In today’s marketing world, consumer behaviour is key. No longer can businesses just shove their brand in front of consumers and hope for instant impact. Advances in technology have meant the advertising and marketing environment has changed dramatically, and social media and digital channels have given opportunities to start-ups and SMEs in the same spaces as big businesses.
Customer insights have become more intricate, due to the wealth of data available to marketers and so online consumer and social behaviours have moved to the forefront of marketing strategies. Social media, comparison websites and search tools have spawned a generation of savvy browsers, who want to find quality and competitive pricing, rather than just established brands.
Enchant discusses 6 ways that comparison websites have affected digital marketing strategies:
1. Comparing the market
Go Compare, Compare the Market, MoneySupermarket, Confused.com – the list goes on. There's a whole host of different comparison websites bringing consumers a platter of prices and options across the market to make choosing their products easier. Or should I say fairer? More choices mean more consideration and pontification. But it’s been a game changer and has forced brands to be more competitive and watchful of the market, to bring their potential or existing customers the best value and experience.
2. Expert opinion influence
A few years ago, unless you subscribed to Which? magazine, you might have felt you were facing a minefield of options when choosing various consumer products. With price being just one of the variables in consumer decision-making, savvy browsers can now trawl the web for expert opinions, head-to-head comparisons, Top 10s and product review pieces, from either authoritative experts or online newspaper and magazine website articles. Brands need to be aware of the feedback from all channels and take on board criticism to help improve their products and the accompanying marketing.
3. Community reviewing culture
TripAdvisor has quickly grown from a fun and interactive community website for people to review their travel experiences, restaurant visits and hotel stays, to a genuine resource for people deciding on places to stay, restaurants and pubs to go to, and for booking events.
The website now has 350 million unique monthly visitors, incuding 320 million reviews and opinions, which cover more than 6.2 million accommodations, restaurants and attractions. Mobile users have downloaded TripAdvisor apps more than 290 million times.
Good TripAdvisor ratings have become a badge of honour for venues, with many using their reviews and scores as social proof and testimonials for their websites, plus using approvals and ratings in their marketing content. See this example from Clink Restaurant below:
4. Social media affecting reputation
Beyond expert and industry opinion pieces and enthusiasts taking time out to post reviews on websites, like TripAdvisor and Amazon, there is the continuous stream of social media opinion that directly affects brand reputation. With businesses and consumer brands looking to build their presence on various social media channels, with their content, they are at the mercy of both positive and negative opinions – virtually unfiltered.
Everyone is a critic, as they say, and the snowballing effect of social sharing and commenting in the digital world can hugely boost, as well as harm, brand reputation. Maybe the adage, “There's no such thing as bad publicity,” is no longer true…
5. Brand loyalty on the rocks
Savvy browsers and online shoppers reflect their behaviours in their offline shopping too. The supermarket industry has seen a big shift in culture over the last few years, as customer perception has changed about the quality of big name brands and the so-called “big four” chains that have long dominated the industry. Lidl and Aldi changed the game, and some previously-loyal shoppers at Tesco, Sainsbury’s – and even Waitrose – have decided that they should give the bargain stores a go.
This is largely down to smart storytelling marketing from Lidl and Aldi, challenging the “big four” on both price and by empathising with disillusioned shoppers fed up with paying over the odds. They've tried to debunk the myth around superior quality of goods from the establish brands and stores, offering up taste tests and signposting customer feedback about better value and comparable quality.
The supermarket playing field is no longer a monopoly and the big chains have responded with price cuts and various other measures, but there definitely seems to be a strong push of marketing related to loyalty schemes and increased partnership work. However, Sainsbury’s recently announced they were scrapping their brand match scheme and BOGOF offers, with Marketing Director Sarah Warbythe giving the following statement:
“Customers have told us that they want lower regular prices, and that this is more important to them than Brand Match. We’ve taken this on board and will now be investing all of the money from the scheme into lowering the regular prices on everyday products."
6. Customer feedback leading to personalisation
With the changing behaviours of online customers and consumers challenging the status quo, brands have had to up their game and offer better value for money and more innovation in their digital marketing. Businesses are starting to realise the importance of engaging regularly with customers and understanding their audience better.
Marketers are responding by driving more insights and analytics, to get customers to give them feedback, through surveys, polls, direct messaging, and interactive marketing. The customer insights and behavioural triggers are driving brand strategy and email marketing content. They're embracing personalisation and targeted automation, improving cut-through to customers and building customer relationships.
With so much advertising and marketing content flooding our senses, across all manner of digital channels, there is no space for lazy marketing and repetition – especially as there's so much competition and comparison services feeding us with alternatives. Digital marketing must now be innovative, dynamic, customer-centric, and must tell a story. This helps prevent brand blindness and helps to make a lasting connection with consumers.
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Enchant Agency is a leading UK digital marketing agency, specialising in email marketing, CRM and paid social advertising. Our marketing specialists focus on the customer lifecycle to help brands to reach their potential and create big impact fast. Get in touch with our marketing consultants to get expert advice and see how we can improve your performance!