Updated: Mar 25, 2016
Every marketing professional knows about the Consumer Decision Journey, or CDJ. The basic premise maps out the stages a consumer goes through while in the process of choosing a product or service. The five generally agreed upon stages are Awareness, Familiarity, Consideration, Purchase and lastly, Loyalty. Though this has been the golden standard for understanding audience targeting for decades, the ways in which consumers connect with brands is evolving. Third party media channels such as Yelp as well as various product review sites tend to have significant brand influence and are outside of the control of the brand owner. The evolution of the Consumer Decision Journey (CDJ) from one that is almost fully controlled by the brand owner to a distributed crowd-sourced model is driven by the growth of media channels, social platforms and online review sites which provide a variety of ways to leave post-purchase feedback. With this evolution, it’s necessary to digitize the CDJ. The outcome is a fully targeted and highly effective content marketing plan. The key moments in what I call the Digital Consumer Decision Journey (DCDJ), are the following:
- Brand/Product Introduction
- Brand/Product Interest
While very similar to the original CDJ, the DCDJ specifically targets users while on the digital leg of their journey. However, insights from the DCDJ can impact beyond the digital space. First, let’s take a look at the 5 steps and what the content requirements are for each.
Steps of the DCDJ
Consumers tend to follow a consistent pattern of digital content consumption when evaluating a brand’s product. It is helpful to design content for each step of this path. The following is a typical breakdown and what the requirements are for each step.
- Brand/Product Introduction: The first step the consumer takes in the DCDJ is typically finding companies that provide the product they are looking for. In this step, the consumer is likely to sweep across many brands to get a broad view of the players. Content should be crafted to address this introduction and it needs to extol the brand promise (“Simply the Best”), brand trust statement (“Proudly Servicing the Community Since 1932”), the unique value offering (“The only product with Diphenhydramine”), and brag about the product (“Official Gasoline for Formula 1 Racing”). The Introduction content should also have clear buyer incentives that suggest urgency.
- Brand/Product Interest: The next step in the DCDJ is for the consumer to learn more about your brand. In this step, informational content will be the key influencer. This interest phase is where the consumer will learn about your product, understand the options and compare your product with competing brands. Content intended for this step should make the selection support simple for the consumer. Knowing that your brand will be compared to others in this step, it may be ideal to have a brand comparison chart and proactively offer decision support points. The goal of the Interest content is to make sure your brand stays in the game. If your content does not offer enough decision and selection support as well as educational content, you may lose your conversion.
- Intent: The next step is when the consumer has the intent to convert and needs to know the details about acquiring your product or service. The content developed to service the Intent phase should answer as many of the questions as possible about how the consumer will acquire your product. Examples of Intent content include unboxing videos, pricing, shipping costs, service areas, delivery time, warranty, guarantee and rules and regulations for what the consumer is required to have to complete the conversion. Often, this content takes the FAQ format.
- Conversion: The next step is the conversion. This step is usually a conversion purchase funnel or a CTA such as a call now button.
- Post-Conversion: At this point in the DCDJ, it’s important to capture your audience for post-purchase feedback to capitalize on buyer satisfaction. By using this content, you will promote brand loyalty.There are an increasing number of ways for crowds to influence a brand and make it easier for consumers to see post-purchase feedback and evaluate a brand from a consumer satisfaction standpoint prior to purchasing. Since your customers will use not only your website for decision support but will likely go off-site during their journey, it is necessary to revise your marketing strategy using insights from these additional points of influence.
Varying Factors in the DCDJ
The duration and points of influence for a DCDJ changes based on the type of purchase being made. Commodity items often have one-click shopping. In this scenario, brand trust is usually strong and price is usually the motivating factor to these purchases. Since in this scenario the DCDJ is very short, often the on-site product reviews written by previous consumers are sufficient for influencing the purchase.
Purchases where the consumer has the requirement to educate themselves on selection options and brand differences will tend to take much more involved DCDJs. Consumers will do their best to analyze product options, brand reputation and third party consumer reviews while filtering down their choices.
Though the specific content in each phase of the journey will vary for every product or service, it is imperative to take the full DCDJ into consideration when building a strategy for audience targeting and conversion optimization. Knowing what your consumers will be influenced by should be a key component to developing your online experience.
Analyzing the DCDJ on Your Site
Visitor behavior for each of these steps is different and as such you need to analyze each step of the DCDJ separately. If you analyze the various types of content together you’ll wind up with a blended summary which will not be helpful for optimizing your DCDJ. The following table provides some insight for how to monitor effectiveness for each step.
Use the DCDJ to help map out your content
When building your content strategy be sure to start with a DCDJ map. By using this, you will better understand the expected user behavior which will allow you to identify the full content requirements for your target audience. Make sure your brand delivers what your audience needs at each step of their unique buying process.