The retail store is no longer the one-stop shop it was in the past. Consumers have no shortage of options when it comes to shopping, and it's not just brick-and-mortar stores versus online: Smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers all offer their own advantages when it comes to shopping.
Consequently, few consumers stick to just one channel for conducting their shopping business, even when considering a single product. In fact, a Marketing Land survey shows that 90 percent of shoppers actually use smartphones for shopping in stores. This behavior has cultivated a consumer buying process that is hard to track and even tougher to predict — but marketers are finding tech solutions that enable effective tracking from one channel to the next, and even provide options for leveraging this multichannel utility as an asset.
To succeed in 2016, brands can't ignore the ever-shifting presence of consumer activities. Instead, it's critical to anticipate this sort of behavior and build a marketing strategy that accommodates this new approach.
Targeting Intent Across All Channels
The most effective strategy is to market across channels, employing traditional and online mediums, including local and social. When it comes to targeting likely buyers, the trick is identifying the markers, or high purchase intent. Certain keywords, for example, are far more likely to inspire a conversion than others, based on their past performance.
Email and social media campaigns should be focused on driving action through clear calls-to-action. Even in-store marketing can harness insights from intent data to effectively target individuals as they are considering a purchase.
Understanding the Micro-Moment
One of the most radical changes in consumer behavior has opened up a new niche for marketers to target. The "micro-moment" is a phenomenon created by mobile devices: These are the moments when you're waiting in line, or when your date has gone to the bathroom, or when a thought just happens to cross your mind, when you reflexively turn to your smartphone to learn something.
These moments are small and happen sporadically, but they aren't irrelevant: They're part of the larger path to purchase that can spread out over days, or even weeks or months. According to Think With Google, micro-moments are an extremely common consumer activity. Eighty-two percent of smartphone users will look to their phone in a store when they're deciding what to buy — and one and ten of this 82 percent will leave the store with a different product than what they'd had in mind.
Maintaining a Presence on Every Platform
Consumers are on multiple channels, which means you have to be, too. An omnichannel marketing presence is the most effective way to meet consumers where they are, and it can provide a better overall branded experience. According to eMarketer, 54 percent of shoppers said that consistency across multiple devices is "vital" to their experience.
An easy example is using customer shopping profiles to build consistency. When an online shopper looks at certain items or adds them to their cart, you can remember these actions and use them to inform the consumer's next session on your website, even if it occurs on a different device.
These activities can also shape the in-store experience, leveraging technology and digital insights to provide better service. Quality service increases the odds of a conversion and strengthens brand loyalty.
The consumer buying process may be more fluid and unpredictable than ever, but it's not an unsolvable mystery. Through data and a comprehensive presence, brands can meet consumers anywhere they go.