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Guide: How to use social data for buyer journey research

By Jordan Hanson  •  June 15, 2016


Guide: How to use social data for buyer journey research

Posted by: Jordan Hanson on June 15, 2016

In our previous post about the buyer's journey, we outlined six ways social media research data can help agencies and market researchers understand the buyer's journey.

Let's recap -- social data is an excellent fit for understanding:

  1. How customers feel about their buying experiences
  2. Experiences related to using or consuming products (satisfaction drivers)
  3. Post-purchase interactions with the retailer or manufacturer
  4. Which digital and social encounters influenced consumer decisions
  5. Where consumers go most often for information about products and stores
  6. How various audience segments feel about manufacturers and retailers

In this post, we'll explain how thinking about the buyer's journey from the perspective of social media can dramatically shift how to approach buyer journey research.

Focus on the language consumers actually use.

Enrich customer experiences by improving your understanding of the buyer's journey with social media research.

Imagine the ability to understand how consumers talk about the ways they navigate the modern path to purchase, exactly as they would describe it in their own words. What if market research was as simple as searching for the language that customers actually use?

Starting with questions aimed at discovering the ways in which consumers' daily activities, needs, and stresses contribute to their overall experience, researchers are able to uncover powerful insights to improve their strategies.

Map conversations to stages of the buyer journey.

This type of strategy requires a change in mindset from 'selling products' to 'attracting consumers.'

When put into practice, this strategy helps agencies and researchers be the first to know what customers will want from their experiences.

We map the four segments of the buyer's journey (Marketing, Consideration, Perception, and Purchasing) into the alternate sides of the buying and demand cycles:

buyers_journey_graphic.pngJust as researchers and agencies target specific audiences for a marketing campaign, they should also target consumers and shoppers in each stage of the journey separately, aiming to improve their engagement strategy in each part of the cycle.

Think of this post like a buyer journey research starter guide.

Unfortunately, there isn't a simple formula you can apply to understand every consumer or shopper's preferences. It requires in-depth research from a variety of angles, but we are happy to share our tips on making this process easier.

The divisions shown below are useful for targeting specific areas of research, but it's important to remember that this is an ongoing process for consumers and shoppers.


Understand the power of social relationships

Recently, we've seen an increased demand from marketers, agencies, and researchers who all want to dig deeper into the buyer's journey.

Consumers possess an immense power to source recommendations from friends, family, and the rest of the internet -- in short, social media.

This is because traditional purchase funnels have broken down, new tech trends continue to shift consumer attention, and consumers have become increasingly connected with each other. In order to remain productive and highlight new growth opportunities,  marketing models will need to continue to change and develop in response.


All of these are symptoms that demonstrate the expansive power consumers have to use recommendations from friends, family, and the rest of the internet to reshape the buyer journey with incredible speed.

Get clear on the goals of buyer journey research

Agencies and market researchers are looking to social media research data to help guide their clients through these ongoing shifts.

The retail sector continues to lag -- it is already confronting the reality that consumer buying preferences have shifted and will continue to do so.

The goal behind buyer journey research is to help brands become as helpful and understanding of shoppers' needs in brick-and-mortar stores as they are overall consumer trends and their digital storefront counterparts.


Looking ahead: How to research each stage

Market researchers and agency clients alike have shown more interest in using social media data to look deeper into these elements of the buyer's journey. We're excited to detail some strategies that have historically proven useful in providing results.

In the coming weeks, we'll dive into using social data for each segment of the buyer's journey in more depth, but until then, here's a sneak peek of the ways we'll approach these topics:


Stage 1 - Marketing: Who actually makes the shopping trip? This section will share tips and provide information on getting to know your shoppers, including: 

Shopper Segmentation: recommends strategies for using social research to build different personas.

Trips & Missions: focuses on looking at the shopper's journey and common pain points.

Stage 2 - Consideration: What missions or other factors drive shoppers and their behavior? This section will recommend some strategies for evaluating different issues and opportunities, including:

Store Choice Drivers: Shoppers choose to shop at a particular store for a variety of reasons. Find out some ways social data enables this analysis.

Product & Placement: Social tools usually won't help you see which products should go on each shelf, but they can help you understand making product placement more convenient.

Pricing & Promos: How do shoppers talk about pricing? Dig in to cost concerns with our analysis tips.


Stage 3 - Purchase: What consumer trends show up in social data and what drives them? This section will look at how social media research can be used to understand consumers' key motivations, including:

Consumption Needs & Patterns: Identify different trends to help understand the patterns of your consumers' needs.

Satisfaction Drivers: The things about their experience that make your customers the happiest. Highlight your wins with social tools to generate even more success.


Stage 4 - Perception: What does public perception look like? This section will emphasize ways social media data can enhance a brand's ability to monitor and understand public opinion, including:

Media & Social Influences: Consumers might share similar interests -- social data unlocks these categories to plan for and improve on customer experiences.

Consumer Segmentation: 'Consumers' differ from 'shoppers' in that we're talking about general industry trends instead of the people paying at the register. Understanding the difference between both is key to buyer journey research. 


Let's Recap.

Remember when we mentioned this might require a change in perspective from 'selling products' to 'attracting customers?'

We've intentionally divided our buyer journey research guide into these segments to help align your research with some guiding principles to keep in mind. These segments are a way to divide areas of the buyer's journey process into more manageable chunks.

Buyer's journey research is often used to help shift a brand's perspective; instead of aiming to 'sell more,' brands look to become friendlier and more helpful to their customer base.

Next time, we'll take an in-depth look at the first segment of the buyer's journey, Marketing, to see how buyer journey research can focus on targeting the right shoppers and missions.

You might also be interested in:

Using social listening to understand the buyer's journey


Topics: marketing, market research, buyer journey guide, social research tool, consideration, social data, social media market research, social data research, demand cycle, social data research tool, buyer journey research, purchase, buyer's journey, perception, buyer journey segments, buying cycle, social media research


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