Every business wants to understand their customers motivations, problems and desires. It allows us to connect with them, market to them and create products for them. That’s why big brands spend so much time doing consumer research and finding the social factors that separate demographics.But when it comes down to it, all you really need to understand is one thing: buyer behavior.
Buyer behavior, also called consumer buying behavior, is the process by which customers make their purchase decisions. Understanding this decision-making process can help brands understand what creates brand loyalty and boost customer retention. Even more, when a brand grasps what turns a potential customer into a first-time buyer or keeps an existing customer coming back they can easily expand their reach and consistently bring in new business.
With this in mind, let’s look at the value for your brand in thinking about buying behavior and a few different ways you can strategically influence buying decisions.
Reasons to Start Analyzing Consumer Markets and Buyer Behavior
Despite what we like to believe about ourselves, humans are predictable. That’s good news for your brand! It means you can analyze consumer markets and buyer behavior to better understand your industry and your customers. Plus, it allows you to prepare to deliver exactly what your buyers need when they need it.
One problem brands often run into is that the buying process isn't the same for every type of consumer. That’s because there are four different categories when it comes to buying behavior. Each level of involvement is based on psychological factors and they can significantly affect consumer decisions.
- Complex buying behavior — These customers are highly involved in the purchase process. They typically do lots of research and comparisons because the purchase has a high risk, such as buying a car or investing in education.
- Dissonance-reducing behavior — Decision-making in this level is similar to complex in that the customer sees risk, but they don’t typically put in a lot of research. There’s some evaluation of alternatives, but items are often chosen based on convenience and availability.
- Habitual buying behavior — This area is low-involvement because the person rarely sees much difference between competing products. These consumers are often making repeat purchases of household items.
- Variety seeking behavior — This behavior is similar to impulse buying. Purchases are perceived as a low-risk decision so people won’t think too much before making a decision.
When you know your customer’s thought process and what steps they’re taking, if any, before making a purchase, then you can incentivize your target audience from the first exposure. You can offer free guides to new products or comparison charts for those people doing an intensive information search. You could offer discounts for variety seeking buyers or make purchasing your most popular items as easy as one click.
Clearly defining and differentiating the types of buyers that interact with your brand allows you to create tailored content and build better purchasing experiences. Once you know who’s buying from you, you can start to influence their behavior with a few of our handy marketing strategies.
📺 Check out this interview between our Director of Marketing and myself for a more in-depth look at each of these categories.
How to Identify Factors That Influence Consumer Buyer Behavior
There are tons of tools that can help you analyze your target market and even follow individual consumers through the buying process. You might even be using tools like this now, which is awesome! The key to really hacking buyer behavior, though, is to think outside the box. Take a walk in your customer’s shoes and start finding the hidden clues to how they make decisions.
Define your Buyer Personas
The first step to better tracking and identifying your customer’s behavior is to clearly differentiate one type of buyer from another. An easy way to do this is by creating buyer personas. These are semi-fictional representations of an individual consumer or group of people that is your ideal customer. You can assign personas based on market segments, shared interests or any other grouping that makes sense for your brand.
This is tough to do without data, so you’ll need a reliable tool to help you analyze your audience before creating personas. HubSpot offers a user-friendly “Make My Persona” tool that’s free to use and gives you a great starting point. You can also use Google Analytics to find information about your customers that can inform your personas, such as age, gender and interests.
Sometimes even with these tools, figuring out the right personas for your brand can be tricky. In that case, working with a marketing agency like ours might be a good fit. Agencies have a team of marketing professionals who can help you hone your ideas and create the perfect persona.
Once you have your buyer personas clearly defined, finding new customers becomes much easier. You’ll start noticing their preferences — like which social media platforms they prefer, types of content they interact with, products they’re intrigued by, and which promotions they respond to — and be able to adapt your marketing campaigns to fit those behaviors.
Tracking your buyers’ behavior is easy through your current CRM. We use HubSpot, which allows you to learn more about how users are behaving on your website, in the sales process and after they become a customer. Another benefit of tracking is that you can build reports of how each persona is behaving, identify the content that’s best converting them and strategize new ways to attract more leads.
Map your Customer’s Journey
To really understand the customer experience, you have to take a walk in their shoes. Use one of your personas as an example and build a map through their entire customer journey from before they find your product all the way to post-purchase. This blueprint will help you determine how to best reach your customers at every stage of the buying process.
There are a few things you’ll need to do to build this map.
- Identify what your customers feel, say and do through all stages of their journey.
- When they realize they have a problem.
- When they’re searching for solutions.
- When they’re deciding if your brand is right for them.
- When they become a customer.
Once your customer’s journey is clearly mapped, you’ll be able to create relevant content and connect with them exactly when they need you. Your brand will supply the exact answer or solution to their questions and challenges right when they need that final push to hit purchase.
Track and Automate Your Marketing Efforts
After you’ve found a firm understanding of what each of your buyer personas is experiencing at each stage of their journey with your brand, it’s time to turn your attention to reporting tools. Think of this step as performing your own small-scale market research. You can identify trends and unexpected changes within your persona groups, find potential points of friction and create a plan to clear those obstacles.
Engaging potential customers with the right stimuli at the right time, every time, can be a tall order. This is where automation comes into play. If you have a smart automation tool to set workflows, anticipating your customers’ needs will be much easier. HubSpot, for example, allows you to automate workflows by setting up triggers once your customer completes an action. It helps brands anticipate and address the next challenge or question a customer will have and deliver more value by proactively helping them reach the next stage in their journey.
Once you’ve made it through these three steps, you should have a solid foundation to use buyer behavior in your marketing campaigns. You can effortlessly target potential customers, identify what might hold them back and guide them through their customer journey so they choose your brand as their solution.
👉 Keep Reading: 5 Principles of Marketing Psychology to Attract and Convert More Lead