A 2012 survey of 7,000 consumers, marketing executives, and other experts revealed that the efforts of marketers to engage their target audiences were working against them. These efforts included throwing out a ton of content intended to help people understand products and services better. But instead of benefiting, buyers were pulling away from the source of the barrage of messages.
Too much information can complicate the buying process. As the study proved, there is a line not to be crossed between giving away knowledge generously and sharing additional details just to get heard (or rank high on Google).
Consumers want to experience simplicity throughout their purchasing journey. It is the same thing that will drive them to recommend a product, a brand, or a seller to fellow consumers. Thus, marketers need to make things simple. But how?
Which brand would you buy?
For illustrative purposes, let us borrow from the examples of the study’s authors. Let us say there are two brands of digital cameras. Brand A captures common search engine queries and directs searchers to its website. On the website, visitors can find the products, categorized by model and described in detail. The same technical specs, such as megapixel rating and memory, are found on the display labels on in-store shelves.
Meanwhile, Brand B tries to understand what drives the searchers to look for a digital camera and where they fall in the customer journey. Then it leads those who are just browsing for information to websites offering (good) reviews of their products. On the other hand, it directs those who are ready to buy to its website, showing them ratings and reviews of the models. Instead of listing technical specs of the models in its stores, it says how many high-resolution images can fit into their memory.
Both brands do not scrimp on product details in their search engine optimization strategy, but only one tailors its marketing to the customers’ needs. Brand B makes it easy for people to find trustworthy information relevant to their decision making. This is how you keep things simple: focus on ease of use and building trust.
Ease of Use
To deliver ease of use, marketers need to work hard and smart. The task entails that you listen to customers and be willing to change parts of your strategy accordingly. But first, devise and deploy an outreach plan after determining your market segments. Keep in mind that it may take time to gain traction on social media and search engines. So, if you have the budget, complement online tactics with offline promotions. Joining a bazaar will already expose you to certain groups of consumers.
Then, as you get leads, use data and imagination to create a simple process for potential buyers. The definition of simple will depend on the products or services you offer.
For example, Apple is a master in reaching out to customers in all touchpoints. But it also stands out as a brand because it knows how to cut through the noise. From its clean and easy-to-navigate website to the demo units in its stores to its product packaging, the tech giant understands how to engage people using a minimalist approach. Even the user manuals for iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks are pretty simple and straightforward.
Sometimes, your strategy can also be as simple as putting a free tool front and center. For instance, if you are in the Instagram marketing business, one way to capture the attention of your target customers is to provide them with a free Instagram video downloader. Canva, a graphic design software provider, allows users to register and tinker with its arsenal of basic tools for free.
To build trust, find the gaps in the customer’s journey. Just like what Brand B does, it leads early-stage searchers to websites containing reviews about its products. Again, your game plan should depend on what you are offering. Let us see how our last example has made it work.
Warby Parker, an online eyewear boutique, is selling a high-risk type of product. Imagine having your customers pick a pair of eyeglasses they cannot try on first and deliver the items to them with that knowledge. Customers may end up with a design they dislike in person while the brand risks sending a product that may get damaged by handling.
But this has been Warby Parker’s way of building trust: rolling out a Home Try On feature. Customers can select five frames to test out for five days, and the company ships and collects them free of charge. The company encourages the shoppers on its website to take a quiz which results will assist them in taking the right picks. This approach has helped the business gain the confidence of buyers. At the same time, it has reinforced the innovative model of marketing eyewear that Warby Parker has introduced.
Inspired by what Warby Parker has done, you can start creating content that is interactive. But what if you take it to the next level? Say, you’re selling eyewear. Won’t your customers appreciate if they can virtually try on a pair or two they like before purchasing? They won’t have to wait for the package to arrive. You can channel your energy and money to the tech instead of logistics. Interestingly, emerging technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality are going to help reshape marketing and simplify the buying process further.
So, it is not always about posting on social media at certain times and days or using images instead of text to capture attention. Photos, videos, or words — they can all add to the noise and complicate things for your customers. Try to keep it simple by putting yourself in their shoes. Then ask: how do I bring a simple and easy buying experience to them and gain their trust?