Customers no longer approach products in a linear way – they shop across a mix of online and offline platforms, and we’re challenged to reach them wherever they are and on whatever device they may be using. The journey is winding, fragmented, and constantly changing – with a strong focus on engagement – and smart brands have adapted to the new approach.
How do you make people see your brand? Consider the nature of each channel. Facebook is great for maintaining brand image and raising awareness, while Instagram and Pinterest are key discovery platforms, functioning as visual search tools. Twitter should always be used for community engagement, rather than overt marketing. An intimate understanding of platform functions lets you harness them to their full potential and preludes any high-impact, channel-specific strategy. Analytics help to break down data and create a 360-degree view of the highly connected customer.
Consider how consumers decide on your product – whether it’s through reading reams of reviews or hands-on trialling, or searching for products by image, voice or gesture on their phones. Eighty-one per cent of shoppers research online before making a purchase. Sixty per cent begin using a search engine to find products, and 61 per cent will read reviews first. They have so many tools at their fingertips, including aggregate platforms such as Lyst and Farfetch that let them pull together clothing from different e-tailers as to create the perfect ‘look’. Such a personalised experience will inevitably create more brand advocates.
This isn’t as simple as loading something into a virtual cart. Savvy brands know that shoppers are looking for a benefit. They seek out promo codes, search for sales and time-sensitive offers, or pick from a feed listing similar items. This is key to pushing them over the tipping point. Stopping at the buy phase ignores opportunities in the later stage of the journey, well into advocacy, where you’re able to build a relationship and turn the customer into a repeat customer.
An ongoing customer relationship must always be part of the roadmap. Engineering advocacy is about fostering easy, automatic ways for consumers to post reviews, share their brand experience, or otherwise cement their engagement with a brand. Get them to ‘like’ the page, but then leverage their fandom with UGC, competitions and other community-driven campaigns.