The world of digital marketing is changing. Thanks to programmatic (and real-time) advertising, big data, and the rise of mobile, consumers have more power than ever over what goes into their attention in a matter of seconds.
As a marketer, how do you gain insight into the behavior and preferences of website visitors? Do you use tools to track and analyze conversion behavior, or rely solely on trial and error to see what moves the needle?
If you’re trying to figure out how to increase revenue from online marketing, you may be wondering how to move beyond simply attracting users to your site. How do you know what drives them to action? What would cause them to convert, or become buyers?
The marketing world is moving to answer these questions, and that’s what’s brought us to this point. Thanks to big data, we have access to a wealth of information about consumers’ digital activities that we could apply to our marketing decisions. This includes their websites, emails, and social media activity.
Website Behavior Provides Key Insights
If you want to get the most value from your digital marketing investment, you need to apply a mix of behavioral and traditional marketing to move beyond gaining users to your site. While website metrics like traffic, engagement, and conversions are important, they only represent the immediate actions consumers took on your behalf. We also need to measure the value those actions provided, in terms of increased sales and revenue. To figure out how much we’re gaining or losing as a result of our digital marketing activity, we need to look at the bigger picture.
Luckily, we have more than one data source that provides this information. Thanks to the combination of website behavior and social data, we can track a user’s journey throughout their entire shopping experience. This includes what they do on your site, but it also covers their activity on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
Marketing to Consumers in Real Time
When you’re marketing on social media, you can target audiences based on their behavior, not just their demographics. Thanks to the proliferation of digital marketing platforms and the use of open-source software like Hootsuite, marketers can target and engage with their intended audience in real time.
Even if you’re not entirely sure what programmatic advertising or real-time marketing is, you’re probably already participating in the trend. Thanks to the increasing use of programmatic advertising techniques on social media, we’re seeing real-time marketing become a valuable tool in shaping consumer behavior and engaging with prospects and customers alike.
Forrester Research predicts that by 2020, 74% of all marketing will be real-time. And as the tools of communication become more sophisticated and accessible, marketers are seeing the advantages of being able to target the right audience at the right time with the right message to drive action and engagement.
Personal Branding Is a Growing Trend
Personal branding is more important than ever before as consumers have more power over what kind of content they consume. Thanks to the internet and social media, everyone has the capability to become a brand. Your job as a marketer is to ensure that you position yourself as a thought leader in your industry, demonstrating expertise in areas that your prospective customers and clients can benefit from.
To achieve this, you need to develop a brand voice, unique selling proposition, and strategy for the platform you choose to engage with consumers. What does that mean for you as a marketer? Take some time to think about how you want to differentiate yourself from competitors, what makes you special, and how you can leverage your expertise to create value for your clients.
Why Do Consumers Buy From The Top Down
With most big-ticket items these days, we’re seeing the top-down funnel shape shift to a newer, leaner model. Thanks to the proliferation of affiliate marketing and sales associates, the need for a traditional funnel has decreased. As a result, we’re seeing more individuals navigate their way to the top of the funnel and purchase a product or service without ever having visited a website or entered their email address.
This brings us to our next point. After a user decides to purchase a product or service online, how do they move through the purchasing cycle? The answer, as you might guess, is a combination of top-down and onboarding processes. In the traditional model, consumers would land on a website, find what they wanted, and then be directed to a purchase page or button. Now, it’s possible to have the complete opposite happen. Users may find a need for a product or service, discover there’s no offline store and no way to get in touch with the brand, and then research alternative providers that serve their needs. It’s a shift in the very way we think about marketing and conversions.
Consumers Research, Evaluate, and Review Before Purchase
Even if a user finds what they want quickly and easily, they’re not necessarily going to rush out and purchase it without first doing some research. Before they make a purchase, they usually do some (or all) of the following:
- Research the product (What are the key features? How does it work? Can I try it out before I buy it?)
- Evaluate the product (Is it worthy of my time and money? Is there a cheaper, better alternative?)
- Compare the product to other options (What else can I get that’s similar? Which option do you recommend? Why?)
- Research the company (Do they have a good reputation? Are they a trusted source of information?)
- Research the retailers (Where can I buy this? Are there any discounts or coupons that might help me?)
- Find alternatives (If I don’t like this product, is there another that I should try? Are there any flaws in the way this product works that I should be aware of?)
- Contact the company or brand (If I have any issues or questions after I purchase the product, where can I reach them?)
Depending on the product you’re marketing, your strategy, and the stage you’re in the funnel, you may not need to cover all of these steps. Nevertheless, it’s important to have a clear idea of how consumers move through the decision-making process, and what you can do to ensure they take the right action.
Shopping Behavior Changes With The Times
If you’re a marketer for a large company, you may be wondering how online behavior has changed in the last 10 to 15 years, and how you can take advantage of the trend.
For instance, let’s say you’re a women’s clothing brand. Over the years, you’ve developed a loyal following of women who’ve discovered your clothing’s charm. One day, you discover that the style you’ve popularized isn’t living up to the hype. Your fans are experiencing a sales slump, and much to your dismay, are not experiencing the same joy you once did in creating clothes that women want to wear. What do you do?
Even though your followers are older generations of women still wearing your clothing, you may see a newer, trendier style that draws crowds of people to social media platforms. The way they shop has changed, and it may be time for an update to your marketing strategy.
The Behavior of Mobile Users Is Different
Mobile users don’t just consume content on the go—they’re also searching for products and services, reading reviews, and talking about their experiences on social media platforms. All of these things influence their decision-making process, and the way they perform tasks like shopping.
If you sell office equipment, you may want to consider all of the behavior flowing from a desktop or laptop user, and how you can tailor your strategy to attract and engage this audience. After all, not all business can be done online—some tasks like manufacturing require you to be present in the office, so you may still need to reach some users through traditional marketing.
The Way We Find Information Has Changed
Thanks to the internet, we can now access information in real time, from anywhere. With so much information available online, it’s easy for consumers to discover the answers they’re seeking, and in many cases, even before they ask the question. This makes it challenging for marketing to stand out among the noise.