In today’s marketing environment, the customer journey is more complicated than ever. For retailers and brands, this complexity is both an advantage and a barrier. While it means greater opportunity to connect with shoppers, it also means their attention is more fragmented. The rise of mobile has only made things more complex, fundamentally changing the way consumers access information.
But how? Considering each stage of the customer journey, here are the ways the traditional funnel has been transformed by the mobile explosion.
The customer journey starts with discovery: the need for a product or specific type of product to be brought to a prospect’s attention. Traditionally, discovery has been driven by friends and family, TV and print media. But as media consumption has shifted to digital, web search has become a dominant factor in this stage. Google has benefited the most from this trend, with marketers spending big on paid search and product ad listings. Amazon and Pinterest have also seen success as digital-first discovery portals.
Mobile Impact: However, as mobile consumption grows, discovery is increasingly occurring in mobile environments. Web searches, for example, are migrating from PCs to smartphones. More than 50% of Google search queries now come from mobile. And considering consumers spend over 85% of their time on mobile devices in apps, in-app product discovery is on the rise as well.
In the consideration stage, prospects research the pros and cons of brands or products based on their needs. This can be daunting for consumers, who consider a wide variety of brands before purchasing. Pricing, of course, often leads consideration. While print circulars used to drive the consideration stage, today, 81% of consumers compare prices online before buying.
Mobile Impact: Increasingly, price comparison occurs through smartphones and tablets: 50% of U.S. mobile owners use the device to research a competitor’s prices while in store. Similarly, the Local Search Association found a majority of consumers use their mobile phones at home for purchase research. More and more, consideration is becoming a mobile-dominant process.
In the planning phase, customers seek ways to optimize a forthcoming purchase, lowering costs. Coupons are key, with nearly 90% of shoppers using them. Furthermore, more than half of U.S. shoppers buy during a sale. Shoppers are proactively taking steps to minimize spend in this stage.
Mobile Impact: More than ever, planning is happening on a mobile device. For instance, 43% of Millennials use smartphones to “clip mobile coupons” before a store visit. Additionally, 59% use mobile devices to “create and manage shopping lists” while on-the-go, better organizing how dollars are spent.
By the purchase phase, the shopper is ready to proceed with the transaction. But this stage extends well beyond simple payment for goods and services. According to Forrester, “Customer experiences during this phase include…satisfaction with the checkout process.” And satisfaction largely refers to convenience and speed: 88% of U.S. adults want their store checkout experience to be faster, based on a study by Harris Poll.
Mobile Impact: Mobile devices are optimizing in-store purchases. More than a quarter of shoppers prefer to use mobile devices — from smartphones to smart watches — at point-of-sale, both for convenience and efficiency. Mobile coupons have also overtaken print coupons at checkout for similar reasons. There is a growing demand for automation and innovation across the purchase experience that only mobile can deliver.
The customer journey doesn’t end after the sale. To drive loyalty in the after-sales period, continued engagement is critical. This includes a comprehensive post-sales strategy, with tactics like direct mail and TV ads, to email, social, retargeting, content marketing, testimonial and review opportunities and more.
Mobile Impact: The use of mobile devices, however, has created an “always-on” post-sale conversation with consumers. Email marketing, app notifications and SMS, through personalized and triggered targeting, continue to be two of the best channels for post-sale engagement. And they either increasingly or exclusively occur on mobile.
Loyalty does not refer solely to repeat business from individual customers, but to those customers willing to share their positive experience with others, helping bring new prospects to the discovery stage. Keep in mind — 80% of consumers seek recommendations from third parties when considering a purchase.
Mobile Impact: Today, social media is the platform for word-of-mouth marketing and brand and product evangelism: 44% of Millennials use social media to evangelize products and services purchased. And mobile is the preferred format for social media users today: 60% of all Facebook users — of which there are 1.65 billion — access the service only on a mobile device. Meanwhile, Instagram is the second most popular social network and is almost exclusively mobile.
Today’s path-to-purchase is more complex than it once was, thanks to the advancement of digital — particularly on the mobile side. From “discover” to “evangelize,” the new customer journey is a challenge. But, mobile isn’t just complicating the funnel — it’s giving retailers innovative ways to boost engagement and turn prospects into repeat business.
Nels Stromborg leads Retale’s U.S. sales team, and is responsible for team development, sales strategy, client partnerships and revenue growth. Stromborg has more than 20 years of experience in digital media sales. He joined Retale from Undertone, where he was Vice President of Sales. Prior to Undertone, Stromborg served as the Retail & QSR Category Sales Director at AOL. He earned a B.S. in International Relations and Economics from the American University in Washington, D.C.