By Maureen Anderson
Before I became a new mom last year, I liked to think that I was well prepared for the experience. I spent the months leading up to the delivery reading baby books and articles on baby websites and watching videos online. But here’s the reality: until you are thrown into the gauntlet of diaper changes, crying spells and 2 a.m. feedings, you really don’t know what you are in for and can never be fully prepared.
Looking back, I see that my own experiences (both pre- and post-natal) highlight the construct of the See, Think and Do stages of today’s consumer purchase path. With a nod to Google’s Avinash Kaushik, people in the See stage are the largest addressable audience for brands—nowhere close to wanting to purchase something. In the Think stage, we are actively interested in something, a good signal of our intent. It’s in the Do stage that we can be sold goods and services. Smart marketers engage consumers in each stage with the right content and/or offers.
As new parents traverse this complex new landscape and the myriad of new buying decisions that must be made—from small purchases like diapers to larger purchases like strollers and such—we are ultimately looking for brands that we can trust. By reviewing my own recent search habits and personal experience, I have identified some strategies on how search marketers can best target new parents.
Build Loyalty Early
When it came to particular products and brands, in many cases I really didn’t know what I wanted until the baby came. It was difficult to know what I really needed from a product until I had some experience under my belt and got to know my baby’s needs. This presents the opportunity for marketers to build their digital strategy from an intent perspective and establish a trusted relationship early on. That way, when the time comes to make a purchase decision, your particular brand will be top of mind.
Develop Relevant Content
One of the most glaring trends that I noticed in my own search habits was that I conducted many of my searches in question format. For this reason, marketers should attempt to understand the types of questions that new parents are asking and develop valuable content with advice around those questions. This will help brands position themselves as trusted, authoritative resources on parenting.
Connect Strategies to the User Funnel
The Google Consumer Study also found that parenting searches tend to differ by stage (pregnant, newborn, toddler) so it’s important for marketers to align their messaging so that it is timely and personalized to that stage. For example, I find it interesting how much I relied on search as an information resource after the baby was born, especially in the early months. I’m not the only one. A 2014 Google Consumer Survey found that new and expecting parents do twice as many searches as non-parents do.
Once a brand is introduced and a connection is established, marketers can further the relationship with a strategy focused on guiding potential customers to make a buying decision. Some examples are as follows:
- Develop incentives for email capture with things like coupon deals, rewards programs, newsletters and special offers. New parents particularly appreciate savings and this is another effective way to build affinity.
- Grow audience lists and promote products through retargeting. If it’s a major purchase decision, consumers may need time to mull things over. Retargeting allows marketers to get in from of them again when they are more likely to purchase.
Navigating the world of new parenthood can be daunting. Marketers can best serve new parents by establishing themselves as a trusted resource early on along the purchase path and developing a digital marketing dialogue with the goal of ultimately converting people to customers.
Maureen has over 17 years of marketing experience spanning online, search and brand marketing. She has been working at Acronym for over 9 years managing clients such as Humana and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. She and her team are responsible for ensuring overall client satisfaction and generating strong results.
In addition to her online experience, Maureen worked for American Express doing traditional brand marketing for their Establishment Services division. As a Marketing Analyst, Maureen was responsible for increasing brand awareness in American Express merchant establishments through a variety of marketing initiatives.
A native of Connecticut, Maureen is a graduate Georgetown University.