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How To Keep Track Of Consumer Behavior

Feb 22, 2022 | Business, Marketing

women making a credit card purchase on her laptop

The usual advice for starting a business is to identify a market with high consumer demand and provide a product or service for it. You might gain traction and generate sales for the first few months but eventually, sales start to wane and you find yourself struggling to stay afloat. 

Certainly, there are reasons behind the decline in sales. The clues lie with your end-users. Did they shift to another brand? Is there still market demand? Did my customers find something wrong with our product? 

These questions and more can be answered by keeping track of consumer behavior.

What Is Consumer Behavior?

Consumer behavior is the set of actions and decisions that a consumer follows before buying products or services for personal use. The process of comparing brands, patronizing one over others, and ultimately, buying an item is influenced by a pattern of behaviors. 

Long before the Internet became widely available and prior to the explosion of social media in the consciousness of the consumer, our buying decisions were predominantly influenced by paid ads, word of mouth, and celebrity endorsement. 

Now that 62% of the world’s population has access to the Internet and 57.6% of Internet users on social media on a daily basis, consumers have become more discerning about the brands they patronize. 

Companies can no longer get away with flashy ads with superstar endorsers and unverified claims of delivering excellent customer satisfaction and unrivaled results. 

Consumers have access to a Pandora’s box of information to learn everything about a product, service, and the company itself.  

These sources of information are available at a click of a mouse. Within seconds, a consumer can compare products, get detailed information about their components, find reviews, articles on their pros and cons, and opinions from other end-users. 

Why Is It Important To Keep Track Of Consumer Behavior?

Imagine this scenario.

Your customer sees an ad from your competitor on Facebook. He clicks on the ad and he lands on your competitor’s website. Immediately, he’s taken on a grand tour of the company’s products and services. 

As he’s browsing through a particular product, a pop-up appears offering a discount as a first-time customer PLUS a money-back guarantee if he’s not satisfied. The offer is hard to resist and your customer decides to make the purchase. 

That’s all your competitor needs to get your customer – one opportunity to try the company’s product. 

8 Ways To Track Consumer Behavior

A person who was once loyal to a brand can easily be swayed to jump ship and climb aboard another brand. Keeping track of consumer behavior is all about maintaining constant communication. 

If you’re not aware of how your customers are interacting online, your brand could be the sinking ship instead of the cruise liner that’s taking on new passengers. 

The good news is that you have access to the same sources of information as consumers AND there are tools at your disposal that you can use to keep track of consumer behavior. 

1. Review Your Website and Social Media Analytics

The first places you go to in order to uncover possible changes in the behavior of your customers are your website and social media pages. Retrieve their analytics and gain insights into how they’re behaving while on your website and social media platforms. 

  • Which pages are generating the most traffic?
  • Which blogs are getting more views and higher levels of engagement? 
  • What are the demographics of your audience?
  • Where are your followers located?
  • How do the majority of site visitors access your site and platforms?
  • What is the cart abandonment rate?
  • Which CTAs are performing the best? 
  • Which posts are getting the most likes, shares, and comments? 
  • Who among your community members is actively engaging with your posts?
  • What is your average response time to messages?
  • Are you consistently gaining followers? 
  • Are you growing your Audience Reach?

Analyze the changes in numbers. Take note of the pages and posts that are lagging behind. Identify the products that aren’t moving or are experiencing the highest rate of cart abandonment. 

Reach out to the most active community members and most frequent buyers and invite them to join a focus group. Get their ideas and suggestions on how to improve your products and services as well as their opinions on buying behavior and industry trends.

2. Perform Keyword Research

One of the most effective ways to track consumer behavior is to perform Keyword Research. When an Internet user launches a query, he enters search terms either as a word or phrase into the search box. 

These search terms are also called keywords which are words or phrases that define the parameters of the search. 

For example, if you want to search for a white cotton shirt you could enter the keywords “white cotton shirt for sale”. If you want to localize the search, you could add a geo keyword such as “white cotton shirt for sale denver co”. 

