What permanent changes to consumer habits means for your sales activation marketing

2020 has sharpened our focus on numbers. More than ever before every tenth of a percent count. Every consumer is counted. Every pound greatly received. And with numbers comes stats.

This is the most recent one to turn our heads:

45% of consumers stated they’ve permanently changed their shopping habits to spend more online*

This is huge news for marketers. My guess is that you’ll currently be looking for ways to optimise your digital marketing to make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep your customers engaged.

This video looks at the ways to maximise opportunities at the decision and action points in the sales funnel.

*source: Brandwatch

This video is the second in a series. You can watch part one here.

Video transcript

Hi and welcome back to our consumer insights series. In part one of this video, we shared a key statistic signalling a massive, permanent change in the way consumers shop. 

 45% of consumers have permanently changed their shopping habits to spend more online. 

 We also shared our thoughts on the challenges and opportunities this change will bring, focusing specifically on raising brand awareness and interest. 

 Today we’ll be looking at the bottom of the sales funnel and exploring how you can convert interest into sales. 

The decision stage 

By now, your prospect understands your brand offer and have probably explored others in the same area. They’re now deciding which brand to buy with. 

At this point, consumers tend to go with the brand they feel resonates strongest with them.  

It’s definitely an emotional decision, which is why our previous insight – that 73% of UK consumers say that online brand experiences will change who they buy from – is so critical. Even more so in markets that have low differentiation. 

To offer this experience, brands need to consider new and different ways to talk about their offer.  

Simply providing information is not enough – consumers are looking to be entertained, educated and inspired online, especially on social media. 

Influencer marketing 

Influencer marketing is a really engaging way to deliver information while offering an enjoyable experience. 

Turn your product information into entertaining content by giving it to an influencer who can do the talking for you. It’s also a really nice alternative to just posting product information yourself. 

To build consumer trust and provide a positive brand experience, you should partner with someone who already has the trust and admiration of your target audience. 

Content

Consumers are looking for brands that educate and inspire them. It’s not enough to just tell people what your product or service does. 

To provide powerful brand experiences and build advocacy, you need to help them understand how your product helps them, or inspire them to think differently. How-to guides and customer-generated content that shows how they’re using your products – these are really inspiring for potential customers. 

Not only that, they also build loyalty with existing customers by continuing a positive brand experience beyond the sales process. 

Communication

As competition for consumers’ attention increases, brands need to work harder to stand out from the crowd. Giving your customers a place in building your brand’s online experience is a great way to do this.  

But it requires two-way communication, which can be facilitated by tools such as live chat and chat bots. Prompt and engaging social media management is also vital for gathering feedback and responding to customer comments. 

These tools give consumers a way to influence your brand experience. The key is to ensure their authenticity, which is where user-generated content comes in. 

Giving your audience an opportunity to feature in and mould your content makes your messaging far more authentic. It also helps consumers connect with your brand far more than those who only offer a one-way conversation. 

The action stage

Once a consumer has made their decision, your challenge is to make the purchase process as smooth as possible. All of your good work can be ruined at the last moment by someone simply abandoning their cart. The average rate of cart abandonment is 70%. 

This may seem high, but a lot of these are consumers who never intended to buy – they were just browsing and comparing prices. For those who had intended to buy, the main reasons for cart abandonment are: 

  • Extra costs being too high – such as shipping and additional fees 
  • Having to create an account
  • Too long or complicated a purchase process 

With consumer spending online predicted to continue rising, the value of lost sales due to poor user experience will also increase. That’s why it’s essential to invest in user experience testing, to understand how you can make your purchase process as simple as possible.  

It’s all part of delivering a great online experience for your consumers. 

 After sales 

An increase in online shopping also presents brands with an opportunity to collect consumer data. Demographic information lets you create detailed audience personas to inform future marketing. With their contact information, you can also convert first time buyers into loyal customers. 

However, information gathering should be done sensitively and in a way that doesn’t interrupt the purchase process. Any follow-up marketing should follow the same principles of delivering a good brand experience. 

Contact details can be used in targeted marketing campaigns for complimentary products. But in the long run, they’re arguably far more valuable as a way to engage with consumers after a sale.  

Understanding their needs is the only way to improve their experience of your brand online, which in turn will increase complimentary sales. Offering incentives like discounts or exclusive rewards for feedback, reviews and other pieces of user-generated content is a great way to keep consumers engaged after a sale. 

Bringing it all together 

We’re confident this spike in online shopping and use of digital platforms in lockdown will become a long-term trend.  But it’s also important to consider how quickly consumer habits and preferences change in the online space. 

We’ve highlighted the importance of content, communication and user experience at each stage of the sales funnel. But you shouldn’t see this as a one-off exercise, it’s a continuous process of reviewing and implementing change. 

Digital platforms give brands the opportunity to communicate with their consumers in ways that aren’t possible elsewhere. Brands that use this opportunity to engage with their online community, gather feedback and constantly evolve their offering will benefit in the long run and stay ahead of the competition. 

We hope this video has given you some useful ways to do this and make the most of an increasingly digital-savvy audience.