Rethinking the online path to purchase

These three things are information about the product or service, the best value offer, and the trustworthiness of the brand or company providing the goods. 

Where and how do you present your product? How do you make sure the offer is considered competitive? And how do you build trust? Through powerful search features on the on the Internet, we are able to answer the first two questions. The product offering is something consumers research for when they have an intention to purchase. When consumers have made their decision they move on to the transaction phase, where trust is a deal breaker. One of the most effective ways trust can be built is to ensure that consumers have access to you and can communicate their needs or concerns. This has been valid for the physical store for as long as it has existed, and the same logic can be applied to the online store as well. Spoken conversations are real-time activities when a substantial amount of information can be exchanged. We’ve all been in situations where we’ve started to compose a text message to someone only to eventually pick up the phone and call them instead as the topic would be too tedious and time-consuming to discuss through text messaging.

If this has ever happened to you, it also happens to your online audience. 

Mats Stigzelius, co-founder of ProSkin Clinics, noticed that online was their core customer acquisition channel and led his team to start investing more into growing their online footprint. 

According to Stigzelius, "People were spending more and more time researching online, as what we offer is not really an impulse purchase. We knew that if we were good at it, we’d stand out – we improved our website and started focusing on online user experience."

Using a simple model of driving online customer enquiries straight into a centralised reception, the ProSkin team discovered that over 50% of its business was coming from customer interaction with its call centre. While this was essential in learning about their customers’ preferred mode of communication and how it could further build trust, it wasn’t enough of a push for ProSkin to grow its business.

In order to be able to expand, ProSkin needed a more comprehensive understanding of customer journeys online. The website was primarily driving visitors to book online, while the call centre channel was acting as a overflow option for customers who were not as interested in self-service bookings. However, the majority of bookings ended up being made via the call centre and ProSkin had no visibility into the customers’ journey from website-to-phone.

The online analytics tools that they had access to could not collect data about users that had taken their transaction offline by completing their booking via the call centre. They had already implemented online strategies based on data collected from their web analytics tool that would encourage visitors to book online. However, most customers were still going down the serviced route and booking via the call centre. This raised difficult questions: Was this the same online audience that wished to complete their transaction offline? Or were these inbound phone calls from an entirely different audience?

The last couple of years have seen a new generation of marketing tools being made available to the market that allow businesses to treat every user separately, such as CRM tools. We provided ProSkin with the tools they needed to get full visibility of the online path-to-purchase for all bookings, including bookings made via the call centre. Visitors’ digital footprints like search phrases, location or booking, whether they are a first time caller or recurring caller, and their potential lifetime value, are fed into their Google Adwords account and their campaign emailing tool in real-time. 

These metrics are now part of every single copy, targeting and bidding decision. In the short term, CPA decreased by 30%. The ProSkin team also redesigned the UX on their website based on this new data set, resulting in the overall total conversion rate increasing by 300%. ProSkin is now accelerating their growth, opening one new clinic per month in the UK, where they are now the fastest growing beauty clinic.

It is essential for any business marketing a product or service requiring a high involvement decision before purchase to acknowledge two things: one, the importance of making it easy for customers online  to speak to a brand representative over the phone as it is a real-time trust building channel and will support an increase in sales; and two, the importance of using tracking tools that are not disconnected when customers jump from online to offline, and maybe back again. An acute sense of awareness about deficiencies in the online path to purchase and the ability to rectify these deficiencies through informed data-driven decisions will, in turn, provide the best customer experience leading to an increase in customer loyalty and sales.