Traditionally, consumers are thought of as one large group. They act similarly when prompted with specific marketing stimuli and tactics such as discounts, promotional products, and seasonal sales. However, as we continue to increase our visibility into consumer behavior through advanced tracking methods and in-depth web analytics research, we have found that not every consumer is the same. We need to segment our populations into smaller groups for a greater understanding of nuanced behavior.
Most web analytics platforms have features that allow marketers to segment their consumer base by demographics, what pages they visited, how often they are visiting the site, what marketing campaign they interacted with last before entering the site and various other engagement behaviors. As good as these tactics are at understanding what consumers have done, they do not provide true insight into how consumers behave. This type of inquiry requires on-page surveys and usability testing.
Creating a Survey
As much as I enjoy cutting up CRM data into a thousand consumer segments, this method does not push segmentations further. Before we start slicing and dicing, we should take a step back to find out what our consumers think about themselves, our brand, and our competitors.
When creating a survey, be sure to inquire about the individual’s lifestyle habits such as hobbies, favorite artists, typical Saturday night activities, and so forth, as well as their buying habits of your products and the products of your competitors. Keep in mind, it is as important to know why your consumers chose to purchase from a competitor as it is to know why they purchase from you. This line of thinking allows us to focus on the attitudinal and psychological aspects of our consumers.
One of the best methods to gather this information is to implement an on-page survey. If you have a strong social media presence, you can use your company’s Facebook page to reach a greater number of consumers who may not actively shop for your products. The downfall of a social media survey is that you are asking for brand engagement during non-engagement time. This could lead to a low completion rate and potential polarizing responses.
If you would rather house your survey on the website, various companies offer services that make this task very easy. These surveys should be placed after an exit or a conversion. You do not want your inquiries to create a barrier to purchase that was not there before the survey was introduced.
In addition to the knowledge you will receive from the consumer surveys, you want to perform some usability tests on your website. These tests should be treated as mini-focus groups of your website design and its ability to complete tasks.
As digital marketers, we tend to take for granted the objective of our website. We spend much of our time working on the website, improving its performance, and refining our marketing to achieve the highest-value visitor. Yet, we rarely think about what the website is trying to achieve and what steps are required for a new visitor to become a loyal consumer. Usability tests allow us to test our preconceived notions about the website’s ability to convert and visualize it through the fresh eyes of a new visitor.
What Does This Mean for Marketers?
Now that you know how consumers feel about your brand and witnessed visitors navigate through your site, you need to ask yourself a few questions.
- Do the results meet your expectations?
- Does your brand align with the lifestyle of your consumers?
- What can you do to increase brand loyalty?
- Is your site allowing consumers to complete their shopping objectives?
- Do consumers visit your site for a specific reason?
The answers to these questions create a more robust profile of your consumer base and provide qualitative reasoning to the observed behavior pre-existing in your web analytics platforms. Furthermore, your consumer’s attitudes will change over time and you need to change with them.
Think about Converse as a brand: it was a company that started in sportswear and then shifted to everyday footwear. If the brand would not have been willing to realign itself with the changing attitudes of its consumer base, it may not be so iconic today.
For a brand to sustain relevance with the transient desires of consumers, it must be flexible enough to bend, shift, and yield to the diverse spectrum of customer demands. The only way marketers can fulfill such a promise is to regularly analyze website efficiency and engage with the individuals in the composite target audience.
By Nate Hennon