FUNNEL OF LOVE: The new consumer decision journey

Two major disruptors are shaking up consumer behaviour and driving change in the way brands need to communicate with consumers moving forward: changing shopping habits and digital marketing.

The role of branding is to create value for a company and to tell a story that will resonate with the right people. That value in this story would play out in a well know “formula” among planners that goes by a few different names: “customer decision journey”/“path to purchase” / “decision funnel”. Traditionally the path-to-purchase is a straight line, where the brand controlled the conversation. There are a million versions of the “funnel” but the basic path is Awareness > Consideration > Trial > Purchase > Loyalty.

I have a hard time continuing to believe in a one-path, straight-on conversion funnel. The world has changed dramatically since I first learned about the conversion funnel. When it first arrived on the scene, there was no internet, and marketers based entire campaigns around a single, linear narrative.

As the internet grew, approaches to marketing digitally grew, alongside it, but were considered separate, almost novelty, from traditional marketing. We’ve now come to the point where we cannot separate these two areas. Digital, traditional; today it’s all just marketing.

With the unprecedented amount of information we have at our fingertips, plus the non-stop emergence of new innovations and digital platforms, the decision journey is no longer a straight road, but a road lined with millions of forks that may or may not lead back to the path.

The Internet has shortened the time frame as well, people can move from awareness to purchase within an hour in the comfort of their own home. The internet has also changed the conversion timeframe as well; customers might convert in mere minutes, or completely lose track of things for months. Online shopping habits are the pioneers in this new way of consuming, and the landscape will forever be changed because of it.

The question I have is, how do we draw people back into the decision funnel and engage them with a brand? The endgame needs to shift from the simple purchasing a product to a goal of building real relationships ; and I am not talking about building online communities when I say “building relationships”. Say/Do something relevant that resonates with your audience, and gives them value. Stop talking at the consumer, and start treating every initiative as an opportunity to solve a real problem. “The customer experience is central to the decision journey of any brand and today, the customer is looking for a total experience” says Ana Andjelic.

There is no “one size fits all” communication strategy that can be applied to brands (just because it worked for one brand, doesn’t mean it will work for you).

To paraphrase Ana Andjelic again: “Successful brands will maneuver the new path-to-purchase landscape and continue to monitor and adjust quickly, based on the wealth of data available to them”. The wonderful thing about our digital age is that we can collect information and adapt almost instantly to create an end-to-end customer-centric experience.

Here are a few of the articles that sparked my thoughts:

How millenials are changing the face of consumer marketing

http://www.cmo.com/articles/2014/1/20/study_millennials_ar.html

Luxury’s Lesson To Brands: Get Your Customer Experience Right
– Ana Andjelic
SVP, Global Strategy Director | Havas LuxHub

http://www.brandquarterly.com/brand-quarterly-magazine-21

Your brand doesn’t need anyone to participate in anything

http://www.fastcocreate.com/3059983/why-your-brand-doesnt-need-anyone-to-participate-in-anything?utm_source=mailchimp&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=cocreate-weekly&position=1&partner=newsletter&campaign_date=05192016

In today’s digital world the, sales funnel is dead

http://adage.com/article/digitalnext/today-s-digital-world-sales-funnel-dead/303301/

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