Performing keyword research will help you keep track of what consumers are searching for in your industry. 

To start out with, open an account with Google Keyword Planner. All you need to open an account is a Gmail account.

  • Type in 9 keywords in your industry. Don’t worry about the accuracy of the words or phrases you chose. Google Keyword Planner will smooth out the search terms for you.
  • Identify the regions where you want to focus the keyword research on. For example, if you’re targeting global sales from key markets, you can designate the search location for the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. 
  • Once you’ve confirmed the keywords, Google Keyword Planner will retrieve all the relevant keywords from the regions that you identified. 
  • Google Keyword Planner will suggest keywords. Replace the keywords with low search volumes with the ones suggested by Google Keyword Planner and run another search. 
  • Copy one of the high-ranking, high-volume keywords and paste them on a Google search box and run an inquiry. 
  • Repeat the process for at least 5 high-volume keywords.

The SERP will give you a list of URLs of topics related to the high-ranking keywords that consumers are actively searching for. Click on these URLs to learn more about the topics your customers are interested in.

3. Engage Your Followers on Social Media

Social media has become such a powerful tool for business development because the social aspect of the platform gives your enterprise a sense of humanness. The definition of business as a “living, breathing entity” has become truer with the inclusion of social media. 

Through the use of social media, your business has the means to engage with your followers and customers. Take full advantage of this avenue and learn more about consumer behavior.

  • Respond to Comments 

When your followers post comments on your website or social media, they just want to be heard. Your customers want to feel valued and appreciated as members of your value chain and not just as sources of income.

The same is true for those who post negative comments. Don’t feel antagonized. Instead, use it as an opportunity to win back a disgruntled customer. 

Tell the commenter that you will send him a Private Message (PM) to discuss his opinions further. 

  • Solicit Their Opinions  

Did you just launch your new chicken sandwich? Even if the sales numbers are good, don’t sit on your laurels and get complacent. Find out how you can make it better by soliciting the opinions of your audience. 

You can do this by simply posting an image of the chicken sandwich with a lead-in copy that says:

“Thank you! Sales have been awesome! But what do you REALLY think about our Chicken Sandwich? We ain’t chicken and we welcome ALL comments, opinions, and suggestions.” 

Another way is to keep track of the people who purchased your chicken sandwich and send them a personalized message. 

For example, at the checkout counter, ask the customer who has the chicken sandwich in tow to give his email address in exchange for a 20% discount on his next purchase. 

After 1 day, email your customer a survey form about his experience with your chicken sandwich.

  • Invite Them to Post Reviews 

Inviting your customers to post reviews on your website and social media pages do 2 good things for your business. 

One, it shows you’re so confident about the quality of your products and services that you’re fine with the idea of opening your business to criticism. Two, it tells your customers that their opinions matter. 

Of course, there’s a risk of the bad reviews overwhelming the good reviews. Understand that it’s not realistic to expect everyone to love your product. If this happens, inform your customers you’ve taken their opinions to heart and that you’ll improve the quality of your product. 

4. Conduct Tests and Publish the Results 

Do you remember 10 years ago when Domino’s Pizza CEO Patrick Doyle publicly lambasted their pizza and described it as having the same taste as cardboard?

CEO Doyle did the unthinkable after consumer taste tests proved the pizza chain’s customers had issues with the taste. Doyle promised his customers that the company was committed to improving the quality and taste of its pizzas. 

The gamble paid off. The customers rallied around Domino’s Pizza and followed up on the company’s promise of improving quality and taste. Within a few years, Domino’s found itself on top of the pizza food chain.

Customers are the best Quality Assurance officers. They won’t pull back their punches when you ask them their opinions because they want to have a better experience with your product. 

Once you publish the result of the test, there’s no backing out. It’s been made public and the market will hold you accountable for doing good on your commitment. 

