Smart organizations realize that there are many ways in which they can influence consumer behavior. Why would your customers choose your company over a competitor’s? A better question would be what can you do to make your customers choose you over your competitors. Companies will give an arm and a leg if they know that there is a right formula to influence consumer behavior. Unfortunately, there isn’t one, but you can follow a bunch of steps consistently to ensure that your customers are always vouching for you and purchasing from you.
Companies like L L Bean, Amazon, and Zappos.com are super beloved to its customers because they have a customer-focused culture. Tony Hseih, the founder of Zappos, even wrote a book called Delivering Happiness, which was all about creating a culture of happiness for its customers and employees alike. Guess who bought Zappos in 2009 for $900 odd million? Amazon! Because they know the value of a company that ‘wows’ its customers so much that they can influence their behavior.
Let’s dive into what Consumer Behaviour is, shall we?
It is the study of individuals and companies on their rationale behind choosing products and services. It studies their motivation, behavior, and psychology. Learning how to influence consumer behavior helps you understand what drives them to choose product A over B, you would be able to pursue them to buy from you.
Importance of Consumer Behaviour
In this time and age, when your customers are peppered with different choices, you must know how to influence them so that they choose you over others. Identify the pain points that your customers want to be solved. Besides, knowing the products they reject and why they got dismissed becomes a part of your learning process.
Factors that influence Consumer Behaviour
Probably one of the most challenging factors would be to analyze each customer trait thoroughly. Each individual would have different personal factors over others, and putting them into a segment might be difficult. It comprises of their likes, dislikes, interests, peeves, preferences, and sub-factors like age, gender, and personal issues.
The way a problem is perceived is unique to every individual. It can be influenced by- present circumstances, past experiences, needs, problems, lack, or an overdose of information, and their own attitudes. It will help if marketers know what part of their product do they showcase to the customer or learn more about the ‘How-to’ showcase part.
The society that we live in, the income we earn, the company that we keep and our surroundings have a substantial influencing power on who we end up as. This is why influencers and advertisements contribute a huge factor in our buying decisions.
Ever heard of the Freudian slip? It happens to all of us. It is the action that we take due to the interference of our subconscious thoughts. Sigmund Freud’s theory states that our behavior is guided by our subconscious-needs. It is governed by three factors, namely: Id, Superego, and Ego.
Id– It is our impulsive urge like thirst, hunger, and sex.
Superego– It is our conformity of behavior in ways that are dictated by society.
Ego– It is the individual’s control over impulses and decisions created by Id and Superego.
How does Consumer Behavior work? While we have outlined a lot of factors that contribute to Consumer Behaviour, if you look at it closely, most of these decisions are governed by perception. Let’s take a look at perceptions and how it works.
Perception is the method with which we do things by selecting, analyzing, and interpreting data in a way that seems fair to us. Marketers have known, for a long time, how creating ideal perceptions can help gain the favor of customers.
The study of Consumer Behavior includes-
- The way consumers think about different brands, products, and services that are offered.
- How consumers research products while shopping
- How the surrounding environment influences consumers
- How they choose between alternatives
- How marketing campaigns can effectively influence the customer
To understand and study something, you would obviously need data. So you must collect data to study consumer behavior.
Methods to collect consumer behavior data:
A lot of factors can influence the customer’s behavior. Hence, it requires you to sift through data from different types and channels to help you make an informed decision. Here are some of the most effective methods to collect consumer data.
You can easily create surveys by using survey tools like that of SurveySparrow. Surveys help you ask specific questions directly to the consumer. It is a goldmine of information.
Customers lurk on websites where they share their peeves and other thoughts about your business, competitors, and so on. Use it wisely to collate data that is relevant to you.
Ask questions directly to consumers by bringing them together like a group discussion where the topics are intensely discussed. You will get detailed answers since you have a lot of time to engage with your customers in Focus Group Discussions.
Another place where a lot of customers pour out their hearts are review sites. It will give you a lot of insight since the customers are honest about their opinions of products that they use.
There are a lot of tools that tell you where your customers come from, what they did on the site, their behavior. If you can use your Artificial Intelligence team, it could also help leverage link tracking that can analyze how customers move on your site. These are gold, and it tells a lot about your website, UI, and UX, including customer behavior.
While there are tools to analyze the activities of customers, manually understanding the strategies that your competitors use will help you. Track their social media, marketing communications, outreach campaigns, and so on.
The comments on your’s and competitor’s blog is also an eye-opener with a lot of useful data seeped into it.
Twitter, Reddit & Facebook
These are three social media marketing websites that have a lot of customers who mention the brands they use. This can help you unearth patterns as well.
Five ways to influence consumer behavior
#1 Be a boss on social media
Sprout Social says that 74% of buying decision is based on social media. To add to the previous statistic, HubSpot says that consumers are 71% more likely to purchase something based on referrals from social media. But many companies are not able to leverage social media the way they should. Why? Because they use social media to change the way consumers think and not use them the way consumers want.
Your customers use social media for making connections and conversations. While most users are content with talking to friends and family on social media, brands do crop up here and there. But they try being a brand and are hell-bent on making a sale instead of connecting with customers.
