By 2014, digital marketing will influence more than 85% of B2C commerce. It’s a bold prediction – but think about how you conducted your own purchase decisions in 2012:

· When you shopped at a physical store, where did you check prices or availability, or learn about the product before making the trip?
· Did you get information on what others think of the product or service? Where did you do that?
· After you purchased it, where did you get more information about how it might work better, if it was the right choice or if your experience with it was the same as others?

If you’re like most people, you are increasingly drawing on digital channels to help you make buying decisions around the product you’re considering – using tools such as search, mobile, social networks, and community and/or product review sites. These techniques are used throughout the customers’ buying process which universally includes: need-and-want recognition, information gathering, evaluation, purchase and post purchase.

The mass adoption of digital channels has shifted the stages of the customer buying process from a mostly offline activity to one that occurs online. Within each stage, B2C and B2B marketers have an opportunity to improve the customer experience and influence a purchase.

For example, an automobile prospect sees an online ad, searches the web for information, seeks out recommendations via social networks and product reviews, and then purchases the car at a nearby dealership. As the prospect moves through this process:

· Which stage or stages is Facebook most effective?
· What about mobile marketing? Is it best in the need-and-want stage? Is it the evaluation stage? Is it the post purchase phase? Is it all three?

I think a design or redesign of digital marketing projects should center on this customer focused buying process view. It serves as a starting point and a sanity check of a company/customer alignment and to ensure a mutual purpose. Why invest in areas like social marketing if you cannot identify which stage or stages of a buying process will it help?

Mapping the appropriate digital marketing techniques at each stage of the process, not only aids the buyer’s evaluation process – it influences them to buy.


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