Consumer Journeys in a Digital World

The Internet and more recently smartphones have largely changed two things for brands. Firstly it has spoilt them with numerous possibilities and platforms. Secondly, empowered consumers to directly engage with brands in a way not possible before.

Spoilt for Choice- Multiple Touchpoints

Digital ecosystem enabled more possibilities for both Brands and Consumers. There are now a lot more ways brands can reach consumers. Multiple touchpoints over offline & online mediums allow consumers to engage with the brand and maximise possibilities on both ends a) getting new customers and b) bringing back consumers exiting a sales funnel.
A consumer journey can now begin in a retail store and end on an e-commerce platform. It is important to be mindful of providing a consistent brand experience across all online & offline touchpoints.

Spoilt for Optimisation — Trackability

Biggest demerit for traditional media has been the inability to track it. With digital, brands can leverage many data points (location, gender and stage of purchase lifecycle). Thereby allowing to pin down the exact users & drive more conversions to optimize for a shorter time to purchase. (Faster consumer journeys)

3 Sides To All Conversions

Brand conversations now happen in 3 ways-

  1. Brand to Consumer (Offline media, social media handles, websites)
  2. Consumer to Brand (Customer helpline, e-mails, engagement on social media)
  3. Consumer to other Users (Engagement on social media, word of mouth)
    The third way holds a potential threat & advantage to the reputation of any brand. If used correctly, it can drive business, brand love and any other objectives.
    On the other hand, it can also bring down revenues, frustrated consumers can get brands to take down ads- thereby influencing consumer journeys for other users.

Factors Affecting Consumer Journeys

Below are the top 3 factors brands need to be careful about while mapping consumer journeys:

  1. Information: Digital has enabled on-demand access to information and quality of information available can significantly change consumer journeys. Eg: Missing search results for “HDFC add on credit card” or “BMW M3 features” can lead to confused consumers and eventually lose business.
  2. Personalisation: “Talk to me” ads drive better engagement, higher brand love. Digital allows personalisation at scale. Eg: Emails with first names have higher open rates and ultimately higher conversions.
  3. Industry: Relevance of category is important. Mapping out all possibilities a consumer might want to accomplish on digital and ensuring necessary actions/ information is available to them is critical. Eg: An automotive spare manufacturer may not need active social media handles, but it will be important for an eCommerce brand.

What’s the next big thing?

In my opinion, As India gets comfortable shopping online, only brands with streamlined consumer journeys on online & offline mediums will thrive. Tools like Zapr, InMobi and DCMN are bringing new technologies to help bridge the gap between offline & online mediums and optimise consumer journeys. Eg- Retargeting consumers who have walked into the retail store or watched the TVC on digital platforms will help shorten user journeys for consumers.

Platform Understanding & Optimisation —
With shifting trends & seasonality of digital platforms (Eg — Fall of TikTok/ Rise of ShareChat/ Hotstar viewership peak on IPL), brands will have to be agile and mindful of their resource allocation. Eg: Zomato understood its audience on TikTok and used it to drive engagement & recognition for their delivery partners, and not consumers. Trends on digital have a much shorter lifecycle and response to brand campaigns may vary basis the type of platform (Reddit vs Snapchat). Hence, constantly reiterating your digital strategy to stay relevant becomes critical.

Marketing, Coffee and Formula 1 keep me up at night.