The consumer journey is rarely a one-night stand but rather an ongoing relationship where a shopper might dream about buying a watch for 10 years before actually opening up her wallet. And, importantly, this brand-consumer relationship doesn't necessarily end after the sale.
That was one takeaway from a session at the 4As Decisions conference in Washington moderated by John Montgomery, executive vice president global brand safety, GroupM. He was joined Justin De Graaf, head of research & insights, Ads Marketing, Google, Stephanie Prager, head of global agency development, Twitter and Kirk McDonald, CMO, Xandr to discuss how they are helping to shape consumer experiences with brands.
Google, unsurprisingly, knows a lot about consumers. De Graaf mentions Google's queries for "best" is growing at 80% per year, which means brands need to be present when consumers seek these search words in order to make a sale.
"People don't wake up with intent," he says. They wake up with a need or want, often using hazy descriptors. He discussed one case study involving shopper "Liz" who spent 50 days seeking the "best" chocolate to satisfy her desire. Google, knowing she was a 20-year-old living in Texas, used multiple screens and channels to connect with her over her journey. In the end she found what she was looking for and thus had a satisfying experience.
Twitter's Prager noted that reaching shoppers used to be about the right time with the right message. Now, it is about how thoughtful you are about placing that message, she says. "People want a reason to believe before they have a reason to buy."
McDonald offered a different perspective, suggesting that all platforms and agencies are fighting for the same metrics: reach, duration and frequency. “We have more signals than ever before, but we don't have any set of standards,” he says. "We need to test and learn together to learn how to talk to someone at the moment.”
“There is a lot more we can do on the measurement side,” says McDonald. “We all know there are flaws as we try to evolve our best practices. But if you tell your brand story effectively, your next consumer will find you. Full stop.”
Panelists agreed the biggest mistake brands make in the digital and social consumer journey is using the same message across multiple platforms. “You need to find the medium that lets you tell your brand story most authentically," says McDonald. Consumers will "blow you up" online if you claim to be something you aren't.