Customer Psychology Basics Every Internet Marketer Should Know
This article is meant to be a useful introduction to the psychology of your customers that will help you understand the way they behave so you can influence their buying decisions.
Although there are a lot of new tactics and techniques when it comes to online marketing, consumer psychology is a concept that is centuries old.
The web simply became a new means of communicating that reinvented the wheel.
The majority of online marketers are so obsessed with traffic generation numbers and conversions that they forget their consumers are actually real live people. While it’s necessary to chase those numbers, it’s still important to understand that there are human beings on the other side of your computer screen.
If you want to truly succeed online, you need to understand how your customers and prospects think and behave and learn how to speak to them.
This article will show you why psychology is critical when it comes to traffic acquisition, conversion rate optimization, and every other marketing and sales activity you do online.
If you’re a marketer who’s looking to build more powerful relationships with your prospects and customers, this article will be a valuable resource that can help you enhance your conversion-centered strategies.
So, without further ado, let’s jump right into…
The Minds of Today’s Consumers
The first thing you need to understand is that consumers today are driven by (thorough) research. Oftentimes, they are already very far along their customer journey by the time they reach out to you or your business.
If you want your business to succeed, you need to empower your audience with information that is useful and valuable to them. Instead of trying to sell, you need to focus on helping your prospects and customers learn.
Online marketing has come a long way.
Businesses got away with lots of shady tactics in the earlier days (from overwhelming email spam and flashy banners to free iPod scams, and so on). Consumers were bombarded with over the top, obnoxious ads on a continuous basis.
The really surprising (and somewhat scary) thing is that these tactics actually worked! The majority of consumers clicked on those sketchy banners.
Only God knows what they were hoping for, but they clicked.
Fast-forwarding to today, consumers are now a lot wiser. Although they still get bombarded with aggressive marketing messages on a daily basis, now they are empowered with tools like anti-spam blockers, ad blockers, and so on to help keep the BS level to a minimum.
It’s safe to assume that the era of shady marketing is over for good, and smart marketers don’t mourn the past but look forward to the future. And the future of marketing is consumer empowerment.
Let me explain why.
Consumer Empowerment: The Future of Online Marketing
There has been a lot of research conducted around this topic, and it’s been found that most consumers today are halfway through their shopping journey before they are ready to reach out to businesses.
And that’s not surprising considering the fact that (thanks mostly to Google) they have a ton of resources right at their fingertips.
Anyone can access countless blog posts, customer reviews, competitors’ websites, etc. no matter where they are in the world.
They may even be standing inside a brick and mortar store, and still be able to place an order with a competitor directly from their phone.
As business owners, there’s probably not a lot you can do to prevent this from happening. You could try, but you’d likely end up annoying a lot of customers in the process.
A much better option for you is to fully support this type of consumer behavior.
After all, if you think about it in a logical way, you start to realize that it’s natural for humans to behave that way. If your potential customers are searching for answers and can’t find them, they will feel frustrated.
If your business can provide them with all the information they need to help them make a decision, they will be thrilled.
Adopting this perspective is something that can help you take your business to the next level.
You can use your blog to create content that teaches your audience all about your products or services and answers any and all questions they could ever have.
For instance, you could publish how-to articles, host webinars, post videos, and so on.
The idea behind this is pretty simple – no one wants to sit on a customer support line all day, wasting their valuable time. What they would rather do is self-direct their own learning and research.
And your main focus is to make their user experience as positive, delightful, and hassle-free as possible.
But, simply producing content is not enough!
People have access to infinite resources on the Internet. When they want information, they want it right now, and in the precise moment that their question came up.
This is the exact reason why it’s vital for online businesses to make their content available and accessible to customers at the moment that they have questions about the business’s products or services.
There are two ways you can accomplish this:
1. Make sure that the information you push is targeted to the proper stage of the sales funnel
I recently wrote an article about how to create content for the various stages in the conversion funnel.
This is a technique that calls for some level of intuition and prediction as to what decisions are being made by your buyers, and when they are making them.
2. Make sure that your brand is available wherever prospects and customers are asking questions
Generally, when people need answers, they take to the search engines, so make sure you’ve got answers for their questions in the form of blog posts, guides, whitepapers, or whatever else works for your business.
If you’re able to give them the information they need, exactly when they’re searching for it, your marketing battle is already half won.
It’s crucial that you create and distribute the right information because if you publish content on a topic your consumers are already knowledgeable about – but you don’t focus on any of the supplemental details they are actively searching for (and can’t find), you will end up with nothing even after all that hard work!
