Season 1 | Episode 2
Part 1: The Evolving Buyer Journey and its Impact on Media Buying
Our host, Kelly Mancuso, welcomes Nebo co-founder Brian Easter, Director of Strategy & Insights Marisa Remmers, and Paid Media Manager Haley Stauffer to examine the evolution of the buyer journey.
In part one of this riveting two-part series, learn how advertising has made the traditional buyer journey obsolete and shares the features of your very own Choose Your Own Adventure book.
Kelly: Welcome to Paid Media Coffee. I'm Kelly Mancuso your host and today we are starting a two-part episode on the buyer journey. We're still going to be focusing on that overarching theme of the digital future of traditional media buying but we have a lot of content to cover in terms of buyer journey trends and the impact.
So, we are going to be breaking it into two and for these conversations, I am joined by three of my colleagues. We have Brian Easter the co-founder of Nebo. Thanks for joining us and coming back.
Brian: Thank you, Kelly.
Kelly: We also have Haley Stauffer. She's a paid media manager here at Nebo.
Haley: And also one of the cofounders of the podcast.
Kelly: Good point.
Haley: Yes. I've been on the intro episode, but I'm really excited to be on episode 2.
Kelly: Thank you. Welcome back. And we also have Marissa Remmers. She is the director of strategy and insights at Nebo. Welcome to the podcast.
Marisa: Thanks, Kelly, happy to be here.
Brian: Kelly, this is Paid Media Coffee, right?
Kelly: Yes. It is.
Brian: Marissa brought a La Croix. Is that allowed?
Kelly: Yes, it's allowed. We don't discriminate on beverages here.
Marisa: Next time. I will have a coffee at Paid Media Coffee. I just had three this morning and you would have heard the caffeine in my voice.
Kelly: We appreciate you toning it down for the podcast. Okay. So let's talk about your journey or customer journey consumer journey, whatever you want to call it. We've all seen that diagram. That's probably in every single marketing pitch ever that has awareness at the top, you know consideration decision conversion or post-purchase at the bottom, but we all know that that's not an accurate representation of the buyer journey anymore. And I think this is a really cool group to be discussing this with because we all have different years of tenure in the industry and we all have different areas of expertise. So I would love to hear from you as marketers in the industry what shifts in this concept of buyer journey have you experienced personally?
Marisa: I'll jump in. I think it's funny to me because you were talking about. The tried-and-true buyer journey stages that you see in every marketing pitch deck and it actually gave me flashbacks to being in business school and looking at a textbook and it's this very linear path. And this is the type of message you deliver an awareness, and this is what you say in consideration. It was very straightforward and obvious and I think the biggest shift in what you've seen recently is there are all of these new buyer journey models coming out.
There's one cycle. There are two cycles. It's very ambiguous and everyone's really trying to wrap their head around something was once straightforward and that has now become much more amorphous and harder to pin down because of the insertion of digital media into that process. So, it's much less brands and marketers speaking at people in the world and telling them their key messages, right, and it's become much more of a dialogue where we might learn something about the customer or the person that's interested, and adjust what we're saying and fine-tune what we're saying based on that need. So there's a lot of kind of back and forth exchange of information and people kind of come in and out of different phases and it's much more. Kind of intriguing and challenging honestly right than it used to be.
Brian: Marissa, since you are, you know head of the intelligence team and strategy and insights, do you think your view of it is unique? Do you think that you have sort of an elevated view compared to most marketers and I'm not saying that saying you're better but you get to see a lot more data and a lot more research versus the average person doing paid meteor the average person doing you know, whatever discipline media buyer or what not?
Do you think your perspective may be influenced by being a kid in the candy store?
Marisa: I'm sure my perspective is influenced by being a kid in the candy store because you know, we see the struggles that our clients have trying to measure performance and trying to really track and pin down.
Well, this is what happened. Offline when people came into the store and then also tie that in with what people were doing online and on social and how does that all come together into a journey and a path to purchase and proving that return on marketing dollars?
Kelly: Great point, Marissa. Haley, what do you think?
Haley: I definitely agree with Marissa. I think I have a very unique perspective as well being on the paid media side where we do kind of have a different look at the buyers journey in terms of it's not just one path through. But also speaking from a consumer that spends a lot of time on digital and actually spends a lot of time buying things through digital.
I think it's interesting how it's much more consumer-centric than it was what we saw 10 years ago. I just read a stat recently that said something along the lines of 67 percent of the buyers journey is done online now, which means that it's not just from a paid media standpoint such a big deal, but it's important for people to be looking at research so through SEO or looking at reviews people reviewing video tutorials.
I know that I look a lot for makeup online and I look at what people are doing through video tutorials. So, it's very interesting to think of it from both a marketing perspective. From paid but also from like an SEO and just a brand standpoint as well.
Brian: I agree with all of you. I think that there is a tendency to you know want to simplify things and obviously the buyer journey has changed.
I think it's changed a lot more ways than we think it has because I think we look at this in a homogeneous way. But we also don't think about whether it's high consideration/low consideration. Sometimes we don't think about whether it's a repeated buy we don't think about web what channel were most likely to buy a buyer journey on Amazon may be very different for the same product somewhere else because I already have an Amazon login and I must say I don't need this right now, but add it to cart because maybe later I want to revisit it and you know, it can get very very complicated but if we step back that funnel you were talking about that standard awareness, consideration, interest, purchase that does not make sense and probably ever but it definitely it hasn't made sense in a long time. Does anybody have a guess of when that funnel model was created?
Brian: Well, I will tell you guys something. That funnel was created that model was created by a gentleman by the name of E. St. Elmo Lewis in 1898.
No, but if you think about that, we as marketers have viewed this customer journey in the same funnel for a hundred and twenty years and you think about a hundred twenty years ago what that looked like is you had a toothache?
You needed an elixir. You got on your horse and you rode to town and you walked into Woolworth's. The pharmacist showed you some cocaine based elixir versus probably some like other stuff that was equally bad and you bought it and your tooth still hurt and all that stuff but it was a different world and you think about whether we are basing our customer journey mentality on something that existed or was created in 1898, is sort of insane.
Kelly: And in our last episode we talked about conversations and relationships with brands that people really expect that now, that is kind of a new concept. And you know back in the day, it was a lot more focused on a brand delivering a message. It was one way and now, you know, we expect to have an ongoing relationship with the brands that we interact with and that we trust and you know, that goes across so many different channels beyond just you know, social or even ads, as well. It's a difference in expectations from consumers.
Marisa: I think you know if you think back to like a brand like just the pure mark of a brand it's always been a symbol and so it's like in the past, you know, people would walk down the aisle and they would see the brand on the box and they would know what it stood for and they would know they could trust it and the quality and they would take it home and I think now there's not that big here's the one moment where you're introduced to the brand at Procter & Gamble model.
The first moment of truth you've seen the brand. The second moment of truth, you experience the brand now, everything is experiential from that first engagement with the brand all the way through to using it and then talking about it with your friends and your family and then deciding if you want to go back to that brand because you believe in them and what they stand for.
Brian: I think it's actually very interesting. There are some interesting sort of....thought experiments you could go down with this. I mean part of me wonders where you could launch a brand like Coke in today's world where the media is so segmented where we experience the world in such a unique way. We don't have to watch all the same TV shows, listen to all the same radio, experience the store. There's a Target versus Walmart mentality and they see very different things. So, I really do think we're in this hypercomplex world where there is not one buyer journey for a product or a brand. There are a million buyer journeys based on who is buying it and where they are in life.
Marisa: And I think another thing that's really interesting because you're talking about, you know, the individual and as it was-- what's the context that there and I think it's also what's the category because I think what's talked about most when people talk about this the change that digital has had on the buyer journey is that acceleration through those first few faces from the awareness of the consideration to that initial purchase because consumers have the control people have that control they can go out there and do the research and find the product and buy it online and have it at their doorstep.
Maybe same day if they used Amazon Prime, whereas it used to take much more time, but I think the inverse is also true for certain categories that are you know higher risk or more important individuals in people's lives and more expensive now, they're in the swirl of information and the process actually probably takes a lot longer and I think probably a lot of our clients see that because people are going out and they find some information and they think they know what they want and then they talk to someone and then they see something else. There's so much out there and there are so many touchpoints that it can be really confusing when it's something that you care about deeply
Brian: To go off on a tangent, I've seen somebody spent six months trying to buy a digital camera back in the day when people bought digital cameras in like going through every specs that overload of information actually worked inverse of accelerating at the same time when you think about how we buy homes.
You're about to make one of the biggest purchases you make in your life and you walk into a home and you visit it for 20-30 minutes. And then maybe you go back and look at some things on Zillow and you're expected to make a huge purchase and it's insane because we probably spend more time trying to research buying a mattress or a TV than we do a home.
Marisa: I would disagree like I was one of those lurkers on Zillow. I think I sat there and looked at houses on Zillow and Trulia for like a year. Before we were even going and visiting. So, by the time that I was ready to go visit I don’t like done all the maps of the local stats and I'm going exactly here and I'm going to find this and so what would have once been you know, I went into a few houses and I pick something out and it happened over a weekend and then you close two weeks later for me took a year and a half.
Brian: I'm not worse than you because I've been told by people that I'm an awful client in terms of buying a home because I want to look at everything and there's some houses that light and had visit three or four times in my real estate agent was just like oh my God, but I do think that in the industry though, it is weird to think that there's a lot of consumer behavior that makes these high consideration purchases differently than we think.
Kelly: Brian, that makes a lot of sense and you guys talking about Zillow and Trulia. It takes us into our next topic thinking about media consumption, you know looking at the real estate example, we didn't have those websites at our disposal a while ago so that has definitely impacted the buyer journey from a home buying perspective.
But in general, how do you think that media consumption has impacted the buyer journey?
Haley: I definitely think that technology changing has had an impact on consumption habits and also kind of vice versa technology is changing to be a lot more user-friendly. So we're seeing a lot more of older Generations catch on more easily and kind of mimic what we're putting in a bucket before of like "Millennials are on Netflix".
Well, actually, you know, my parents are on Netflix. And so you can't really market people based on their media consumption anymore because technology is changing but you can argue that the other way this whole demographic approach-based media buying isn't applicable anymore because anyone is consuming media.
Technology is changing and using behavior as a way to segment these audiences. So we're seeing more people video streaming, mobile video, subscriptions to multiple services. And that's the way that you can actually start marketing to people instead of just marketing based on demographics.
Kelly: Right? I think this one concept of "Is technology changing consumption habits, or our consumption habits driving technology" is kind of like the center of our entire conversation here.
Brian: The one thing I'll add to that is the average person is exposed to somewhere between two to five million ads a year.
You know, we have so many different screens. We're on we have so many things coming at us. I think the buyer journey has changed but so has the level of creativity and targeting and in basically work marketers need to do to actually be a meaningful part of that buyer journey. Because time and attention are the hardest things to get from consumers these days and you really have to work hard and care a lot to try to be a part of that.
Marisa: I think it is really interesting and I just maybe going totally off-topic because it is related to behaviors kind of across different types of media in different types of devices. But what we talk about as marketers all the time is getting the right information to the right person at the right time.
And with all of the growing concerns over privacy that's going to be incredibly challenging moving forward. So with Apple pudding Protections in place with Google putting Protections in place with GDPA with the new California legislation protecting everyone's information. How do we as marketers still do what we should do to make sure we're getting the right information to the right people at the right time.
Brian: You know, that's very interesting. So there's a friend of Nebo, Emily Bender. She has a beer moment marketing flash briefing and podcast and I was listening to her flash briefing the other day and she made the reference the voices clunky right now. The what people are doing in voice is very similar to what people did on the internet going back to the customer experience and user experience that he was referencing how it's better is anytime there are emerging mediums. We try to take what worked on other mediums and shoehorn it in. So I people are trying to take things that don't fit on voice and force it into voice very much like the early days of digital we try to take traditional and shove it into digital. It didn't work and then mobile exploded and we took what would work on a desktop and try to make it mobile.
So these things are still emerging and we have to really be there because the customer is are the consumers really in this and world. They're the empowered one. I can watch I can stream I can click swipe type click. And there's a lot of like I said, I don't want to be repetitive but there's a lot to sort of digest there as a marketer how to truly engage.
Marisa: I think another interesting thing is like with the changing technology and consumption habits. There's backlash to certain things. So you see people purposefully having like no screens. I'm going to go home. I'm gonna eat dinner. I'm going to make sure I have my screen off before bed. And you also see people like that really love the control that technology brings.
But then you've also seen kind of an uptick of a lot of kind of more personalized services like concierge services like even Walmart and its innovation arm has created a concierge service through an app. So people can have someone going by birthday gifts for a three-year-old because they're too overwhelmed to look through the options and selves.
It's really interesting.
