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The consumer's research phase is an untapped marketing goldmine

Monday, 22nd Jun

Brands shouldn't be ignoring or leaving customers alone when they are researching. Now more than ever, this phase needs to be explored and activated within your marketing strategy. Let's learn how.

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Let's begin with storytime:

I walked into the local pharmacy this week to pick up my prescriptions (I’m an asthmatic) and some leave-in conditioner. I’ve never bought leave-in condition before, but my hair – It’s pink and a tangled mess due to lockdown 2.0 – is in need of some care and good treatment.

I found the 6 metres, highly merchandised wall of hair care products with two employees restocking the shelves behind me. I pick up products and begin to read the directions, marketing blurb and ingredients.

I’ve begun my research phase.

Words such as Panthenol, Argon Oil, Glycerine, Cyclomethycaine… pretty, hair, silky and beautiful were often used. A few of these words felt like gibberish to me. So I used my phone to double-check what the ingredients are, why they are being used and how it will make my hair luscious and not so gross.

10 minutes have gone past and I’ve picked up and put down 4-to-5 different products with no clear idea which I should buy. My research to purchase phase has come to a grinding halt. At this stage, I now default to how I choose a bottle of wine – How colourful or pleasing the label is – and pick product C.

As I begin to move towards the pharmacist area, one of the employees quickly interjects and asks “Would you like to purchase that now?”. I politely say “all good, will pick up my script and then I’ll head to the counter”.

On my way to the pharmacist, I had one of those comical light bulb moments. ‘Why didn’t I ask the staff?’ Then in succession. ‘Wait, why didn’t the two staff members restocking the shelves ask if I needed help?’.

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Now you must be wondering. Shaun thank you for telling us your story about retail, but what is your point? I have two, let’s explore:

Point 1: Brands are not doing enough to leave a touchpoint when a consumer is researching.

Most brands go out of their way to engage with a consumer when they are aware of them, what they offer and when you’re ready to purchase.

Most of the time they leave you short or they leave you to your own devices when you’re asking for advice, knowledge, support or help before you purchase.

Take my physical real-world example.

Yes, I’m in your pharmacy. Brand marketing and loyalty are complete.

I’m researching to find a product to solve an issue. I’m left alone. Even with staff clearly visible to what I’m doing who can help and guide me.

I grab product C in my hand and suddenly the brand wants to engage and move me through to purchase. Performance marketing, move me through the funnel effectively.

Point 2: We are curious creatures and the research phase is a marketing goldmine.

At the most recent Google Academy event in August 2020, a statistic caught my attention. There has been a 36% YoY increase in time being spent on researching online before purchasing a product. COVID-19 has kept a lot of us indoors, but buying goods continued if not surged during this time.

How consumers research, the path they take, and what items they consume are like unrefined iron ore. Once we mine it, heat it up and mould it we can transform it into nuggets of gold. Gold that can increase your brands top of mind availability and the chance of a conversion.

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How to mine the consumer research phase?

Recently I’ve talked about how consumer intent is full of moments. Moments that can be assigned within the consumer journey, and expanded through the know, question, brand, do and go framework.

At Shaun Polidano Consulting, mining this phase comes as second nature and occurs whenever we define audiences and strategize all marketing campaigns. The first step is to take the time to understand all the possible know and question keywords a consumer would use to direct them to your brand, service or product.

In my real-world example I used:

  • Product ingredients.
  • Generic keywords about hair health, or leave-in conditioner vs hair oil.
  • Situational keywords that have influenced the research such as dyed or tangled hair.
  • The five W’s and one H to interrogate any of the above further.

From there, I then map this information back to the consumer journey and plan how to best engage or connect with your brand (Paid, owned or earned channels or assets considered). Each connection is then weighted back to business objectives ensuring that all marketing efforts are driving back to the desired business goal.

In summary.

Research online or offline should not be ignored by brands. Yes, we have left consumers in control of this behaviour, but they do engage and buy from brands that can help guide them to what they are seeking. For more information on how to mine the research phase and turbocharge your marketing, contact Shaun Polidano Consulting today.

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