This cliché provides more than inspiration on the meaning of life; it should also serve as an important reminder to brands and marketers that they must design experiences beyond just the beginning and the end of a customer journey. It should motivate brands to invest in a well-crafted holistic strategy that maps out the murky middle of the purchase journey too.
Make no mistake, the destination is the goal for most brands. But if the timeworn words of a mid-19th century poet aren’t enough to influence brands to invest more in the middle of the journey, perhaps the cost of business is. Brands who ignore or lose patience with this precarious phase will suffer the consequences. The often neglected middle of the journey (MOJO) is ripe with opportunity where brands must play to stay in consumer’s consideration set, improve efficiency and effectiveness and maximize sales.
What is the MOJO and why is it important?
At Empower, we believe the middle of the journey starts with an Impact Moment (or trigger) and includes a discovery phase of shopping where consumers are uncovering and researching options.
Based on Empower research, these Impact Moments can be big or small, ranging from running out of a product to a life event such as moving. As such, understanding these triggers gives important insight into the consumer needs or mindset as they navigate the MOJO.
Consumers in the discovery phase, are much more likely to buy than people at the top of the funnel, making them more valuable (Growth Badger, Byers 2021). As online and mobile shopping accelerated in 2020 and is projected to grow to 30+% of total retail sales in the next 10 years (Visual Capitalist 11/2020), brands that minimalize their presence in the MOJO will find themselves vulnerable to competition as consumers are able to research and size up options in an instant. Empower research shows that if a consumer doesn’t come across a brand in this discovery phase, that is a barrier to purchase. Thus, it is critical to understand and map out an approach to the MOJO for brands to track and guide consumers through it.
Just as every consumer’s journey is unique, so should the brand’s journey map.
Mapping Your MOJO
A brand’s journey map, particularly its middle, requires multiple routes to reach the same destination. Ideally marketers develop a journey map that accounts for all the possible routes, with a variety of touch points for all types of customers with different time periods spent in the MOJO. Some key elements that should be considered when mapping out the MOJO:
- Target Audiences & Triggers: In the MOJO, brands must get selective with their targeting. This requires taking the next step beyond optimizing brand health metrics by targeting the masses. In the middle of the funnel, brands must begin to identify trigger moments with addressable audiences and assign scale and value to each segment. Budgets are rarely unlimited. The reality for most brands requires a more focused effort on low-hanging fruit: shoppers who give signals or triggers to brands that they have a need. This result is a more focused addressable audience approach that can improve performance. When Empower introduced Impact Moment audiences for a retailer that was focused only on the masses, they saw a 37% increase in efficiency against KPIs vs. all other previous audiences including upper and lower funnel.
- Content Relevance: Once trigger moments are identified, then marketing teams can focus on more relevant content and reach consumers with messaging that they care about in that moment in time. Think of it as a Venn Diagram of right message, right moment, right placement. Active, addressable segments provide signals to brands about their specific needs. When delivering relevant content, Empower has seen—on average—a +32% lift in middle of the funnel KPIs.
- High Involvement vs. Low Involvement Categories: High involvement categories like automotive, furniture/appliances, healthcare, etc. typically see consumers in the middle of the journey for a much longer period of time than low involvement categories. Based on Empower’s research, consumers in high involvement categories spend 2X the amount of time in the middle of the funnel than low involvement categories. The implications for high involvement categories are typically a bigger focus on the MOJO with more creative/content, multiple media touchpoints, and a variety of KPIs to successfully carry shoppers to a conversion. Low involvement categories like fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and QSR have a low cost of entry, and consumers aren’t investing as much time in the middle of the journey. These categories typically require strong mental availability derived from heavy branding. However, low involvement categories should not take the middle of the journey for granted as there is a huge opportunity to create a frictionless shopping experience. Mobile has changed the game where consumers seamlessly navigate from discovering to buying instantaneously.
- Developing the Optimal Channel Allocation: As consumers research their options, they are consulting various sources to help them navigate and obtain the type of information they need. According to Empower research, a consumer, on average, consults 3.5 touchpoints when researching a category. Understanding the role of each touchpoint and being present is crucial for marketers in both low and high interest categories; between 15-30% of brand sales are tied to mid-funnel metrics. (Source: Pauwels, Koen & van Ewijk, Bernadette, 2020. “Enduring Attitudes and Contextual Interest: When and Why Attitude Surveys Still Matter in the Online Consumer Decision Journey,” Journal of Interactive Marketing, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 20-34). Channels like search, social and display have been proven winners for reaching consumers and driving KPIs in the MOJO but owned channels also play an important role in pulling consumers in and establishing credibility. Testing and measuring into a thoughtful mix for the full-funnel, including MOJO pays off over time. For a retail client, Empower evolved a heavy upper funnel channel allocation into a more full-funnel mix with an increased emphasis on the MOJO, resulting in a 9% gain in sales in a highly competitive category.
- Building Cost-Effective Frequency: The MOJO also offers brands a more cost-efficient means to build frequency among hand-raising target segments. Frequency in mass marketing is a by-product of reach and can be costly among a passive audience. But the middle of the journey can inform brands how much frequency is needed to move interested and more valuable consumers through to conversion. Frequency drives incremental action and requires a test and learn approach to find the right levels to impact MOJO metrics. Empower has found that frequency requirements vary brand to brand and category to category; but generally, a frequency of 10+ times is needed and is easier to achieve in the MOJO. Knowing the precise frequency level for active audiences ensures brands are not wasting dollars.
- Needs Based vs. Wants Based: Understanding consumer motivations during the purchase journey ensures brands are producing the right content. Plus, a brand can begin to measure median time ranges for different motivations. Types of buying motivations can accelerate or decelerate a purchase. Imagine a homeowner’s wish list (or want) includes a remodel of their bathroom. That dream bathroom could include inspiration boards, investigating trends, getting recommendations from family and friends, weighing the pros and cons of going full on DIY or getting professional help. That want motivation could be a longer journey. Another homeowner may have had pipes burst causing massive damage. They need a solution, and fast. This could be one quick search and they are done with their shopping journey. The want or need motivation will drive urgency and the types of content needed for all kinds of motivations shoppers have. A MOJO map that takes into consideration motivations improves a brand’s opportunity to be seen, chosen, and purchased. This is a combination of understanding the trigger and being relevant, both of which has proven to improve efficiency and effectiveness as evidenced above.
Empower’s EMerge Platform helps brands define their MOJO
Empower is a full-funnel, digital-first agency, with digital roots going back to the year 2000. We are an agency focused on delivering business performance through consumer relevance along their path to purchase, from upper-funnel activation all the way through to lower-funnel conversion and retention. Empower’s EMerge platform aggregates data from many different sources to illuminate the consumer journey for planning, activation and measurement. Given that the MOJO is complex and nuanced depending on the involvement level of the category or need state of the consumer, Empower’s EMerge will uncover opportunities and architect the right approach to capitalize on the highly valuable consumers in this phase in the right place with the right message. This innovation is part of our DNA, designed for the fast-moving digital and retail world in which we have operated for years while delivering results for our clients.