Brian: A few years ago, I wrote a post about machine-to-machine marketing and that's going to come and that's going to really influence the buyer journey because your refrigerator going to make a decision. You're out of milk. I'm going to buy. Where do they buy from? How do they buy? How much do they buy? So there's a whole element of AI this is going to be part of the buyer journey as well. But then there's also as you said, things have shifted you have different, you know, I Bark Box and some of these other things that are making decisions for you based on what they think you might like or would like in your getting something shipped to you and you can keep some of it or all of it.
So like, it's fun. It's exciting but it's different and like I'm so glad I'm not in the weeds of paid media because people much smarter me like Kelly and Hailey and all those people need to be figuring this out and I can just stand back like an old Bert Cooper and just tell stories from the past.
Haley: I think back again, it's all about testing and seeing what really resonates going back to the data and being like, oh, we haven't tried this type of ad format or this type of messaging what is really working? Audiences are consistently changing just making sure that you aren't sticking to one approach in this fast-paced industry.
Kelly: That's really interesting is how as you know, technology and media consumption have evolved. Different channels or channels that were siloed into one buyer journey phase and I'm using air quotes as I say that are no longer. They no longer need to be siloed like that. So, for example, you know TV is such an influential medium because we can leverage that concept of storytelling and that was something years past was hard to do through a digital ad buy. But now we can leverage video across social and across digital video and we can still put that same story out there and without having to do a big linear TV buy.
Haley: Exactly we can tell if someone's watch. This first video and we can serve them a second video because we know that they've engaged with this video a certain number of times and you get to really see people move through the not the funnel. I don't want to call it the phone anymore. It would move through the buyer journey and really see how it makes an impact on your ROI and your goal.
Brian: And whether it's a funnel or whether it's a wheel is really. We can all think of the way we describe it. But I think the reality here is it's personal. It's personal is what it is because you know, in the and I know I keep making fun of how old I am. But I remember when I used to have to get up and turn the channel, and I know you guys don't know what a TV knob is but in that world you had four major TV stations and there was a little bit more of a homogeneous approach to buying. Coke introduces a new soft drink, it goes to the store. There's a store display and we're experiencing in a little bit more shared manner. Now, we all have different experiences. And like I said, Haley, I'm just like I said leave the paid media stuff to you and your team.
Marisa: I think what you said, it's a personal journey. I almost feel like at this point. Marketing is no longer like marketing. It's almost like when people are starting to look into a different category or a different product. It's like a Choose Your Own Adventure book. The first thing that you do kind of takes you on a sprocket and path into something else because we as marketers if we're doing our job correctly or paying attention to what people are interested in the type of content, they're engaging and the type of information they're seeking and we kind of shoot them along different paths and give them different options based on what they've told us so far.
Haley: If they've gone to this landing page doesn't send them this type of ad. If they do this well show them this and see how that works out.
Brian: I love that example.
Haley: Choose Your Own Adventure book!
Kelly: Start branding that.
Kelly: As advertisers, how should we be adjusting our strategy to be able to take advantage of the new mediums like digital out of home streaming radio adjustable TV and all those things that are now emerging in order to align our marketing strategies with the new buyer journey?
Haley: This kind of goes back to what we were talking about earlier about. How demographics aren't the way you should be targeting at people anymore. You should be actually targeting people based off of who they are. It's all personal. So what I suggest is really doing your research into who your target audience is. What are their passions? Where are they? What are they consuming? And go from there in terms of your strategy and your media buying. Move away from that old demographic approach. Move away from that old buyer journey approach and into this data-driven approach.
Brian: I think Marissa brought a new whole paradigm to Nebo - or to marketing Bandersnatch. Bandersnatch for marketing. Am I the only Black Mirror nerd in here that knows what that is? But anyway, I do think I agree with you completely Haley and I think that there is a level here of really really and I said this on the last episode, you know, really thinking about.
Using empathy and sympathy as our secret weapons. One of the things that I've always said and I didn't invent this a sort of cobbled together from a few people that I learned from in my career. But when we started Nebo, we didn't start Nebo because we thought were the smartest people we thought we had just you know, some, you know, amazing intellectual property.
We thought our philosophy would get us where we want to go. And one of the very very simple things that I said is that if you make people's lives better, you're going to be successful, period. If the people in your orbit are better for being in your orbit you'll be very successful and I think as marketers, we can also apply that. As a brand, if you can make your customers life better, period. If you help them make the decision that's best for them, marketing is going to be effective. But if you look at them like fish in a fishbowl, you're probably going to ultimately fail.