Change – Not Adapt To – The Consumer Decision Journey

There’s a lot of talk around the Consumer/Customer Decision Journey lately. People are recognizing it is an important part of the Customer Journey. From my own research I learn it is even the part that is as important to overall Customer Satisfaction and willingness to recommend as is satisfaction with your core product/service (e.g. handling claims for the insurance industry).

A couple of weeks ago, in my post “Don’t Take The Customer Decision Journey For Granted“, I argued that it is time we start putting our money where our mouth is and really dig into helping Consumers make their purchase decisions in favor of just luring them into our funnels. Not an easy task, if only for the myths that surround the theme.

Do you recognize any of these statements from within your company? :

“It’s a fact based world now. You just need to follow their (on-line) behavior and be where your Customers are”

“we know exactly what consumers come to our website for, we have Google analytics to prove that”

“we know exactly what Consumers search for and organize our SEO-strategy accordingly”

If you do, you need to be on your toes and try understand what proof is underneath and how people come to these conclusions.

Now, I don’t know whether they are true, or not, for your organization, they could be, but I can tell you from my own experience and discussions I’ve had with other organizations on the topic, that the Consumer Decision Journey is more layered (avoiding the word complex here, but feel free) and unique to each Consumer than these statements make you think.

The data-trail is a consequence of the data-trail
First of I think it’s important to understand that any stops on the Customers current path to purchase is made because of what touch-points are currently offered on the path to purchase. If your strategy is based on the data-trail coming from that, you’ll never change it. It will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. All you’ll be trapped in is a race to the highest bidder for key-words, (re-targeted) ads and what have you.

And since many others do the same an entire industry can develop what’s called a ‘best practice’. Yet, an industry ‘best-practice’ doesn’t mean it is the best practice from a Customer’s point of view.

Short-cutting the story data tells
The same applies to your own web-site. If most people land on your product-configurator (or whatever you think the first step into the funnel is), it doesn’t mean the most wanted thing to do on your web-site is configuring products. It means that the most people land on your product-configurator page, nothing more, nothing less. Probably because your affiliate partners link to that, and your banners and the search-results of your SEO-strategy.

In this day and age it is becoming increasingly more easy to understand how people end up on your web-site and where they came from. In the not so far away future you will be able to link a web-site visit to a call into the contact center or a visit to the store. All of that is pretty useless still, if you have no clue why they are there, what the job is they are trying to get done when stopping by.

Change, not adapt
And if you continue following nothing but the data-trail, you may get some hints on how to improve an existing touch-point, but you’ll fail to recognize any new touch-points (fit for the job Consumers are trying to do, not just you!) you may need to design to gain more than incremental improvement of the Consumer’s Decision Journey.

If you want to see a change in the data-trail and in the performance of your (cross-channel) marketing efforts you need to start changing your approach to the Consumer Decision Journey, not adapting your approach to the purely data-based version of it!

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