This is going to sound crazy, but… from the moment I first set eyes on you I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you.
—Leigh Fallon, Carrier of the Mark
Whether or not you believe in love at first sight, you can never rely your business’ success on that for your customers. To win over your target audience and get them to finally open their wallet, you must understand the journey they go through before they “fall in love” with you. That journey is the customer decision journey to purchase.
When you develop your digital marketing strategies, it’s important to take each step of your target customer decision journey into consideration.
Online Marketing Channels
Before making any purchase decision, a customer may engage with your brand through many different online channels over several days, or in some cases weeks or months. These days the journey is quite complex, considering there are various online channels on multi-device touch points, such as search engines, social medias, online display ads, eDM…each of which influence the customer at different step of purchase journey.
Customers’ Decision Journey
Decision making process nowadays is complex but the decision journey can be simplified into four steps:
In digital marketing, the steps leading to final purchase step assists with the “buy” decision; and, the channels influencing it are considered as “assisting channels” while those directly lead to “purchase” phase are last interaction channels.
Channels Play Different Roles in the Customer Journey
In different industries, each of the online channels plays a different role with different level of influence on customers’ final decision. What you should do is to have a good understanding of each channel’s influence on each step of the decision journey so that you can design the appropriate conversion attribution model for your business to guide your budgeting and planning.
Here are some examples from Google based on Q4 2012 data from Google Analytics:
Note: A channel’s position on the chart is defined by the “assist/last interaction ratio.” In general, ratios less than one mean the channel acts more as a “last interaction,” while ratios greater than one mean that the channel acts more as an “assist interaction.” The ratios in this report have been normalized to clarify channels’ roles.
Now you understand each channel plays a role in customers’ decision journey; but, you need to understand the impact of each and optimize your budget and resource allocations.
Start with a digital strategy if you still don’t have one, profile your target audience and target each step of their decision journey with appropriate channel strategy and content strategy. And, make sure you track and measure each of your online marketing channel’s influence on customers’ final purchase in order to guide or better your attribution model and digital strategy.