When it comes to the customer experience, marketers are no longer in the driver’s seat. Customers now sit behind the wheel and dictate when and how they want to engage with brands—making the shopper’s journey less of a linear road.
Goodyear‘s path to purchase exemplifies this. At Conductor’s C3 2015 event in New York, Molly Ware, Goodyear’s senior interactive marketing lead, said that consumers can engage with up to 14 different touchpoints throughout their journey to buy tires.
“Consumer behavior is so different now,” she said, emphasizing the demand for instantaneous information.
Mobile is a key culprit in making the shopper’s journey so erratic. Consider the following: A survey by Gallup, an analytics provider and consultancy, shows that 72% of the more than 15,700 Americans surveyed say they check their phone once an hour or more. Plus, data from digital marketing technology provider Criteo reveals that mobile accounted for, on average, 29% of U.S. retail e-commerce transactions in Q1 2015.
Ware knows that mobile’s influence isn’t going away any time soon and that marketers will have to continue to adjust their strategies to keep up. “Mobile has changed how we go to market and how we do business,” she said. For Goodyear, one of these changes involves focusing more on micro-moments.
Micro-moments are small occurrences throughout the shopper journey during which consumers are ready to act. Search engine company Google narrows these moments down to four key categories: want-to-know moments, want-to-go moments, want-to-do moments, and want-to-buy moments.
To help marketers make the most of these moments, Ware broke down these categories and shared how Goodyear—and others—can capitalize on each one. Here are her thoughts.
I-want-to-know moments occur during the research phase of the purchase journey. “This is the ‘I want you to make me a better me’ moment,” Ware explained. During this moment, marketers need to focus more on educating the customer, Ware said, and less on the hard sell.
Customers can enter this phase anytime, anywhere. So, marketers need to ensure that customers can find the information they’re looking for via any channel. To succeed on this front, marketers first need to ask themselves what kind of content the customer might be seeking. In Goodyear’s case, Ware noted, this would include answers to the following questions: How do I know if I need new tires? Where do I buy them? How do I check my air pressure?
And because customers may be seeking this information on the go, Ware advised marketers to assess the current state of their mobile sites, such as by benchmarking their speeds or by doing a gap analysis.
“You only get the one chance,” she said, “and if you’re not ready to capitalize on that moment, you may not get another one.”
These moments occur when customers search for local places that offer specific products or services—such as a restaurant for food or a gas station for oil changes. Considering that not all customers know how to put tires on their vehicles, it’s especially important that Goodyear’s tire shops show up in the search results during this phase, Ware said.
In fact, Ware advised all marketers to search their own products and locations to get a better sense of where they show up in the search results. She also stressed the importance of ensuring that all of the information tied to each location is accurate—especially for paid search ads. And for brands with separate websites for each store location, make sure that these sites are cohesive so that they’re more “brother, sister” than “distant cousins,” she said.
Today’s customers are self-sufficient. In fact, a 2013 study by digital agency Deloitte Digital found that 59% of the more than 2,000 U.S. consumers surveyed would rather look up a product’s price on their device than ask a sales associate (17%). Likewise, 51% of consumers would prefer to check a product’s availability on their own device, versus 22% who’d rather talk to an employee. So, when a consumer is ready to do something—like install a product or make a minor repair—marketers need to give him the tools he needs to act on his own.
YouTube videos and step-by-step how-to guides can be great customer resources, Ware said. When creating this content, she added, consider the kinds of questions and keywords customers might be typing into a search engine. Better yet, answer questions customers didn’t even know they had. For example, Goodyear created a step-by-step guide for its penny test: a way for people to check whether they need to replace their tires with the use of a coin.
Once again, Ware encouraged marketers to type their content’s keywords into a search engine to better determine where their brand shows up within the search results. She also encouraged them to go the extra mile and develop a full-fledged content strategy.
When a customer is ready to buy, marketers need to ensure that their site is fast and secure. After all, a study by real-time insights and analysis provider Neustar shows that 78% of the more than 750 U.S. adults surveyed worry about a company’s level of security when its site performance is slow. Likewise, 67% of respondents start to distrust a brand when its website’s load time is too long.
To avoid these issues, Ware encouraged marketers to benchmark their speeds for both their desktop and mobile sites. She also urged them to ensure that the information presented online matches in-store details. Finally, she said make sure that customers aren’t hunting around for any last-minute information they may need. Make it easily accessible.
How to get started:
Ware admitted that Goodyear is just at the beginning stages of its micro-moments marketing and that the organization is hoping to do more in 2016. Right now, the tire company is starting to build out a modern customer journey, she said, and pinpoint any gaps in opportunities for engagement. But at least it’s a start.
Here are Ware’s six tips for how marketers can get their start, too.
1. Identify the moments that matter most to the organization, and determine which ones the brand has to win, as well as which ones are OK to lose.
2. Try to better understand the target audience and their needs; also, see how those needs relate to the company’s product and service.
3. Know the keywords customers use when searching at each stage of the buyer’s journey. Sometimes little nuances make a big difference. For example, Ware noticed that customers were searching for “snow tires” even though Goodyear marketed this product as “winter tires.”
4. Use site analytics to better understand usage. This can help marketers troubleshoot problems, such as where customers drop off when filling out online forms or how to better optimize the online experience, Ware said.
5. Find out what the company’s current desktop and mobile site speeds are and then benchmark them—not only against others in the industry, but also against all online leaders. As Ware put it, “It’s not just who your competitors are, it’s who else is selling online.”
6. Start small. Adopting a new marketing approach takes time. Ware encouraged marketers to start by focusing on what makes the most sense for the organization.