Understanding consumer behavior is the holy grail for marketing enthusiasts. If a brand can fully understand what its audience wants and likes, it can create personalized communications and even products. Since the advent of consumerism, brands have looked for ways to influence consumer behavior.
Previously, the one-sided nature of traditional marketing methods made it nearly impossible for brands to gauge consumer behavior directly. They would have to rely on the market to accept or reject their products, and many brands would waste lots of money on ineffective marketing methods to improve sales which would later be fruitless.
But now, with the spread of the internet and the rise of digital marketing, there have been massive changes in consumer behavior and how brands deal with consumers themselves.
Read on to find out how digital marketing affects customer behavior to employ better marketing strategies for your business.
Why Digital Marketing is Important?
Marketers have the opportunity to directly connect with their clients through online platforms and expand their visibility. Digital marketing can help in capturing significant audiences and influencing their purchasing decisions because to its massive user base.
The switch from traditional to digital marketing has resulted in significantly changed and more efficient customer behavior. Because information is easily accessible online, regardless of the day or hour, customers may purchase, read reviews, compare, and do many other things constantly.
As a result, digital marketing inspires customers, provides them with better experiences, and helps firms in developing better and stronger relationships with them. Thus, digital marketing greatly influences buying behaviour.
What is Consumer Behavior?
Consumer behavior studies cause behind an individual’s or organization’s choice to buy certain products or support certain brands over others. This field of study mainly focuses on behavior, motivations, and psychology.
- Psychological Factors: How an individual reacts to an ad campaign depends primarily on their perceptions, attitudes, and worldview.
- Personal Factors: Demographics such as age, culture, profession, and background define a consumer’s interests and opinions.
- Social Factors: A person’s social group affects their buying patterns. Their income, education level, and social class influence their choices.
How Does Marketing Affect Customer Behavior?
Below are a few factors that make marketing highly effective in influencing consumer behavior:
· Audience emotions:
Marketing campaigns are effective because they evoke reactions from consumers. The more a consumer is affected by your campaign, the more they will talk about your brand and products; thus, people are more likely to buy them.
· Brand imagery and messaging:
Using imagery and inventive copywriting is a great way to get people interested in your brand. For example, if you are targeting young people, using popular topics or memes will cause the audience to associate the positivity they feel from them with your brand.
· Audience memories:
Nostalgia and fear are two very effective emotions that significantly impact consumer behavior. For example, if a brand associates itself with imagery and music from your childhood, it may cause your feelings of brand loyalty to grow.
On the other hand, fear is also influential because you may feel compelled to buy the product to relieve anxiety and feel better.
How Has Consumer Behavior Changed Over the Years?
Before the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg 1500s, consumers bought products according to availability and convenience.
Afterward, manufacturers realized that putting advertisements for their products in newspapers would lead to their messages reaching thousands.
This meant they had a means of influencing consumer behavior. Considering that newspaper advertisements are still influential centuries later, you can understand how effective they are.
The same was seen when radio came about in the 1910s and 1920s. Radios stations found that companies were eager to pay them handsome amounts to broadcast their advertisements.
Again, with television’s rise, a new era of influencing consumer behavior arrived. Consumers would watch their favorite movies and TV stars using particular products, which would increase demand.
In the modern era, digital marketing is bringing about similar changes, but unlike newspapers, radio, TV, and cinema, it is vastly more efficient and cost-effective. You can now target specific people based on geography or demographics.
As the internet spreads worldwide and as more and more people are using mobile phones with internet plans, it is much easier than ever for companies to reach a vast audience and influence their behavior.
What are the Principles of Influence?
The American psychologist Roberto Cialdini has used his years of research in consumer behavior to create six principles of human behavior.
Both businesses and consumers can use these principles to understand purchasing behaviors of consumers better and find the most effective strategies.
Here are the six principles of influence as posited by Cialdini:
People often feel compelled to return a favor or kind gesture that is given to them. This means if you offer a customer a free sample or a generous discount, they will be more likely to purchase your product.
Once someone has an established relationship with a brand, they are more likely to be loyal to it. In business, this is defined as customer loyalty. Brands can use this by reaching out to their regular customer by providing them exclusive benefits to cultivate this brand loyalty.
The more people do something, the more likely it is that others will join. If a brand can show that they are famous or that its customers across a broad base are satisfied, then other consumers are more likely to buy-in.
Even though consensus significantly impacts consumer behavior, many consumers are more likely to trust an expert than anyone off the street. A relevant expert speaks about how effectively a brand’s product or service can convert new customers.
People similar to the target customer can be very effective in persuading the target customer to purchase a product. People with similar demographics are more effective in convincing someone to use a product than those who are vastly different.
People are more attracted to things they cannot have. Making a product seem exclusive or as if its stock is limited makes it more enticing to the customer and increases the likelihood they will buy.
These six principles are very effective in influencing customer behavior. However, crossing the line from influencing to manipulation can have much more long-term harm to your brand.
How Has Digital Marketing Affected Consumer Behavior?
Digital marketing has massively changed consumer behavior like previous technological advances mentioned earlier. Here are a few ways how digital marketing affects consumer behavior:
Ability to research and experiment
Modern consumers are no longer ignorant about products. They have become excellent researchers, especially when making a purchase. They are gaining more insights as technology empowers them with all the information they require via the internet.
Consumers now have many contents they can use to research and compare different products. This also allows consumers to experiment with other brands before making a final choice. This has made brands more transparent. So to an extent, as much as digital marketing has empowered brands, it has also empowered consumers.
