Today’s challenge is no longer the availability of information but its abundance, bringing us the marketing issues we are dealing with now for decades. In all this noise, it is not only harder than ever to be found by customers, making things worse is the fact that the average attention span of today's media users has slipped below that of a goldfish.
Looking at the changed purchasing decision behavior - the Customer/Buyer Journey - the extent of the far-reaching challenge for marketing is getting clear.
The customer journey has changed
The digital transformation clearly left its mark on buying decision-making behavior, considering that more than 80% of all purchase decision-making processes nowadays start on the Internet with a search on Google & Co. Yet, the decisive change is how interested parties search or how search engines create their search results today. For instance, more than 70% of all Internet searches today are demand-driven or problem-driven. Not a brand or a product is at the center of attention, but a generic description of the current starting situation (problem) or the desired target situation (need).The prospect seeks guidance and assistance in answering the questions that arise in the current phase of the purchase decision.
In this situation, the direct commercial presentation of a product would not really help because it imposes the prospect to build the bridge between his problem and the promise of the product. Hence, the attention is low for such a communication and the subsequent conversion to the customer. The attention of a prospective customer rather receives the very pointed information, which helps him to answer urgent questions of his current purchase decision phase.
Google is taking account of this expectation with many adaptations of its algorithm in recent years as well as emulating more and more of this search behavior and the associated expectations. The decisive ranking factor of search results is the expected relevance of the information behind the search result for the searcher.
Companies face double the challenge
Classical advertising information, which focuses on direct conversion in a product-focused manner and does not pick up the interested parties in their problem or demand situation, receives less and less attention and has a lower impact. Information that is not helpful and relevant to the prospect will no longer appear on their radar as it is listed in the search results subordinate. This information does not even have the chance to get the attention of the interested party.
Accordingly, marketing communication faces the task of turning the perspective of its communication by 180 degrees: away from the brand and product-centered presentation to a problem-centered and demand-oriented communication in which the prospective customer recognizes his current situation and provides the information to navigate one step further through the decision-making process. In short, the key is the relevance of the communicative content.
Relevance is the key
If the communicative and consequently commercial success of information depends today on its relevance, it is worth taking a closer look at how relevance is defined in this context. Generally, relevance is described as " importance that someone attaches to something in a particular context", making three elementary building blocks of relevance clear: the personal reference (receiver), the object reference (information) and the situational context (touchpoint). Applied to marketing, this results in a new formula for relevant marketing communication.
The buyer persona - the personal references
The most fundamental change in the modified marketing formula is the understanding and definition of the target audience. Rather than classifying a person through socio-demographics, psychography, or their affiliation with milieus, the enhanced model of the "Buyer Persona" comes into play here.
The buyer persona is the representative image of a target customer. It depicts a target customer type – mainly against the background and in the context of a purchase decision. The key parameters of the buyer persona include the problems and needs of the target customer type, which receive high attention and whose solution could lead to a purchase decision process (trigger).
The Buyer Persona forms in content and tonality the blueprint for the information provided, as well as the content for which its prospective buyer is receptive to during the purchase decision process.
The content - the object reference
The content is the information carrier that allows the prospect to answer the questions in the current phase of their purchase decision process. As different as the purchase decision processes and information needs, the content, scope and format vary. It ranges from infographics, videos and whitepapers to webinars, apps and advertorials, demand calculators, configurators and third-party reports. The more beneficial and unique the content is, the more likely it is that it fulfills its expectations of awareness, engagement, and conversion driver through the purchase decision process.
The situational context
The appropriate context is crucial for the effectiveness of a buyer persona and primarily defined by the respective phase of the customer journey. It describes which information a prospective buyer basically needs or which fundamental goal he pursues. Secondarily, context is defined by the touchpoint where the content is to be provided, raising the questions: “Is this a digital or analogue, paid, owned or earned media? Is the approach made via mobile phone, computer at work or at the point of sale?
All these factors influence the format of preparation for the personalized customer journey.