3 Ways Digital Has Impacted Consumer Behavior – And Your Marketing Efforts

Eric Postma

Successful digital marketing isn’t just about moving your marketing activities into an online environment. With the rise of digital technologies, the way consumers interact with brands, organizations, products, and sales reps has changed dramatically. For marketers, this shift in consumer behavior has enormous implications.

Here are three major shifts in consumer behavior to be aware of — and how they can impact your digital marketing strategy:

1. The Rise of Google

The first shift — and probably the most significant — is the rise of search engines. The information available at our fingertips via Google has altered the way that we learn. Think back to your last significant purchase: it could’ve been a television, car, computer, appliance or any other high-involvement purchase. How did you gather information to help you make your decision?

Previously, consumers would go to a showroom or talk to a sales rep or other expert to gather information. Now, they’re asking the internet.

More of the sales conversation is moving to an online environment. A report from McKinsey found that the number of trips to a car dealership prior to purchasing a vehicle has dropped from an average of five to one. This means that previously, a sales rep at a dealership had an average of five interactions with a customer to influence their purchase. Now, buyers are showing up at the dealership, and their decision is already mostly made.

With less of the sales conversation in the hands of sales reps, how do we influence purchase decisions? How do we build trust in the digital age?

2. High Expectations for Customer Experience

The second shift is our increasingly high bar for customer experience. In recent years, we’ve seen the rise of digital-first business models like those of Uber, Netflix, Amazon, Warby Parker and Trunk Club.

While these organizations aren’t likely your competitors on product or service, they do serve the customers that you serve. Because of the top-notch interactions your customers have with these digital-first organizations, they have top-notch expectations for their digital interactions with your organization as well.

It’s hard to invest as much time and money as these big companies do into their digital ecosystems, but the secret to their success is friction — or rather, lack of friction.

Friction is anything that interferes with a user getting what they truly want: it’s that extra click, an extra step, or any difficulty finding the information they seek. Digital-first organizations are focused on reducing friction from the customer experience. As a result, we would argue that all businesses need to focus on how they can reduce as much friction as possible from their customer interaction.

3. Review Obsession

The third big shift is that consumers are becoming increasingly review-obsessed. This is a shift that we’re currently living: searches that include the term “review” have risen by 60% in the last two years. We live in an era where everything can be reviewed; not just products and services, but every organization and interaction gets reviewed.

Word of mouth has always been one of the primary drivers of purchase preference, and digital tools have provided an environment where word of mouth spreads faster and further than ever before.

A consumer’s experience of a product or brand fuels word of mouth, and this peer influence has a significant impact on purchase preference. However, marketers are often focused on customer acquisition when we ought to be focused more on customer satisfaction.

So, for marketers, the real question is how to embrace this review obsession. How can we encourage good reviews? How can we ensure our customers are delighted and their experience exceeds their expectations? How do we make it possible for our potential customers to hear from our current promoters?

Addressing the Needs of Today’s Consumers

The way that we discover, research, purchase and engage with products and brands has significantly shifted in the last 15 years. It can be very difficult to understand how we need to adapt in this ever-changing landscape. However, it is imperative that we appreciate these changes in consumer behavior so that we can direct our efforts and resources to where they matter most.

Now that you understand these key behavioral shifts, it’s time to develop a digital strategy that meets the new needs of today’s consumers. Read our Growing Digital eBook to learn about the seven key pillars that will help you achieve digital marketing success.

Newsletter

Sign up to receive content from our “Think” leaders: