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How to stay one step ahead of changing customer behaviors

Consumer behavior is constantly changing. To manage this, entrepreneurs must watch their competition like a hawk while they make it easy for people to leave reviews. Businesses also need to keep moving forward to differentiate themselves and look at their touchpoints with what makes sense to their customers. Finally, consumers like to know that companies are with them on their journey.

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In today’s digital world, where people want instant gratification, it can sometimes feel like keeping customers happy is a moving target. 

Shifts in customer behavior, demographics and preferences can change so fast you might not even notice it until it starts to negatively affect your business. 

The main reason for this is technology. 

Everything has gone digital and customers are much more informed than they were in the past. 

Think about it: we carry around an instant source of endless information in our pockets or purses. How many times have you whipped out your smartphone to check a product rating in a store, or to Google more information on a service provider? 

Let’s say you want to buy a car. Nowadays, you don’t have to start by kicking tires at the dealership or buying the same vehicle your family always has. 

You can get a wealth of information online: customer reviews, auto magazine ratings, maintenance schedules, resale values and so much more. 

As new information comes out⁠—a new car rating or a factory recall⁠ of a part—your preferences might shift. All of a sudden, people love or hate a brand, and as a result, they win or lose sales. Not to mention, their reputation fluctuates whether the news is positive or negative.  

Here are a few other reasons why people’s preferences change:

  • Depending on the economic climate, people have more money to spend or have to tighten their purse strings. Think real estate costs, unemployment rates and the income tax paid in a particular area. 
  • With an overwhelming number of options available to consumers, maintaining brand loyalty is more difficult than ever. 
  • Competing brands come out with newer and/or better models of products people want.
  • Trends come and go (here today, gone tomorrow diet fads are a good example of this). 

So how can you manage consumer behavior when it’s constantly changing?

1. Watch your competition like a hawk.

This is an important piece of advice for your business overall. When you first create your brand messaging and USP (unique selling proposition), you’ll want to do a competitive analysis. But even when you’re an established business, you still need to be aware of what your competitors are doing. 

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From their prices to their value propositions, monitor what’s happening in your competitive landscape and adapt accordingly. This may mean adjusting your prices, offering a freebie with a service or including free delivery for orders over a certain amount. 

If you want to survive and thrive, market to changing consumer behavior by focusing on what others in your field are doing.

Customer behavior is rapidly changing and evolving thanks to technology. (Photo by DepositPhotos)

2. Make it easy for people to leave reviews. 

Customer reviews equal free advertising. According to research firm Martech Zone, 90% of users need less than 10 reviews to form an opinion about a business. If your customers are happy, some of them will write glowing reviews

Their opinions will influence potential customers who are looking at what your business has to offer. See, you don’t have to do all the work when it comes to changing customer buying behavior⁠—your reviewers will help do it for you!

3. Keep moving forward. 

If you focus only on the present or get complacent, you’ll forever be playing catch-up when changes occur, and eventually (or very soon) you’ll be left behind. 

Technology is always one step ahead, and even if you think you’ve got too big a market share to lose to the competition, chances are somebody out there is thinking of a way to make what you do even better.

A good example of this is the ride-sharing service Uber. The taxi industry wasn’t prepared⁠—or worried⁠—about tech disrupting their world. Well, we know what happened. Uber has taken over in many cities, and cab drivers are feeling the pinch.

It’s important to innovate based on your industry, competitor research and your customers’ likes and dislikes. Differentiating yourself could be as simple as offering a wider online selection than your competitors, or as tech-savvy as connecting with your business consulting clients via an app.

4. Put your customers in charge. 

Shoppers want to chart their own journey. They move between store, browser, and mobile with ease. 

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You need to align business priorities to keep up with them, not just push ads at them. To manage consumer behavior effectively, take a step back and look at touchpoints that make the most sense for your demographics. 

Maybe you do a live video on social media, then email subscribers with an enticing offer and following up with a “Last chance” email to seal the deal.

5. Remind your customers you’re there.

While people want to be in control of their consumer journey, that doesn’t mean they don’t need your help. 

According to a survey done by research firm Nuance, 63% of respondents said they actively ‘outsource’ their memory to mobile devices or computers. They coined the term “digital amnesia” to describe this phenomenon. 

They also found that 89% of millennials are more willing to do business with companies that send reminders and notifications; 91% of Baby Boomers feel this way. 

Guide your customers towards your product or service by nudging them along the way with resources and reminders of how valuable your product or service is, or that they’re due for their next appointment…whatever makes sense to your audience. 

Changing customer buying behavior means that you’ll never be able to stop moving! 

But take the time to align business priorities to your customers’ shifting needs, and pay attention to what your data is telling you, and your customers will be more likely to buy from you today, tomorrow and far into the future. 

(Featured image by DepositPhotos)

DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation for writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.

Susan Friesen, founder of the award-winning web development and digital marketing firm eVision Media, is a Web Specialist, Business & Marketing Consultant, and Social Media Advisor. She works with entrepreneurs who struggle with having the lack of knowledge, skill and support needed to create their online business presence. As a result of working with Susan and her team, clients feel confident and relieved knowing their online marketing is in trustworthy and caring hands so they can focus on building their business with peace of mind at having a perfect support system in place to guide them every step of the way.

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