While it may be a cliche, it's important that brands and companies remember that consumer behaviors are constantly changing. What consumers want and expect from brands causes changes to the customer journey and keeping up with these changes is essential for brands that want to stay ahead of the curve and remain relevant.
The path to purchase (or customer journey) encompasses customers’ experience with your brand at every touchpoint (and most of these happen before they even get in touch with you). This includes the moment they discover your product, everything they see and hear before purchasing and even the emotions they’re left with after the purchase. Will they recommend your brand to their friends? Will they purchase again? The last few years have presented unprecedented changes to the shopper journey.
Here we pulled together 5 customer journey trends that are important for a successful marketing strategy.
1. Consumers are Tolerating Less Friction
Consumers are demanding easy and simple paths to purchase now more than ever. Slow-loading product pages, low-quality pictures, or a slight bump in the checkout flow can mean a significant financial loss. Are you aware of the frictions your customers may encounter? Are you offering the right information at the right time to move customers seamlessly through the journey? Do you have an easily accessible customer support channel?
Consumer behavior data helps you understand the main friction points in your buyer’s journey that lead to abandonment and a drop in conversion rates. For example, software company VWO investigated the low conversion rates on a particular pricing page and found that visitors were bouncing off because of too many subscription plan options. They redesigned the page by reducing the number of plans to three, cut out additional information, and added a free trial to every page which resulted in the conversion rates shooting up by 94%. They couldn’t have even tried to guess this without data-driven consumer behavior insights.
2. Personalization is More Important Than Ever
Shoppers want an experience that is tailored to their specific needs and preferences. Having adequate consumer insights and a deep understanding of your audience’s buying process helps you personalize their customer journey. Research shows that personalization results in greater consumer engagement, repeat sales, and brand advocacy.
- Marketers see an average increase of 20% in sales when using personalized experiences
- 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company that offers personalized experiences
- 77% of consumers have chosen, recommended, or paid for a brand that provides a personalized experience
According to Statista, 36% of marketers in the US say they achieved an ROI of up to $20 for every dollar spent on personalization. This is why Amazon, the pioneer in eCommerce personalization, offers fully tailored experiences to users based on their shopping preferences, habits, browsing history, search queries, and countless other factors. The relevant product recommendations on your Amazon homepage and product pages are personalization at its best.
Similarly, Facebook shows the most relevant posts, while Google applies it to its search results by displaying the most relevant results first. Amazon, Facebook, and Google base these personalization tactics on consumer behavior studies and data proving just how valuable customer research can be.
3. Trust/Privacy is a Rising Concern
Data privacy is a hot topic. Customers are well aware that companies are using their data. If a company is upfront and diligent in asking the right permissions, then customers will gain trust. Be transparent about how you are using customer data and make sure to partner with a data company that is collecting customer behavior in a way that is compliant with new and ever-changing laws and market research industry standards. Research shows that 85% of consumers WILL NOT do business with a company if they have concerns about its security practices. Don’t be that company.
4. Consumers Want Their Changing Needs Met
While there is no way anyone could have predicted a worldwide pandemic, companies that were able to pivot quickly and meet their buyers online or digitally instead of in-person were the winners. Being able to change course fast and stay agile in an ever-changing environment is paramount to long-lasting success.
In the past decade, the customer journey has also become extremely “social”. Shoppers are turning to social media - especially video options like YouTube and TikTok - for product recommendations and reviews. As a result, it’s important to have a strong online presence and well-optimized websites (especially for mobile devices) as well as your own social media profiles.
5. Shoppers are Getting More and More Tech-Savvy
As more consumers are shopping online, and more often, you will see a more sophisticated and efficient customer. What does this mean for eCommerce brands and retailers? Fewer steps are needed for consumers to make decisions in the online customer journey.
One of our clients discovered that when they replicated a study from two years ago, the purchase engagement tipping points were reduced from four product detail page (PDP) clicks to three PDP clicks. The product page had not changed in those two years, but the shopper behavior had - consumers no longer needed as many steps as they did two years prior, allowing our client to reduce the number of touchpoints in the path to purchase.
As more consumers begin and normalize shopping online, shopper sophistication gets stronger. Increased comfort and familiarity with online shopping in addition to companies making it easier to return online purchases means fewer barriers and less intense scrutiny is needed when making a purchase.
By understanding that the shopper journey is ever-changing, brands can develop marketing strategies that will resonate with modern (and tech-savvy) consumers. In order to provide a seamless customer experience, it's important to understand how shoppers are interacting with your brand and what influences their purchase decisions. The customer journey is constantly evolving and those who adopt the quickest will be the ones who come out on top!