Why Businesses Need to Re-evaluate Consumers’ Online Path to Purchase

Carl Holmquist Freespace
It’s no secret that customers frequently go online to find services and then contact companies by phone before purchasing.

When we are talking about the software tools used by online marketers however, what is a well-kept secret is that they all lack the capability of capturing this offline event in tracking user behaviour. The outcome is websites and marketing campaigns that are not designed for the customer, they are designed based on our tracking capabilities.

Human interaction creates loyalty and trust

Modern day consumers may be tech savvy but that hasn’t excluded the need for excellent customer service. Whether you’re a small business or a large brand, consumers still often want to speak to someone over the phone before purchasing even if the option to purchase directly from a company’s site is available.

As a result, your contact centre should never be thought of as a cost, unless you’re happy not to grow your business! Customers that you manage to put in front of your highly trained sales team, get the most advanced form of personal experience. You build trust and long-term loyalty. It is imperative that companies ensure that their customer service over the phone is as effortless and responsive as its online service. It would be a costly mistake for businesses to assume that customers no longer wish to talk to someone because of the ubiquity of the Internet. Customers, not businesses, will decide how they wish to complete their purchase online.

Better understanding of the customer journey

With seven in 10 people now owning a smartphone and having easy access to the Internet, the customer journey is no longer straightforward but instead complex, varied and incredibly personal. When shopping for products or looking for services, customers will go online to research the various options available. While browsing, a customer may find a product or service through a display ad, paid search ad or simply an organic search that directs them the company’s website.

From here, many smartphone users will simply click-to-call the company to make the purchase, as it is a real time one-click buying user experience. This process is particularly true for high involvement purchases such as healthcare and holiday travel where an online application process can be a nightmare.

The customer phone call is an integral part of a customer’s online path to purchase. It’s not an offline sale as most brands treat it. It should actually be credited as an online sale as the entire business discovery process takes place online. Companies that can link customer phone calls to a customer’s original online activity will be able to better understand where their customers look for their product or service online. With this insight, companies can implement more effective ways of targeting their customers by making highly data driven decisions that drive higher sales.

When you think you’re making data driven decisions, you’re probably not

Many companies rely completely on Google Analytics to measure the effectiveness of their online marketing. However, the problem with Google Analytics is that it doesn’t provide the full picture of how customers shop online because it doesn’t take into account data from other means, such as inbound phone calls from your online visitors. By analysing data from all customer channels and looking at the true online customer journey, businesses will have the insights to be able to trigger events and make decisions with a far better degree of accuracy.

By using data analytics tools that take into account all types of data, not only can you better understand your customers, but you can also refine your approach to online advertising. For example, using post-click through analytics software enables companies to capture phone calls, on a keyword level, to feed into their bid management tools in real-time and improve the accuracy of their online ad placement. Or trigger personalised messages to the inbound callers that helps you to move the prospect forward in the sales cycle.

While it’s great to take advantage of new media and innovative approaches to sales, what’s undeniable about the age we live in is that the spoken conversation between two human beings, the online visitor and the sales representative, not only turns visitors into customers, but also customers into great customers.

It’s time to rethink the online path to purchase and design this from a consumer perspective instead of the tracking capabilities offered by tools like Google Analytics.

Carl Holmquist is CEO and founder of Freespee, a platform that uses online user intelligence to turn phone calls into data that matters

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