3 Strategies to Impact Your Consumer’s Path-to-Purchase

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Image from: Maze image / Shutterstock

I want you to take a moment to look around you. How many Internet-enabled devices do you own? I currently have two in my direct line of sight (computer, phone) and one in my bag (laptop). Like you and I, consumers live in an ‘always on’ environment. Yet, because of the multiplicity of these devices, it has become increasingly difficult to trace a consumer’s path-to-purchase.

Visibility into the modern path-to-purchase has become tantamount to clairvoyance. Knowing where and how people shop means knowing how to influence and impact their shopping behaviors. It isn’t enough to know what people are doing anymore; you need to know why they’re doing it. Below are three strategies to tease apart, understand, and impact your consumer’s path-to-purchase.

Start From Their Beginnings

Beginnings are important. The first step of someone’s shopping process elucidates what sort of shopper they are. In the instance of your consumer, did they outright search for your product? Was it a generic or branded search? Or did they find their way onto the path only after looking at products on a third party site?

Each first step tells a different story about whoever took it. It shows their intentions to either buy a product you happen to sell or to buy from your brand specifically (there is a huge difference between the two). It shows how knowledgeable they are about what they seek, and it shows their determination in researching a product before making a purchase. Knowing where your shoppers start is integral in knowing what tactics will best snag their curiosity.

Take the sample segment of conversions below. It shows a strong brand-magnetism for converted consumers. This is seen in both the 39% who began shopping on a branded site, and the 68% of branded searches that resulted in conversion. If the numbers were inverted, it would instead reveal a consumer more interested in a product regardless of its brand.

Share of converting consumers who began shopping process at each category

Think Beyond Your Box

At any given moment your consumers are engaging with sites both in and out of your purchase category. It pays to be familiar with both.

Just because not every site impacts a consumer’s path-to-purchase doesn’t mean that those sites can’t be useful. It means they aren’t being utilized correctly.  These ‘dead-zones’ are chances for you to go out and find your consumers yourself, in places they are already browsing. This can inform your research and frequency strategies.

For instance, if you know that your targeted consumers are spending an inordinate amount of time on recreational blogs, why not amp up your content strategy and get to connecting with other bloggers in your industry? Why not invite popular guest bloggers to be featured on your own space, or offer your product to popular influencers?

Shopping Intensity Should Inform Marketing Intensity

Another way to get a sense of how consumers are responding to your product is to analyze their pre-purchase visitation to your page. Are pre-purchase visits spread evenly over time or grouped close to the date of purchase? Identifying these shopping patterns allows marketers to time their messaging to coincide with the moment when consumers are either researching, debating, or ready to buy.

Below we see that for this particular segment shopping intensifies as the purchase date approaches. In this case, messaging too early would result in your brand’s message risking irrelevance, while messaging too late means combating an already made-up mind.

Number of visits made to sites in the category prior to purchase/booking

In review:

  • Every path begins somewhere, so finding the very first stepping stone means understanding both direction and motivation. Counting the steps leading to your site, and researching the methods used to cross those steps, lends clarity in how consumers perceive your brand or product.
  • Play along. If you know where your specific consumers are already spending time, why not make it easy for everyone and bring your marketing strategy to them? Avoid a blatant sales pitch, but be sure to accent your product’s strengths and utilities.
  • Even online shoppers are human. Their algorithms for rationalizing a purchase vary in speed and decisiveness. Complement a consumer’s timeline with well-timed marketing to reiterate a brand message when the consumer is least sure of what they’re looking for.

These insights and more can be found in the complete Compete report, downloadable here: http://success.compete.com/5-things-every-marketer-should-know-about-the-consumer-path-to-purchase-whitepaper-b

About Ryan LaSala:
Ryan La Sala joins Compete as the Digital Marketing Co-op for Compete.com, sovereign of all things social media. Ryan is a current attendant of Northeastern University, dual-majoring in Cultural Anthropology and International Affairs (with minors in Biology and Psychology), with career interests in Industrial-Organizational Psychology and Consumer Anthropology. Aside from acquiring aspirations with big words, Ryan’s other interests include reading cheesy fiction, writing in any capacity, singing and cooking. Find Ryan on twitter @Ryality or connect with him on LinkedIn.