Much like everything else in 2020, digital shopper marketing was transformed in ways that no one could have predicted. While we already knew omnichannel digital strategies were increasing in significance, the rate at which platforms grew quickly pushed traditional shopping ecosystems to merge with digital demand in unprecedented ways. While it may seem counterintuitive, this convergence and the exponential demand for consumers’ already fractured attention spans further splintered the path to reaching shoppers. The primary impact on marketers boils down to an ever-increased focus on ensuring all traditional awareness efforts funnel into some form of e-commerce.
Much like the in-store experience had evolved to influence customers in the aisles, so has online grocery shopping evolved quickly to enable discovery and conversion to sales. We can only assume that many of the behaviors that developed out of necessity over the past year will become a habit – online grocery will swell to 21.5% market share by 2025 – and online marketing will need to meet consumers in the new channels where they are making purchase decisions.
For most of today’s shoppers, research and discovery happen across multiple channels simultaneously. If you stop to think about the last time you purchased something and how you got to the point of filling in your credit card information to place an order, you likely experienced a combination of scanning through Amazon, looking at reviews online, being served ads on mobile, coming across the product on your social media feed, visiting the brand’s website and more before you actually made the purchase. You’re not alone. The ways consumers gain information about products have shifted due to accessibility on mobile devices – 60% of online users have discovered their favorite brands while scrolling on their phones through RSS feeds, e-mails, YouTube videos, text messages or influencer posts on social media. A large percentage of mobile phone users (over 70%) will search for more information on their phone when they see a billboard or television ad. So what does all of this mean?
The ubiquity of mobile devices and social media means that online and offline shopping journeys are extremely fragmented, making it critical to adopt a full funnel strategy that drives awareness and demand across multiple channels simultaneously.
It is now more essential than ever before to employ multi-channel strategies that drive full-funnel results. Imagine the classic customer funnel and think about your customer experience to determine what your options are down the funnel. At the top of the funnel, you are casting a very wide net to capture as many leads as you possibly can. There is no knowing how viable these individuals are as loyal customers, but that will work itself out as you move down the funnel to the most qualified people at the bottom with the highest propensity to purchase your products.
Customer marketing funnels are also not linear and you must consider that no two customer journeys will be the same. A full strategy ensures you reach more shoppers across more touch points to capture all potential paths to purchase. Here is how we think about these paths in simple terms:
- Impulse Buyer – This customer will make a very quick decision to purchase something because it immediately meets a need, and making this happen requires a completely frictionless path to purchase; few of these shoppers convert to purchase immediately unless it’s too easy
- Deliberative Buyer – This customer will spend time reading reviews, seeking out influencer recommendations, and browsing blog posts to really become convinced, and then their purchase must be easy to convert at that moment they are convinced
- The Long Haul Shopper – This customer will continually research, wait for deals, and may even research in-store before deciding to make a purchase; at this point, it is important to understand what will convert this shopper and offer seamless integration of store and online experiences
A full-funnel strategy can help you capture shoppers at various stages along their path to purchase, and it is important not to focus on just one area of the path to maximize the breadth of experiences. If you focus only on down-funnel conversion tactics, you are likely bidding on a more expensive audience, and you are failing to reach those shoppers who already know you well because they started at the upper funnel stages. Likewise, when you focus only on awareness, you miss bringing people down the funnel so they become a paying customer. We may not be able to predict the steps shoppers take before buying a product, but putting together a full-funnel approach is a good framework for engagement and helps you catch customers where they are. When we talk about the stages of our funnel, we typically break it down as follows:
This is the point where you educate audiences who may not know your brand and you may pique their interest; measured by impressions and reach your goal is to reach as many people as possible with tactics such as:
- Targeted earned digital media placements (supporting SEO)
- Paid content for a full share of voice in digital media outlets
- Online/in-app display ads and social media advertising to drive awareness
- Community building on social media channels
- Events and surprise-and-delight moments
This is where people start to think repeatedly about your brand because you stand out; they spend more time interacting and maybe even start making comparisons to other brands so now you are measured by clicks to the website and engagements; it is important to:
- Stand out with social media content – invest in dynamic content such as video and original graphics
- Be consistent with e-mail marketing, blog content, and third-party reviews, i.e. ratings from influencers
- Refine social media ad targeting to drive traffic to the product website, build awareness of where the product is available via geo-targeting, and build further interaction with content
- Remarketing to your website visitors and lookalike audiences helps ensure they get closer to a decision
Now, you can really encourage action because you have enough data about your target customer as they’ve worked their way down the funnel to be able to reach them through advertising, promotions and other actions measured by total conversions and return on ad spend (ROAS)
- Social media and display ad retargeting with crystal clear call to actions will impact lift in stores or drive direct-to-consumer sales
- Influencers become affiliate partners and support sales
- Make sure your products are available to buy before you pay to promote a product and check to ensure your product’s online availability is free of too many steps toward purchase
Full-funnel strategies do not have to be elaborate to be effective. Data-driven programming that supports your customer’s path to purchase requires completing a round of the above tactics, taking the time to evaluate the customer journey, and launching your next marketing effort based on what you’ve learned. Understanding who your customer is and what is important to them will help you connect to your audience and make the most of your marketing budget.
We recommend this approach not only because it helps you build your brand, but because we see more success when our clients hone in on various stages versus a single area. You can start at the top of the funnel or move throughout the funnel with smaller steps, but research suggests that by starting with awareness, your more targeted conversion efforts will be more effective.