Synchrony Financial understands that those big buys in life often don’t happen on a whim. Behind every major purchase are real people weighing up their options and deciding to part with their dollars to fulfill different needs based on their individual situations. For lenders, it’s important to understand this buyer’s journey so you can better guide potential customers down the path to purchase (using your dollars).
Synchrony has done an excellent job outlining this journey in their Fifth Annual Major Purchase Consumer Study. The study looks holistically at the journey customers take when deciding on purchases of $500 or more—looking far beyond the financing portion. It outlines important statistics like the fact that 85% of buyers start their research online, 70% of people visit a store to research, 56% consult with friends, 38% check out online reviews, and 28% return to the store for more research.
All of this happens BEFORE the customer researches financing options. In addition, more people are making online purchases (18%, up from 13% in 2015) versus visiting a store to purchase.
Combine the Buyer’s Journey with Context
This is some great information about how these consumers shop. But what should lenders do with this information? Lenders have the opportunity (and imperative) to get on consumers’ radars sooner and provide content that matches up with their particular position in the buyer’s journey—and delivers value. This will begin building trust between the buyer and the lender’s brand, and buyers reward companies that build trust with them.
To deliver valuable content to these potential customers, you must add real-time knowledge of the buyer’s situation to your knowledge of the buyer’s journey. You must understand the situation and context for why your customers will purchase your products if you want to create content that motivates them to act. Applying for a loan or line of credit is rarely a standalone job—it is one small job that plays a role in a much larger goal, such as buying a home, getting engaged, or repairing unexpected damage to your car. Understanding these specific situations allows you to create relevant content and deliver it to your buyer when and where it will be most useful to her.
What Relevant, In-the-Moment Content Looks Like
A young couple in a new home may not be aware that they can finance that bathroom remodel to get rid of the pastel pink tile. Lenders should consider how to reach these price-conscious shoppers earlier in their journey, rather than waiting until just before the purchase. This could include finding consumers in your target market that have recently purchased a home and are googling for things like “cost of bathroom remodel” or pinning numerous photos of bathroom ideas on Pinterest. These individuals are probably gathering information in the early stages of their journey. You could serve them some display ads about how to afford your new bathroom.
Lending companies could also consider mining social media data to find those buyers that are talking about economic bathroom remodels or finding reasonably-priced contractors. These individuals are probably a bit further along in their journey, evaluating their options. With this information, you could provide content right there on Facebook or Twitter about how to afford your new bathroom or questions to ask when selecting a contractor. Perhaps you’re a local lender that could even make specific contractor recommendations. Of course, you need the right data and technology ecosystem to deliver this highly contextual content.
Whatever the tactic is, the key is to combine what you know about the buyer’s situation with her spot in the buyer’s journey to contextualize the content and provide real value—in the moments that it is most useful to the buyer.
Applying for financing or making a major purchase doesn’t tend to happen in vain. As the Synchrony study shows, this is typically a well-researched and extensively thought-out decision, so when engaging major buyers, it’s important to think about the entire buyer’s journey – not just the purchase. The fact that people like to self-educate through the decision-making process gives you more opportunities to provide them with content that adds value, helping them to learn and build trust.
You may also want to check out my post on how MetLife is adding value throughout the buyer’s journey. In addition, Harte Hanks CMO Frank Grillo has written a great piece on how to capture more buyers earlier in their journey. Please get in touch if you have any questions!