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Consumer Touchpoints for the Digital Generation - Hansveen Kaur, Batch: 2004 - 2006

Consumer Touchpoints for the Digital Generation

New technology, changing paradigms, higher purchasing powers, growing aspirations, always ‘plugged –in’ profiles and other such trends are changing the way the new generation of consumers search for and purchase products. Digital touchpoints now play a special role in completing the purchase cycle. And there is a whole host of touchpoints that retailers/brands now need to look at to target the consumers.

The biggest challenge for any brand now days, is to elevate the customer experience through increased digital interaction and engagement.

It’s my friend’s birthday next week & till day before I hadn’t purchased a gift for her. I didn’t have the time to go to a store to get one! And what follows next is about my experience as a customer and how various digital touchpoints played an important role - especially when I came across all this in a single day to purchase the right gift.

SEO

8.45am: While getting into my car to leave for work, I saw my neighbour carrying a pretty handbag and thought, maybe this could make a great birthday gift for my friend.

10am: I searched on Google for Women’s Handbags. An e-commerce site was the first organic listing!

Search Engines are often the starting point for any purchase! And brands want their site to show up when consumers are searching for the product. SEO, Search Engine Optimization, if incorporated well, is the first consumer touchpoint.

  • Relevant Keywords – Appropriate keywords should be included in the SEO process. Think of keywords as the search query terms that the consumer would type into Google to find the products.

  • Optimize the website - Optimizing a website may involve editing its content, HTML and associated coding to both increase its relevance to specific keywords and to remove barriers to the indexing activities of search engines. Promoting a site to increase the number of backlinks, or inbound links, is another SEO tactic.

Website Experience

10am: I clicked on that e-commerce site and was impressed by the layout and easy navigation. I clicked through many images until a Fuschia colored Tote Bag caught my eye.

A company’s website is the first impression of the company to most consumers. So it’s important that the brand send out the right message on the first impression.

  • Consistent navigation – Clear and consistent navigation is especially important if users are directed to a specific page on the site via an advertisement. Including a search bar on every page helps.

  • Remove distractions – If the site features annoying pop-ups or flashing promotions that appear while he is continuing his search, it might actually be driving away the consumer.

  • Focus on images – Especially for all online sales, including rotate and zoom options for images etc. allows consumers to see all sides of a product, which reduces doubt and questions about a product’s appearance.

Customer Service

11am: I asked a colleague about her experience with that e-commerce brand. She replied, ”Oh I order all the time from them. They have great variety & great deals. Customer service has never been an issue, especially if I had to return something and get refunds.”

Word-of-mouth marketing can be far more influential than advertising. In fact, a research says almost 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations, while only 33% trust advertisements. And to earn that trust, you need exceptional customer service.

  • Personal touch – While everything is online & technology driven, 'human aspect' should never be missed out. Technology makes it easy to automate processes, but at the end of the day, humans like personal touch.

  • Clear and Transparent Policies – Every person representing the brand, right from all customer-facing staff in contact centres, retail outlets and order-processing departments should understand and comply with company’s customer service standards. Policies such as returns, delivery charges and shipment-tracking options should be consistent across all channels.

Social Media

1:30pm: At lunch, I searched for reviews on the e-commerce brand’s Facebook page

Social Media has completely changed the way we consume content & know about brands. Consumers often navigate to a brand’s social media page to learn more about the brand.

It isn’t just about sharing photos or letting people know where you are holidaying. Social media is quickly evolving into an extremely powerful medium for brands — to not only generate brand awareness, but to also connect with consumers.

  • Direct Interaction - A direct interface with consumers through a Retweet or a Like, can go a long way in creating a ‘connect’ with them.

  • Strengthen brand’s position - Providing helpful content or industry information can quickly elevate brand’s reputation with the consumers. Sometimes, just providing helpful tips can be the thing to do.

  • Customer Service - When a brand creates social media profile, it is effectively adding another service channel for the customers. It is important that the brand listens and offers solutions to customers — even the ones leaving negative feedback and responds timely.

Passive Channels of creating Demand

3pm: While checking the weather during a break in a meeting, a display ad from that same e-commerce brand is exhibited on my phone.

