I bought a pair of shoes yesterday―admittedly, not earth-shattering news.
But it brought to mind the discussion many brands are having these days about “driving to end of funnel.” Maybe you’ve heard this term. It reflects the desire to shortcut the typical awareness, consideration and purchase process, and go straight to sales.
Wouldn’t that be nice? If only you could actually get consumers to stop all that pondering and buy already! Just imagine all the money we’d save on marketing.
Which brings me back to my shoe purchase. While poking around Facebook, I spotted an ad for Zappos for 40% off on boots. Being a boot fanatic, this caught my eye. But rather than shopping right then, I logged off, poured a cup of coffee and decided to go back and browse Pinterest to see if any styles were trending. As I had to catch a plane that morning, I packed up and headed to the airport. A Zappos ad on the security bins reminded me of the deal, so while waiting to board, I went directly to Zappos.com, found the boots I was looking for and the rest, as they say, is shoe history.
Facebook probably doesn’t much appreciate what I did. Nor does Pinterest. And likewise, it’s a bummer for the internal marketing team who, without a much deeper set of behavior analytics to give them the ability to track my ping pong-like behavior, most likely credited my “conversion” to the Web team. The poor social ad buy team was left to justify their spend on Facebook with only those suspect impression numbers to arm them, since I took no action originating from there.
The real story is that Facebook was the inspiration for my purchase. Pinterest was another breadcrumb on the trail. Airport advertising gave me a nudge in the right direction. The Zappos site simply hosted the transaction.
Too often, marketers think of the purchase journey as a narrow funnel, where consumers slide down the slippery slope of an ironclad chute we’ve built for them, reinforced by data, until they are blindly force-fed a purchase after they hit bottom. They tend to put less priority at the top and want to focus all on the bottom, where they believe that transactional goodness takes place. Yet, even with big data insights and better abilities to track behavior, we intuitively know it doesn’t quite work that way.
I prefer to think of successful marketing efforts not as a funnel, but as tempting morels of inspiration, education and motivation―breadcrumbs that entice consumers to discover and find many paths to purchase that reflects how most people actually buy. In the quest for how to create the best sales journey, the idea of how a conversion takes place has to take into account for when a mindset decision is made (which can happen at any point), as well as where action takes place.
So my theory is that marketers need to stop looking for the shortcuts, and instead combine the knowledge that numbers give them with an understanding of human behavior, recognizing every step is important. And speaking of steps, holler if you know of any other great shoe sales going on out there―I’m self-identifying as a qualified lead.