eCommerce campaign or otherwise, best practice tells us that it’s essential to reach the right people, at the right time, with the right creative, and to maximise the chances of that message reaching your potential customers.

These days, consumers can switch between platforms with a casual swipe of the thumb. Now, more than ever, users are browsing and shopping through a number of channels and interacting with multiple touchpoints on their path to making a purchase.

As a result, relying too heavily on a single channel is simply not sufficient when it comes to maximising your sales and driving incremental growth.

eCommerce: The Importance of Multi-Channel Coherence

Across these myriad touchpoints, consumer behaviour is unpredictable and, unfortunately for advertisers, there’s no one set path to follow from discovery through to purchase.

It’s, therefore, impossible to provide you with an exhaustive list and order of the specific behaviours all consumers demonstrate when shopping to inform your strategy - if only!

On the flip side, behaviours consumers are less likely to display are far clearer, and this knowledge can be used to influence our strategies. Rather than battling against the absence of these patterns of behaviour, we incorporate them into our planning and execution of our multi-touchpoint campaigns to drive an increase in sales for our clients.

Consumers Rarely Make a Purchase in One Session

Every online purchase, regardless of the price tag, comes with a level of consideration. Arguably, the consideration period is more thorough when shopping online compared to in store, due to the ease at which it can be carried out.

The consumer benefit of shopping online is that there is no need to go in and out of five different shops before deciding where to purchase - you can open five different tabs in a matter of seconds.

There is also no pressure to make the purchase right there and then because unlike brick and mortar stores, websites don’t close at the end of the working day. Consumers are in complete control of when and how they shop.

What this means in terms of the consumer journey is that users are rarely researching, considering, and purchasing within the same session. Therefore, a coherent audience strategy within your marketing strategy is key.

It’s important to identify the different levels of intent exhibited by different users, and use these to dictate your audience definitions. Once these are in place, you can tailor your messaging accordingly to nurture users through the purchase funnel, from discovery, to consideration, to action, with the appropriate copy at each stage.

Consumers Rarely Make Purchases Using One Channel

Not only do consumers rarely complete a purchase in one session, they are also very unlikely to complete their purchase using only one channel. Depending on where they are in the research-phase and what other sites they’re visiting online, they are likely to interact with numerous touchpoints across a number of different channels before purchasing.

This is why it’s essential to implement a multi-channel approach, utilising a range of different platforms and channels to reach your target audience. It’s also vital that these channels are all coherent and aligned, so your tone and branding is reflected for maximum consistency.

This will strengthen your brand identity and product offering with consumers, which will in turn enhance brand recall. When the consumer is then at the point at which they are ready to purchase, your brand will be front of mind.

Consumers rarely make purchases in one session, using one channel

If we combine the first two points - session and channel - we run into a sticky situation; attribution and reporting.

How do we measure the success of each channel? What does success look like and how does it vary from channel to channel? How do I know which channels are worth investing in, and towards which should my budget be weighted?

These are all valid questions. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer, nor is there a one size fits all approach. Having said that, this post about eCommerce marketing tips to boost your sales takes a deeper look into understanding attribution and the tools available to help you understand the impact of your activity.

Consumers Don’t Always Purchase Online

Turns out, lockdown aside, people do still go into shops and buy things from the shelf. While this will not be relevant to all retailers, if you are among those who have an in-store presence as well as an online presence, this is something to consider.

Let’s view your offline presence as another touchpoint, which while less trackable than your online activity, needs to be perfectly aligned and coherent with your other channels. Any branding and messaging used in your online campaigns must be reflected in your store presence, be that through advertising, packaging, stand design, etc...

This works in unison with your online activity and will marry up with what consumers have seen online, so they recognise the brand and recall the campaign. Don’t view your offline and online activity in silo.

Consumers Don’t Always Buy Direct

This is why eCommerce businesses work with retailers. Regardless of the time and effort put into building your own site, a proportion of consumers will still prefer to buy from their trusted, long-standing favourite retailers.

What this means is that despite the budget put into your own campaigns driving traffic to your website and stores, people will still shop elsewhere for the same product.

So, don’t neglect your retailers. Make sure that they are receiving and promoting a consistent message with the one that you are marketing for exactly the same reasons as above; multi-channel coherence and brand consistency.

Final Thoughts

While generalistions can be made to a certain extent, human behaviour is predictably unpredictable. When it comes to planning your marketing strategy to account for this unpredictability, the key is multi-channel coherence.

Ensure your planning covers multiple possible consumer touchpoints, and that the aesthetics and messaging of your campaign are consistent across the entire sphere. This approach means that your customers enjoy the same, recognisable experience with your brand wherever they are on their path to purchase.