The Evolution of the Consumer: How Emerging Technology Affects Customer Response

The Evolution of the Consumer:  How Emerging Technology Affects Customer Response

[As published in the December 2011 issue of Response Magazine]

Today’s consumers have a wide array of purchasing options at their fingertips. Is your firm reaching all of them effectively?

Consumers can buy at retail, place a telephone order, buy online using a desktop, laptop or tablet, or even seal the deal using their smart phones and mobile apps. In order to reach all potential buyers on their own terms, marketers have to be tapped into all of these options and more.

Changing consumer habits and the rapid proliferation of technology is creating this perfect storm for companies selling direct to customers. On one hand, this new “on-demand” environment opens doors for companies that may have previously been relegated to one or two selling channels. At the same time, juggling multiple ordering systems can tax the firm that traditionally brought in most of its sales using one or two platforms.

Consumers may have gained access to a growing number of ordering platforms but what hasn’t changed much are the ways in which these buyers are enticed or persuaded to take action. According to Deloitte Consulting’s most recent “State of the Media Democracy” report, 71% of Americans rate watching TV (on any type of device) as their favorite media activity. An even larger group (86% of respondents) claims that TV advertising has the greatest impact on its buying decisions.

These numbers should be music to the ears of any advertiser who allocates the largest part of their media budgets to television. Now, throw in the fact that 42% of Americans are online and another 29% are using their mobile devices while the TV is on, and the need for a multi-channel approach to the selling cycle becomes that much more important. Multi-tasking is commonplace in living rooms today, and if marketers aren’t there to quickly give consumers what they want, they are on to the next keyword. It’s that easy!

Getting there takes a multifaceted approach that incorporates not only telemarketing (for calls taken directly from TV), but also a user-friendly online shopping cart, a mobile website and/or app and direct connections with social media efforts through sites like Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. A consumer who reads a Twitter follower’s rave reviews about your firm’s latest product, for example, will be more apt to buy if the interface and order processing is easy and user-friendly.

Knowing that 30% – 60% or more of a DRTV campaign’s sales are captured online, the case for creating a wide variety of purchasing platforms for consumers is pretty clear. According to the LMX Study from IPSOS OTX Mediact, as of Spring 2011, tablets have reached 10% penetration among U.S. online consumers ages 13-74. Searching for information makes up 49% of tablet activity, which is a prime opportunity for marketers to reach engaged, information-hungry consumers. Without these additional channels companies severely limit their campaigns’ potential impact and typically wind up isolating entire demographics.

More ordering options are sure to emerge as consumer habits morph and as marketers seek out ways to reach those consumers on their own turf. QR codes (barcodes that viewers can scan with mobile phones that whisk them off to specific websites/special offers), for example, present significant opportunity for marketers looking to expand their reach and utilize new platforms that lead to sales. These and other options are especially attractive for firms that acknowledge changing consumer preferences and that truly understand the value of creating user-friendly shopping options that bring an ad to life and impact a wide variety of customers.

The three key steps to successful, accountable marketing are:

  1. Know your customer and what they respond to.
  2.  Know where consumers are coming from and track results to optimize your ad spend.
  3.  Ensure your marketing efforts are synergistic across all platforms.

Now more than ever before, it is essential to track consumer response to your marketing efforts to cut out what isn’t working effectively and increase what is working - this should include visits, conversion rates and sales by platform in addition to what’s selling on the retail shelf. Icon Media Direct is on the forefront of adapting the DRTV model to the current technological landscape by maintaining the basic fundamentals geared to achieve maximum ROI on our client’s marketing efforts.

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