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Understanding path to purchase

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Marketers must enhance landing experiences, not only on their own websites, but also across external Web spaces. Here’s why.

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Understanding path to purchase

  1. 1.            Understanding  Path  to  Purchase  Pushkar  Sane    Marketers  must  enhance  landing  experiences,  not  only  on  their  own  websites,  but  also  across  external  Web  spaces.  Here’s  why.   www.pushkarsane.com  |  @PushkarSane  |  me@pushkarsane.com  |  www.pushkar.co    
  2. 2. [UNDERSTANDING  PATH  TO  PURCHASE]        Currently   my   wife   and   I   are   in-­‐market   for   two   very   different   high-­‐involvement  products   –   a   video   camera   and   a   baby   stroller.   We   started   my   exploration   online  through  search  and  landed  up  on  various  review  sites,  social  forums,  shopping  sites,  and  every  once  in  a  while  on  the  landing  pages  of  brand  websites.  Our  search  was  done  in  English  but  in  almost  all  cases  we  landed  on  Chinese  pages  of  brand  websites  because  the  search  originated  from  Hong  Kong.  Additionally,  we  struggled  to  find  the  English   content   link   from   these   landing   pages   and   finally   left   the   sites   utterly  frustrated.   Contrary   to   this,   my   experience   on   third-­‐party   non-­‐branded   sites   was  great.   We   got   quite   a   lot   of   information   on   product   attributes,   quality,   comparisons,  price   points,   maintenance,   etc.   Simultaneously,   we   posted   questions   to   our   close  friends  on  social  platforms  and  they  were  kind  enough  to  provide  us  information  or  opinion  in  no  time.  At  the  end  of  it  we  were  thoroughly  informed  and  could  easily  come  up  with  a  short  list  of  brands  that  we  wanted  to  consider.    As   a   next   step,   we   decided   to   visit   individual   brand   stores   and   multi-­‐brand   mega  stores.  Our  first  port  of  call  was  individual  brand  stores  and  we  were  quite  excited  before   we   stepped   in.   We   were   impressed   with   the   store   interiors   and   that   led   to  high  hopes  only  to  be  dashed  in  a  matter  of  minutes.  Information  at  the  store  level  was  quite  different  than  what  was  available  on  the  Internet.  The  sales  people  were  inadequate   to   answer   our   questions   regarding   competitive   advantages   of   their  products,  as  they  were  blissfully  unaware  of  what  the  competition  was  offering  and  almost   all   of   them   were   quick   to   ridicule   their   competition.   They   kept   telling   us  things   we   already   knew   or   were   not   interested   in   knowing.   In   fact,   none   of   them  bothered  to  ask  us  whether  we  knew  anything  about  their  brands.    Needless   to   say   our   disappointment   pushed   us   toward   multi-­‐brand   stores   and   we  encountered  utter  chaos  as  we  stepped  in.  It  took  us  some  time  before  we  could  get  a   sales   person   to   demonstrate   various   competitive   products   to   us.   While   we   could  see   multi-­‐brand   demonstrations,   it   left   us   even   more   confused   as   the   sales   people  gave  us  contradictory  information  compared  to  what  we  read  on  the  Internet  or  saw  at  the  brand-­‐stores.  We  had  no  other  choice  but  to  go  back  online  and  tap  into  our  social  circles  to  clear  our  confusion.  We  felt  like  a  pendulum  oscillating  between  two  points   and   finally   after   a   couple   of   swings   from   online   to   on-­‐ground   we   reached   a  conclusion  on  what  to  buy.    It  made  me  think  about  the  way  marketers  manage  consumer  experience  along  the  path   to   purchase.   For   many   years,   I   have   seen   marketers   visualising   it   in   a   linear  manner   –   a   simple   journey   from   Point   A(wareness)   to   Point   P(urchase)   with   a   few  stations   in   between   (engagement,   consideration,   intent,   etc.).   It   is   safely   assumed  that  in  order  to  reach  the  destination  (purchase)  people  must  travel  through  all  the  stations   and   marketers   largely   use   paid   media   to   push   people   towards   the   final   www.pushkarsane.com  |  @PushkarSane  |  me@pushkarsane.com  |  www.pushkar.co  
  3. 3. [UNDERSTANDING  PATH  TO  PURCHASE]      destination  –  point  of  purchase.  In  reality,  path  to  purchase  is  no  longer  linear.  It  is  networked  and  changes  in  real  time  based  on  new  information.  It  is  quite  complex  (and   chaotic)   with   multiple   entry   and   exit   points   –   almost   like   a   jumbled   up   Tube  (train)  system  in  any  modern  metropolis.    This   change   has   created   some   significant   challenges   for   brands   in   terms   of   where  they   land   consumers.   There   are   many   reasons   why   consumers   come   to   your   site   but  there  is  a  key  reason  why  they  leave  you  –  mismatch  of  expectations.  When  it  comes  to   digital,   most   marketers   still   focus   on   landing   consumers   to   their   own   brand  websites  so  that  they  can  control  things.  Unfortunately,  most  brand  sites  alone  are  unable   to   deliver   on   all   expectations.   Also,   marketers   no   longer   exclusively   own   or  control   their   brand   content   as   it   gets   created   and   distributed   by   a   wide   range   of  stake   holders   –   consumers,   dealers,   analysts,   experts,   competition,   and   even  employees.   In   effect,   consumers   have   more   chances   to   land   on   externally   created  brand  content.  The  social  Web  is  making  it  even  more  interesting  as  you  can  get  all  the   information   streamed   to   you   through   your   social   circle.   So,   it   is   important   for  marketers   to   think   about   enhancing   landing   experiences,   not   only   on   their   own  websites  but  also  across  external  Web  spaces.    Most   importantly,   the   concept   of   landing   pages   must   extend   to   on-­‐ground  experiences,   because   in   almost   all   high-­‐involvement   categories   consumers   want   to  touch/feel   products   before   they   can   make   the   decision.   In   my   observation,   very  rarely   are   digital   and   on-­‐ground   brand   experiences   well   coordinated,   as   they   are  often   handled   by   two   different   agencies   or   marketing   teams.   Needless   to   say,  consumers  suffer  rough  landings  leading  to  high  dissonance.    It   inspires   me   to   draw   a   parallel   from   aviation   –   take   off,   flying,   and   landing.  Currently   I   see   our   industry   largely   focusing   on   ‘take-­‐offs’   (awareness)   and   ‘flying’  (engagement).   We   need   to   move   beyond   and   focus   on   mastering   the   ‘art   of   landing’  –   online   and   on-­‐ground   –   so   that   we   can   deliver   a   meaningful   brand   experience.  Remember,   you   don’t   get   a   pat   on   your   back   by   flying   the   plane   unless   you   know  how  to  land  it  well.                     (Originally  published  in  ClickZ.Asia  on  14  October  2010)   www.pushkarsane.com  |  @PushkarSane  |  me@pushkarsane.com  |  www.pushkar.co