The user activity that fuels the algorithm is ascertained from user event data—information such as what paths customers traverse in their search for information. Smart content is trackable, unlike PDFs or pre-internet file formats that yield no analytics. Tracking is what allows companies to identify the micro-moments that spur customers’ decision making, make their experience frictionless, and adjust content accordingly.24 Smart content is also easily updatable, even by non-experts, whereas XML technology can take months to be updated by programmers at high cost.
Tracking user event data and putting those analytics to work will provide the business intelligence to understand and anticipate the needs of customers, therefore “being there” in their intent-rich micro-moments.25 Doing so is what will advance the quality of the customer experience. In fact, customer analytics has become the principal technology investment for customer experience improvement, dominating the list in a Gartner survey for the last two years.26
Consumer Decision Making
The following are principles of consumer decision making that are important to keep in mind for content strategy, particularly in defining the needs of customers that smart content can fulfill in the I-need-some-ideas micro-moments that make up the research (and ultimately the buy) stage of the customer journey.
- Consumers engage in both internal (memory, personal experiences) and external (outside sources such as websites) information search.
- Low-involvement products (i.e. those that involve minimal effort and do not entail a significant investment) usually involve an internal search, so it is very important that companies achieve “top of mind” awareness.
- For high-involvement products (more expensive items that involve a greater amount of research), consumers are more likely to use an external search.
- Firms that make products that are selected predominantly through external search must invest in having information available to the consumer in need.
- The amount of effort a consumer puts into searching depends on a number of factors such as brands and their competitors in the market; product characteristics, quality, and complexity; and situational characteristics that led to their search.
- Two interesting issues in decisions are:
- variety seeking, and
- impulse purchases.
Sources: Information Search and Decision Making, USC Marshall, 2010; How Shoppers Get Inspiration: Consumer Search Trends in I-Need-Some-Ideas Moments, Think with Google, July 2016. and John F. Tanner, Jr. and Mary Anne Raymond, Principles of Marketing v. 2.0, Section 3.2, Flatworld Education, 2011.
- Jim Yu, How to Create and Measure Effective Mobile Content for Micro-Moments, Think with Google, May 2016.
- How Mobile Has Redefined the Consumer Decision Journey for Shoppers, Google, 2016.
- Nick Ingelbrecht, Olive Huang, and Julie A. Meyer, The State of Customer Experience Innovation, 2016: Customer Analytics Gets Critical, Gartner, May 5, 2016.