Are You Ready For ‘Buy Now’?


Matthew Knight, head of innovation points out, that the ‘Buy Now’ button is the ultimate development which underlines that digital marketing can never work in isolation from the rest of a business.

matthew knight

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It would appear the ‘Buy Now’ button is shaping up to become this summer’s biggest hit, meaning marketers are having to ask themselves if they and their organisation are truly ready to ramp up their mcommerce efforts.

After months of talk at both Facebook and Twitter, Facebook has launched trials in America with Shopify and, earlier this month, Pinterest launched its own ‘Buy Now’ add-on for mobile marketers. It allows items to be bought via Apple Pay or a credit card without leaving the app, a convenient way of shopping which Google is promising it will be also be offering ‘imminently’.

As with any tool that claims to turn up the volume of sales, though, marketers are going to have to think strategically. Will dialling up leads result in happy customers and a delighted CEO or will ramping up the pressure show where the leaks are and lead to disappointment all around?

CMOs Driving Change

As Matthew Knight, Head of Innovation at media agency Carat points out, the ‘Buy Now’ button is the ultimate development which underlines that digital marketing can never work in isolation from the rest of a business.

“The ‘Buy Now’ trend we’re on the verge of witnessing gets to the root of the problem that could be affecting some businesses if they think marketing can act in isolation,” he says.

“As soon as you close the gap between marketing messages and the capability to buy you need to ensure you have a holistic view of the customer. You need the payment process to be smooth and then you need the fulfilment side to work perfectly or else you’ll just speed up a poor user experience.”

In Knight’s opinion, this means the number one priority has to be working through the customer journey and building teams and KPIs around making it as streamlined and as frictionless as possible. For this, marketing campaigns, stock levels and fulfilment, among other functions, need to interoperate so only orders which can be fulfilled are offered as a ‘Buy Now’ option.

“It’s not really all that complicated, you just have to map out the customer journey and see how teams could help it by taking out the friction,” Knight says.

“Watch out for teams working in silos and to different KPIs. You need to have common targets across the customer journey that are shared between teams or divided up in some way so each team can do their bit to deliver the overall smooth journey.”

Context Is Crucial

While addressing the customer journey might involve some back office and management strategic thinking, whether or not to use the ‘Buy Now’ buttons is also going to put marketers to the test. They will not only need to ask if they truly know their customers but, crucially, do they understand their current context?

Indeed Jason Nathan, Managing Director for Data at Dunnhumby, believes the ‘Buy Now’ trend will pose marketers the tricky question of not so much ‘if’, but ‘when’.

“Even if the buttons were free I’d suggest that marketers shouldn’t use them all the time or they’d come over as a loud, shouting salesman getting in the way of the research and consideration stage,” he says.

“It’s a temptation people are going to have to resist and instead make sure their systems can reveal context. What stage of the purchase funnel is the person at? Do we know them? Do we know where and why they’re most likely to convert? If so, it’s at that point we’ll want to pay extra for a Buy Now feature.”

Knowing Customers Better

This is where perfumery and male grooming brand Penhaligan is currently putting in a lot of research. Its Head of eCommerce, Kasia Buttery, reveals the brand is working hard to understand the context in which a customer might search for one of its fragrances in Google Shopping, so it is prepared when the ‘Buy Now’ button is imminently launched.

“Nobody can say for sure before they’ve tested it but we think Buy Now is going to be most useful for repeat customers,” she says.

“These are people who know what they want and would respond better to a Buy Now offer so they don’t have to go to another page and log in and enter payment details and so on. We’re also very interested to find out if it’s useful for people we don’t know but who are searching for us. They’re a huge part of our market and they tend to be people who’ve asked a friend why they smell so great and they then remember a day or two later to look up the fragrance. It’ll be interesting to see which type of customer responds the best to Buy Now.”

At the brand’s digital agency, Barracuda, Managing Director Henry Lewington, believes that Google Buy Now will be useful to many online retailers but, in particular, it will suit niche players.

“We don’t have a lot of detail yet but I assume Buy Now will work in Product Listing Ads and you’ll have to bid to put your product up there and then bid a bit more to have it with a Buy Now button,” he says.

“For retailers that dominate sales of their own brand that’s going to be fine because you’ve not got anyone bidding against you for your brand specific keywords. Where it might get difficult is where there are multiple retailers selling the same product. They could then end up having to raise bids to get a Buy Now button.”

While the detail of how this will work remains to be seen one obvious banana skin all digital marketers are pointing out must be avoided is a lack of communication between marketing departments.

Just as marketing has to work with other functions to ensure an accelerated customer journey remains a happy one, marketing teams need to communicate fully. Otherwise, it is not hard to imagine how annoyed a customer could become if they accept a Buy Now call to action only to notice a better option was sitting in their email inbox or lying in wait online via a deal run with an affiliate.

matthew knight
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