March 8, 2019
Intent and the marketing funnel
Most of us are familiar with the traditional marketing funnel.
However, a Google study suggests that customers are no longer following the funnel’s linear path from awareness to consideration to purchase. Instead, customers are narrowing or broadening their consideration set in unique — and often unpredictable — moments. The Google study also argues that this behavior can be seen in all types of shoppers, particularly the bargain hunter.
Today, we introduce you to 3 shoppers. As you’ll see, these customers are all bargain hunters, yet their buyer journeys are entirely different.
Customer 1: discovering an unexpected retailer
Kim is an avid foodie who enjoys experimenting in the kitchen. She spends a lot of time reading recipe blogs and food-related websites; she decides to buy a fermentation kit after being inspired by several articles on kimchi and kombucha. Kim considers several retailers, but her purchase is ultimately won by an online retailer that wasn’t originally part of her consideration set. The reason why Kim opted for the online retailer was due to the brand appearing in her search results while she was researching kimchi and kombucha recipes one evening on her phone. (It also helped that the online retailer had a 25% off promotion.)
Customer 2: the decision to repair or replace
Raphael is an Arizona resident who is passionate about fine wine. As it often gets hot in Arizona, Raphael invested in a climate-control wine fridge to prevent his precious vintages from spoiling. One day, Raphael noticed some liquid leaking out of his wine fridge. Raphael’s journey involves conducting an online search to find a reputable wine fridge repairer; Raphael did the bulk of his research on his smartphone while commuting to and from work. Unfortunately, wine fridge repairers aren’t easy to come by in Arizona, so their fees are quite high. Eventually, Raphael decides that it would be cheaper to buy a brand new wine fridge.
Customer 3: relying on expert advice
Peter enjoys photography, at times an expensive hobby, For this reason, he is constantly active on photography forums to get product advice from fellow photographers — occasionally, he may encounter someone trying to sell their second-hand gear. During his search for a new zoom lens, he reads articles and photography blogs and seeks advice from forum members. He also watches YouTube product review videos on his mobile during his downtime. His purchase journey ends when he settles on a zoom lens that’s different to the original model he had in mind — but a whole lot cheaper.
Different journeys, same principles
As you can see from the examples above, each shopper was a bargain hunter — but all 3 of them embarked on very different purchase journeys. In saying that, there were 2 things each customer had in common:
The customers invested in extensive research
None of the customers engaged in impulse shopping. Instead, they conducted a lot of research before making their final purchase decision; they asked experts in the field, sought inspiration from blog and articles, or did a thorough internet search to find the relevant information.
And they’re not alone. According to a joint study by Google and Verto Analytics, 63% of shoppers engaged in pre-purchase research to ensure they were making the right choice.
The customers relied heavily on mobile
In the examples above, all 3 customers turned to their mobile devices at some point during their purchase journey. This is not surprising, given that the same study found that 72% of bargain hunters used their mobile devices for shopping or browsing. When people want immediate answers, they tend to turn to their devices instead of a computer. And every time they do so, they are expressing intent and reshaping the traditional marketing funnel along the way. For this reason, it’s important to ensure that your website is mobile-friendly and your content is optimized for mobile.
How marketing automation can help
The unpredictability of customers’ behaviors makes it more challenging for marketers to influence purchase decisions. To successfully influence their customers, marketers need to fully understand their customers’ needs, desires, wants, and aspirations — it’s not easy when purchase journeys are different even within the same customer segment (in this case, they’re all bargain hunters).
Marketing automation makes things a lot easier. By tracking customers’ behavior as they interact with your website, Autopilot allows marketers to segment their audience based on their real-time actions rather than wild assumptions. Autopilot also determines what stage each customer sits in the buyer journey, allowing marketers to nurture them accordingly. And with Autopilot, marketers can create multiple journeys to predict customer intent more accurately than before.