Do you remember the movie Runaway Bride? I just love a good romcom. Julia Roberts makes it all the way to the aisle for her weddings, but the second she loses eye contact with her groom, she runs. No amount of preparation, training or confidence-building could keep her from losing focus.
This is a lot like our consumers today – the retail experience has so many potential distractions that it’s hard to keep shoppers focused on your store. But you shouldn’t let that be a deterrent. Instead, treat it as an opportunity to find new ways to stay connected and keep them focused on your business.
Google reports that 70% of shoppers are open to buying from a new brand or one that they have not purchased from before. While this indicates that customer loyalty is fading, it also means that there is a tremendous amount of opportunity to connect with new customers and re-engage previous customers.
So, how do we make sure they choose you for their next purchase?
Reaching customers today is actually easier than it’s ever been before. We can show up in their research process, on their social media pages, on the radio (both traditional and streaming), on TV (even if they have cancelled cable), on websites they visit even when they aren’t in the market for your products — the list goes on and on. These are all examples of brand awareness marketing, which keeps your business top of mind, but it’s not the same as staying connected with your customer and maintaining contact throughout their purchase journey.
Let me explain.
Customers are open to new brands because they are inundated with them everywhere they go. Both online and offline. While they see your ads, it doesn’t mean they have connected with you. These connections happen in micro-moments, and they are key to staying engaged with previous and new customers when they are considering your products. This isn’t a new strategy. Google has talked for years about these micro-moments and -signals and how we can use this information to change our marketing message, improve conversions and predict behavior. However, now is the time to proactively build opportunities to create more micro-moments or micro-connections with your customers.
We talk a lot about key conversions, and we track these because they have a specific value and, in many cases, represent the end of the purchase journey. This is the moment when the customer directly engages with your business either through an online sale or through connecting via phone call, chat, etc.
But what about the moments where we engage with customers along the way that impact that final conversion?
What do these look like? When do they happen? The truth is, you are most likely actively doing this now. And you might not even realize it.
Google recently released an article talking about the “messy middle,” the time between when a customer has indicated a need or want and the time they actually complete the purchase. During this “messy middle” is when micro-moments or micro-connections are so important.
So, what are some examples of micro moments?
You might not have considered this, but displaying your inventory or even delivery dates on your website can create a micro-moment. You might think that this is just another data point or product flag on your website, but it’s actually so much more. It’s an opportunity to connect the customer with your store and share information that is a key factor in their decision to buy from you. There is no other place a customer can get this information if you aren’t sharing it directly. Think about the mindset of a customer that filters search results by what you have in stock. This micro-moment would never happen without this information.
A micro-moment also happens when customers interact with and read reviews about your business online. This can happen on Google, Facebook, Yelp and other platforms. Do you have a clear strategy to request reviews and recommendations from satisfied customers? Think about the impact that reading either a positive or a negative review about your business has on a potential customer. What about your reply to a negative review that demonstrates how seriously you take customer service? This is a powerful micro-moment that won’t happen if you haven’t established a clear reviews strategy.
A follow-up email after a customer adds products to their cart or even leaves your website after visiting several pages is another opportunity for a micro-moment. I am not suggesting the generic weekly or monthly email that you send out to your email list. I am referring to an email that connects the customer back to products or pages they reviewed and even makes suggestions for other products they should consider. Maybe the email includes customer reviews of this product. The next email to this customer could include a financing offer for a package that includes the same model or models. Think about the impact this could have on a customer in the research phase who is quite possibly overwhelmed with the number of options available and which features to consider.
There are dozens and even hundreds of opportunities for you to create micro connections with potential customers. Some can be implemented quickly, while others will take time and planning. But don’t stop looking for every chance to connect with customers and keep them focused on your business.
The global pandemic has created two major shifts in today’s retail landscape, neither of which could have predicted just eight short months ago:
- Consumers have become more engaged with and supportive of local businesses than we have seen in many years.
- We have an unexpected demand with very limited supply.
But this won’t always be the environment. So, now is the time to begin actively identifying and creating micro-moments to connect with customers that can extend after these changes shift. Now is the time to build for future connections.
What are some of the ways that Site on Time and Nationwide Marketing Group are supporting Members with stay-connected marketing?
Well, to be honest, this strategy is the cornerstone of every initiative we launch. Not only does it create a mindset for Members whereby small changes yield big impacts, but it also means that we release each new initiative with a specific purpose toward connecting customers. Here are some examples:
- Chat and video chat
- Point of Sale (POS) data
- The Assortment Rationalization Tool
- Facebook / Instagram engagement strategy
- SMS strategy
- Video demonstration cooking classes if a dealer has live kitchens.
- Influencer marketing
I think we can all agree that the purchase journey is not a linear one. It’s not as simple as a trip down the aisle. It’s complex with a lot of twists and turns along the way, and even the “messy middle” as Google refers to it. From beginning to middle to end, how can you make sure you stay connected with each customer? It’s not enough to just be top of mind. Today’s environment calls for truly connecting with your customer in as many ways as possible.
Jen Danko is the Vice President of technology for Site on Time, a Nationwide Marketing Group company