[Beginner] How Marketers Should React to the Changes in Online Consumer Behavior in Recent Years

Consumer behavior refers to the process of making online purchases from the perspective of a consumer. Usually, an analysis of online consumer behavior will look at things such as the influence of online advertising, the willingness of a consumer to click on links, the prevalence of comparison shopping, what things influence buying, and more. Online Consumer behavior is ever-changing, and for small businesses and marketers, knowing current consumer behavior trends is important for creating a marketing strategy that’s effective and profitable.

For a look into recent changes in online consumer behavior in recent years and how to respond to it, read on:

People Close to Us are Most Important Influencers

When it comes to one of the things that affect buying habits the most, the people close to use are one of the most important influences. In a study conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, the question “How reliable is the information posted on social media by each of the following persons?” The least influential person was a politician, followed by brand fans. The most influential – or the people who were seen as the most likely to provide reliable information – were people from a person’s own contact list, followed by a person who belonged in the network of a person in an individual’s contact list. The takeaway? Those who we know are key in determining our preferences and buying habits.

People Like to Be Involved in Content Creation

Another big shift in online consumer behavior in recent years is that now more than ever, people want to be involved in the creation of content. For brands that consumers like, consumers want to be involved in improving existing products and co-creation of new ones. Using contests, surveys, questionnaires, review sites, and customer comments can all help the consumer to feel more included in the process. Asking customers to cast a vote for a favorite new sauce, for example, can make the customer feel instrumental in the business, especially when the chosen sauce is the one that the restaurant decides to use exclusively.

Social Media is More Important than Ever

In recent years, social media has experienced a huge boom, and more people than ever before are on sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, and more. According to an e-marketer report, social networking reaches nearly one in four people around the world and is growing by the second. In the U.S., it’s estimated that by the year 2015, social media users will surpass 174 million. And, social media is no longer confined to a specific group – while the biggest users of social media by far are teenagers, middle-aged adults and seniors are getting on the social media bandwagon, too.

If your company isn’t already using social media to connect with customers, you need to start today. Or, if your social media strategy isn’t as effective as it could be, improving your social media posts can be key to attracting new business.

Consumers Want Facts

With accessibility to the Internet providing people with the means of discovering information faster than ever before, more and more consumers want hard data and facts to be presented when shopping. Rather than saying “a fast computer for all your needs,” consumers want to know exactly how fast, and how it compares to other models. Consumers are hungry for information, and providing them with facts allows them to make decisions based on hard evidence, letting them know exactly what they’re getting themselves into.

Images, Graphics, and Videos Make a Difference

We are a visual species, and in recent years, consumers have really demonstrated a positive response to great graphics, photos, and videos. A great video or photo can go viral in a matter of days or even hours, attracting millions of views overnight. Great graphics, photos, and videos also allow consumers to ingest information in an easy and entertaining manner and can be more effective at triggering emotions and eliciting a positive brand response than text alone. Tips for creating great videos or posting great images including telling a story, using the element of surprise, making it emotional, engaging the audience, and using things that are aesthetically and visually pleasing.

Consumers Don’t Like Waiting

Everyone’s guilty of it: the feeling of impatience and frustration that creeps up with you can’t find the button you need to change the size of the shirt in your online shopping cart, when the back button is clicked and all data is lost, or when the site is loading, and loading, and still loading…

The truth is, fast Internet speeds have taught consumers that they can get what they want at the click of a button, and that information can be accessed immediately. When consumers have to wait, patience runs thin.

In a great infographic published by Geek Time regarding consumer psychology and the e-commerce checkout, site speed is one of the biggest factors in influencing whether or not a purchase is made. After waiting for three seconds for a site to load, 57 percent of consumers will abandon a site, and 80 percent of them will never return again.

On a similar note, a lengthy checkout process is responsible for approximately 10 percent of website abandonment cases, and having to register for a site before making a purchase is responsible for approximately 29 percent of website abandonment cases. Essentially, the message to keep in mind is that consumers don’t like it when they can’t get what they want immediately. If distracted by slow loading times, extra steps at checkout, or a requirement to register, chances are they’ll leave the site and not come back.

Honesty Counts and Influences Online Consumer Behavior

Finally, online consumers want to invest in a product that they trust. Incorrect information, poor reviews, hidden charges at checkout, and unclear details are all things that change online consumer behavior in a negative way. Being honest and upfront about your product and services, costs and fees, delivery times and return policies are very important in building consumer trust.

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