How Digital Marketing Affects Consumer Behavior – A Guide
Digital Marketing only evolved in the late 1990s with the advent of the Internet all over the world. As businesses moved online, consumers leveraged the freedom of shopping from the ease of their homes. What started with shopping from a website sporadically on the internet has become a periodical activity for over two billion digital shoppers worldwide, which has completely transformed the marketing behavior of organizations. Thus, the pressing question here is, how Digital Marketing affects consumer behavior?
First, we need to clarify a bit about what Digital Marketing is. Digital Marketing is promoting products and services on the internet. This can take many forms, such as Social Media Marketing, Search Engine Marketing, and Email Marketing. Cutting to the chase, Digital Marketing is just marketing, plain and simple.
The internet, especially over the past few years, has evolved into a world of its own. We are netizens first, and citizens later. As such, the billboards have been replaced by banner ads, annoying posters have been replaced by annoying pop-ups, and sensational TV ads by clickbait stories. One can say that nothing has changed.
There are a lot of manners in which Digital Marketing has changed how customers behave. The amount of data a person produces is staggering, and companies generally have an idea of who their customer is and how they behave as a person on the internet. Even with the simple, unassuming cookie, an organization can have vital data which can help them project the right kind of ads to you – the products and services you might be interested in.
This is why that when you look up something on Google, it will pop up in your Instagram/Facebook/Twitter feed, or at least something related to it. Cookies are stored on your device, and these cookies help organizations to determine what you like and help target ads. These personalized, targeted advertisements, which can seem annoying or downright creepy at times, are the ones that are bringing the most change in today’s customer’s shopping patterns.
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But what is consumer behavior, you might ask?
Consumer behavior is how people buy stuff, and how they reached that decision. These are people that are looking for products and services for themselves. This information is worth its weight in gold for businesses around the world.
Of course, if you are a business, all you have on your mind is how to make money, and this data is a tool that can help businesses better understand their customers and create products and services which then create more value for their customers.
Customer behavior allows them to understand the expectations of consumers in the market. Customer behavior directly influences what businesses come up with as a product or a service, and help formulate the best strategy for success. This data contains what consumers buy, where they buy it, and when they buy it, among other data.
Also, read our article on How Digital Marketing Influence Customers?
This is how Digital Marketing affects customer behavior.
One: Customers are More Informed on the Products They Are Looking For
Duh, I hear you say. But remember the TV/Print/Radio ads, those were filled with a lot of jargon people did not understand. However, times are changing and today’s generation is more tech-savvy than any of the generations before.
They understand what is an OLED display and how it is better/worse than AMOLED, what the refresh rate is, what a processor is, and how different chipmakers differ in the tech they use. In short, if a Millennial is buying a smartphone, they are so well-informed on the smartphone that in any other day and age, they might make a mild career out of that (well, some have, haven’t they?).
Most of young people know what they are looking for, and know how they can get the best bang for their buck. Youngsters are smart, well-informed, composed, and smart, and that has made every kind of brand out there reconsider their use of jargon in their advertisements online.
Today’s consumer is quick to call out the companies if they try to pull a fast one on them, openly criticize them on social platforms and forums, and make their voices heard about what they like and what they hope for in the latest products and services. This has made the companies listen to the “community” better.
Unfortunately, this trend was started by these companies only. Like I previously mentioned, data richness is the norm of the day, and digital ads are also very data-rich in the short time that they are in front of a user, before being scrolled away.
Also, this trend has created a feedback loop – the customer demands more data from the companies, and the companies deliver, increasing the hunger for more statistics. As companies continue to crunch the numbers and create new and prettier infographics, information has become a form of advertisement unto itself.
Two: Customers are Experimenting
Once upon a time, no one liked to experiment with the stuff they bought. Colgate was the toothpaste, and Coke was the cola. However, times are changing. Now we know that Pepsi is more or less the same thing. I joke, of course, but that does not take away the fact that we have a million kinds of toothpaste, a million colas, and a million smartphones, just to exemplify. We have far too many products and that has spoiled us.
The generation of our parents did not experiment on crucial, day-to-day articles. Soap was the cheapest they could find, maybe it smelled of something nice as a bonus. Today, there are a billion types of soaps, with varying ratios of fillers, and activated charcoal – all chemical-free, of course, brought directly to your doorstep from the foothills of the Himalayas. The point is, there are so many choices, and in providing these choices, there have been so many success stories.
Talking about the smartphone market, once upon a time, there was only Apple and Blackberry, with HTC and Samsung lagging. These days, Xiaomi is in the picture, but Samsung makes the most phones, and together with Apple is one of the most valuable companies in the world. Niche brands such as OnePlus have had immense success as well, as they bridged the divide between the budget and the flagship – the midrange.
Customers are more than willing to experiment on things they want to buy, going with what suits the best per their needs. Each person shows more individuality today than ever before, and this only opens up niches in the market, allowing for more competition and more choices. Again, it is a feedback look, all thanks to Digital Marketing.
Three: Customers Engage More with the Brands They Love
As I mentioned in the first point, customers are getting smarter and more vocal about what they like and what they don’t like. Some companies have based their entire advertising strategy on this feedback look – looking at you, Xiaomi, and OnePlus.
That does not mean that they have not benefitted from that – I mean, if you ask a company that you want something in their upcoming midrange offering, and your idea gains traction, expect to see the feature in the next iteration.
