It is about time all marketers finally accept the way technology is changing how their customers make purchase decisions. Specifically, marketers must understand and embrace the realization that the combination of Internet access and mobile device applications has led to a society of Connected Customers, who seek information, shop for products, and converse with others in ways that are far different than how customers performed these activities just a few years ago.
Yet, surprisingly many companies have not developed a rational strategy to address how their customers have changed. Considering the Internet has been used effectively by marketers since 1994 and mobile devices have evolved to become an indispensable communication tool, any organization without a strategy to utilize these for marketing is likely missing significant opportunities, while also opening the organization to potential threats.
In this special two part series, we discuss 10 reasons why marketers must make the Connected Customer a vital part of their overall marketing strategy. In Part 1, we examine reasons 1 through 5.
1. The Go-To Place for Information
Possibly the most important reason why companies need to include the Internet and mobile technology in marketing strategy is because of the transformation that has occurred in how customers seek information. While customers still visit stores, talk to sales representatives, look through magazines, and discuss product information with friends, an ever-increasing number of customers turn to the Internet and mobile applications as their primary knowledge source. In particular, they use search engines as their principle portal of knowledge as search sites have become the leading destination for anyone seeking information. Additionally, the growth of social media has led to these sites becoming powerful venues for product information and recommendations. Finally, customers are increasingly accessing information via mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, which also provide additional information retrieval options through specialized data applications. Marketers must recognize that the Internet and mobile technology are where customers are heading first for information and, if the marketer wants to stay visible and viable, they must follow.
2. What Customers Expect
The Internet and mobile applications are not only becoming the resource of choice for finding information, these are also the expected location where customers can learn about products and make purchases. This is especially the case for customers below the age of 30. In many countries, nearly all children and young adults have been raised knowing how to use the Internet and mobile technology. Once members of this group dominate home and business purchases they will clearly expect companies to have a strong Internet and mobile presence.
3. Captures a Wide Range of Customer Information
As a data collection tool, the Internet and mobile technology are unmatched when it comes to providing information on customer activity. For instance, each time a visitor accesses a website they leave an information trail that includes how they got to the site, how they navigated through the site, what they clicked on, what was purchased, and loads of other information. When matched with methods for customer identification, such as login information, the marketer has the ability to track a customer’s activity over repeated visits to the site. Knowing a customer’s behavior and preferences opens up tremendous opportunities to cater to a customer’s needs and, if done correctly, the customer will respond with long-lasting loyalty.
4. Allows for Extreme Target Marketing
The most efficient way for marketers to spend money is to direct spending to those who are most likely to be interested in what the marketer is offering. Unfortunately, efforts to target only customers who have the highest probably of buying has not been easy. For example, consider how much money is wasted on television advertisements to people who probably will not buy. Yet, the unrivaled ability of websites and mobile devices to identify and track customers has greatly improved marketers’ skills in targeting customers who exhibit the highest potential for purchasing products. Because of today’s targeting technologies, marketing techniques for reaching the Connect Customer offer most marketers a more effective and efficient use of marketing funds compared to traditional targeting methods.
5. Stimulates Impulse Purchases
Whether customers like it or not, the Internet and mobile technology are proving to be the ultimate venue for inducing impulse purchases. Much of this can be attributed to marketers taking advantage of improvements in: 1) technologies that offer product suggestions based on a customer's behavior when using browsing the Internet or using a mobile device; and 2) technologies that streamline the purchasing process. But online and mobile impulse purchasing also takes advantage of the "purchase now, pay later" attitude common in an overspending credit card society. How this plays out over time, as many customers become overwhelmed with debt, will need to be watched and could impact marketers' activities.
Image by Laura G.Robé