Depending on what consumers are doing online, brands target them differently. Often they entice them back into the shopping process by using passive demand channels. For example: Display ads reach consumers who have shown previous interest in a product but aren’t actively searching at that exact moment. The ad may act as a trigger to finally make a purchase.

  • Retargeting - It is a cookie-based tracking technology that anonymously follows you around the web. For example: A consumer clicked through to the brand’s site, and the brand is trying to regain their attention, targeted ad copy such as “You left something in your cart!” could bring them back.

  • Display Ads - Advertisements for the brand on other websites. These can help keep the brand be visible and alive in consumers’ minds while they’re between purchases.

  • Affiliate Advertising – It targets consumers with interests related to brand’s sales. These consumers like to browse and might just need a gentle nudge back into the shopping cycle.

Active Channels of creating Demand

5:30pm: While leaving office, I searched for ‘<Brand name> Fuschia Tote Bag’ on my phone and clicked on the first Product Listing Ad (PLA), which took me, to the same e-commerce brand’s site.

This clear search for a product — by consumers who have made a purchase decision, or will be making one soon — is known as active demand. During this critical stage, these types of shoppers may be more receptive to advertising and products being placed in front of them. So it’s crucial that the brand is seen at this point in the process.

  • Paid Search Ads - These appear on a search engine results page and are based on bids that correspond to shoppers’ search queries. These ads target consumers who are actively looking for something the brand is selling. Keywords play a significant role here.

  • Product ads - These are an effective way to reach customers looking for specific products.

Mobile-Friendly Site

6pm: While on my way back, I purchased the Fuschia Tote Bag from the same e-commerce brand’s mobile friendly site.

As per a report by Economic Times, mobile transactions are slowly picking up among the consumers with the rise in number of Smartphone users in India. In FY 2015, cashless transactions through mobile banking amounted to Rs. 1 lakh crore which is not that great but still it’s the fastest growing payment option. However, the numbers will improve as it is expected to reach 100 million customers using mobile wallet in the country during the span of next 5 years as Smartphone users in India will grow with time using better connectivity options.

For many brands, the chances are that people are already visiting the brand’s site on their phones and tablets. And a great mobile interface can crack the sale there & then!

  • Responsive web design - A site with responsive design adjusts to fit all devices by automatically reconfiguring the site’s layout and proportion.

  • Short menu - All items in the main menu should be visible on a single page. Accessibility and speed are crucial for mobile users.

  • Guest checkout - This is especially important for mobile users who expect a quick checkout and want to skip the registration process.

Email Communication

6:05pm: I received an order confirmation e-mail in my inbox with invoice from the e-commerce brand

A powerful touchpoint where a brand instils faith in the consumer that his purchases have been acknowledged, order punched and sale made. This leads to increased trust amongst consumer for the brand.

Email Communication is not just limited to the sales confirmation, but henceforth can be utilized well by the brand.

  • Targeted communication – Brands can put customers into various buckets basis an analytical understanding of their purchases and can henceforth send out targeted communication regarding new products, services or offers.

  • Option to unsubscribe – Doesn’t sound that good! But customers’ privacy should be respected. They should have option to unsubscribe to the mailers.

Social Media again!

After purchase, a deeper connection begins as the consumer interacts with the product and with new online touch points.  As per a study by McKinsey, more than 60% of consumers of facial skin care products conduct online research about the products after purchase—a touch point most brands tend to miss out.

When consumers are pleased with a purchase, they’ll advocate for it by word of mouth, share on their social media profiles and build engagement for others. Of course, if a consumer is disappointed by the brand, she may sever ties with it—or worse. In such cases, it is important that the brand owns up mistakes & rectifies them – thus saving grace for the not- so-pleasant experience.

Bottom Line

The multi-step path to purchase has become the norm for today’s consumers. From browsing, buying, returning as well as pre- and post-sale services, the brand and products can be there each step of the way. It is all about elevating the customer experience to increase interaction and engagement with the customer at each digital touchpoint, especially for today's 'always connected' digital generation. 

Originally published at - https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/consumer-touchpoints-digital-generation-hansveen-sabharwal/

Name: Hansveen Kaur
 Batch: 2004 - 2006
Current Organization: Momspresso (formerly mycity4kids)
Designation: Head - Brand Solutions
Course: PGDBM

 

 

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