Not too long ago, a customer’s journey looked much different than it does in the digital age in which we thrive today. In the past, if a consumer had a problem or a need that required him or her to make a purchase, the journey might have started by digging through the Yellow Pages in the phone book, checking for an ad in the local newspaper, or running into a physical store to check out potential options.
Times have certainly changed. Today’s journey almost always begins with search, whether searching directly for a brand or browsing with a search term. Online search and smart phones give consumers the ability to connect with brands and access information about their products and services with the swipe of a finger. This means that consumers simply aren’t going through the phone book and calling companies asking for information. Businesses now have to position themselves to be found online. According to Brafton, 89% of consumers connect online to look for information relating to their problem before they make a purchase. This could come in the form of Yelp reviews, product ratings on a company website, or referrals on social media channels. If a consumer can’t find your company, products or services online, how will you earn their business?
Each customer’s journey can differ depending on the purchase they are making or how pressing the issue is. It can be an on-the-spot decision made in a matter of minutes, or it can be drawn out over the course of six months. If it’s a quick decision-making process, you can see how important it is for a business to be positioned within the first pages of a search engine. If it’s a more in-depth, time-consuming decision, it’s more than likely that a consumer is comparing his or her options, weighing different pieces of information. They aren’t just comparing price, but checking online reviews to see what others have experienced with that company, social media accounts to see if they are engaging with their customers, and websites to see which company stands out and looks more appealing. And to think, we can perform all of that right from our phones. In fact, 4 out of 5 consumers use smartphones to shop or gather information before making a purchase.
Considering Google’s new ‘Mobilegeddon’ updates, the need to have your website optimized for mobile has permeated so much more than just design and appearance, but could actually affect when, if and how your customers find you online. Want to chat more about search and the customer journey? Leave a comment below!