All the content you create should be tailored to your audience’s specific needs.
Listen, find out what your audience is asking, and answer those questions as fully as possible. You probably already have a good idea of what your prospects and customers are searching for.
If you don’t, then now’s a great time to get that process started.
How to Discover What Your Customers Are Asking:
Check out the data from your Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools, etc. to see what your visitors are searching for whenever they land on your site.
Talk to some of your customers and find out what their needs and interests are.
You can use email, phone, social media, or any other channel available to you. Have an open-ended discussion with them about how you can improve your customer service.
If you work with a team (eg. sales reps, account managers, customer service reps, etc.) ask them about any common questions they have been receiving.
You can set up a knowledge center on your website to answer the most frequently asked questions.
The bottom line is it’s very easy to talk to your customers about anything, but to avoid overwhelming yourself, try to focus your attention on the most common patterns in human psychology.
With each conversation you have, read between the lines to learn what motivates your prospects and customers, and clearly identify the things they care about.
Remember: Your Customers Have Powerful Filtering Systems
One thing you need to understand before starting this process is that customers these days have very strong filtering systems.
Humans have the power to process information at lightning-fast speeds, and we all have virtually impenetrable noise blockers to help keep us focused on specific information we want or need.
We are natural skeptics, and we’ve become adept at identifying frauds from a mile away.
Although your customers are constantly bombarded with noise, they are always on the lookout for valuable information.
They are constantly looking for ways to grow and learn in their careers.
They want to improve their personal lives. They want to be entertained, and they crave opportunities to laugh…
Customers are now well-trained to power through all the noise. They filter information through both their rational brain and their emotional brain.
The most successful businesses and brands online are the ones that can appeal to both these mindsets, which makes it evident that success, for you, begins with understanding what motivates your consumers.
Here Are the Top Motivations Influencing Consumers Today:
1. Personal Gain
Your customers care more about products, services, or businesses that bring value to their lives.
They closely guard their time and money, unwilling to give any of it up for a quick fix or sub-par product. They need to be able to see a very clear, compelling benefit.
Customers are asking:
- What’s the benefit for me?
- What do I get from using this (your) product?
- Which product offers me the most bang for the buck?
- Which product gives me the most for the time I’m putting in?
For most of your customers, life can be stressful. They are generally feeling tired, bored, or they are somewhere in between.
It’s all about running errands, working their tails off, dealing with their kids, and so on.
Moments of real joy can be very few and (very) far between – but that doesn’t stop them from actively seeking them out.
And when they find them, even a few minutes of pure happiness can feel like an amazing hour.
Customers are asking:
- Do I really have to return to work?
- How did I get this lucky?
- Can I feel this way forever?
- How can I make this incredible moment last?
3. Social Influence
The majority of consumers trust the perspectives of their family and friends.
Instead of starting their product search from scratch, they would rather work from a personal recommendation. Even if they are independent from the rest, they still crave that guidance from their mentors and peers.
They are asking:
- What products or services are my friends using?
- What would my colleagues and friends think of this?
- Would my mom approve of this?
- Can I trust this brand?
The word ‘you’ helps to build instant rapport between brands and their audiences. This is something you can leverage right off the bat to show your customers that you’re fully invested in them.
You need to make sure that all your products or services are about your customers.
They are asking:
- Does this business care about me?
- Do they even understand my needs?
- Is this product or service designed for me?
Humans are driven by past experiences, and when your customers are looking to make a decision, they rely on their memories to help them make the right call about what they should or shouldn’t buy.
If they see an ad, again and again, for a product they’ve had their eye on for a while, they are more likely to purchase it.
Customers are asking:
- Is this the product/service I’ve been wanting?
- Is this what I’ve been considering buying for some time?
- Where have I seen this before?
6. Trust and Safety
Over the years, the Internet has gained a bad rap as being sketchy.
This means that even if your business is completely legitimate, customers are going to question your motives.
You will be viewed by most of them as a spam site until you’ve proven otherwise.
Some of the questions they are asking include:
- How do I know these people aren’t going to rip me off?
- How long has this business been around?
- Is my personal information safe?
- Can I trust these people with my credit card information?
As you can see, there are a lot of questions being asked by your prospective customers.
If you want to put your business head and shoulders above the competition, take the time to ensure that all their questions are answered fully by you – right when they ask them.
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Updated: Originally published March 16th 2019