Selling to today's consumer requires a good deal of empathy, flexibility and responsiveness. Equipped with mobile phones and plugged into social networks today's consumer has a greater sense of entitlement and expects a personalized, convenient digital experience in everything they do. Some theorists are calling this an ego-system. All experiences are judged and measured by what's in it and how it related to the individual making the purchase decision.
Here are the three things your brand marketing team should do to serve this buyer and operate in a world of demanding shoppers across a variety of digital endpoints.
1. Plan for the micro-moments.
Impulse buys have always been a thing, but modern technology allows them to take place in nanoseconds. A soccer mom sees a team jersey on the screen and finds it on her phone. A teenager watches their favorite TV show and then immediately hunts for the perfect piece of merchandise. You need to catch a customer in that moment of "I want to buy" before it passes away. 82% of smartphone users check their phone before making a purchase and one in three changes their mind about the company or brand. Thus, the starting point for capitalizing on micro-moments is targeted mobile advertising. Even if you have people in your store, you still need to catch them on their phone. Otherwise, you risk the "I'm going to look at this in the store then get it cheaper online" phenomenon.
2. Build a genuine connection to the buyer.
Consumers want to feel that they have an emotional attachment not just to their friends but to the companies they buy from. Building connections, especially on fast-moving platforms such as Twitter, can lead to more conversions than random retweets. This means that posts need to be carefully crafted to look like they come from a real person whilst containing a strong call to action. It also means that companies should post regularly about their products and things related to their products. Synchronize in-store and online inventory so that information is consistent. For example, a customer who is buying a dress will want to know whether it is in stock and where it is in stock. Creating a smooth experience that flows across channels helps earn customer trust. Today's consumer does not think of the store and the store's website as separate entities. They want to get a honest sense of both and have two-way communication with their most beloved brands.
3. Provide authentic and useful personalization.
People want to feel special and popular. Whether it is as simple as inserting the recipient's name into a mass email or as complicated as directly targeting a small group, or even an individual, people are more likely to open and read an email or post that is personal to them and shows an understanding of their needs. Things like SMS messages and push notifications, which can be intrusive, need to be particularly well personalized. Instead of sending a notification to all of your customers, leverage data to find, for example, everyone who purchased a specific item in a specific date range and who might be interested in an upgrade or a matching accessory. With the kind of data that is being gathered, you can even produce ads that appear to know a customer's desires before they realize themselves. This results in customers feeling valued. Being local also helps. A customer who checks on their smartphone to see if you have something needs to know the inventory for the store down the road, not one halfway across the country.
Ego-systems themselves are likely to adapt and treat brands as guides or friends. The adoption of mobile devices as the primary way to access the internet and the start of a shopping process that is far more personal and under the control of the consumer. You have to market with this new experience in mind.