It may come as a surprise that much emerging online customer journey planning theory has lots in common with traditional retail theory. A look under the bonnet suggests that they share convenience as a critical success factor and sales driver.
I don’t have an in–depth knowledge of retail theory, but I know enough to know that customers’ buying patterns will change if you put the milk beside the cheese beside the butter in the cooler, as opposed to the butter beside the milk beside the cheese. The layout of supermarket shelves has become an evidence–driven science and many salespeople for big consumer brands spend a lot of time trying to convince supermarkets to put their products in the prime positions.
If the theory isn’t of particular interest to you, you might at least be familiar with the practice. This typically takes the form of small children wanting the crisps being displayed by the counter at an adult’s knee level, or adults chomping into a chocolate bar they didn’t need because it was located beside the till.
Nothing in a large supermarket happens by accident, every aspect of your experience when you’re in the door has been planned, implemented, monitored and improved over many years. The result? Those pesky supermarkets are so darned convenient they get the maximum from us they possibly can every time we visit.
Some years ago I spent some time with a marketer for a major FMCG brand who was explaining to me that they were enjoying tremendous traction with one of their products across many customer segments, but the product just wasn’t getting bought by a key group for them – mothers shopping with toddlers and young children. They observed, watched and experimented, but regardless of what they did, sales of this product just weren’t going up amongst this key demographic.
Eventually they realised they were going to have to commission some market research to get to the bottom of all of this and sent out their best clipboard armed team of researchers. They asked both qualitative and quantitative information, and one of the answers a young mother provided was so good that it became the title of the report.When asked why she didn’t buy this particular product she explained “your company has to realise that when I am doing my shopping everything I hold is either crying or melting.”
If ever there was an image which we should hold in our minds when we are designing search, social, mobile, email and web communications for our customers, it is the idea that as we try to market to them they are balancing a hundred other things which are screaming for their attention.
You conduct email marketing. Think of the Inbox it arrives into. How are you going to get your customers’ attention above what their bosses and customers have sent them?
You conduct social marketing. Think of the Facebook wall or Twitter feed it gets published to. How are you going to be more interesting that Saturday night’s photos or the latest industry news?
And so on. Search Engine Optimisation. Pay Per Click Campaigns. Mobile websites. You are dealing with a ruthless, impatient customer who already has too much information. Plan all of your online marketing activity with the overriding characteristic of your customer in mind.
You are marketing to a customer in a hurry.