Key Changes in Buyer Habits

What changes are coming and how to address them
Zach Williams
May 14, 2019
COLUMN : Strategy Session | Sales & Marketing

Tip

When creating content and building an online presence, use natural language that reflects how customers talk about your product in real life. Content that matches buyers’ search terms will rank higher in the search engines.

Buyer habits are changing more quickly than ever. There are some shifts beginning to take shape over the course of this year that will play an even bigger role in how successful your marketing is in 2020. Here, we’ll break down these changes to shed light on how customer expectations are changing and prepare your business to have a knockout marketing strategy ready.

Personalization: Talk to me or I’m not listening

What: Customers are demonstrating an increased expectation of the brands they buy from in the form of personalization. Whether it’s through website content, targeted ads or segmented email lists, buyers want information that’s relevant to their needs and where they are in the purchasing process. Customers expect companies to give them what they need—to literally, preemptively know what they are looking for and help them find it more easily. 

How: One example of employing this concept is a pop-up quiz that helps direct buyers to the pages and products most relevant to their inquiry. Another way to add personalization to a website is through simple segmentation, where buyers distinguish their role—i.e. as a homeowner or contractor—and see content curated specifically for their needs. Not only does this present a great opportunity to better understand who exactly is visiting the site, but it also helps visitors feel like they are getting content that is tailored to them. 

Applying personalization to a marketing plan and website can increase the opportunity for conversions because buyers can easily find what they’re looking for. Companies that have the ability to manage data in a way that allows them to effectively segment different audiences can also create micro-marketing campaigns that will have the biggest impact on each customer.

Voice Search: Say it like it is

What: Another growing trend for buyers is to use search terms that mirror actual speech patterns. A large part of this has to do with our ongoing interaction with artificial intelligence devices like Alexa and Siri. Search terms are becoming more conversational every day. Think with Google reported that the two key search phrases that have increased by 65 percent in the last two years are “do I need” and “should I.” Think of how those phrases can apply to the window business, i.e., Do I need new windows? What windows should I buy?

How: Natural language keyword research absolutely must be a core part of an online strategy. Just like personalization, it’s an effective way to help buyers find the information they’re looking for. In creating content for a website, use phrases and questions an ideal customer is likely to use. Ask the sales team what frequently asked questions they get. Use those insights to create content around the questions. As a bonus, the sales team can direct current and potential customers to this content to help land sales. 

Also, instead of content that is just product-focused, make sure it reflects the entire product category and common questions or pain points. This is especially true for top-of-the-buying-funnel content. Buyers are rarely searching for a very specific product during their initial research. Providing broader content allows a company to market itself as an expert in the industry, gaining buyers’ trust and earning their business.

Speed: It’s now or never

What: Amazon is winning because of its speed. Regardless of whether a company actually sells online, buyers now have the expectation that they should be able to get whatever they want—product or information—almost instantaneously. 

How: Before customers are ready to make a purchase, they’re first looking for answers to their questions. One effective strategy for connecting buyers with answers is to use chatbots that allow automated messaging to take over the conversation and quickly get a buyer’s information. They can also be customized based on the product page they appear on. And, chatbot plug-ins for social media pages can answer questions that come through messenger apps. 

The reason chatbots are gaining such traction is because they give people what they want immediately. They allow visitors to skip over the task of searching a website by just asking a question and getting the answer immediately.

People are getting more comfortable interacting with AI of all kinds. Providing an additional touchpoint through a website increases the speed at which they move through the customer journey, converting them to loyal customers faster. 

Polarity: The opposite of neutrality

What: Nike’s ad last year of Colin Kaepernick raised a lot of controversy. Regardless of what you think about it, Nike knew what they were doing. The internet is full of noise today. There is so much content out there that, in order to rise above the noise, companies have to stand for something that resonates with their audience. Messaging that breaks the scroll isn’t neutral, but stands for something and helps a brand stand out with a clear, recognizable identity. 

How: When companies take a stand on something, people listen. Those that do build a loyal following that gets excited about the company and the company’s products, and even becomes vocal on the company’s behalf. Take a stand in a way that reflects the values of the business. It can help companies not only stand out, but also create a strong, loyal following. 

Final thoughts

Marketing in 2020 is actually quite simple. If the goal is to make the customer’s life easier and connect with them on a relational level in the process, you’re going to win. In the words of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, “The most important single thing is to focus obsessively on the customer.” 

Zach Williams is the founder and CEO of Venveo, a digital marketing agency focused on helping building material manufacturers turn their online presence into a sales engine. He can be reached at zach@venveo.com.