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How many brands can truly say they track their buyers across every customer touchpoint – from the first time they see the logo, to the moment they purchase?

Not many. That’s because the number and variety of media available to consumers today is vast.

So vast, in fact, it’s likely no two people will share the same customer journey.

That’s why it’s so important to drill down into what your audience is doing, while keeping an eye on the overarching trends to jump on. It’s the insights hiding in this sweet spot that’ll change the game.

Here we’re focussing on the trends, giving you top-line insight on emerging customer touchpoints that have newfound potential, ones to be careful with, and ones you might have bypassed altogether. We want to inspire you to revisit the value each brings to your own audience.

Oh, and we’ve got the data to back it all up.

1. Social media is powerful, but handle with care.

Some customer touchpoints, like linear TV, have stayed pretty consistent. How people watch it, and the ad formats presented there haven’t changed much. 

Social media, on the other hand, moves at a much faster pace. 

New platforms emerge quickly with new ways to engage customers, while networks that were once popular fade. The job of the modern marketer is to move with this ebb and flow, and be crystal clear on the value social media brings to their sales funnel.

Our data shows, for example, that as a medium for product research, it’s the second most influential channel after search engines.

On the flipside, for brand discovery, social media falls behind more traditional channels like TV (31%) and word-of-mouth (28%). 

And when it comes to advertising on social media, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows either.

Earlier this year we looked at the positive and negative associations of ads across popular digital channels, social media scores highly across more negatives than others.

Chart showing which customer touchpoints people prefer ads on

Consumers are likely to find them as distracting, excessive and intrusive as they do on websites.

Social media can be your best friend, but to avoid frustrating potential customers through misguided advertising, you should be clear on the role it plays in your customer journey, and the content types your audience respond best to.

2. TV ads are old, but gold.

It’s true the average amount of time we spend on linear TV per day has declined by around 20 minutes over the last 10 years – but the power of TV advertising cannot be ignored. 

Consumers have different tolerance levels for ads in various locations, but across all age groups, TV ads are favored most. 

chart showing how consumers feel about different ads on different customer touchpoints

TV is also the go-to channel for reaching older generations (boomers still spend around 3 hours daily watching linear TV), so when targeted right, TV ads have a serious shot at eliciting a positive response from the right audience.

3. Gaming platforms cast a wider net than you’d think.

Gaming has been building momentum for some time, but it really kicked into high gear during the pandemic. 

The industry’s set to exceed $200 bn in revenue in 2023, demand for consoles is peaking, and GWI Gaming data reveals the opportunity for engaging this global audience is widening.

chart showing the growing prevalence of gaming around the world

You don’t need a headset or special chair to be ‘a gamer’, and perhaps stereotypes like these meant some sectors paid no notice to this rising phenomenon.

Today we know the vast majority of consumers across all global regions are engaging in gaming one way or another.

So to be able to identify the right touchpoints, you’d need to know where the overlaps with your audience are, where this bunch is hanging out, and where they’re most responsive to brands like yours.

Places they could be hiding include:

  • Apps: Casual gamers often play on their cell phones. 
  • Gaming specific-networks like Twitch or Discord: For more enthusiastic gamers to connect, and follow pros.
  • Websites: Places like news websites or blogs they visit to be entertained, or keep up with the latest developments.
  • Esports sites and arenas: Esports operates like the sports industry, so there’s a ton of ways to sponsor, partner and advertise here. 

A dash of customer segmentation and a sprinkling of audience insights will reveal which ones they’re using and why.

4. YouTube gets customers engaged.

YouTube sits firmly under the umbrella of social media, but it deserves a special mention here.

When it comes to monthly customer engagement, YouTube comes before every other TV, video, or film service we track (outside of China). What’s more: 

51% of UK and U.S. consumers use this platform to research or find new products to buy.

The good news for marketers is there’s more to YouTube than its core site, meaning new, targeted ways to approach your audiences. ‘YouTube Shorts’ – a user-generated video platform featuring snippets of 15 seconds or less –  is one offshoot that’s killing it with 3.5 billion views per day.  

The brand has also launched new services to target specific age groups, the most recent being YouTube Kids. It’s a stand-alone app built for children that’s driving serious success in Asia. 

YouTube might not be the best for driving awareness, but it’s an ideal place to display your portfolio of products and build up brand affinity over time. When consumers want brand information, that’s where they’re hunting.

5. Email is relevant and helpful.

Email is a direct and complex customer touchpoint – one that’s used to promote brands and products, nurture leads, update customers, and ignite conversations.

The benefit of email from a marketing perspective is you already have a foot in the door. Aka, they’ve already made contact and offered up their details for you to reach out to them.

This is where the power of email truly lies: you’re directly engaging a captive audience, who will likely know a thing or two about your brand. 

But when we flip the perspective to the consumer to see how they feel about receiving promotional emails – the positivity with which they’re received is surprising.

Consumers consider email to be “relevant”, “helpful”, and “informative”. And while they don’t evoke the emotional response TV and video ads do, for the information-hungry older consumer, they’re ideal.

Spamming inboxes will have little impact other than to annoy people, but when strategically targeted, communication from brands here is generally well received.

Give your customer touchpoints some love

There’s a million and one ways to engage your audience, but the aim of the modern marketer is to be hyper-targeted, and make every penny count. 

Being conscious of the limitations and strengths of the customer touchpoints you use regularly, ones you’ve possibly neglected, and keeping an ear to the ground for emerging channels and trends is the mindset to get into.

And while touchpoint analysis is great for context, it’ll only get you so far. Every audience is different, and uses each channel for different reasons.

You need to shine your findings through the prism of your audience to split out where they are, why, and how to frame your message.

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