing unnecessary steps and simplifying the online purchase and checkout process.

In 2009, the traditional “funnel” model (where brands wanted to part of the consideration set at the start of the purchasing process) was replaced with the consumer decision journey. In the funnel model, brands used various media to promote their products and sale offers through a combination of widely-watched television, peak-hour traffic radio, glossy magazines and mainstream newspapers.

The journey is now different because consumers are using technology more and more in their purchase process and it is changing the steps and speed of these decisions based on how accessible and useful brands are online. Consumers use various digital technology devices such as computers, tablets and smartphones in the evaluation process and they are accessing various platforms such as social media, branded websites and review sites for brand information, product and price specifications, peer reviews and special offers.

Brands need not be reactive to consumers as they make purchasing decisions but can play an active role in shaping those decision journeys. By optimising the journey, brands can deliver value not only to the consumer but also for themselves. Through reducing the consideration and evaluation steps—and in some cases even eliminate them—during the purchase process, it can resultantly fast track a consumer right to the loyalty phase of the relationship.

Steps to building an accelerated loyalty journey

1. Automation streamlines journey steps. Research has shown that marketing automation does support the lead to sales pipeline. Automation is a technical process and requires end-to-end investment to be effective. However, the focus is on enabling simple, useful, and increasingly engaging experiences. For example, a consumer completes a form on a website for more information. Within minutes, the consumer receives an acknowledgement email with an expected response time and a contact number should he/she require it. At the same time, the query goes into a workflow queue and is assigned to a person to fulfil. The email response is personalised and offers information based on other shopper preferences.

2. Proactive personalisation uses information about a customer (if available) or can request a name to capture a wish list, to enhance the experience. Customer preferences is a basic step and it extends to personalising and optimising the next steps in a customer’s journey, such as immediately offering a valued customer a discounted price based on browsing behaviour of high price ticket items or a no delivery charge.

3. Contextual interaction uses knowledge about where a customer is in a journey to deliver them to the next set of interactions. A branded retail site can guide a consumer on the number of steps or seconds away from completion or it can show a customer the status of a recent order on the home page.

4. Journey innovation extends the interaction to new sources of value such as new services, for both the customer and the brand. Based on customer insight, companies might find useful partnerships which can be of value and convenience to their customers. For example, an online electronics company may partner with a short-term insurance company to offer short term insurance with the online purchase of a high-ticket price item.

 

Sources: McKinsey: The new consumer decision journey and Smart Insights: Lead generation

Author: Gillian Loos