When developing a digital strategy most marketing organizations and their agencies will map out a customer journey or lifecycle as part of the process. The goal of this exercise is to establish where digital touch-points can be used to drive marketing objectives or address consumer issues on the path to purchase. Contributing to this would be research and anecdotal information either direct from consumers or from client teams responsible for marketing, sales, customer service, and operations. The resulting digital strategy likely includes a consumer value proposition and roadmap of actions. Together these enable a strategy encompassing the entire cycle of a consumers interaction with a brand from discovery to usage. Job done. Or is it?
Many Marcom organizations separate marketing communications teams and shopper marketing teams and this makes sense as they service different objectives. This simple organizational divide, however, means the digital strategy rarely takes a deep view of what actually happens from the point a consumer becomes a shopper then returns to being a consumer.
“What on earth is he talking about?” I hear you say. Surely they are one and the same? The consumer in this case is the person who uses the product – who consumes it. Yet this is not all they are so we look at consumers in two ways; the ones who use the product and the ones who we target through media as being influential or instrumental in the purchase of the product. Looking through this lens we are typically interested in understanding insights that can make our product relevant to them. We may leverage demographics or psychographics, media context or cultural influences. All with the intent of developing a creative idea and communications platform designed to get our brand in the consumers consideration set.
Digital strategy and subsequent execution seeks to do the same by “being where the consumer is” with paid media, “responding to the consumers intent” through search marketing, “leveraging influencers of the consumer” within the sphere of social, or “providing utility to the consumer” through apps or mSite content. The specifics of which are generally defined by who they are and what they need as consumers.
So who is the shopper and why are they important? They are the person actively seeking and buying the product we have advertised. While they may be the same individual, they will certainly be in a different state of mind and will be influenced by a different set of factors. Some of the things we need to understand include:
• Their mission; are they browsing, stocking up, laser focused?
• Their channel; what type of store are they likely to shop?
• Their behaviors (while shopping); what drivers, barriers, and habits exist?
By not taking into account the shopper we run the risk of creating digital strategy that is too centered on firing the brands agenda at a media target. The reality of course is that if we make a product easier to shop we will ultimately improve the perception of the brand because we are servicing the needs of shoppers. This experience will in turn make them more likely to share through positive word of mouth. And with so many purchase paths beginning with search (web-based or mobile) the opportunity is there to set up a digital interaction that stays with the shopper as they shop.
The final step is to ensure we connect the digital strategy to consumption to help support a positive product usage experience and give ourselves the best chance that our brand will be purchased again.
It is probably time for an example. Let’s think about diapers for a moment. When needing to communicate the benefits of Huggies to Mums Kimberly Clark may ask their agency to focus on the comfort, the drying effect of their latest technology, and perhaps even how they compare to their Pampers equivalent. They do this because they know Mums want their baby to be happy and healthy. As a sophisticated digital marketer KC would doubtless leverage Consumer Intent Modeling (CIM) data. This will highlight what is important to Mum based on insights gleaned from analyzing search queries.
Now let’s flip to the on-the-go Mum out and about doing the shopping. Does she care about dryness? Does she care about competitive comparisons? No. Her primary concern is ensuring she’s buying the right size diaper. And if it’s Dad doing the shopping on an emergency run to the petrol station at midnight he REALLY wants to make sure he’s buying the right size diaper. How do we know this? From mobile search data. The mobile CIM showed that size is consistently in the top three searches on mobile devices when diaper is a key word.
The impact of this insight was significant on the mobile strategy for Huggies; pointing out specific changes from the regular website that needed to be made in order to better service shopper needs via mobile device. In the process of going one step further, Huggies are ensuring they mobilize their loyalty scheme. This will consist of in-pack codes, which can be entered for points. Previously a web-only offering, consumers will soon be able to easily snap the code with their mobile for instant credit. (Perhaps while changing their baby with the other hand).
This is a simple example of leveraging shopper insight to better inform digital strategy and in turn better connect the consumer to shopper to consumer journey. Take a look at your digital strategy. Do you understand your shopper? Are you clear about how needs change through their journey?
Here are some highlights from other brands Getting It Right
As an integrated agency we are leveraging digital to engage consumers with the ultimate intent of having them buy our clients products*. It is imperative then that we understand our target as shoppers so as to create a more continuous and mutually beneficial connection through their journey. This will then provide a better opportunity to influence future consumption behavior and repurchase. *Of course there are interim measures of success for digital but the end game is sales in the majority of cases.