The Death of the Purchasing Funnel and its Relevance to Social Media (Part 2)
So, we now know why the purchasing funnel of old is outdated, so what do we do?
Well, let's understand all the different changes first. Yes, new digital technologies have changed the game, there is now a virtual myriad of different brands, and new technologies - social networking especially - have radically changed the way companies interact with their customers. That is the big change, but they are many other smaller, but equally significant, ones too.
The funnel model doesn’t adequately grasp changes in the post-purchase stage either. There is a growing divide between active loyal customers and passive loyal customers, the latter actively recommending and pitching the product, the former only half-heartedly doing so - and the latter can be snatched by wily competitors, if you are not careful!
Customers are also more prone to change their mind in the later stages! In the cosmetics industry, for instance, customers can be swayed by seductive packaging and presentation, opting from brands right at the last minute before purchase - brands that were not even considered in the earlier stages!
So, how can companies adapt in this exciting new world? Well, luckily there are several things they can do – many of them painless and cost-effective.
Companies can learn to distinguish between passive and active loyal customers, and adjust their loyalty schemes and incentives as such. With these new behavioural trends, the purchasing stage has become a real battleground.
Marketers advise investing in packaging, appearance and look - ensure your product shines online and shines on the shop shelves - as you are now competing with a myriad of different brands and companies at all levels.
However, there is another way, and one very close to my heart. Research shows that in this new digital world the evaluative stage, the stage where the prospective customer weighs up his/her options, is much more important than previously believed.
Brands, not hitherto considered, can suddenly appear on the scene, engaging the customer with effective marketing.
Clearly, companies should invest more energy and resources into this evaluative stage. How to do it? One way is to embrace the new media technologies, social media in particular.
Social media is especially useful for targeting and branding at the evaluative stage: and it is easy to see why.
Imagine you are mulling over whether to buy a used SUV: “Will I pot for the Lexus RX I saw on the telly? But that Volvo xc90 banner ad that stalked me around the internet is a knockdown for that! The Nissan Murano is still my favourite, but I have heard it burns gas like candy, the mileage is extortionate for a four year old car, all the used models come in ugly colours, and it’s stingy of the dealer not to offer me a longer insurance policy; still, I would have to travel miles for a Lexus or Volvo!”
We have all being here: mulling over whether to splash the cash or not; raking your brains with will or I or wont I; weighing up options.
You want to buy, but you don’t want to part with that hard-earned, especially when a better deal could be out there, on that horizon, a horizon stupendously extended by digital media, a multitude of consumer possibilities.
Research shows that people in this stage - deliberating, mulling & wondering - tend to seek advice, counsel, and opinions of fellow consumers. They scroll through review websites, binge on price comparison websites, and seek feedback; feedback from peers, from fellow consumers, and from the public.
This is where social media comes in. For a business, social networking sites are not merely an invaluable promotional tool, they are a fantastic way to engage directly with customers, to allow your existing customers to give you positive rapport, positive feedback, and become brand ambassadors for your company.
An exciting well-maintained social media page, with droves of engaged followers - all sharing, reacting and commenting on exciting, witty and engaging posts, videos, links and pictures - is marketing gold, especially in this crucial evaluative stage, where people want their preferences collaborated by members of the public.
A social site with thousands of followers, with interesting and informative posts, sooth anxieties, reassures nerves, and addresses objections.
When it comes to social media, digital marketers are fond of the following motto: “(in digital marketing ) you don’t market at the customer, you market with it”.
The purchasing funnel model is outdated, and one way of adapting to this new new post-funnel world is embracing the above motto. Let your customers do the talking. For customers evaluating, itching whether to buy or not, they want feedback from fellow customers, and social media sites are a fantastic way to do it. You just have to embrace it.
Hope this helps, and if you require any more asistance, I am at your service, as always!