A real-life example of a purchase decision.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge shoe fan. So when I was shopping looking for a specific style of boots, I looked everywhere. I started at Nordstrom’s, then I went online to Amazon and DSW. I shopped from big stores, small stores, you name it. Everywhere you can imagine, I looked for this specific style. I finally found a few options, but the price point wasn’t right. So, my search went on.

From a marketers perspective, evaluating the marketing funnel

This reminded me of consumer behavior and purchase funnel. Here I was shopping for shoes in this random pattern of online and offline trekking. I started thinking about many of the marketing campaigns that we’ve done. As a marketer I often evaluate these types of behaviors, as a consumer, I was pulled into this same random pattern. It intrigued me and I thought I would provide some insights into these types of buying behaviors and why it is important to keep in mind the purchase funnel when evaluating how people are making decisions.

How my purchase journey began.

The first time I saw these boots I was in a meeting and one of the guys in the meeting was wearing something similar. I never asked where he got them or what they were called. This was the first touch point. I saw the shoes and I liked them.

The next touchpoint happened later that day. I was on my way back to the office in an Uber and I picked up my phone to search for the boots I saw. Since I didn’t know the brand or style name, I went to Pinterest. I searched for men’s stylish shoes to see if I could find something similar. I looked at many different styles but I did not find anything I liked.

Next, I searched Instagram to browse a few hashtags to see if I could find something stylish and similar with no luck.

So, I ended up on search. I used keywords to identify similar styles of boots, so I would know the name and maybe some brands. I found a brand I liked. Amazon would give me a good gauge on prices of similar styles.

Every decision funnel is different

I learned that as direct as I am and even having as much understanding of the systems I was using – I still have already had 4 touch points before making any real decisions. Now, that doesn’t mean that everyone’s decision funnel is as long or complicated, but it certainly is unpredictable.

Keep in mind that I’ve now searched and shopped for several brands and styles. I’m now being remarketed to for all the different styles that I have viewed. All these touchpoints and remarketing ads are reminding me at each step of the way to come back and buy from them.

After initial research, the real shopping journey begins.

Now that I’ve discovered a brand that I like with similar styles, I was off to the stores. I needed to try before I bought anything. First, I did a search online to find locations. Then, I visited each store to see what they had in stock and to try on a few pairs that I thought I would like. During each store visit, I was using my mobile device to further research and narrow my search. This phenomenon is called ‘Showrooming’. I was using my mobile device in-store to look at prices online. After I decided on the final pair of boots, I took a picture of the boots, the bar code, and the price because I would later use this information in my research and purchase.

I searched them online to look at reviews on the boots themselves and the brand. I eventually went to buy them online to ship to my home.

With everything said and done. I had over 15 touch points before my purchase over a 2-week timeframe.

The major takeaways.

Everyone’s purchase journey is different and unpredictable. It also opened my eyes to fully understand the need to be in the places that people are searching for or doing their research, such as Search, Remarketing and more generally online.

Often companies try to over-optimize each channel they are marketing through and in the end, they lose reach and visibility during the other points of the purchase process. Who’s to say that my decision wasn’t made during one of those points. Those brands that are available and accessible during those moments will win.

It’s also important to note that each touch point acts as a stepping stone to the next. In order to sell your products or services online, with the changes happening in the market, the way we receive data and how we can access data so quickly will influence purchase decisions.

In the past, we had t.v. commercials tell us a product was great and to go buy it and we would. Now, we have access to a supercomputer at our fingertips with more control – where we can do our research, ask family and friends, shop, and purchase with the click of a button – click, buy, done.  

boots purchased through decision cycle