We’ve written a lot lately about how the proliferation of the internet and social media has given rise to a more empowered and better-informed class of consumer. The “push” marketing strategies of the past have become obsolete as audiences become less and less tolerant of marketing messages that are forced onto them.

This overabundance of information has left consumers overwhelmed, creating a unique opportunity for companies to explore a more consultative role and assist in the buying process. Content and social strategies have become the chosen methods for companies to slide into this new role. But new studies suggest that a majority of companies are going about this process the wrong way.

Coming on Too Strong

In a recent study conducted by Corporate Executive Board, 7,000 consumers and executives from over 125 brands in various industries reported a significant disconnect between the purchasing process that consumers would like to have, and the marketing strategies targeted at those consumers. While most marketers are behaving as if the majority of consumers are open to having a relationship with their brand, CEB found that only 20% of consumers report being open to such relationships. As a result, today’s marketing tactics are making customers less loyal, resulting in lost revenue for companies.

Reading the Signals

Instead of engagement, the study found that a simplified buying process is the number one driver of likelihood to buy. Patrick Spenner, managing director at CEB, explains that “too much choice and information causes customers to overthink purchase decisions, making them more likely to change their minds about a product, be less confident in their choice, and less likely to repurchase.” CEB’s insights show that a 20% increase in simplifying the decision-making process results in a 96% increase in a customer’s likelihood to purchase, re-purchase, or recommend a particular brand.

Simplify the Process

There are three easy ways that marketers can begin to simplify the purchasing process for consumers:

Social Validation

As a result of years of traditional “push” strategies, consumers are skeptical of a company’s ability to honestly self-report. Showcasing positive customer reviews, industry awards, and third party industry rankings carries more weight with consumers than any other marketing material.

Drip Campaigns

Automate the research process by offering valuable and timely product information targeted to a buyer’s current stage in the sales cycle. Drip campaigns allow you to consistently “touch” leads with relevant information based on time intervals, actions taken by prospects on your website, or other parameters.

Buyers Guides

Consumers are eager to weigh their options. Create honest comparisons and buyer’s guides and make them easily accessible. Provide consumers with all the facts, but don’t shy away from highlighting your key features and differentiators.

Focusing your marketing more on simplifying the purchase process, instead of just looking to maximize engagement, can help you build stronger relationships with your customers while experiencing greater sales success.