The customer journey is influenced by many outside factors. As the use of mobile devices has taken off over the past decade, it’s changed the way that businesses market themselves and how customers interact with businesses.
In order to better understand the impact mobile has had on the customer journey, it’s helpful to go through and assess the effect at each stage of the marketing hourglass. By better understanding how mobile changes customers’ behaviors, you can begin to adapt your marketing strategy to meet their evolving needs.
Mobile in the First Stage: Know
How do people discover a new business? Before the days of computers, it was all print and television ads, word of mouth, or simply driving by your storefront. Now, there are dozens of channels for people to encounter your brand. And mobile only further diversifies the field.
In some ways, mobile has shortened the customer journey. Mobile searches with the phrase “near me” and “can I buy” or “to buy” increased by 500 percent between 2015 and 2017. That boost means people are turning to mobile to discover immediate solutions to their problems. By entering this search term, they’re able to quickly check out your website, read reviews, and even find your hours and location on a map. What would have taken more in-depth research in the past is now condensed into a few minutes and a handful of clicks on a mobile device.
It’s also important to remember that not everyone finds you via an internet browser search. With the advent and rise of mobile apps, some people are discovering businesses through a specific app. For example, those who search for local businesses on the Yelp app are only being presented with businesses who have a presence on Yelp. If you haven’t claimed your profile there, you’re not going to be discovered at all. So making sure your business’s profile is claimed on the major local listings sites, like Yelp and Google My Business, is critical to winning at mobile.
For that same reason, you need to have a presence on social media. Some people turn to Facebook or Instagram for advice on which local businesses to patronize. Again, you’re not even going to be in the running if you don’t have a profile on those sites!
How Mobile Influences the Like and Trust Phases
Once someone’s discovered you online, they want to get to know you better. And to do that, they need to be able to learn more about you. Just like you wouldn’t get married after the first date, prospects want to make sure you’re the right fit before they dive in.
You want your content to build that familiarity and trust, while being easy to consume on a mobile device. That starts with creating content that can be enjoyed on the go. Podcasts are an easy listen for folks who are on their commute, and video is often a bite-sized way to share meaningful information that builds trust and authority.
Social media is also critical in this stage. Posting regularly on social media means that those who discover you on mobile can do a quick inventory of who you are and what you do by scanning backwards through your recent content.
For those who aren’t looking to make an immediate purchase, social media remains a great way to stay top-of-mind on mobile devices. People often check their social media accounts multiple times a day, and so if you’re appearing at the top of their newsfeeds each time they log in, you build that familiarity quickly.
Advertising can also help you stay top of mind. Social ads are a way to remain omnipresent on prospects’ feeds. And display ads allow you to keep you name on people’s minds even when they visit other websites from their phone’s browser.
How to Try on Mobile
When we get to the try phase of the customer journey, mobile has an important role in ensuring that customers don’t slip away at this critical stage.
Mobile tactics can help to facilitate the try process by making it easy to prospects to sign up for a demo or appointment. A smart use of chat or SMS marketing techniques can make it easy for you to automate the sign-up process, while providing prospects with a more personalized encounter with your business.
Newer technologies like augmented reality (AR) are changing the way people try on their phones. Take furniture store IKEA as an example. They built an app that allows prospects to try out a piece of furniture in their home through the power of AR. Prospects can point their phone at an empty corner of their room, select the sofa, chair, or lamp that they’re considering, and see on their screen what the item would look like in their home.
While AR technology might not be readily accessible to all small businesses yet, it’s definitely a trend to watch, as more and more retailers incorporate it into their marketing strategy.
Mobile Makes it Easy to Buy
A recent survey found that 79 percent of smartphone users had made a purchase on their phone within the past six months. So not only are folks using their mobile devices for research, they’re actually doing transactions on their phones.
For any small business with an e-commerce component, it’s critical that you make it easy for people to purchase via mobile. This is all about creating a customer experience with the least amount of friction in the buying process. Make it easy for people to navigate to their cart. Don’t ask for lots of additional information in the checkout process–only collect information necessary to process the transaction.
After the initial purchase has been made, great mobile UX can also help facilitate the onboarding process. If you’re an e-commerce brand, provide updates on shipping status, and make sure that customers can easily track their packages.
No matter what kind of business you’re in, there is content that you can create in a mobile-friendly format to make it easier for new customers to get the most out of their new purchases. Put together an email series with responsive design (so it looks great on any screen, big or small!) that outlines special tips and tricks for using the new product or service.
Use Mobile to Inspire Repeat Purchases
Once you’ve gotten a prospect to convert to customer, there’s still work to do! And pushing existing customers towards a repeat purchase can be achieved with some mobile-friendly tactics.
Retargeting is a great way to bring existing customers back into the fold. You can advertise on social media or via display ads, and direct certain content towards those who have already bought from you. If someone recently made a purchase, you can target them with advertising for a related product or service in order to encourage an upsell. If a customer has drifted away over the past few months, you can show them ads welcoming them back with a special offer for return customers.
Building out a rewards program is another way to engender loyalty amongst existing customers. This can be done either through your website (which should be mobile-friendly!) or with an app specifically for your business. The additional benefit of creating an app is that you eliminate the competition. Your existing customers come directly to you via the app to make a purchase, rather than going onto the web to search for your solutions and run the risk of getting drawn in by one of your competitors with a smart SEO or paid search strategy.
Mobile and Referrals
The final stage of the customer journey is getting your customers to refer others. As I mentioned in the earlier phases, reviews are a key part of the referral process, and that’s particularly true on mobile. People who are searching for solutions on the go will turn to reviews in lieu of asking friends or family for recommendations. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re doing the work to solicit reviews from your customers.
You can also consider creating a referral program. If you have a mobile app for your business, creating a program directly through the app is a great, easy way to help your mobile-minded customers refer their friends.
Finally, social media can help you generate referrals. Share user-generated content that sings your brands praises. Create contests and opportunities for your existing fans on social to give your brand a shout-out to their friends. Get influencers to try your product and vouch for you to their followers. A referral from a real friend or trusted influencer on social can go a long way in winning over new customers.
Mobile marketing has changed the way consumers buy, and so businesses have had to adjust their marketing accordingly. By considering how to get the most out of mobile at each stage of the customer journey, you can position yourself to reach the majority of consumers, who have become more and more focused on mobile over the years.
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