The days of window-shopping are far behind us. More and more often, today’s consumers are taking non-linear paths to their final purchase, navigating different channels, platforms, and opinions before committing to the buy. This behaviour is the product of an age of hyper-accessible information. With endless archives of internet ratings and reviews at the consumer’s fingertips, due diligence is easier than ever, and shoppers are left with no reason to make a blind purchase. While this new age of internet business transparency may unsettle some, business owners should be excited by the opportunities for consumer profiling and engagement that these technological avenues are offering. Drawn from insurance industry data, the following marketing truisms help illustrate five ways that business owners can adapt and attend to consumer demands in the internet age to maximize their engagements and conversions.
1. Know your customer and tailor services to their needs so that everybody wins!
Along with improved analytics tools, the surging popularity of social media websites has given business owners increased access to consumer data. This data can be used to construct consumer profiles that can give marketing strategies focused direction to maximize opportunities for engagements and conversions.
Insurers used consumer profiles to identify when their customers were experiencing major life events, such as marriage, pregnancy, or new home ownership. Survey studies showed that newly-engaged couples were four times as likely to buy a new home within the first twelve months of marriage. Similarly, expecting parents were almost 80% more likely to buy a new vehicle after learning of their pregnancy. In both cases, insurance would be needed, and insurers with thorough consumer profiles would be standing by to offer their services.
A thorough consumer profile means that you can strategize your marketing efforts to highlight relevant and complementary services to suit your customer’s needs. This approach boosts your sales while also providing your consumer with a convenient service so that everybody wins.
2. Understand and employ multi-channel engagement
With so many convenience and information-seeking technologies at the ready, contemporary consumers’ engagement experiences are no longer restricted to a single channel. With telephone, internet, and in-person options available to them, consumers often engage businesses through a mix of online and offline channels before finalizing their purchases. Insurers found that almost 40% of their customers preferred using the internet to shop and research, but only less than 25% actually finalized their purchases online, often preferring to close their deals on the phone or in person.
It is important to know what channels your clients prefer, but equally vital to understand that they may feel most comfortable with a combination of them. In the aforementioned example, the insurance company would be well-advised to provide detailed and accessible online information to encourage online shoppers to favour their product. Because consumers prefer closing sales in-person or on the phone, the insurers could then offer a click-to-call or online appointment scheduling feature. Similarly, insurers found that older consumers preferred print directories, and this knowledge allows them to invest in traditional directory listings in order to target this specific demographic. By understanding your customer’s preferences as part of their consumer profile, you are able to maximize engagements, reach target audiences, and generate successful conversions.
3. Create an engaging website to drive business and attract customers
In today’s competitive market, having both a solid website and strong online presence becomes crucial. Your website is the first place customers look for information about your business, and its contents stand as a tacit representation of your company. An estimated 70% of insurance shoppers were found to use insurance company websites more than any other source to compare and contrast prices. A poor website drastically reduces the likelihood of making a sale, especially online. Almost 70% of insurance customers indicated that they would repeat their business with a company based on their positive online experience.
Despite the obvious importance of a functional website, over half of small businesses neglect their online presence. Even those who have invested in websites often do so reluctantly, or do a poor job, according to insurance industry data. Less than 10% of online insurance shoppers reported having excellent website experiences. Websites must present clear, concise, and easily-accessible information about your business, while also directing users to contact information. Business owners neglecting their online presence are creating opportunities for their competitors to excel.
4. Understand the escalating need for an optimized mobile presence
Mobile devices come in all shapes and sizes now, and are quickly becoming one of the most popular channels for customers to access business websites and buyer information. The mobile browsing experience gives business owners many different options for consumer engagement, including the creation of videos, app content, and mobile advertisements, which insurers found consistently generated a 10:1 return on investment. The success of mobile ads only reinforces the popularity of mobile access, and, accordingly, the need for mobile optimization.
Your business website must be mobile-optimized. If your website is not designed to accommodate all digital platforms, you risk offering your customer a frustrating online experience, as sizing issues, unresponsive tabs, and excessive load-times rob them of the chance to appreciate your site content. These issues are sure to see your bounce rates climb as quickly as your sales plummet. Instead, invest in mobile optimization, and tap into one of the most rapidly-appreciating consumer engagement channels.
One effective strategy playing on the consumer’s mobile-browsing tendencies involves placing mobile advertising on the website of related businesses. If you run a car detailing shop, purchasing mobile ads on a used car sales listing is an effective way to cultivate high-quality traffic to your site. Combining strategies such as these with diligent mobile optimization will give your business a serious competitive edge.
5. Social media is the new forum for word-of-mouth advertising
Social media has become a cultural staple, and its popularity creates some interesting implications for small businesses. People go on to social media to praise, criticize, or question products and services. Social media allows consumers to seek out the opinions of friends, family, and peers regarding new products and services, and these familiar opinions are often weighed more heavily than those left by anonymous users on review forums. Almost 30% of insurance customers indicated that they used social media to learn more about their desired purchase, while a further 20% logged in to learn more about the purchase they just made.
Business owners need to acknowledge this trend and join in on the conversation. Social media allows business owners to thank customers for praise, address the concerns of those left unsatisfied, and answer any questions that may arise. Because social media has proliferated in our culture, ignoring the dialogue going on there is akin to walking away from an unsatisfied customer standing at your front desk. Social media interactions let you forge positive relationships with customers, while also giving you more opportunity to understand their needs and flesh out your consumer profiles.