Our connected, digital world moves fast, and most people are used to having the information they need or the content they want at the click of a button. However, while many people have experienced a lack of patience and a shortened attention span, there are still some instances in which it's imperative to practice patience: especially if you're selling a service or good.
Today, research shows that shoppers are taking their time making purchasing decisions.
In fact, a study from Rakuten Marketing revealed that 69% of shoppers in the U.S. and in the UK (and 71% globally) are not prepared to make spontaneous decisions in terms of gifts to buy.
Taking a long time to make a purchasing decision doesn't only apply to gift shopping. The same trend applies to e-commerce in general, and it has resulted in the average path to purchase becoming longer than ever before.
Read on to find out more about why and how the path to purchase is getting longer, how your business can prepare, and how you, as an advertiser, can effectively adapt your marketing strategy.
Why Has the Path to Purchase Gotten Longer?
One reason that the path to purchase is longer than ever before is that consumers are conducting their shopping experience on multiple devices. Thanks to the proliferation of mobile, shopping behavior has shifted, with people moving from device to device during the process, and this makes buying experience more complex and time-consuming.
Also, the path to purchase is longer today than before because there are so many places that consumers encounter marketing. In the days of yore, shoppers saw ads on billboards, on the radio and TV, and in the newspaper. Today, those advertising techniques still exist.
But, consumers also encounter information about products they could buy on their phones, at bus stops, during podcasts, while they browse the Internet for work, and more. This inundation of information can be overwhelming and take longer to sift through.
Finally, consumers today are more skeptical than ever, thanks in part to the boom of e-commerce, which has both increased the number of goods available, and made them remote – which means they are hard to inspect or evaluate firsthand.
The boom of e-commerce has led to an increased reliance on reviews and word-of-mouth marketing for shoppers, which means that people ultimately spend more time reading review sites, posting in discussion forums or talking to peers before they actually feel ready to buy.
How to Adapt Your Marketing Program to a Longer Path to Purchase
Because the path to purchase is longer than it ever has been, it's important for marketers to adapt their strategies in order to cater to this timeline.
Marketers want to make sure that they attract and nurture leads for as long as necessary, and don't lose them because they are used to a shorter path. Here are some effective ways that you can adapt your marketing program to a longer path or purchase.
Run Ads on the Platforms Your Target Audience Use
Because shoppers are using so many devices and browsing so many different websites or social media networks, you want to make sure you place ads on the places you know your target audience is spending time.
Capture people's attention where they're actually focusing, so they don't miss you or get distracted too quickly. This means that you should consider doing the following types of advertising, after researching where your potential leads hang out on the web:
- PPC ads
- Social ads
- Email campaigns
- Television ads
- Print ads
- Content marketing campaigns (blogs, video content, newsletters, and more)
- Native advertising
- SEO website (and content)
Once you are informed about where your target audience spends time, make sure you place ads on all of those platforms.
Refresh Ad Creatives Frequently
To make sure people don't get bored over their longer path to purchase, make sure you keep your ad creatives refreshed. By refreshing ad creatives frequently, you can keep shoppers interested over time and paying attention to your ad content instead of overlooking it because they're bored by it or used to it.
One effective strategy for a longer path to purchase is remarketing. Remarketing is a technique by which businesses can track who visits their website (or certain pages on their website), then place ads for products already viewed in those visitors web browsers and social media sites, so they are reminded of products they previously expressed interest in.
Remarketing helps ensure that leads are seeing relevant ads and it keeps the items they were considering buying from your business at the forefront of their mind.
Provide More Information About Your Products and Services
In a longer path to purchase, people need more time to mull over their decision, and in turn, they may need more information to mull over.
Include more in-depth descriptions of products and services in order to give potential customers a very full picture of what they'll be receiving with a purchase. The more they know about what you're selling and how it's different from competitor's, the more likely they are to buy.
Rely on a Multi-Touch Attribution Model
Rely on a multi-touch attribution model to accurately get a gauge of which of your digital marketing efforts are actually driving conversions, and which are less effective. This will give you insight into the path to purchase and make clear where it's worth investing money for advertising.
Kelsey Robinson, a marketing expert from McKinsey explains, "The purpose of multi-touch attribution is to help marketers invest in those experiences that are proven to drive growth... And to do that, you need to better understand the role that different marketing interventions play along a consumer's digital journey, everything from a viewed display ad or paid social advertising to an SEM click."
Encourage Existing Customers to Leave Reviews
Today, when it comes to making purchasing decisions, consumers trust and value recommendations and word-of-mouth marketing – especially online reviews. So, it can help if you encourage your existing customers to leave reviews of your products and services, which can persuade leads to buy.
In fact, studies show that more than 72% of consumers trust online reviews at least as much as they trust personal recommendations. Review sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor serve as resources that consumers turn to for firsthand product or service endorsements.
Make it easy for your customers to leave you reviews by reminding them post-purchase (on receipts or in email), providing them a link to review sites, or even giving them a reward as an incentive to review.