Welcome to the Tuesday 2¢ . It’s Tuesday, the weekend is a distant memory and it’s time to let off some steam and give our 2 cents on a hot industry topic. This week Ian Truscott discusses the marketer’s common perception of the online consumer.
I was chatting to one of my colleagues as we published last week’s Tuesday 2¢ and he rather succinctly suggested that, despite all the advanced marketing, the machines and technology changes, people are spending WAY more time on buying things. This utopian (or Orwellian, 1984) vision which I discussed in the last article, of the machines tending to our every consumer need before we even need it seems to forget one thing: people like to shop.
It’s a thought that would seem to run contrary to the popular ( but untrue ) point of view that the modern consumer has a shorter attention span than a goldfish. As such, is the frenzy of reactionary “buy now” activities meaning that marketers need to be remarketing to every web page their customers look at, in order to stay in their consciousness – in case in the last 2 seconds they’ve forgotten us?
Of course, there is the impulse purchase, but there is plenty of evidence to suggest that in actual fact, buying stuff, the whole process of research, selecting and then actually spending time in the store making a purchase is now something people choose to do in their leisure time. It’s their hobby.
Research by Statista suggests that 75% of people in the UK go out shopping as a leisure activity. It is also, of course, a leisure activity which today is also done in the home or office. Take a quick look at any eCommerce research and you will discover that that a growing majority of consumers prefer to shop or research their purchase online, even if a brick and mortar store is part of their shopping experience. We therefore have a lot of people spending a lot of time pondering a purchase online and, most importantly for all of us marketers, consuming content.
In addition to the time we are spending in the mall or on Amazon, we are all spending an awful lot of time on social media. According to the much respected Pew Research Center , 76% of all American adults use social media today, when just 10 years ago this number was only 11%. And Statista reports that we spend on average 135 minutes (over 2 hours!) a day consuming social content on channels which are drenched in product content.
As a B2B marketer, the specter of “the machine” is less of a concern. It’s unlikely that someone will call across the kitchen at Alexa and demand their virtual personal assistant buys them an enterprise software product, a robot for their factory, or “you know that big machine by the furnace that goes ‘ka-chung’”.
Although, like B2C products, if you sell a consumable item B2B, I suspect that the machine is already making those deals. Just-in-time stock replenishment is way ahead of Amazon sending me toilet roll before I know I need it, but broadly this extended shopping behaviour is the same for the B2B buyer.
According to Sirius Decisions “67 percent of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally” and this buying behaviour and CEB (now part of Gartner) claims that “[B2B] Customers are already 57% through the purchase process before they approach a supplier”.
So there is clearly an essential role for our content and an audience which wants to engage with it. Consumers are showing that they want to invest some time in understanding our story, our products, who we are, what we stand for, whether they will like us, and how a purchase from us would reflect on them (etc. etc.).
In return for this attention, we should take the position that our buyers are not goldfish - they can remember who we are between visits to our website – and create a content marketing experience aimed at those human beings who are investing their free time in us.
So, forget about the machine and the goldfish. Think instead about the person and their hobby - and create better content.