How do people buy products?
In 2011, Google shed some light on the customer journey by introducing the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT): the time where people research a product or service online before taking an action that could lead to purchase. However, this proved far too neat a theory: the reality of purchasing is far more complex, unpredictable and, above all, fragmented. So Google went back to the think tank and came out with the concept of “micro-moments”.
What are they? Just take a second to remember your last purchase and the research that went into it. Was there only one search included? Did you start the search confident in what you wanted to buy, or were there a variety of needs that shaped your direction? Were there external factors that influenced your search? Say a friend’s recommendation? Or a Facebook timeline ad that caught your eye?
To quantify these moments, Google studied the process that goes into buying a car. The results were jaw-dropping: on average it takes a consumer 900+ digital interactions to reach the moment of purchase.
Clearly, digital touchpoints are now where the competition between brands is played out and decided. Capturing the attention and loyalty of audiences here takes a data-driven, audience-centered strategy. There are no hard and fast rules to apply – but here are the key current digital trends, and the important questions to ask to bring your digital strategy into 2016:
#1 – Increased social usage
Social media has come a long way since Friendster in 2002. Today, consumers use a variety of social networks on multiple devices. The average internet user has approximately seven social media accounts, and millennials are active on most of them. Social networking accounts for 30% of the time spent online.
The proliferation of social networks and usage also expands the number of channels and tactics to consider. It’s vital that brands prioritize to avoid diffusing resources and efforts.
Ask yourself, are your potential audiences:
- Identifiable: Are the attributes of the audience measurable so that they can be identified?
- Sizeable: Is the audience large enough in terms of profitability to justify the effort?
- Reachable: Is the audience reachable in regards to communication / distribution?
- Actionable: Is delivering relevant offers to the audience realistic?
#2 – Mobile-first mindset
Delivering the right experience across platforms is just as crucial as finding the right audience. While overall internet usage has increased by 26% from 2013 to 2015, the growth is mainly driven by mobile (+44%).
According to Google, mobile sessions last an average of 1.2 minutes and occur dozens and dozens of times per day. This unique behavior underlines the need for marketers to not only consider optimizing for mobile, but also to have a mobile-first offering.
- Strategy: Do you have a dedicated mobile strategy (asset, contents)?
- Distribution: Are the social content assets created with a mobile first mindset?
- Mobile (UX): Is the mobile UX on the landing page smooth (speed, aesthetics)?
#3 - Time span and digital noise
The first touch can be a catalyst to ignite a great user experience. That, however, is increasingly difficult to achieve with consumer attention spans now shorter than a goldfish's (literally), and a cluttered digital landscape. As marketers consider increasing digital ad spend, consumers are turning to ad blocking to escape the overflow of unwanted offers.
The gap is simply the result of the offer not meeting the demand. Consumer impatience is increasing, as is their demand for better, faster and more engaging communication from brands .
- Devices: What devices are your audience using and how is that trend evolving?
- Content format: What is the best way to communicate your message across each device and network?
#4 - The rise of video content
Social networks are embracing video more and more - here’s some food for thought:
Cisco predicts that video traffic will account for 82% of all consumer internet traffic by 2020. The prediction is backed by Ooyala’s Global Video Index that showed that mobile video made up 48% of all video views in Q1, 2016. Twitter’s 2012 and 2015 acquisitions of Vine and Pericope, along with the later launch of Facebook Live, demonstrate how social networks are embracing the trend with live streaming. Meanwhile, the ongoing improvement of video marketing compatibility on social networks has lead to a significant spend increase in mobile video advertising (26% in Q1, 2016).
With the focus on mobile and the demand for faster-delivered content, video is well on its way to taking over our feeds. If your business is mindful of the future, it's time to seriously consider introducing video to your social strategy.
- Video Content: Should your content distribution strategy include video (front and center)?
#5 - Unexpected new competitors
As digital marketing evolves to reflect the needs of modern audiences, new challenges have arisen. A primary example is how Facebook and Twitter recently changed their feed algorithms to favor posts from friends and family; making these your new competition for audience attention. However, thanks to the sharing and word-of-mouth facilitated by these networks, these two groups also present an opportunity. By creating a coherent social advocacy and influencer strategy you should be able to turn these challenges to your advantage, while increasing the credibility of your message and humanizing your brand.
- Advocacy: Do you have key brand advocates in your network that can help spread the message and be your key partners in a loyalty program?
Creating a digital competitive edge
The trends outlined in this article aren't projections – they’re already influencing all your marketing touchpoints and are entrenched in the behavior of your audiences. It’s now marketers’ turn to embrace these evolutions and update their digital strategy. Here’s how to gain that coveted digital edge: