Video has begun to take over social media in recent years and is continuing to grow. According to a research done by Ooyala (2017), more than half (57 percent) of all online video plays occurred on mobile devices, and most of those views came from phones (47 percent) and tablets (10 percent). Compares to 2013, online video plays on mobile devices have grown by more than 233 percent. The growth rate is even faster than the adoption of mobile devices worldwide within the same period (Ooyala, 2017). In addition, the phenomenon that more consumers are now watching video content on their mobile devices is observed worldwide. The Asia Pacific region, where the smartphone penetration rate among internet users is the highest, has 61 percent of its online video plays on mobile devices, followed by Latin America (56 percent), EMEA (54 percent) and North America (50 percent). In addition, the research has shown that mobile devices viewers increasingly inclined to medium-form and longer-form content: 55 percent of all videos viewed on the mobile phone are now related to clips that are longer than 5 minutes and 81 percent of all videos viewed on the tablet are now related to clips that are longer than 20 minutes.
In another research done by Zenith (2017), the average time spent on mobile video viewing per person per day is projected to be 37 minutes in 2019, with a growth rate of 29 percent compared to that of 2017. Also, it is forecasted that the mobile devices will even account for over 70 percent of all online video play by 2019. This trend will be mainly driven by the broad adoption of mobile devices, improved displays of mobile devices and faster internet connection worldwide (Zenith Media, 2017). Facebook also (2018) shares a similar forecast that 75 percent of all mobile data will be video by 2020.
It is evident that, from all these researches, customers are now more open to watching longer-form content on their mobile devices. With the heavier video consumption on mobile devices and the rapidly growing “video minutes” on the mobile platform, business should produce more creative digital content that captivates their target segment, so that they can monetize the engagement and increase the time span with the content.
1.1.2 The growth of social media
Social media is defined as the media that enable users to create and share content and to participate in social networking via virtual communities and networks (Investopedia, 2018). With its rapid growth and prevalence in our modern culture, social media has become a global phenomenon (Marketo, 2016). The number of social media users worldwide is 3.196 billion in 2018, which means roughly 42 percent of the world's 7.6 billion inhabitants are now active social media users, with a 13 percent growth compared to last year, according to the report from We Are Social and Hootsuite (2018). Also, time spent on social media daily is on the rise, now averaging at around 2 hours and 15 minutes daily. It contributes roughly around one-third of the time that people spend online (Global Web Index, 2018). Statista (2018) shows that Facebook is the leader regarding the number of active users (2,167 mils), followed by YouTube (1,500 mils), WhatsApp (1,300 mils), Facebook Messenger (1,300 mils) and WeChat (980 mils). Interestingly, consumer nowadays has on average eight social media account (Global Web Index, 2018). This suggests that multi-networking is happening, and social media is of growing popularity.
The role of social media is continually evolving. It has now become the prominent media for people to share information and one of the most important sources of traffic for the news. According to Pew Research Center, about 67 percent of people read at least some news on social media (Bialik & Matsa, 2017). Therefore, as social media evolved, not only it is a medium for social networking, but it has also increasingly become a source of information and entertainment. As a matter of fact, according to Global Web Index, more than one-third of users seek out and engage with the brands they like, research about products and service for purchase, and obtain customer service on social media (Marketo, 2016).
The social media has made an impact on almost every aspect of our everyday life (Marketo, 2016). Social media is becoming an essential channel for business to reach their target audience and to develop customer's awareness, recognition, and positive feelings for the brand. In fact, the growth of global social media users continues to increase and even outpaces the growth of global internet adoption (Marketo, 2016). Not surprisingly, Facebook is the fastest growing social network, with 527 mils increase in monthly active users over the past two years (Q3 2017 vs. Q3 2015), followed by WhatsApp (400 mils), Instagram (400 mils), WeChat (313 mils). With the wide adoption of social media, it has become an effective way for brands to engage the audience in the entire customer lifecycle, from creating and maintaining relationships, to driving revenue growth, to increasing customer loyalty, retention and building advocacy (Marketo, 2016).
1.1.3 Challenges arising from the new media ecosystem
Much has been discussed about the changing media landscape in the digital era. The next subchapter will briefly describe the challenges arising from the new media ecosystem from a marketing practitioner's point of view.
126.96.36.199 Marketing noise
Noise in marketing refers to “anything that interferes with, slows down, or reduces the clarity or accuracy of communication.” (Business Dictionary, 2018). The emergence of the internet and social media offers more opportunities for advertisers to reach out to their target audiences than the traditional media such as television, book, newspaper, and radio. As a result, customers are now bombarded with thousands of advertising messages from different channels. With over 500 million tweets per day (Sayce, 2016), 300 million new photos added on Facebook every day (Zephoria, 2018), 52 million photos shared on Instagram per day (Statistic Brain, 2018), and one million of photos and videos created every day on Snapchat (Aslam, 2018), customers are overwhelmed by the amount of information. The marketing message is easily lost in the background noise (Falcon.io, 2018).
188.8.131.52 Declining organic reach due to the change in distribution model
The increasing use of smartphone and social media has tremendous effect on the distribution model between the publisher and the reader: the tradition model between publisher and reader is a direct information flow relationship; while the new model incorporates the process of content curation (such as on social media) between publisher and reader, in which information is organized, categorized, classified and distributed by algorithms (Cerezo, 2018). It revolutionizes the information distribution model between the publisher and the reader. As a result, the process of content curation controls what information is published and distributed and holds a highly dominant position in the distribution system.
By definition, organic reach is the number of people having an unpaid post from the brand's page on their screen (Facebook, 2016). On the contrary, paid reach is the number of people having a paid post from the brand's page on their screen. As a matter of fact, there is an observed decline in organic reach in all social media channels. The decline is caused by the cluttered newsfeed and the ever-changing algorithms of social media (Falcon.io, 2016). According to Facebook, they began to "shift ranking to make news feed more about connecting with people and less about consuming media in isolation." (Mosseri, 2018). As a result, marketing content was “poised to take a backseat to content by friends and family”, making the visibility of marketing content on Facebook even more competitive (Bernazzani, 2018).
184.108.40.206 Ad block software
Ad block software can remove or alter advertising content from a website, or a mobile app and it is available on a variety of computer platforms such as desktop and laptop computers, tablets and smartphones (Investopedia, 2018). The widespread adoption of ad block software poses hindrances for brands to connect with the target audiences. According to IAB/YouGov study, the number of people using ad block software is around 22 percent. The number is even higher for the 18 to 24 age group, with 47 percent of respondents using ad block software (Southern, 2016). In addition to that, Page Fair's report (2017) found that around 615 millions of global devices are blocking ads and the use ad lock has a 30 percent growth year-on-year (YOY) from 2015 to 2016. In addition, ad block software on mobile devices is growing explosively in Asia and is set to spread to North America and Europe (PageFair, 2017). The growing trend of ad block usage definitely makes it harder for brands to reach their target audiences.
220.127.116.11 Trust in advertising declines, while peer influence rises
As more and more online media exploded over the internet, consumers are bombarded with ever more messages and have become resistant to online media. It is demonstrated by the declining response rate for online advertisement and the widespread growth of ad block software (Les & Peter, 2017). Also, Statista (2017) has shown that the level of trust in advertising among consumers dropped significantly from 50 percent (2014) to 39 percent (2017). Similarly, in HubSpot's study, it is found that 75 percent of people do not accept advertisements as truth while 70 percent of people believe consumer opinions on the internet, which means interestingly people do trust strangers over advertisements (Ewing, 2017). It suggests that advertising is losing its influencing power on target customers. Brands face challenges to gain trust with their target audiences.
1.2 New consumer journey
With the advancement of technology and also the change in media ecosystem, the traditional linear, retail-focused model has been changed into today's iterative, digital-centric model of customer behavior in just a decade (Su, 2017). The new media ecosystem is dramatically transforming how we get new information, how we communicate, and it radically reshapes the whole consumer journey, impacting how consumers acknowledge products/service, how they do research, compares products, and make a purchase decision. In this regard, the beginning of the following subchapter will be devoted to examining the paradigm shift of the consumer journey and different models describing the consumer journey will be presented. Afterward, the navigation within the consumer journey will be further discussed.
1.2.1 The paradigm shift of consumer journey
18.104.22.168 “Moment of truth”
Coined in 2005 by Procter & Gamble, First Moment of Truth (FMOT) refers to the moment when a customer interacts with a brand, product or service to form or change an impression about that particular brand, product or service (Business Dictionary, 2018). The Second Moment of Truth (SMOT) refers to the moment a customer purchases a product and experiences its quality (Business Dictionary, 2018). The Third Moment of Truth (TMOT) refers to the moment when customers provide feedback about the product. For instance, when consumers become a brand advocate and share feedback via word of mouth or social media (Hyken, 2016). The “moment of truth” concept is sound and compelling and is one of the most important marketing frameworks as it accurately captures the consumer journey from buying a product (FMOT), experiencing a product (SMOT), and eventually becoming an advocate to the brand (TMOT) (Su, 2017). In 2011, Google coined the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) which refers to the moment when a customer is researching a product through the websites, online reviews, or social media before they make their purchase. ZMOT describes how digital channels such as social media and search engine influence the consumer journey. It is the first marketing framework that emphasizes the importance of digital channels as a critical part of the consumer journey (Su, 2017).
22.214.171.124 Marketing funnel
A marketing funnel is a visualization tool that breaks down the process of consumer journey into 5 stages: from Awareness, Consideration, Conversion, Loyalty to Advocacy. This model requires marketers to capture as many people as possible at the top of the funnel and then to slowly nurture prospective customers through the purchasing decision, and to bring these consumers through every stage of the funnel (Hopfauf, 2017). The marketing funnel is designed to describe customer's journey starting from the top of the funnel (Awareness), through the funnel, and finishing at the end (Advocacy) in strict sequence (Hopfauf, 2017). However, in the digital era, customers can enter the funnel at different stages due to the easiness of accessing information from smartphones, social media, and the internet. Customers are now empowered with the decision power and are no longer interacting with companies in a linear buying journey (Su, 2017). With the rise of the internet and social media, customers are now informing themselves about the products by doing their own research and digging up review. Customers nowadays are navigating more and more through the funnel on their own. This makes the concept of marketing funnel impractical (Hopfauf, 2017).
126.96.36.199 Consumer decision journey
As the marketing funnel may not be relevant in the era of digital economy, McKinsey has created an entirely new model to describe the new phenomenon: consumers no longer go through a linear journey, in which the customer progress from one step to another in succession, but they have instead entered into a more networked environment where they can hop on and hop off in the entire consumer journey (Canady, 2018). The model, with four distinct phases, namely Initial consideration, Active evaluation, Moment of purchase and Post-purchase experience, is a circular model to show how the buying process fuels itself and to highlight touch points along the journey (Court, et al., 2009). In phase 1, consumer considers different brands based on brand perception and exposure to touch points; In phase 2, consumer makes active evaluation of the brands; In phase 3, consumer selects a brand and make a purchase; In phase 4, consumer evaluates their buying experience; In final phase, if the consumer is pleased with the whole experience, they may enter the loyalty loop and go back to phase 3, the Moment of purchase (Hopfauf, 2017). This model emphasizes communication at all stages and shows the importance of providing enough information to the potential customers to help the purchase decision (Su, 2017). However, this consumer decision journey model is also being challenged by digital acceleration. The biggest weakness of the theory proposed by McKinsey is the questionable connection between purchase and advocacy (Hopfauf, 2017). With social media, the customer no longer has to be a customer to become an advocate. Advocacy of a brand is not always a result of a purchase.
188.8.131.52 Five As framework
AIDA is one of the earliest marketing frameworks that describe consumer behavior and split it into Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action, coined by E. St. Elmo Lewis in the late nineteenth century. The model has undergone several modifications and expansions to cater for the advancement of new media and communications platforms. Philip Kotler argues that social media is revolutionizing the marketing world while digital marketing and technology are transforming the way we do business (Kotler, et al., 2017). Kotler says the customer journey now consists of 5As: Aware (I know about the product), Appeal (I like the product), Ask (I'm convinced about the product), Act (I'm buying the product), and Advocate (I recommend the product). This 5As model provides a much-needed update to the AIDA model and adapts to the shifting nature of the customer and the customer journey in the digital economy.
1.2.2 Navigating the new consumer journey
With much discussion on the paradigm shift and different models describes the consumer journey, it is essential to understand the all the models described are useful and helpful in some contexts. When deciding which model to use, it is important to consider the multi-dimensional nature of social influence, non-linear paths of the consumer journey, and lastly the ongoing relationships beyond the moment of purchase (Hopfauf, 2017).
Marketers should be able to navigate the consumer journey and to create the right impression and excel the customer experience at every possible touch points across the journey. In the following chapter, essential points on navigating the consumer journey will be discussed.
184.108.40.206 Integrating and optimizing touchpoints
To attract, win and retain more customers is to optimize customer experience throughout the whole consumer journey. As the stages of customer engagement, purchasing and advocating no longer occur in succession; the consumer journey is increasingly fragmented, and the touch points are spread out across the consumer journey (Falcon.io, 2018). In addition, the wide adoption of mobile phone intensely fractured the consumer journey into many real-time decision-making moments. These touchpoints provide worthy opportunities for brands to shape consumer decision and preference. Therefore, brands need to integrate and optimize the touch points so that the right message can be delivered to the right target audiences at the right time in this hyper multi-channel digital world (Falcon.io, 2018).
To maintain consistency in the customer journey is also crucial for success. In fact, McKinsey's research shows that there is a remarkably strong correlation between consistency on key customer journeys and overall performance in customer experience. From their research, it is found that customers trust banks that are in the top quartile of delivering consistent customer journeys 30 percent more than banks in the bottom quartile (Strevel, et al., 2014). Therefore, brands should find ways to meet customers at many points along the customer journey and to maintain an integrated, consistent journey of strong customer experience that will ultimately drive growth in revenue, customer retention and the overall brand value (Falcon.io, 2018).
220.127.116.11 From ZMOT to purchase
As discussed in the previous chapter, the period between the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) and final purchase is arguably the most important part in the consumer journey, and brands must optimize customer experience in this stage to succeed (Falcon.io, 2018). The moments leading up to purchase, and the purchase itself has the potential to make customers anxious about the product, return policies or even the payment process (Falcon.io, 2018). It is therefore crucial for the business to ease the anxiety of the customers. According to the research done by Forrester, 55 percent of the online users are likely to abandon their online purchase if they cannot find a quick solution to their query (Ephraim et al., 2015). The implication here is that marketer should be able to anticipate critical questions that customers may come up with and provide enough information and solutions to them in order to ease their anxiety. Also, it would be great if customers have the choice to reach someone who can resolve their issues in a matter of minutes, so they could carry on with the customer journey (Falcon.io, 2018).
18.104.22.168 Building a post-purchase experience
In the whole customer journey, the post-purchase period can reinforce initial positive impression to drive loyalty and even advocacy (Falcon.io, 2018). Customer loyalty is now the key driver of long-term profitability as loyal customers spend more, refer more people, and are more willing to expand their buying into new categories (Bain & Company, 2016). In Bain & Company research (2016), it is found that a 1-point improvement in customer service satisfaction (on a scale of one to five) yielded a 2 to 5 percent increase in the retention rates depending on the type of industry. In addition, it is found that a shopper will refer three people after their first purchase and will even refer seven people after their tenth purchases. It suggests that loyalty can turn a customer to be an advocate and is a crucial driver for referrals.
Building an excellent post-purchase experience is, therefore, considered a key driver to build a strong brand, as it can retain customers, drive repeated purchase and increase cross-selling opportunities.
1.3 Consumers in the digital era
The advancements in mobile phone technology and interactive digital media are revolutionizing marketing, and social media has substantially transformed the marketing ecosystem of influence (Walmsley, 2010). The growth of interactive digital media has altered the contact between the business and the consumer, from a passive Web 1.0 to an interactive Web 2.0 where consumers are simultaneously the initiators and recipients of information exchanges (Hanna et al., 2011). The role of consumers in the digital era is arguably evolving. In the digital era, consumers are no longer just the passive recipients in the marketing process, but they are taking on a more active role in co-creating everything from product design to the promotional messages (Berthon et al., 2007).
To implement a marketing strategy that fits consumers in the digital era is crucial for marketing success nowadays. It is therefore vital for business to understand what defines their consumers today and what precisely do their consumers desire in the digital era. The next subchapter will briefly describe the characteristics and their expectation of modern consumers in the digital era.
1.3.1 Characteristics of modern consumers
The digital revolution allows consumers to access information about products and services within seconds, offering them with enough facts to make an informed buying decision (Badenhorst, 2015). According to a global survey conducted by Nielson (2016), more than 50 percent of global respondents use their mobile device to compare prices (53 percent) or to look up product information (52 percent) when they are shopping. The world of commerce has transformed as more consumers use their mobile devices to enhance their shopping experience. In the same survey, more than 44 percent of respondents use their device to look for coupons or deals, to make better shopping decisions (42 percent) or to make shopping trips quicker or more efficient (41 percent). The new digital customers are now empowered with greater knowledge of products and services which means the brands can now no longer decide what information is delivered to consumers regarding product knowledge (Badenhorst, 2015).
