One of the biggest challenges facing businesses today is keeping up with the changes. If we think back a decade ago, we might remember that once upon a time Facebook was competing with MySpace for social network traffic, Apple’s iPhone was just released, and Amazon was a big online bookstore. We were still shopping mostly in physical shops.
In today’s crazy, busy world, consumers often shop online and don’t have a lot of time to debate the merits of one product over another whether it’s online or in a brick-and-mortar store. In an age where instant gratification is the norm, consumers find their favorite products, buy them, and move on to the next item on their to-do lists. That doesn’t mean they are mindlessly buying things. They do, however, make decisions fast while using their subconscious. According to Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman, 95% of all purchasing decisions are subconscious.
The Consumer Subconscious
The way to get potential customers to select your product or services is to craft a positive impression that engages them on a subconscious level. To accomplish this, you need to discern what images, stories, and services will produce positive associations in their minds with your brand. When people see your brand, how do they feel about it? What thoughts, experiences, and emotions come to their minds?
How do customers make their buying decisions? What influences those decisions?
Understanding Customer Behavior
The actions a customer takes before, during, and after purchasing a product or service define consumer behavior. The behaviors are formed by many factors including emotional, psychological, and social engagement that have an impact on the purchasing decisions and behaviors of people.
Yes, there’s a lot of data and studies out there. Every business is different, however, so it’s important to do your own research on what drives the buying decisions of customers in your particular arena. The following strategies and tools can be used to track and study the behavior of your consumers.
Third-Party Research Studies
Online research studies and data on consumer behavior is a great place to start when you’re trying to understand your customers. While it may not give you specific data on your own customer base, understanding general trends can help you narrow your focus and keep up with the ever-evolving landscape of sales and marketing. For example, by understanding open rates for SMS text messages, emails, and direct mail, you can gain deeper insight into the preferred contact method for your customers. This knowledge will serve you well the next time you need to send a billing invoice or want to launch a new marketing campaign.
Larger retailers like Amazon display reviews so prominently because many consumers won’t buy a product these days until they’ve read online reviews about it. However, reviews do far more than provide third-party perspective for consumers. Good reviews can be included in a company’s online marketing campaign. Reviews can also help companies better understand what their customers are looking for.
If they see a common complaint about a given product, they can use that information to fix the problem, thereby increasing customer loyalty to their brand and stepping ahead of their competition. Reviews are clearly very important to your business success, and it’s important to keep in mind that you want quality reviews from real customers. Using reviews for hire can hurt your rankings and revenue through Amazon and other online platforms. Fake reviews can hurt your business in the long run. Consistent comments and patterns within reviews, including those of your competition, can help you learn a lot about your audience.
Google Analytics offers up a wealth of information. It can provide demographics about your audience and tell you which posts and pages on your website drew their attention. You can learn where your traffic is coming from, your bounce rate, and so much more. The data can be used to help you prioritize your online marketing efforts. By making certain adjustments after analyzing this data, you can grow your audience and boost your conversion rate.
Keywords are useful and flexible tools. We stand to learn so much about people’s buying habits from knowing what they search for. Using tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest, and other keyword tools let you enter any keyword and discover its search volume, how much it costs on pay per click (PPC) advertising, related keywords, and competition levels. Learning new common keywords that are associated with your niche and their value can significantly boost your marketing efforts and your search engine optimization (SEO).
Another great place to search for patterns when gathering data about your audience’s behavior are Q&A sites like Quora and Yahoo! Answers. Questions about products and services are answered on a very regular basis there. You can search by specific brand and then expand your search to include reading up on your competition.
Monitoring and tracking digital conversations that consumers are having about brands or businesses online is called social listening. Podium explains it as “social listening is when a company purposefully monitors social media channels for information related to their business. This can be anything from information about their brand to customer satisfaction. It is learning about your company with a purpose in mind.” Larger companies use social listening to manage communities and to help in providing the best responses to comments, complaints, and questions. The feedback from it can also be used to help companies make their products and services stand out from their competitions.
Social media is one of the most important sources of information about your audience’s behavior available to you. Where it’s appropriate, track and monitor conversations about your brand. See what the conversation is like about the competition. Finally, see what’s being said about your niche or area. When you add either “courses” or “learning” to your queries, you narrow your results even further as you gather information.
The buying decisions of your audience are influenced by their behavior. The more you know about that behavior, the more effective you can make your marketing campaigns. Data about this behavior can be gathered through third-party research, customer reviews, Q&A websites, and more. The information can also be found in tools like Google Analytics. Additionally, blogs and social media platforms can provide invaluable information on how your brand is doing among your target audience.
Armed with such data, you can not only strengthen your SEO efforts but also greatly boost your online marketing efforts to meet all of your business goals.