Understanding what drives customers to make a purchase can be challenging, but when it comes to making an online purchase, you can probably relate. Most of us have bought something online, or have at least shopped online, and the path almost always includes spending a few days researching the various options, reading reviews and interacting with different brands. It’s this engagement that is the most critical part of the journey, and it will play a large role in the decision that the customer makes.

The Importance of Marketing Channels

Marketing channels include email, display ads, paid search ads, social visits, direct visits and referrals. These are the different ways in which customers access your website and start the cycle of engagement on the path to purchase. Basically, you are assisting customers in acknowledging your brand, considering your product for purchase and giving them a reason to buy.

The last interaction, then, is the decision. Will it be your product the customer chooses?

Understanding ‘Assist’ and ‘Last’ Interactions

The assisting channels are where your company builds brand awareness, consideration and intent, otherwise called the “purchase funnel.” The last interaction channels refer to the last interactions you have with the customer before they make their decision. No matter where it falls in the process, each stage impacts the final decision. Some channels are included in the assisting stages while others are included in the last interaction stages.

For instance, when looking across all industries, display click, social directs, email and paid searches assist in interaction and create awareness about your brand. Organic searches, referrals and direct visits act as last interactions.

Knowing Your Industry Benchmarks

How long  and how often the customer engages with your brand is also important. Obviously, those who spend more time interacting with your brand are most likely to make a decision, and soon. Understanding this information can be challenging, especially since each customer journey is unique, which is why it’s recommended to explore the various benchmarks in your industry and region. Using this information, you can determine after how many days a decision is finally made.

Customers are unique, which means every journey is too. What makes one person come to a decision may not for another. Still, there are certain staples of customer behavior that marketers can look for, helping us to identify what customers are in the assisting stages of the purchase process. Brand engagement is critical at any level; the key is knowing how and when to interact to influence the final decision.