In the late 90’s, Yahoo commission a thorough customer insights study on how insurance is purchased. Titled “The Long and Winding Road”, the study pointed out that the customer journey from awareness to purchase is no longer a funnel. It is, in fact, a winding path that often backtracks for seemingly no reason.
When it was first introduced, search marketing was fairly straightforward. You optimised keyword strategies for products, purchased the most relevant keywords, tracked the search patterns, and made adjustments whenever need be. Today the situation is far more complex.
The vast democratisation of consumer electronics access has opened a Pandora’s box of complexity, ushering in new devices and platforms. The paths to search have grown to include smartphones, social media, and location-based search marketing. This has changed the once static search equation into a web of variables. And so, the customer journey map can no longer be visually represented as a funnel. It is now and forever shall be, a winding path.
Based on our data working with clients in the MENA region, five insights emerge:
1. Search Still Matters
Obviously, we are a digital agency, but even more than that the data reflects that search based queries hold the greatest significance with the economics of the customer. Customer insights show that people now rely on search to keep themselves abreast of all the options.
2. Content Needs to aid Research
Prospective shoppers turn to social media and publishers to understand whether a purchase is trending or worth their time, with groups and communities, and forums playing a big role in trying to magnetise advocacy.
3. Relevance is King
Information that is relevant to the search combined with a call to action that is visually and texturally enticing will result in sales. We are seeing more situations where conversions shoot up with site visitors are told that the outlet is near them and a customised gift is waiting for them.
4. Data is Gone
Response rates to our forms show that millennial customer segments are happy to share personal information if it is exchanged for offers that match their needs and goals. A customer today is an advocate tomorrow and a loyalist the day after that. Meet them half way and you’ll be happy with the results.
5. Think Omnichannel
As with #3, be prepared to take the search experience offline and absorb the aftermath of the social links it generates. People are eager for social currency and the best place to milk it is at the POS.