Online consumer behaviour is one of the biggest drivers behind the growth of data-driven digital marketing tools and techniques. Modern businesses simply cannot afford to ignore consumer trends if they are to attract the right audience, and then convert this audience. Understanding is the key here — businesses need to know who their audience is, what these audience members are doing, and how to position products and services for the greatest possible impact.
But what is consumer behaviour in today's digital age? How do you assess what your customers are up to and then optimise your business to reflect this behaviour? Let's take a look in more detail.
The modern consumer landscape is a little different from the one our parents grew up with. In fact, it's also different from the one that we grew up with. Digital technology has developed at such a rapid pace that things that once seemed new and exciting have quickly become standard expectations for consumers. This may make keeping up with consumer behaviour feel like a thankless task, and perhaps it is — your audience is not going to applaud you for catering to their behaviours — but the alternative is far, far worse.
Let's look at mobile technology as an example. It wasn't so long ago that the idea of purchasing a product or service via mobile seemed novel and cutting-edge, but today, it's become almost a minimum expectation among consumers. Fifty percent of consumers now say they will stop visiting a website that is poorly optimised for mobile, even if they like the business.
Today's consumers expect a smart and intuitive user interface (UI), swift delivery of products and services, real-time support around the clock, easy site navigation, rapid loading speeds, and much more. If you can provide this great experience, tailored to the behaviours of your customers, 72 percent of them will share this with at least six people. However, fail to provide this and only around one in 26 customers will actually let you know that you have slipped up, with the remaining 25 quietly taking their business elsewhere.
The buyer's journey is not unique to the digital age. It's been around for quite some time now in one form or another. However, in recent years, these journeys have become more complex — and more diverse. For every customer who experiences a need, knows whom to call upon, and orders a product directly from a business website, there is one who is going to take a far longer and more circuitous route to conversion. You need to know all these different journeys if you are to optimally position your business and your products.
Fortunately, you don't need to guess, as data will give you the answers you need. Search engine analytics will tell you the search terms that your customers are using as they look for products, while analysing your site's data will provide insight into the key access points for customers as they reach your website.
Prior purchase data is also useful here. Are customers who purchased Item A more likely to follow this up with Item B or Item C? What does this tell you about what customers are using your products and services for? This information will help you as you strategise your next move.
To engage your customers with the utmost efficiency, you'll need to pull all of this data together. Unified data platforms like engage™ provide a comprehensive view that you can use to understand behaviours and journeys so that you know exactly how to meet your customers' needs.
It's not difficult to put yourself in your customer's shoes. If you have a bad experience with a company, you are not likely to stick around. This is bad news for businesses that do not focus on experience. Even if you have a strong source of new leads and prospects, you may still struggle if you fail to keep hold of existing customers. This is why 79 percent of businesses looking to improve customer experience cite retention as their key motivation.
Experience needs to be at the forefront of your marketing initiatives. If you can demonstrate to your customers that you care about the experience they receive and that you value their business, you will be able to hold on to more of these customers and grow their lifetime value.
To improve this experience, you can optimise your website and offer sterling support, as mentioned above. There are also other methods you can deploy. For example, you could offer promotional deals and perks to returning customers as a means of developing your relationship, but you need to adopt a data-driven approach to get the best out of this strategy. Forty-nine percent of consumers said that they feel valued when businesses contact them with offers and news relevant to their interests, underlining how important it is to know your audience well.
This idea of "knowing" your audience — and understanding their behaviour — is an important one. You can gain this knowledge by reaching out to customers directly, of course, but to be really successful, you need to go beyond this. You need to be able to effectively predict consumer behaviours before they happen, so you can position your business ahead of the curve.
Once again, this comes back to data. By analysing past and current customer trends, you can forecast what the next set of behaviours will look like. Cross-reference this with developing technologies and concepts and begin to map your future strategies. For example, live video-streaming platforms such as TikTok and Periscope have become key channels for marketing in many sectors; it's not difficult to imagine how augmented reality could become a similar success story in the near future.
Understanding consumer behaviour is not just an exercise in following. While it's important to tap into key consumer trends and behaviours, don't forget that you can also influence this behaviour.
Let's say you're launching a new product, and you want to use this event to boost engagement on social media. You may decide to deploy content and offers via social channels to encourage user activity.
Alternatively, you may want to tie repeat customers into a longer-term subscription package to augment value. Developing this kind of package, based upon the data you have gained from your customers, could instil new and profitable behaviours in your consumer base.
Understanding consumer behaviour, and putting this understanding to work for your business, hinges upon data. This will provide you with the insight you need to do more for your customers and to outperform your competitors in the market. To use this data to the best effect, you need to be able to manage and wield it with ease.
We have developed the engage™ platform with use cases like this in mind. You will be able to draw all your key data points together and derive critical insights into customer behaviour in both the short and long term. You'll be able to map out your strategies as you work to harness this behaviour in the future, and then position your business for success with a growing roster of clients.
Reach out to our team today to discover more or request a free demo of engage™ so you can get to grips with the advantage it offers.