Hello, I’m a marketers’ ideal image of a web user. I search for a product, I click on a promising-looking site, then I immediately make a purchase.
Hello, I’m a real-life web user. I search for a product, I decide I don’t want that product, but I start searching out similar products, I find the product I do want, I compare prices over a number of online retailers, I decide to buy from a particular retailer, but I don’t buy online, I get the bus to the town centre and buy it in person from the pretty shop assistant that I’ve walked past a couple of times but have always been too shy to say ‘hello’ to.
Ha, try tracking that.
As digital marketing experts, it would make our lives very easy if all site users behaved like cyborgs. But they don’t. They behave like people. And people are careful about what they’re buying and how they buy it.
To some extent, it’s always been this way. But now we’ve almost always got a screen within easy reach – our work PCs, our smartphones, our tablets, our laptops – the buying journey is increasingly elongated, increasingly complicated, and increasingly difficult to track.
Tracking conversions provides useful data. But by obsessing over which channel (PPC, organic search, Google Shopping etc.) ‘generated’ that conversion isn’t particularly useful, when every channel might, in reality, have played a part at some point in the customer’s journey.
What’s more important is building a balanced multi-channel marketing strategy. As search becomes more mobile, a multi-channel approach is going to become increasingly important for all online businesses – not just the big brands with big pockets.
And it’s important to remember that searchers that land on your site could be at any stage in the buying journey.
From a content writer’s point of view, this means ensuring that web content is engaging and informative for everyone – not just those that are keen to hit ‘add to basket’. People come looking for information, so make sure that they’re given that information. And give them the resources that they need to make decisions when they’re unsure – and not just in terms of written content. Reviews. Testimonials. Pictures. How-to videos.
And this content strategy needs to be tied to an SEO strategy. Make sure that targeted keywords reflect this search for information. This promotes engagement with potential customers earlier on in their decision-making process. From the off, you’re proving that you’re a brand worth trusting.
Failing that, construct an army of cyborg customers.