Understanding the top characteristics of online shoppers will help you to market your products more effectively.
People who shop online tend to exhibit certain psychological characteristics. In order to market your business and your products effectively, it’s important to understand what drives your customers. A masters in psychology, specifically in consumer psychology, hones your marketing skills by teaching you how your customers tick — and therefore, how to reach them.
Here are ten important characteristics of online buyers:
Egocentric – Yes, it’s all about them, and that’s okay because (remember this?) the customer is always right! Online buyers are online for their own reasons — because it’s more convenient for them, because they want to find the best price or research a product first, or because they suddenly thought of something they have to have at 3am. By learning how to cater your website to this customer, you can achieve a personal connection in an increasingly impersonal experience. Instant chat applications on your site, using Facebook to as a customer service portal or catering shopping experiences to frequent visitors can help you deal with the egocentric online buyer.
Impatient - Everything about the frequent online shopper screams impatience. If you write copy for websites, you already know that long sentences and paragraphs don’t work, because no one wants to waste time reading wordy pages online. By the same token, people who shop online do it because they don’t want to wait in line or deal with crowds. Customers can buy practically everything online now, from postage to groceries, so it’s important to know how best to streamline your site so that shopping is fast and easy. Shortening the purchase process, reducing the number of fields on a sign up form or allowing users to sign into your shopping cart with Facebook are examples of appeasing impatient online buyers.
Impulsive - Similarly, people who buy online can be rather impulsive. Making a purchase can be as easy as clicking a button. Downloadable products such as ebooks and music can be especially impulsive, as they offer instant gratification, much like the candy in the checkout aisle at the grocery store. Honing your marketing techniques will enable you to utilize this impulsivity in order to make a sale or add to a customer’s order. Upsells at checkout and “customers also purchased” sections in online shopping carts are examples of catering to impulsive online buyers.
Educated – Studies show that online buyers tend to be fairly well educated, with most having college degrees. This may be because their education makes them more comfortable with computers, or because education typically leads to a higher income level. By knowing who your target market is, you can tailor your marketing approach. Producing onsite content that is both educational and informational for the advanced online user with a college degree.
Informed – This may seem a bit contradictory, since we recently talked about how impulsive people can be when shopping online. However, the Internet also makes it easier to research a product or a company, and many online purchases start out as research. Providing product information, articles, and reviews on your site can help drive traffic to your website, as well as help potential customers make a decision to buy.
Thrifty - Just as you can easily research products or companies online, you can also price shop without spending as much time (or gas!) on driving around from store to store. As a result, online shopping often appeals to folks who want to save money. This makes pricing important, of course, but a good consumer psychology program will also teach you how to build in benefits that customers can’t easily put a price on, such as stellar customer service or a warranty. These kinds of considerations can outweigh price considerations, even with your most thrifty customers.
Private - Online buyers tend to be fairly private people. Sometimes they are making their purchases online because they are embarrassed and don’t want others to see what they are buying. But more importantly, they often don’t want their information shared with other companies, especially spammers. It’s therefore important to learn how to build trust with your customers, starting with a promise to protect their privacy.
Cautious - Another fact of buying online is the need to watch out for fraud and scams. The seriousness of this problem might cause one to ask why people buy online at all, but the answer is usually because customers feel safe buying from a certain company, whether that’s because it’s large, well-known, has a good reputation, or has a guarantee that reassures them. Consumer psychology will teach you how to establish that trust with potential customers.
Indecisive – While some online shoppers are impulsively decisive, others can take a long time to make up their mind, especially if you are trying to convince them to buy something you sell (rather than them coming to you looking for that product). Studies show that customers often have to have a product put in front of them a handful of times before they’ll buy it. By learning about the psychology of your buyers, you’ll learn how to do this without being annoying — with approaches such as newsletters, social media, video, etc.
Pleasure-driven – Let’s face it, most shopping that we do online isn’t for things that we need, but things that we want. Online buyers shop for fun — whether the fun is the shopping experience, the item they are purchasing, or a little of both. In marketing, therefore, it’s your job to make sure that nothing about the experience — the website, the buying process, etc. — spoils the fun for your customers.
If you’ve ever listened to a commercial or looked at an ad and thought about why it works — how it appeals to its audience in order to produce sales — you will love the challenge of working in consumer psychology!
About the Author:
Vern Marker writes on behalf of a masters in psychology graduate program and frequently blogs about industry careers. When Vern is not blogging or writing, he is an avid reader and enjoys traveling the world. Follow him on Twitter@VernMarker.