It’s no surprise that today’s consumers rely heavily on online research before they make any kind of decision. From choosing a new doctor to finding a new hair salon to even deciding which restaurant to try, online research is the name of the game. The digital age has made everything move along at a faster pace, including purchase decisions. Consumers no longer want to take the time to see things in person, ask questions face-to-face, or try out a few different options before they make a decision. Instead, they want all of the information, details, online reviews, and options at their fingertips so they can make a well-thought-out, well-researched decision before ever stepping foot in a store.
88% of modern consumers research products and services online before making a purchase online or in a store. This is an incredibly high number, and it’s one that can have a significant impact on the success of a business. By knowing how consumers search for products online and being able to deliver the right information when they do, businesses can leverage consumer online research to proactively increase new business and, ultimately, revenue.
Know what the consumer is looking for.
Turning consumer research from a potential threat into a secret weapon first comes down to knowing what the customer is looking for. This means knowing your consumer audience, their needs, and their unique take on value. It means knowing exactly what your consumers are willing to pay for, what specific features or value-added services they require, and how they expect to be treated by businesses they partner with. This approach to appreciation is key for many B2C service organizations. While many businesses highlight their products and services online, some tend to overlook the relationship between the organization and the consumers themselves.
Gain insight into the actual search habits of consumers.
In addition to focusing your online presence towards consumer needs, businesses should also have insight into the actual search habits and logistics that go into researching new products and services. For example, knowing whether your customers are searching ‘best bike shop in Cleveland’ or ‘top-rated bike shop’ or even just ‘bike shop’ can make a big difference in the rankings of your search results. Some best practices include making sure your website is SEO-optimized, that your online reviews are monitored for both quality and quantity, and that your responses to reviews leverage the right keywords to ensure they show up in specific online searches.
Stand out against the competition.
And finally, businesses can take advantage of consumers’ dependency on online research to make sure they stand out against the competition. The digital marketplace is made up of millions of businesses trying to ‘shout’ over each other to get people’s attention. Instead of adding your brand’s voice to this noise, try to stand out! One of the best ways to stand out is with your online reviews on Google and Facebook. Make sure you have a clear strategy for your team to prompt those reviews from your customers and respond to any negative reviews that come in.
Start a dedicated business social media channel where you can post pictures and updates of new services, products, or even just day-to-day business dealings. Set up a dedicated business texting line to capitalize on a new digital channel and share news and promotions directly with consumers. The question is no longer should we develop a strong online presence but how can we capitalize on this presence to increase business.
You can learn more about capitalizing on consumer online research here.