The age of social influence
17 July 2012
The once linear and transaction-centric purchase funnel today is multi-directional and, thanks to social media and technology, consumers can now enter the purchase cycle at various points, and spontaneously influence others on the path the purchase.
Initiative set out to explore the individual and combined strength of TV, social and mobile, and how consumer interaction with each has altered the path to purchase. We conducted a global online study among 8014 web users to investigate how to produce greater synergy between our siloed media, social and mobile budgets and tactics that result in a greater return on investment; the impact of social, TV and mobile on shopper decision-making, and what role consumer influence plays along the path to purchase.
Media synergy accelerates the purchase process
Increasingly, consumers are becoming the driving force powering what, when and where brand interactions occur. Based upon our findings, Initiative believes that by leveraging the consumer’s natural inclination to engage with media across multiple screens and social media, we can create a consumer-powered media synergy effect that is both non-linear and emotional - driving deeper engagement and trust. The result is an acceleration of the purchase process unobtainable by any of the three media independently.
Tapping into the power source – the social influencer
We identified that 10% of online users have a disproportionate share of influence – the “Top 10%”.
99% of these influencers say that their friends ask their opinion before making an important purchase, compared to just 13% of the Bottom 10%. They are also more likely to research or talk about their forthcoming purchase online using social media and mobile before making their purchase decision. Compare this to the “Bottom 10%”– as many as 29% failed to research any products/services online before purchasing versus just 1% of the Top 10%.
By leveraging their influence, marketers can inject a trusted voice into the path to purchase with the ability to influence in real-time.
Optimising touchpoints to create synergy
When selectively combined, TV, social and mobile create a dynamic path to purchase that speeds up the overall decision-making and purchase process. We discovered that each medium examined in our study was found to have core strengths, and that certain countries had a greater affinity for social and mobile as a marketing vehicle. Media planners and buyers are well versed in the role of media as a communication vehicle, but now must expand their expertise to include how different combinations of online and offline media perform as a point of influence in their market.
Transforming a ‘point of influence’ into a call to action
Once marketers can establish where their points of influence are for their brands, we think there is an opportunity to create social environments that transform organic community conversations into product information portals. Once inside the portal, consumers seeking brand information should be given the option to obtain more information, participate in a brand experience that underscores brand benefits, request a sample or more personalized information or link to make a purchase.
By converting influence into action, marketers can use media more effectively, and improve the consumer and shopper experience by providing relevant information and expediting the shopping process. In return, consumers are more likely to share positive experiences about brands with their communities and hopefully become brand loyal.
How to create a media synergy effect for your brands:
Find your brand’s Top 10%
In addition to the robust consumer segmentation studies conducted by many marketers to create clusters of consumers based upon purchasing behavior, we suggest completing a comprehensive analysis of social influence by determining which consumers have the potential to influence the purchase decisions of others. Our Influencer Multiplier is a proprietary scoring method that quantifies the relationship between sociability, purchase behaviour, and media consumption.
The Influence Multiplier can be used to optimize media plans by ensuring that the Top 10% are adequately represented within the consumer audience. Marketers can also use the Influence Multiplier to help prioritize media budgets between markets based upon the strength of national scores.
Create immersive multi-screen experiences
Marketers can design personal brand experiences by creating media synergy across multiple screens that provide a meaningful and actionable brand experience. This can be achieved by carefully studying the consumer’s media multitasking behavior, their path to purchase, and understanding their motivations and preferences (eg, unique content, access and experiences).
Media synergy requires new beliefs, practices and organizational structure. To create a media synergy effect, marketing departments such as brand management, advertising, media and digital, as well as their accompanying budgets will need to be integrated, or at least an integrated planning approach with frequent communication among cross-disciplinary teams is a must.
Sarah Ivey, director of communication planning worldwide, Initiative