The fast rise of smartphones and tablets has marked a fundamental change in the way in which consumers access information online; this, in turn, means brands must find new ways to track people's path to purchase.
The internet is ubiquitous, seeping further into every facet of our daily life. The past five years have brought a dramatic change in the digital landscape. Mobile computing technology, no longer in its infancy, has led to the rise of the smartphone and the tablet computer and has changed how consumers work and spend their leisure time.
Recent findings by Research Now showed that a massive 86% of smartphone users employ their device while listening to music, watching TV, surfing the internet or working. As consumers shift their time away from their PC to tablets and smartphones, they will no longer see the PC as the single source to access information online.
So how has this affected consumers and their mindsets? With all these new methods of consuming media, has the mindset of a consumer changed?
With such a multitude of connected devices at their disposal, people are checking emails before getting up, surfing the internet on their commute and then spending all day at work connected; and the cycle continues in the reverse order after work. The "always-on" culture that has grown over the past few years has profound implications for brands, marketers and consumers alike.
We’ve discovered that the consumer path to purchase is now more complex, especially given so many touchpoints with brands via different media.
First, we need to understand the AIDA principle; awareness, interest, desire and action. By applying this to a funnel structure and researching consumer behaviour, we are able to identify touchpoints from a consumer’s search behaviour to their reviewing of products online via smart devices or PCs. Eventually, we understand the key influencers to building their desire to purchase and virtually follow their purchase process, either online or in store. By using this process, we’re able to gather greater insight into the consumer’s mind.
One such insight is the incredible power of mobile search. At Research Now we discovered that nine out of 10 mobile searches lead to action, and more than half of those actions then result in a purchase. The reality of this is that mobile is now one of the key path-to-purchase touchpoints and brands must understand this and use mobile efficiently. We are already seeing a good degree of adoption from retailers and brands equally, and this is evidenced in their expenditure on mobile marketing and strategies.
However, what remains to be addressed is how to track the consumer’s path. There are many ways to do so and we have been working to build solutions to help brands and retailers tap into this gold mine. We studied holiday shopping behaviour in the UK with a combination of behavioural data tracking to understand "what they saw or did online via mobile or PCs", "when they did what they did" and "where were they at that point of interaction/activity". We used an online and mobile survey to understand their results, to follow their decision-making process and their purchase experience online or in store.
Similarly, we ran a project with one of our clients, to understand how interactions and touchpoints influenced consumers’ purchase and consumption decisions for beverages.
What we found from these projects, and a few others on this theme that confirmed our hypothesis, is that to understand consumers’ path to purchase we must consider understanding the non-declared behavioural patterns and a mix of online and mobile surveys to understand the attitudinal aspects.
Behavioural data should be tracked both online [via PCs] and on mobile. We also recommend using tools to establish and study mobile and online ad effectiveness to further the insights we can collect, and enrich the understanding of consumers’ mindsets, and, more importantly, their decision influencers.
In 2012, we predicted that the widespread availability of mobile and wi-fi technologies and the confirmed enthusiasm of social users was paving the way to a new approach to delivering content, "just in time", and the marriage of business and consumers with brands "near you". That was SoLoMo [the amalgamation of SOcial+ LOcation + MObile]. We now take this a step further and suggest that, for brands and retailers to get a holistic, 360° view of their consumers, we must consider using a combination of ad effectiveness, behavioural and attitudinal data collected both online and on mobile. This will transform into mainstream focus as we progress in 2013 and into 2014.
Nimit Trivedi is client development director at Research Now Mobile EMEA
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