It’s the holy grail of marketing.
Understanding what drives customer purchase decisions, and how to make the most of this knowledge, is what marketing is all about. That’s the reason you need to know what your customers want, ensure your offering meets the needs of your market and create a clear brand that resonates with your audience.
However, having all those things in place won’t automatically ensure business success. While it’s essential to know your market, product and brand, there’s another factor in play that can still derail your business, even with all these elements in play.
The old adage, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink” is apt when considering human behaviour and consumer decision making. Your business might be the perfect fit for your ideal customer but getting them to take notice means you must have more than a great product, brand and target market.
This is where the art of influencing customer purchase decisions comes in.
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How you can influence customer buying decisions
Every time customers consider a purchase, they go through a complex process taking them from awareness and research to consideration and decision-making. Then there’s a further process of evaluation, before, during and after the purchase has been made.
Check out our post on The Psychology of Decision Making for more information
To increase the chance of customers taking a chance on your product or service, you first need to be seen. In a crowded market, that’s much easier said than done! This is why you need to understand the marketing rule of 7 which states that a prospect needs to hear your message at least 7 times before they’ll take action and buy your product or service.
While you can’t get inside the head of every customer to influence the customer purchase decision, there are strategies you can use to increase the chance of customers finding you AND choosing your offering over those of your competitors. One effective strategy is to harness the power of social media.
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How to use social media to influence the purchase decision
People use social media to ask for recommendations, research online businesses, share experiences and to contact businesses directly. The convenience and immediacy of social media have also shortened the typical customer journey. For smaller purchases (under $100), social media can take consumers from discovery to purchase in less than a day.
This makes social media an important tool in helping you influence customer buying decisions.
While the jury is out on the direct impact of social media on actual purchases, its influence on helping your customers make purchase decisions can’t be ignored. Here are some ways you can influence the customer purchase decision using social media.
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Reviews & Recommendations
78% of people across Australia make purchase decisions based on recommendations from friends, family and known acquaintances. Word of mouth marketing, harnessing personal experience and stories to increase interest and trust in your brand, is a powerful way to influence purchase decisions. Make it easy for customers to leave a review or testimonial so your business is more widely tagged and shared whenever someone asks for a recommendation on social media to help influence the customer purchase decision.
- Build customer feedback into your process. Ask customers to leave a review as part of the purchase process and follow up a few weeks post-purchase to remind them again.
- Regularly share reviews and testimonials. Share reviews and testimonials to your social media feed to showcase your skills and encourage other customers to do the same.
- Tag your customers and clients. Harness user-generated content (UGC) to highlight how people use your offerings and encourage organic conversations on your timeline.
What’s one way you could increase the number of reviews of your business?
84% of millennials say user-generated content from others has some influence on how they spend their money which is why you should consider working with micro-influencers. Generally seen as experts in their niche, micro-influencers wield great influence with their audience. Partnering with an active micro-influencer in your target market can help you quickly create a highly engaged following, build credibility and become a recognised expert in your industry.
- Use an online tool to find relevant micro-influencers. There are many tools available, both free and paid to help you identify the best prospects in your niche.
- Become active in your industry. Engage in conversations and show your value to prospective customers and influencers to build a profile and form relationships.
- Be clear on what you bring to the partnership. Know your value and clearly convey this to influencers so you get the most from the arrangement for long term success.
Identify a micro-influencer in your industry. What value would partnering with them bring?
Beyond anything else, social media bestows social proof, which is one of the most powerful forces in marketing. Social proof is evidence that other people think your brand, product or service is ‘good’. This can be seen in the number of followers you have, but also exists in awards, certifications and visual proof that media and other businesses endorse your products (logos). Celebrity endorsements and statistics can also provide you with valuable social proof.
- Show off your business awards. Boost your standing with customers by sharing posts where you’ve been recognised by industry professionals and consumer groups.
- Share visual proof of success. If you’ve been featured in the media or have worked with other businesses in your niche, display their logos for instant social proof.
- Bust out the statistics. Tell customers how many people you’ve already helped, how much time or money you’ve helped them save, or how many followers you have.
List three ways you could leverage social proof for your business:
Stories and ephemeral content
Ephemeral content (AKA Instagram and Facebook stories) is engaging and interactive content that’s only available for a short period of time. This is a powerful way to get customers to check out your story before it disappears (FOMO is real!) Whatever your industry, stories allow you to connect directly with your customers in a raw and more unfiltered way and can help influence their purchase decision by talking directly to their fears, desires, wants and needs.
- Share a glimpse behind the scenes. Stories are the perfect way to show your customers how you work to help you build trust, credibility and influence with your audience.
- Give a quick product tour. Stories give your customers the chance to get up and personal with your latest offerings, helping to influence their decision to purchase.
- Provide one-on-one access to owners. Stories can help your customers feel valued, heard and appreciated which helps them make the decision to try your offering.
Think of three ways you could use ephemeral content to influence your customers:
There’s no doubt harnessing the power of paid advertising influences the customer purchase decision. By paying to target more of your ideal market, you ensure your product or service becomes part of the consideration process. In Australia, TV advertising has a 56% share of influence when it comes to purchasing decisions, just after online reviews from trusted sources (57%) and recommendations from friends and family (which leads the way on a whopping 78%).
- Social media still delivers great ROI. Done well, social media advertising is still the most cost-effective option for most small business owners and worth the investment. To get the best result from social media advertising you need to have a solid strategy in place and use the right marketing tactics for your industry and your medium.
- Engage an expert to develop an effective advertising strategy. To avoid wasting money, bring in a marketing expert to develop an effective strategy to deliver real results and ensure you get the best ROI.
How could you use paid advertising to influence your customers?
Marketing Sense is here to guide your small business toward marketing success and help you wield greater influence over customer purchase decisions. Give us a call to discuss your needs and download your FREE copy of our Brand Statement Worksheet to get crystal clear on your business, your offering, your audience, and your competition.
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