In a perfect world, the customer journey would be simple. Hear about a product -> Buy said product. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world, and customers go through a lengthy process before determining whether they should purchase a product. Customers search for reviews, research companies, ask others about their experience, watch YouTube videos, etc. Social data can significantly influence this customer journey, and so it is important that at each stage of the customer journey, the social media user-generated content and social sharing work are impactful touchpoints. In this blog post, we will look at the stages of the customer journey and social data’s impact on optimizing the customer journey.
Social media has been a popular and highly effective tool for building brand awareness. Social media offers Pay per click campaigns such as Instagram and Facebook Ads that can be highly effective in getting your brand and content to new members of your intended target audience who may have never heard of your brand. For example, the brand Elemis is known primarily by avid cruisers within the age range 50-85 years old; however, the product itself is intended for anyone within that age range and not specifically cruisers. Through the use of social media ads, Elemis has reached many other persons within the targeted age range and outside of the cruise ship frequenters. Social media ads allow the brand to identify their target audience based on demographic information so that you can connect with those users and ultimately receive lead data. Through the process of receiving lead data, you are also able to monitor aspects of your campaign, such as keywords for your brand and monitoring your mentions to see how effective your campaign is.
Most users, myself included research online before making a purchase. The quickest and easiest way to get information on a company in recent times has been social media. As a consumer myself, I have spent hours watching YouTube reviews of various items and the viral “Things On Amazon You Didn’t Know You Needed” videos. Many consumers rely on reviews like these from their peers to see what other customers are saying about a brand or product. This relates to last week’s blog post and the principle of persuasion; Liking. Persons are more willing to purchase a product if they see or hear someone liked or relatable supporting the product. In this stage, the brand should focus on educating the consumer about the value the product would add to their life. Instead of viewing the product as a want, the content generated by the brand should instead highlight the product as a need. To monitor this, the brand should measure topics and sentiments using sentiment analysis. This will allow the brand to quickly see how consumers feel about the product and categorize the sentiments and mentions. Consumers who provide sentiments would be the consumers who know enough about the brand to decipher whether they like or dislike it, and those sentiments may influence the decision of future purchasers.
Purchasing sometimes requires the brand to give an extra nudge or that final push to convince the consumer to leap. Social media is a great tool to give consumers that final nudge. Many websites now have pop-ups either when you get on the website or about to leave, offering you a discount code for your first purchase. Many brands also post exclusive coupons through their social media pages. Many times consumers become aware of the brand and have done the research; the item may even be in their cart, but they need that final nudge to make the purchase, and seeing a tweet or Instagram post about a current or upcoming sale is sometimes just the final push they need. Discounts and coupons are not the only way a brand can nudge potential customers; however, another effective way is by highlighting real customer photos to show that others are enjoying the product and endorsing the brand. This builds brand trust within potential customers and can build brand loyalty within existing customers.
It is so important that brands do not neglect customers after they have completed the purchase stage. Building and maintaining a relationship with existing customers builds brand loyalty, a guaranteed income source for the brand. Prioritizing customer experiences through social media monitoring tools like Hootsuite can ensure the brand stays engaged with customers and builds a good rapport through social media while also providing good customer service.
Implementing loyalty programs, responding to customers’ mentions about the brand, and comments on the brand’s content will nurture loyalty and incentivize things like social sharing to allow the brand to maintain a relationship with existing customers and attract new customers into the awareness stage.
Loyal fans will most likely advocate for your brand through referrals and building your online community through social sharing and mentions. This is free promotion for the brand who can share the customers’ posts and reviews as content and reach new audiences at the same time. Referral programs using software such as Smile.io are a great way of tracking new customers that may have come around through advocacy.
Social Media can be impactful in each stage of the consumer journey. Combined with traditional forms of marketing, it can be compelling in creating and fostering strong relationships with customers. In recent times, social sharing has been the most impactful way of getting customers aware of a brand or product and getting them to convert and should be taken full advantage of at each stage of the customer journey. Data gathered through social media, and social media tools can allow the brand to understand the customers’ mindset. They can help the brand adapt their products, content, campaigns, services, or processes to better the experience of the consumer and increase conversion rates.