Are you effectively influencing the buying behavior of your potential customers online? It’s an important question that every small business owner must answer. It is imperative that you know who your potential customers are and how you can influence them to buy your products and services online. But how can you influence a consumer’s behavior online so that they buy your product or services versus that of your competitor? To find out, BizBytes enlisted the advice of Dr. James Gray, chairman of the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Marketing Department and Arbab Hassan, chief technology officer for Blueliner, a New York-based internet marketing firm. Here’s is what each had to offer.
1. Decide who, why and how. “There are three important things that a small business owner must focus on whether they are marketing to customers online or off,” said Dr. Gray. “You’ve got to be able to decide who your customers are, why they buy from you and how they buy from you. Once you can answer these questions, you’ll be well on your way to employing techniques to influence their buying behavior online.”2. Analyze the online buying behavior of your current customers. “You can’t effectively influence your clients buying behavior if you don’t know what they’re doing when they get to your site to make a purchase,” said Hassan. “The quickest and easiest way to analyze that behavior from your current clients is to install Google Analytics. It’s free and will provide you with a wealth of information such as what pages on people are visiting on your site, how long they spend on each page and at what point they exit a page and leave your site. Having this information will help you optimize your site and create a meaningful online experience for a consumer.”
3. Optimize your website based on current customer behavior. “Optimizing your website is the equivalent of guiding a potential customer your products and services” said Hassan. “Start by analyzing your current customer behavior and creating a list of 25 keywords that relate to what you sell. Then make sure those words appear on the pages of your website. This will ensure that your product shows up in organic search results.”
4. Go where your potential customers aren’t. “Marketing to new customer segments online is a key part of growing your business,” said Dr. Gray. “Make sure you have a presence on the web in places where people may not necessarily know about you like niche social networks, blogs, product review websites, etc. Post special offers, e-coupons and other special promotions and always include a link back to your website’s purchase page.”
5. Make your online store user-friendly and easy to navigate. “If you guide a customer back to your site and they are ready to make a purchase, but once they get there, it’s too hard to navigate or is not very user-friendly, you will lose the sale,” said Hassan. “Don’t create a complicated e-store that takes a customer through too many steps to complete a purchase. This will only lead to a frustrating experience for the customer.”6. Market to your existing database of customers. “If someone has given you their e-mail address or signed up to receive information via your website, they are obviously interested in your products and services,” said Hassan. “Take that existing information that you have and market to those people with special offers, sales and discounts that could influence those people to buy your product. A person may not buy something from you at full price, but they would if they were given an exclusive 15% off discount.”
7. Make sure your online store is trustworthy. Verisign, etc. installed
8. Use product reviews to your advantage
9. Create pages on product review sites
10. Create solid offline relationships to influence customer buying behavior online.
11. Make a bold statement about fraud to put your customers at ease about buying online from you.
12. Connect with online consumer communities
13. Create engaging content to lure customers to your product