With Digital Marketing, customers are engaging more and more with the brands they love, following them on socials for updates and suggestions, and talking about them within their circles. Word of Mouth these days might seem an outdated idea, but it has carried more and more weight over time, and when you can reach millions of people – well, then word of mouth becomes a powerful weapon – a double-edged sword that can make or break a company’s reputation overnight.
As a result, social media and word-of-the-mouth promotions are the ways in which digital marketing affects consumer behavior.
Four: Brands are Listening to What Their Customer Have to Say
The double-edged sword that is word of mouth can also build more brand loyalty on the flipside. Customers can be fiercely loyal to a brand that listens to them and implements changes suggested by them. OnePlus specifically has a cult following because of this, and few brands interact with their customer as they do.
There are a lot of clothing brands that take every word their customers have to say as gospel, too, and rightly so. From sustainable packaging to the unboxing experience, brands are taking care of the whole purchase experience, just because they are listening closely to what their community has to say.
Never in the history of the organization and organized economy has customers held this sort of power over the brands – it was always the other way around. Companies rarely heard their customers out, but that all is changing now.
Digital Marketing serves as ears to these brands and companies. The data it collects is precious, and consumer behavior dictates whether a product will be a hit or a miss. Having a solid understanding of customer behavior is tricky, and the best way to achieve that is by listening to them. Not so convoluted after all, is it?
Five: SEO is the Single Most Important Exercise a Brand can Take
As much as marketing has changed over the past few years, one thing which is still the same is the fact that people still rely on search engines to help them make decisions. SEO is the best practice of digital marketing that affects consumer behavior.
Search engines are a godsend, yes. Whenever someone has a desire to know about a product or service, or a brand, or just sort out a problem they are facing, they just Google it. Google, therefore, holds so much power over companies as almost no one goes past page 1 of the search results and no number of results in 0.15 seconds will convince me to go to page 2. Therefore, SEO and content marketing remain crucial components of any marketing or PR strategy.
Companies that are aware of how to make the most of their marketing efforts, create useful content, and attract backlinks will get the rankings they need to race ahead of the competition.
In short, the better a company’s ranking is, the more likely they are to generate sales. This ranking exercise has attracted stiff competition in all industries, and customers know that the better a company is ranked, the better its products/services are. Once again, a feedback loop.
You may be interested to know about The importance and Prospect of SEO in India
Six: Artificial Intelligence
With the growing use of experimentation on AI, we should not underestimate the role of artificial intelligence in changing consumer behavior. This powerful medium enables consumers to make better choices, access consumer support, receive a personalized feed where they shop, etc.
AI, thus, drives Digital marketing with its efficiency and feasibility and creates a huge impact on consumer behavior. With the use of AI, brands can present their products and services more efficiently than those who don’t. AI provides convenience to the buyers and connects the latter with the sellers.
Artificial Intelligence also plays a very important role in Search Engine Optimisation. And thus, affects consumer behavior and makes an impact on many brands’ online success.
Read our detailed article on Google Digital Marketing Courses
Seven: Customers Don’t Have the Time to Wait
Say a person wants to buy a wristwatch. If Amazon does not open, they move to Flipkart and vice-a-versa. If you want to know hire a freelancer digital marketeer for your company, but cannot open the page of the first person on the Google page, you move on to the second.
That is, with technology, consumers have become impatient. They have huge expectations, limited time and if the service is not efficient at the first point of contact, they find an alternative. Not only that, with the world moving so high up the internet, consumers can leave a review anywhere, anytime.
When the touchpoint does not meet their expectation, they review the service, create a forum, and converse with the people in the community. This influences the behavior of a potential consumer.
Further, there is an abundance of information online to impact their behavior while purchasing any item – product or service. Thus, the brand that goes a step ahead to provide more value, wins the competition.
Eight: Customers Are Buying on A Whim
I buy on a whim. You buy on a whim. The whole world buys on a whim! (Al Pacino alert!)
We all have been guilty of it at least once in our lives, and digital marketing is to blame, which has mastered the art of making people take impulsive buying decisions. A person makes an impulse decision right before actually going through with the purchase. Therefore, it is spontaneous and done in the spur of the moment, and at that moment, brands need to present themselves as exactly the thing their impulsive customer needs.
Generally, customers pre-plan purchases and choose what they need beforehand. Digital marketers use this to steer customer behavior towards their products and services. Brands usually do this by making time-bound deals, discounts, and offers that customers are happy to explore. Also, these brands use socials and third-party websites to consistently promote their featured deals, which further affects consumer behavior.
Nine: Shopping Experiences Made Just for Individuals
It has also made customers think that they will always get a tailor-made custom shopping experience. No one wants to spend a good day researching what they need and look for what they really want, although it is a good exercise indeed.
This puts the ball in the brands’ court, where they can fine-tune their online marketing to how their customers behave. Most brands achieve this by creating personalized content for customers on their web presence – be it socials or their websites. This tailors the entire shopping experience to fit the needs of each individual visitor. Consequently, bespoke strategy of digital marketing affects consumer behavior.
Wrapping Up on how digital marketing affects consumer behavior
Digital Marketing is not magic. It will not increase your sales if you just burn money on ads without providing any real value to your customers. Today’s customer is more individual, more singular, pickier, and choosier than any other generation ever, and there are practically infinite choices out there. People talk with each other, make their voices heard, experiment and research, teach themselves and look up stuff, demand more of their favorite brands in lesser time. All online marketing does is make them believe that your product has that, and more. Hence, now we know how digital marketing affects consumer behavior.