Thought Leadership

How to Tap Into Hard-to-Reach Audiences When Mapping Your Customer Journey

September 12, 2022
How to Tap Into Hard-to-Reach Audiences When Mapping Your Customer Journey

For many businesses, more than half of prospective customers have already made up their mind about what they intend to buy before they even recognized the need to buy it, according to our path-to-purchase analyses across a range of industries. Escalent’s recent research guide, Want to Win More? Guide to Boosting Customer Growth Using Our Award-Winning Path-to-Purchase Approach, details how the purchase journey is shorter than you might think … and is getting shorter.

This means that many brands are losing the battle for customers before the sales process even begins. That includes B2B brands and other brands with particularly small and/or more challenging populations. Understanding the path to purchase is imperative there, too.

What do you do when it’s prohibitive to survey hundreds of participants to power a quantitative path-to-purchase model? Good news. We have found that qualitative research can provide a path-to-purchase strategy of equally high quality when the population you seek is hard to reach or too small for quantitative research. Here’s how we do it:

First, like any good purchase journey mapping, qualitative research provides the insight needed to ensure all meaningful inflection points are identified. But smart path-to-purchase processes go beyond traditional journey mapping because documenting steps in a path doesn’t lead to actionable results. Escalent does a deep dive into three areas that make a substantial difference for companies: need recognition, awareness and consideration, and path evaluation:

  1. Need recognition: Qualitative insights are used to construct trigger profile groups to get a deep understanding of the consumer motivations and pain points of each group, resulting in tailored recommendations for your brand.
  1. Awareness and consideration: Qualitative findings provide the information needed to understand why your brand is excluded from consideration—and how to fix that—to drive customer growth.
  1. Path evaluation: Our qualitative protocol deploys the principles of behavioral science based in consumer decision-making (CDM) literature to uncover and dig into the nonlinear pathways customers follow. This includes uncovering the knowledge to eliminate friction points that inhibit acquisition.

Case Study: Financial Services Brands Are Banking on a Better Path-to-Purchase Process

We recently worked with a bank to ensure it would “be there” with the right message at the right moment to attract and retain a specific segment of small business owners for its credit card products. The size and specificity of this audience made it difficult and unrealistic to conduct an effective quantitative survey. As part of this project, we needed to identify, understand and eliminate friction points to direct small business owners’ path to the bank.

Here’s what we did: Prior to the discussion, the small business owners completed a shopper journey mapping exercise to get the traditional journey work out of the way quickly. They then sketched their personal timeline of all thoughts and actions, noting the people, resources and emotions for every step. After that, they marked what was difficult, what went well, and where they could have benefitted from more support from the bank.

Finding your Unique Path to Purchase Strategy

Purchase paths are complex and individualized for different industries; there is not one uniform journey from awareness to consideration to conversion. While many customer journey maps start with the customers and work backward to understand how they came to their final decision, that’s only one of the journeys—most prospective buyers drop out somewhere along the way. To change that outcome, you have to look at consumer behavior at the beginning of the journey to understand all the different decision points that lead buyers to drop out.

If you’d like to learn more about how Escalent’s qualitative research team can help its clients take action on their path-to-purchase work, even with B2B or other more challenging populations, let’s connect. If you want more details, download our research guide, Want to Win More? Your Guide to Boosting Customer Growth Using Our Award-Winning Path-to-Purchase Approach.

Download Want to Win More? Your guide to boosting customer growth using our award-winning path-to-purchase approach

Heather Mitchell
Heather Mitchell
Vice President, Financial Services Qualitative

Heather is a leader in the Qualitative space with over 18 years of research experience and a true passion for advancing methods and moderating techniques toward an end goal of well-informed business decisions. From eye-tracking analysis to System 1 techniques, Heather takes projects to the next level. She specializes in our financial services sector, conducting informed sessions with the full gamut of investment experts to entry-level banking customers, of business decision-makers on 401k or health insurance plans to end participants. She is an in-demand problem solver for many repeat clients – a strategic partner who aligns the right approach and techniques to quickly investigate the underlying causes of issues and deliver actionable insights. Heather has a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce with concentrations in Marketing and Management from the University of Virginia, and a Masters of Research from the University of Connecticut. She is a RIVA trained and Unilever accredited moderator.