More accessible word-of-mouth
Word-of-mouth is one of the most critical factors that affect consumer behavior. Consumers are always looking for what people say about a brand, especially when it is relevant to a product they are purchasing.
With the advent of social media, consumers now have the power to express their opinion to a large audience.
Reviews for bloggers, comments on posts, and customer reviews on brand pages have helped consumers spread their opinion and allowed new customers to gauge people’s responses to a product before purchasing it. Brands need to have people talking about them, as previously mentioned.
Inconsistent customer loyalty
Digital marketing has also exposed consumers to a more extensive range of products and services. This has led to them looking for better value for money while previously they were partial to a particular brand.
Nowadays, customers not only value the cost of a product but also factors such as customer support, brand value, and discounts, among others, are being considered before making a purchasing decision. This causes brands to develop more features and offers, leading to even more choices for the consumer.
Although this seems like a new phenomenon, it is a behavior that is just being highlighted due to digital marketing. This has made brands more competitive and has helped customers get better products at lower costs.
Boost in Customer Engagement
Due to the proliferation of mobile and internet technology, it has become increasingly easy for consumers to engage with brands. Social media is accessible to anyone with an internet connection, and thus almost anyone can use social media to engage with their favorite brands.
Brands are realizing this trend and behaving accordingly by providing precisely what customers want, applying the best hardware for electronics, or using sustainable packaging. Brands are now more aware of what customers want, and customers have unprecedented power over brands.
Digital marketing serves as ears to brands through the data it collects. They can use this data to gauge whether a product will be successful or not.
Artificial intelligence has made digital marketing for brands much more efficient and feasible. It is also a powerful medium that helps consumers make better choices.
Brands that employ AI have a significant advantage over those that don’t, and since consumers always look for convenience, they will inevitably choose brands that operate AI.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Despite how much digital marketing has changed, one thing remains constant: people still rely on search engines to help them make decisions and find solutions to problems. Therefore, SEO is one of the best practices to influence consumer behavior.
Most people use Google or similar search engines to gather information, and most never go past the first page of Google’s results page. Thus, it is critical that you keep your brand visible on the first page and perhaps even the first few links on the results page.
Hence, companies create helpful content and attract backlinks to get the best ranking possible and beat the competition.
Since the better the ranking, the more likely you are to generate sales, and consumers believe that if you are ranked better, it probably means your products are better. This makes the competition to rank on relevant keywords very fierce.
Customers are no longer patient
Since there are endless options to choose from when making purchasing decisions online, any friction or latency a customer faces when they have made a purchasing decision, they will move to the next option.
For example, if a customer has decided to buy a mobile phone and if the first link on Google fails to open, or if their choice of an online retailer is currently unavailable, they will quickly move on to another.
When customer touchpoints do not meet expectations, customers may leave reviews mentioning their dissatisfaction, and thus it can influence potential customers and lead to lower sales.
Therefore, brands must make the purchasing process as seamless as possible while adding benefits, such as hassle-free returns and next-day delivery.
Customers buy impulsively
Most people are guilty of buying impulsively, which is usually due to the magic of digital marketing. Digital marketers have mastered the art of presenting their products in such a way as to take advantage of this fact.
Although, in general, customers pre-plan what they want to buy beforehand, digital marketers use innovative techniques such as limited-time offers to further push customers into making an impulsive decisions so as not to miss out on a good deal. These brands also use social media marketing to promote these deals.
Personalized shopping experience
Digital marketing has made customers accustomed to a more personalized shopping experience. Brands know customers do not want to spend too much time browsing through their selection.
Therefore, they provide customers with a curated list of products they would like based on their previous actions. This makes the shopping experience for each individual more unique and rewarding.
Digital vs. Traditional Marketing: What’s the Difference
Digital channels provide intricate networks of consumers, meaning brands no longer have to rely on broadcasts or other mediums to get their message out.
Consumer networks provide a high level of engagement and interaction between consumers and brands through social media comments, email chains, or live chat.
As a result, audiences can instantly reach out to brands and thus behave differently compared to those who wait for postal mail and phone calls. You can also use digital marketing to solve issues that customers face in real-time.
Furthermore, digital marketing campaigns broaden your market, meaning anyone online is a potential customer. Traditional marketing tends to be localized or, at most, national campaigns, but through digital marketing, anyone can become an international business.
The vast amount of data out there means you can narrow your segments and find the audiences that are perfect for your business regardless of where they are located.
Digital marketing has forever changed the consumer landscape. Customers now demand more from their brands as they have been exposed to endless varieties and possibilities that are available worldwide.
This same technology, while empowering consumers, has also made brands more powerful through targeted ads and data science. It will be interesting to see what lies in the future of consumerism.
What is the impact of digital and social media on consumer behavior?
Here is an example of how impactful digital and social media marketing can be:
According to Forbes, 81% of consumers’ purchasing decisions are influenced by their friends’ social media posts.
A report from Nosto shows that 66% of consumers have been inspired to purchase from a new brand after seeing social media images from other consumers.
A Hubspot study found consumers are 71% more likely to buy based on social media referrals.
What is Consumer Behavior in digital marketing?
In terms of marketing research, digital consumer behavior essentially boils down to anything a person does online. What devices they use, the sites they visit, the ads they engage with, the pages they navigate to, when they leave, etc.
What is digital marketing, and what is its impact?
Digital marketing affects people’s interactions, work, purchases, and habits through brand communications on the internet. It is a way to influence consumer behavior and purchasing decision.