The more our everyday lives become digitalised, the more potential touchpoints and forms of interaction are available – whether these be new hype apps like TikTok, language assistants and chatbots or networked cars. In order to successfully reach consumers on their customer journey through these, they must be specifically selected and managed. In doing so we have the chance to personalise individual points of contact according to the wishes and needs of the customer; this is how the relevance and attractiveness of a brand can be increased. At the same time the risk of missing the targeted customer also increases. Here, one thing is absolutely clear: the classic scattershot advertising approach, in which the target group is steadily bombarded on all media channels, no longer works in the digital age. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to understand this, however, and recognise the spheres of influence which result from this. This is because people’s media use is growing more and more complex and dynamic. Empirical values also have an ever-shorter half-life. Digitalisation makes many things possible. Apart from one thing, however: it can’t compensate for the lack of a strategic marketing concept. Nor does data alone create brand ideas that enthuse people. Especially in times of big data you first of all need a brilliant idea. A bright spark that can electrify the consumer and fire his or her enthusiasm.
Here, it’s hugely important to understand that customers’ decision-making behaviour has also changed. In the digital age brand managers must define a clear role for their brand in the lives of their customers more than ever before. You can then successfully model your digital brand experience on this basis. And one more thing: customers now expect a continuous and consistent brand experience across all touchpoints throughout their entire customer journey. From their perspective it’s irrelevant whether these touchpoints are analogue or digital. The smartphone app, online shop and smart TV are just as much part of this as the call centre, printed ad in the newspaper or the check-out at a high-street branch.
From monologue to dialogue
At the same time communication is no longer onesided – namely from the brand to the consumer. Customers provide feedback, voice their expectations and presume that these will also be quickly taken into account. The monologue has become a dialogue. Your customers exchange their views on brands, products and services to a great extent on social media. They read reports and ratings or watch test videos made by other customers. According to the annual Nielsen global trust in advertising report, 83 % of those surveyed nowadays trust in recommendations made by people they know. This makes this source of information one of the most significant factors influencing what a person buys.
There are more important and less important points of contact where brands can have a considerable influence on the consumer’s decision to buy.
It’s thus essential that you find out which challenges or frustrations in the lives of your customers fuel their needs. Your strategy should also take into consideration the actual use phase of a product, loyalty and the decision to rebuy. This allows innovative products and services to be developed which give consumers added value and at the same time create new growth potential for your company. Only by observing the customer in the context of various contact points will his or her situation-specific needs really become visible. For brand managers it’s often not immediately apparent where they should begin. Instead of tackling everything at once, however, it’s worth taking a look at the moments which have the biggest impact on the overall experience. Analyse the different touchpoints and identify those which have an above-average effect on your targets. Find a point of contact which has resulted in a negative experience for some customers, for example. Invest in the customer experience here so that this touchpoint will be perceived positively in the future. The design requirements differ in this respect: Facebook adheres to rules which diverge from those of Instagram or Twitter as their users are from different age groups, have other motives and follow specific patterns of behaviour. Every contact between a person and a brand affects the brand experience in a special way. The marketing challenge here is to identify a suitable mix of contact points and design these effectively in the interests of the brand. At best each point of contact with a company is a positive brand experience. Regardless of whether in the physical or virtual world: there are limitless opportunities to involve people through a company’s numerous channels and platforms and attract them to a brand.
Always know what the customer wants
What’s important is that companies analyse precisely where and how potential customers and brand fans make their decisions. Brand managers today therefore need a detailed picture of their customers’ behaviour, requirements and digital ecosystem. They must accurately recognise a (potential) customer in his or her everyday environment and draw up measures accordingly. In doing so the traditional marketing funnel no longer adequately describes consumer contact points and chief factors in their decision to buy. This is because the possible ways of searching for a product, gaining information on it and purchasing it have changed. Today, discerning, well-informed consumers come across a multitude of product selection options and digital channels. Seen from the company perspective there are more important and less important points of contact where brands can have a considerable influence on the decision to buy.