The path to purchase is almost never linear. And in today’s ever-changing media landscape, brands are constantly looking for ways to stand out from competitors and reach the right audiences at the right time with the right message. Brands must be aware of the many distractions on a consumer’s path to purchase, and they should present audiences with content that will keep them engaged and influence their behaviors throughout purchase journeys.
It is a difficult task, but there are ways you can successfully reach consumers with the right message at the right time. Here’s a quick guide for capturing and maintaining your consumers’ mindshare as they evaluate their purchase options.
Ask the right questions.
What are the typical timeframes for the consideration, conversion and purchase of the specific product or service?
When does the conversion occur? Is it purely impulse-driven, is it a singular event or are there different touch points along the way all contributing to the conversion?
Where does it occur? Online or in a store? Or does it have multiple form factors?
What are the sources of influence affecting a consumer’s purchase behavior, and which of those influencers have the most impact during the path to purchase? Is it paid, unpaid or earned media (e.g., user reviews, social media posts)?
Consider the Right Content Mix for the Purchase Cycle
Let’s look at the purchase cycle for a high-value, highly considered buy – a high-definition TV. Research  shows that consumers typically begin thinking about their purchases one to four months ahead of the transaction, and the majority (74 percent) turns to messaging and experiences in the physical retail location itself for information on the product. Thirty to 35 percent of consumers are also influenced by television, print and radio ads, and 51 percent of consumers do information gathering on product features, pricing and availability online. In addition to these factors, 59 percent are influenced by recommendations from friends and family.
In terms of paid media and its impact on the HDTV purchase decision, place-based media was found to be the most influential — with 47 percent of consumers indicating it influenced their purchase decision. In other words, content found in the store when people are viewing or listening to place-based advertisements has the most impact, whereas TV and online ads ranked lowest at 13 percent and 12 percent, respectively.
Engaging a captive audience and appropriately influencing behavior has two critical components:
Deliver relevant, informative place-based advertising during the various stages of the purchase process with screens and media optimized for the particular behavior state (e.g., shopping, dwelling, waiting in line, etc.) and environment/venue.
Supplement online, social and TV advertising with place-based media content to provide consistent brand experiences at every marketing touch-point. Taking this omni-channel approach enables brands to remain present in consumers’ mindsets throughout the discovery, consideration and purchase stages of a non-linear path to purchase.
Activate, Engage and Amplify
Context, relevance, and the use of creative, engaging content all contribute to campaign effectiveness and should occur in three distinct stages: brand activation, engagement and amplification. When utilizing place-based media, brands can present compelling messages and content to targeted, captive audiences align with their experience states as mentioned above.
For example, let’s take a TV network in dine-in, quick-service restaurants (QSRs), which primarily reaches young urban males. This demographic, according to Nielsen data, is most likely to be interacting with a mobile device, tablet or laptop while dining at leading QSR venues across the country.
The first stage – activate – takes place when relevant ads are woven into the network’s content mix, which can include lifestyle-themed programming like sports, music videos and news. This content is provided on big-screen TVs strategically placed in the dining area.
The second stage – engage – occurs when a compelling social or mobile call-to-action is shown in the ad. At this point, the conversation between advertiser and viewer is migrated on to the mobile device. For social and mobile responses, brands can then engage in a dialogue with the consumer, and they have measurable results to consider.
The third stage – amplify – happens when the viewer feels compelled to share the content or message virally, either on or offline, after a successful engagement with the brand, thereby providing the opportunity to significantly extend the brand’s visibility.
Through this unique approach, it can be said that place-based media — which offers a powerful, targeted and dynamic message-delivery vehicle — is a critical way to bridge the gap between online, offline and traditional advertising to effectively engage consumers in the right place at the right time. The ROI on such an approach can be measured in deeper brand connections, more recommendations among friends and on social networks, stronger response rates that lead to increased brand value and revenues.
1.Shopper Sciences, Neural Shopper Matrices, April 2011
Originally published Jul 9, 2013 1:00:42 AM, updated December 02 2014