Consumers are skeptical of businesses whose only intention is to sell, especially on social media, it is easy to nitpick and find faults on trivial matters. The anonymity that social media gives people makes them act rashly. So it is wise to tread lightly while having a sound strategy in place.
Do not keep talking about your business and your product. You must make a small shift with that sort of thinking. Tell your customers how your product helps them. Show them quirky videos of your customers using your products. Engage with your customers on social media. Reply to all comments.
Engage with your customers in such a way that they become brand advocates. You can do this by being a giver! Offer as much value as possible to your customers. Once there is a lot of content from your side, you will be considered as a ‘brand authority,’ and this is when it is easy to make sales. You don’t even have to try hard when you have established your authority by offering a lot of value using social media.
#2 Offer unconditional support
One of the most stifling feelings for a customer is knowing that there is no way to solve an issue that cropped up when using your product.
Is there no forum for redressal? How long are customers made to wait for a complaint resolution? Is there a refund if the company is in the wrong? Would the brand be ready to solve all customer expectations? Is there only one way in which your customers can contact you? Take action to immediately ensure that your customers can reach you through different levels. Respond via social media, calls, emails, and what not!
Create a community of users that will help each other out. You will soon find customers within that community who will be engaged actively. Incentivize them with offers and recognize their contribution in making the community grow. When you keep acknowledging the excellent work done by your customers in such communities, they will go out of their way to be more helpful.
Write an FAQ section that has every plausible situation that your customer might be in. Write how-to articles on your blog that helps with understanding your product and how to use it to the fullest. These would reduce the instances of your customers having to talk to your customer support executive.
#3 Take baby steps
Imagine that you have a new company with a product that has the potential to revolutionize the industry. It would still be smart of you to take baby steps instead of announcing to the world that you are the next big thing in ‘X.’ Why?
Because it takes time to change consumer behavior. It’s vital that you prod customers, to make incremental changes in their attitude towards your brand. Introduce your brand in bits and pieces instead of going for the sales kill with “Hey buy our product A, which is better than X, Y, and Z.”
Have a crystal clear communication strategy that is focused on creating incremental steps for your customers. Don’t let the customer feel as if you want them to make drastic purchase decisions.
Your job is not to sell ice to an Eskimo. It is to make a user understand why they need your product. You should communicate how it is going to help them. Educate your customers. Get on a call with them to know what they want, what is missing in the products that they use right now and tell them if they would like, you can show them a better option (that is your product).
To pave the way for a significant behavioral change, you need to change one habit at a time. If you want customers to change their behavior, then you need to create in such a way that you change the situation.
#4 Connect with customers
One of the points that we mentioned in this article was about giving different options for your customers to reach out to you, but it was only for them to solve a query. Go a step ahead and proactively reach out to your customers.
Do you know that Steve Jobs’ most efficient train of thought was not producing the most innovative phone or iPod? It was to design products that gave the ultimate customer experience. To have achieved something of that proportion, you need to understand the customer’s expectations, behaviors, and motivations.
Don’t just start campaigns that talk about the behemoth that you are, tug at the emotions of your customers. Entertain them with stories, behind-the-scenes incidents, origin story, pictures, testimonials, changes your product produced, and so on.
If you are an online business, do not entirely ignore the offline side of things. Organize meetups for your customers in areas that they frequent. On the online front, start conversations with your customers on social media platforms and engage with your audience.
The more your customers engage with you, the higher is their fondness for you. They would realize that you are sincere and would even give a chance with your products. When you engage with them on a deeper level, you can also expect them to be your brand advocates.
Pro tip: Meet your customer advocates. Find them based on the brand conversations and invite them to visit your office or fly them out to a place they love (if you can afford it). Find exciting ways to keep your brand advocates feel loved.
#5 Understand the needs of your customers
The above point would easily be one of the first statements that would make the most sense for any business, right? Find out what appeals to your customers, understand their requirements by talking to them, and communicate the same in your marketing messaging. Many businesses believe that it is easy to change the buying patterns of customers with a few social media posts. The present buying decisions are a result of- years of messaging, either through society or their circumstances.
You can only make your customers make better choices by creating content in different forms that appeal to their basic necessities. It is all right not to know the exact strategy to inspire your customers. But, it would be terrible if you don’t approach directly for a tête-à-tête with them.
It helps to be authentic with your customers. Understand their needs like how a friend would talk to them rather than communicating with them in dull and repulsive corporate language. Make sure that the interactions you have with your customers are genuine. Have an open dialogue with your customers instead of trying to sell with each message.
No one likes to be sold to, but everyone wants to be talked to.
We have outlined ways in which you can influence consumer behavior. If there is anything that can keep your customers with you, it is by providing excellent customer service. The initial step in understanding customer behavior is collating data that will lead to remarkable insights. You can use SurveySparrow’s free online survey tool to get started to lay siege to the minds of your customers with questions.
Understanding, analyzing, and keeping track of consumer behavior is pivotal for a company’s marketing team so that they are always on the throes of success. Even if it is a company that is your customer, remember that there are people on the other side. Treat them with respect and integrity, and success will come to you.