The Buying Window
Before they contact your call center, reach out to a salesperson or visit your store, most potential customers already have decided many of the specifics of the product or service they seek. This is probably not the first time they have engaged with your brand. They are already in their buying window, but by the time they contact you directly, they have no-doubt visited your website and/or searched for your product or service online. They may have accessed online review sites, or mentioned your brand to friends or influencers on social media. Also by this time, they will have encountered your competitors. Thus, to be successful, your company must find ways reach them before they reach out to you.
To do this, you must first find them, and know how to reach them through the channel(s) of their choice. Next you must know them. Every interaction with your brand is indicative of where a customer is in their “buying window”. Use of different channels, and behavior within these channels, often indicates distinct stages of readiness to buy. Your challenge is to evaluate these activities, know what they say about where the customer is in the buying cycle, and deliver targeted, relevant content at exactly the right time to tip the scales in your favor.
Even the best companies know this is hard, but technology now provides tools and techniques to make it possible. Here are a couple of examples with more to come in Part 2:
- 3rd Party Data Overlays: 3rd party credit bureau and lifestyle/demographic data can help companies determine when customers are preparing for predictable life-events: requesting a credit card, paying for university studies, buying a car or purchasing a home. They then place contextually relevant messages into the channels that their customers frequent, e.g., direct mail, Google search, websites, mobile apps, etc.
- Look-Alike Models: Companies can document the buyer profile of their best customers, and then leverage the insight gathered from these profiles to create ‘look-alike’ models to identify both high-potential existing customers and outside prospects with similar characteristics.
Only by serving up ‘contextually relevant’ information to customers through the right channels at the right time in their buying window can you delight them and make them loyal advocates for your brand.
To secure the sale, you need to serve up ‘contextually relevant’ information to the right person at the right time – their way, not yours – during their buying window. “Find me, know me, delight me,” is the key to enhancing customer engagement and increasing customer satisfaction. Barton Goldenberg explains in his Keynote at CRM Evolution 2017.