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Mobile can influence key decisions in path to purchase: Forrester

NEW YORK – A Forrester Research analyst at the company’s Forum for Marketing Leaders said that by identifying and influencing key decisions customers make regularly, brands can use digital and mobile marketing to reduce decision-making stress rather than coerce transactions.

The analyst discussed marketers’ tendencies to believe that consumers will select the right option for them, despite the fact that consumers are becoming increasingly more stressed when making decisions. She claimed that digital and mobile marketing may actually worsen anxieties, unless brands specifically market to reduce stress and showcase the best specific products and services for a consumer, a tactic which will streamline the shopping process and ultimately help drive sales.

“When you give mental energy to processing these small decisions, you run out of fuel for deeper thought,” said Shar VanBoskirk, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, Cambridge, MA. “Digital disruption makes it possible for marketers to be more scientific than ever, while provoking consumers to be less precise in decision-making.”

Understanding customer psychology
Ms. VanBoskirk urged brands to delve deep into customers’ psyches to understand how digital and mobile disruption can be beneficial or detrimental to consumers. Ultimately, brands should focus on marketing to reduce decision stress rather than attempt to drive transactions, as this strategy will create longer-lasting customer relationships and provide a level of utmost convenience.

“Users making immediate high-stakes, urgent decisions don’t have time to vet all of their options,” Ms. VanBoskirk said. “Identify types of decisions your consumers want to make.”

She used Forrester’s choice chart to display how consumers are influenced by risk mitigation, credibility and validation. Brands can select the most frequently made choice that relates to their products or services and attempt to simplify it for customers, a tactic which is well-suited to mobile.

An example of this can be seen in Amazon’s new Dash button, a device that consumers can use to replenish household products such as toilet paper, diapers and laundry detergent. The Wi-Fi enabled button connects to smartphones with Amazon’s mobile app downloaded, and immediately places an order for shipment of the requested product (see story).

These types of mobile-first solutions are habit-forming and also reduce friction, two key aspects that marketers should keep in mind.

“Pick the type of choice that best represents decisions that need to be made about your products or services,” Ms. VanBoskirk said.

Driving influence
If consumers find utility and relevant content in a brand’s items or services, they will be much more inclined to offer the brand long-term loyalty, and in turn, more sales revenue. For instance, tax software brand TurboTax creates credibility by prioritizing the content on its Web site based on feedback from customers, regarding which content they find most valuable.

Meanwhile, Allstate Insurance is able to leverage mobile to offer individuals the best option for home insurance, therefore removing the stress of the decision-making process. Its mobile application provides users with a visual diagnosis of aspects that could be at risk for their homes, such as theft.

The app is then able to recommend the right insurance policy based on at-risk possibilities. Allstate has found that consumers who interact with the app are 350 percent more likely to request a quote from the brand than those who do not use the app.

“You need to make it as easy as possible for people to pick you,” Ms. VanBoskirk said. “People get lost in leisure decisions. Your priority here is to curate options.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York