22.214.171.124 Short attention span
The engagement on the digital platform is shrinking and easily distracted in the digital era. A substantial difference in how people behave within the medium of mobile phones than in the traditional medium is observed. According to Facebook (2017), users spend an average of 1.7 seconds with a piece of mobile content on the platform, compared to 2.5 seconds on a desktop. The speed is even faster among younger audiences. It suggests that people in the digital era have shorter attention span with the increasing use of mobile phone.
The new consumers in the digital era crave speed, and they expect it everywhere, from 4G mobile network to same-day deliveries. Our lives are faster and more efficient than ever (Shellhammer, 2016). According to a recent study by Google, slow loading sites frustrates users and negatively impact engagement rate, it is found that 53 percent of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages take longer than 3 seconds to load (Shellhammer, 2016). Also, mobile sites that load in 5 seconds earn up to 2 times more mobile ad revenue than those sites which load in 19 seconds (Shellhammer, 2016).
126.96.36.199 Extremely social
Understanding how to access and share information on social media has become not just an advantage but also one of the main foundations for business to succeed (Cerezo, 2018). As it has become tremendously easy to share information, reviews, and testimonials on social media, consumers possess the power to both build and destroy a brand. Word-of-mouth marketing and peer recommendations are becoming a powerful tool to increase brand visibility and to improve brand's image as people now believe their network of peers more often than a branded campaign (Marketo, 2016). In fact, according to a survey done by Nielsen (2016), only 33 percent of consumers believe what a brand says about itself while 92 percent believe what their peers have to say about a brand. That means if a product or service has a favorable peer recommendation on the social media, it is likely that buyers will have more trust on the product or service than if they see an ad campaign (Marketo, 2016).
1.3.2 Expectations of modern consumers
188.8.131.52 Real-time response
Social media has changed the customer-brand dynamic in an enormous way (Falcon.io, 2016). Customers are expecting a real-time response on social media. According to The Social Habit research, 32 percent of respondents that have ever attempted to contact a brand or company through social media for customer support expect a response within 30 minutes and a further 42 percent of respondents expect a response within 60 minutes (Baer, 2017). It suggests that modern consumers now expect a response as soon as possible. According to a survey conducted by the eDigital Research, consumers are likely to have an improved perception of a brand that can deliver good customer service, and this can often lead to enhanced customer retention (Ward, 2014).
184.108.40.206 Social customer service
The demand for social customer service is booming. Creating an excellent customer experience is crucial. Moreover, customers in the digital era expect themselves to be able to contact the business through whatever channels that are convenient to them. According to a survey done by Conversocial (2016), over half of respondents (54 percent) preferred channels such as social media as their means of communication with brands over the more traditional channels such as email and phone. Users retention and engagement also significantly improve when customers interact with brands on social. It is found that 86 percent of high-earner are more loyal to brands they engage with on social. This finding is also consistent with the survey done by McKinsey that “young adults, wealthier users, and the digitally connected make the greatest use of social networks for customer service – and that they have a greater preference for social channels over phone or face-to-face customer service interactions.” (Singer, et al., 2015).
In the age of hyper-connected consumers, delivering a personalized experience is a priority for businesses (Betts, 2018). As competition increases, businesses face even more pressure to create a personalized curated experienced that drive customer engagement, trust and differentiation in the market (Accenture, 2018).
Personalized experience empowers consumers by allowing them to have a more enjoyable and relevant experience that helps them accomplish their goal (Hyken, 2017). More consumers are now demanding a personalized experience from the business they interact with. In fact, according to a report by Accenture, 75 percent of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer (online or offline) that recognizes them by name, recommends options based on past purchases, or knows their purchase history (Accenture, 2018). Also, personalization impacts how consumers view a brand and how they shop. 62 percent of consumers said they would think more positively about a brand if the content that they received is valuable, interesting or relevant (RAPT, 2018). Also, 77 percent of consumers have chosen, recommended, or paid more for a brand that provides a personalized service or experience (Sweet, 2016).
To better understand and deliver a personalized experience to the customer, business often uses data analytics and market research as tools. According to a study, 94 percent of marketers use data and analytics capabilities, personalization technologies and customer profile data management capabilities to deliver personalized customer experiences (Betts, 2018). As target marketing and personalization prevails, consumers are getting more and more adept at a personalized offer across different platforms, and they are also getting more comfortable with the use of the personal data. According to a study by Accenture (2018), 83 percent of consumers are willing to share their data in exchange for a more personalized experience provided that the businesses are transparent about how they are going to use it and that customers have control over it. It suggests that business should now utilize the analytic tools to understand their customers and create a personalized experience for them along their consumer journey.
...(download the rest of the essay above)