5. Send Personalized Emails 

Check your CRM system and find out who among your customers hasn’t made a repeat purchase. Once you have a list of customers who haven’t bought from your store after the first purchase, send them a personalized email. 

Here’s an example:

“Hi Mr. Samuels, 

I hope things are going well with you. 

I decided to reach out and ask how your experience was at our store and if you’re satisfied with (Name of Product). If you have questions, concerns, or issues with (Name of Product), please feel free to let me know. 

We’re committed to giving you the best customer experience every time you shop at our store.

Your inputs are well appreciated!

Thank you.

Sincerely yours, “

Sending personalized emails will make your customer feel special and there’s a good chance that he’ll respond. 

Remember that regardless of how the customer responds, always view these interactions as opportunities to build strong relationships. For sure, you’ll get inputs that will help you develop a better understanding of how your customers feel or think about your products. 

6. Register Your Business In Online Search Directories

We recently wrote about the benefits of registering your business in online search directories. You can read the article by clicking on this link.

When your business is registered on an online search directory, your customers can leave reviews or comments about your products. Customers can also rate your service from 1 to 5 stars. 

Getting listed in a search directory is a great way of engaging with your customers. Whether you receive a 1-star rating or a 5-star rating, take the time to reach out to the customer who reviewed your business. 

You’ll find out what they like the best – and least – about your product or service. You’ll get valuable insights on how to make your product better and show potential customers that you’re constantly looking for ways to improve customer experience.

7. Conduct Competitor Analysis 

When business is sluggish, it’s easy to blame the economy. But what if your competitors have a different opinion? 

Maybe you’re correct in assuming the economy has something to do with your poor business numbers. But that means customers have become more discerning when it comes to making their buying decisions. 

If your business is tanking and your competitors are growing, find out why by conducting a competitor analysis.

  • Run a survey that tests your customers’ familiarity with competing brands. 
  • Check the websites and social media pages of your competitors and determine how their followers are interacting with the brand and how their products are received by their customers. 
  • Join community forums and ask their opinions about your products as well as your competitors’. 
  • Do a Google search on your main competitors; read product reviews and collect data on how customers rate their products. 
  • Buy a few of your competitors’ products; run tests on them and objectively analyze how your products stack up with theirs. 

Determine the strengths and weaknesses of your products against your competitors and assess if changes have to be made. 

8. Use QR Codes

Quick Response or QR codes are the scannable images that are presented on checkout counters, social media pages, and websites. These QR Codes are sometimes called barcodes and contain information about a product. 

During the pandemic, more businesses used QR codes at their checkout counters to maintain social distancing. 

To pay for the product, the customer will have to first download a digital wallet app that’s compatible with the QR code. The customer will use the built-in scanner to scan the QR code to facilitate the purchase of the product. 

QR Codes can also be designed to collect buying information such as the location of the customer, frequency of repeat purchases, and types of products purchased. 

You can also use the QR code to run special discounts and promotions. You’ll see how your customers respond to a variety of advertisements. 

Conclusion

If there’s a single valuable lesson we learned from the pandemic it is how one event can drastically change consumers’ purchasing habits

There was greater demand for e-Commerce, delivery services, the availability of customer support, and more detailed information about a  businesses’ products. Likewise, there was a palpable shift to buying items that were considered “necessities” such as health supplements, exercise equipment, and clothes. 

Businesses that didn’t take the time to see what their customers were up to during the pandemic wouldn’t know how to adjust their marketing and sales strategies and adapt to the changing consumer landscape. 

Stay on top of what your customers are doing by implementing our strategies for tracking consumer behavior. You can’t allow yourself to get complacent just because business is good. 

Things can change without warning. If you’re not prepared to implement the necessary courses of action when business starts to head south, your competitors may end up benefiting from your lack of foresight. 

And if you enjoyed this article, feel free to share it with your community. 

If you want to learn more about consumer behavior and how to track it accurately, give us a call or drop us an email. Let’s set a free 30-minute planning session on how we can get your business ready against uncertainty. 

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