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Understanding Consumer Behavior in the Digital Age

26 Jun
Couple using a smartphone to shop while sitting on a couch

If you don’t know what your customers want, you can’t give it to them. However, businesses that understand consumer behaviors can customize their products, services and marketing strategies to more effectively meet their target audience’s needs. The actions and decisions people make when they interact with a brand can help marketers predict trends and improve customer satisfaction.

The digital transformation has changed how customers shop and engage with brands. They’re empowered with instant access to information and more options than ever. To remain competitive, businesses need to take a more personal and responsive approach to marketing.1

This article will explore digital consumer behaviors and how understanding them helps businesses create more effective marketing strategies and campaigns.

Digital Age Consumer Behavior

The internet has ushered in the expectation of instant gratification and convenience. People expect brands to respond to them instantly and want quick access to the products and services they purchase online. Personalized experiences are now the norm. Shoppers want tailored experiences based on their preferences and past behaviors.2

People expect a seamless experience when they’re shopping. They want to be able to start shopping on social media platforms and finish on the company’s website if they switch devices. Multichannel engagement lets customers interact with brands across different platforms, including e-commerce websites, social media networks and mobile apps. Regardless of the platform they use, their experience with your brand should be consistent. An integrated approach helps build brand loyalty and increases customer satisfaction.3

Role of Analytics in Understanding Consumer Behavior

Analytics turn raw data into actionable insights. There are several types of analytics, including descriptive, predictive and prescriptive.

Descriptive analytics use past data to identify trends and patterns, which can help identify changing consumer behavior. Predictive analytics use statistical models and machine learning to forecast future behaviors so businesses can anticipate consumers’ needs. Prescriptive analytics use predictions to recommend a course of action.4

You’ll get the most useful insights by using diverse data collection methods and tools that analyze different aspects of consumer interactions. Web analytics track users’ interactions on websites, which can give you information about their behaviors and preferences. Social media monitoring can tell you what customers think of your brand and what their broader interests are. Surveys, online reviews and feedback let you hear directly from customers about their opinions and experiences.5

Key Metrics and KPIs

Key performance indicators (KPIs) allow you to measure different aspects of consumer behaviors and satisfaction so you can determine which areas you need to make adjustments in. Behavioral metrics such as click-through rate (CTR), conversion rate and bounce rate illustrate how users interact with websites and digital campaigns.

Your CTR measures how effective your ads and links are, your conversion rate shows you the percentage of visitors who completed a desired action and your bounce rate tells you how many visitors left your site after seeing only one page.6

Engagement metrics give you insight into user interactions and interest. These include time spent on site, pages visited per session and social media interactions.6

Customer satisfaction metrics gauge contentment and loyalty. The Net Promoter Score (NPS) tells you how likely a customer is to recommend your brand to others. Customer satisfaction surveys and ratings give you direct feedback on the customer experience.6

Analyzing Consumer Data

To get the most out of your data, you need to break down complex information to understand and predict customer behaviors. You’ll be able to use this data to segment and target your audience by dividing it into different demographics, such as age, gender and income. You can also separate your audience into psychographics, such as lifestyle and values and behaviors, including purchase history and online activity. Businesses can use this information to tailor their marketing efforts to specific audience segments for better engagement and to boost customer loyalty.7

Another criterion you can use for more personalized targeting is customer journey mapping. By identifying and analyzing all of the touchpoints and interactions a customer has with your brand—from awareness to post-purchase—you can use digital journey mapping to find pain points and opportunities for improvement.8

With predictive modeling, you can use historical data and statistical techniques to forecast future consumer behavior and trends. You’ll gain a competitive edge by predicting what consumers might do next and proactively addressing their needs. This data-driven approach lets you craft personalized customer engagement strategies to drive growth and loyalty.9

Applying Insights to Digital Marketing Strategies

Once you’ve collected and analyzed the data, you’re ready to use consumer analytics in your marketing strategy. You can use the information to create personalized content marketing messages and offers that are relevant to each customer’s preferences and where they are in the customer journey. These persona development strategies increase engagement and conversion rates by speaking directly to each customer as an individual.10

However, developing a marketing strategy isn’t something you do just once and then move on. It’s an ongoing process of optimization using the data you’re collecting. Optimization efforts include A/B testing and performance tracking for continuous improvement. A/B testing compares different campaign versions to identify the most effective elements. Performance tracking monitors key metrics to gauge success. Tweaking your campaigns based on your results allows you to continuously improve them.11

While there’s no doubt that customer behavior analytics provide valuable insights that can improve the customer experience, you have to consider the ethical implications of collecting customer data as well. You’ll need to take strong security measures to secure consumer data, comply with data protection regulations and build trust with your customers.12

As the possible negative consequences of data misuse increase, so do the number of regulations intended to protect consumer privacy. Measures such as not collecting more data than you need and being transparent about how you intend to use it are fundamental to responsible data analytics practices.12

Use Your Skills to Connect With Your Target Audience and Create Brand Ambassadors

Technology has changed the way we shop and connect with brands. A master’s in digital marketing analytics, such as William & Mary’s Online Master of Science in Marketing program, will give you the skills you need to reach modern consumers with the personalized experience they want.

Our expert faculty will shepherd you through a world-class, focused curriculum and prepare you to become a leading, time-tested marketer in today’s dynamic marketplace. This 15-month program offers a shorter time to completion than other part-time master’s programs, which typically take two years to complete. It is built for marketers who want to advance their marketing careers quickly. You will gain a deep understanding of the role that the digital and global world play in the field.

Schedule a call with one of our admissions outreach advisors today to learn more.