Any marketer worth their salt knows that a campaign’s real value is always going to be determined by its ROI, no matter how pretty the pictures or clever the copy. Ultimately, it’s about generating sales, and key to making those is nurturing a positive relationship with the people with the buying power to make that happen – even if that does involve making them cry over an old man living alone on the moon.
In days gone by, when bricks and mortar – or, at most, mail order catalogues – were the predominant point of sale, marketers had the luxury of time in which to generate these relationships: planting the seed of potential purchase with a compelling strapline or seductive bit of imagery.
A print ad on the side of a bus stop might stick in the memory for the duration of a shopper’s ride into town, sparking subconscious interest when they come across the same branding on the supermarket shelves upon arrival. Today, armed only with a smartphone and decent data plan, that same person can have their weekly shop completed before the bus has even pulled up to collect them. The point being, that such easy remote access to goods and services (46% of UK online shoppers are now making their purchases from a mobile device) is dramatically shrinking the conversion window for marketers.
Research from Criteo into UK consumer attitudes towards advertising has shown that today’s tech-savvy shoppers spend less than an hour deliberating over a product before making the final purchase, and a further 37% make a decision within the first 24 hours. In fact, capitalising on impulse purchasing has almost become an industry in itself: ‘Drunk Mall’, with its tongue in cheek tagline of “Take 2 aspirin and check your credit card statement in the morning”, dedicates itself to listing all the products that you might find yourself fancying in a moment of weakness.
However, it’s not simply a case of appealing to impulse: that shorter conversion window doesn’t necessarily indicate a lack of shopping around. In the same study, 60% of respondents also indicated that they would visit, on average, between two and four different websites before deciding on a product and making a purchase. To return to our shopper on the bus example, that amount of contemplation would in the past have consisted of some considerable pacing of the high street. Now, they’re covering that same ground in a matter of moments – or, rather, clicks.
All of this, for marketers, sets up an increasingly frantic race to capture the attention of the consumer before competitors can capitalise on the opportunity, and in turn significantly increases the importance of getting the right message to the right consumer at the right time. This is particularly true in the case of the digital natives that modern day marketers obsess over: a third of 16-24 year olds questioned in Criteo’s study favoured a well-timed ad that provides information on a product that they want or need at the time. It almost goes without saying that this is the same demographic most open to living (and purchasing) on the go, via its smartphones.
Thus, targeting has become as much about knowing who you’re selling to – you’re not going to run a cinema ad for Huggies before a Bond film screening – as it does timing. The shrinking conversion window is only making this fact more prevalent, and the need to respond to it more, if you’ll excuse the pun, timely.