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How to use consumer psychology to grow your small business

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I bet you never thought you’d be a part-time psychologist when you started your business.  Over the last 10 years of owning a digital marketing agency, I’ve come to realize that successful marketers marry the art of design with the science of consumer psychology.

Funny enough, I almost double-majored in psychology because I was fascinated by how people make decisions, and I think that’s what ultimately led me to build my digital marketing agency. In this post, we’ll dive more into the ins and outs of better understanding your prospects and customers, and I’ll show you how to use consumer psychology to grow your small business.

What is consumer psychology anyway?

Consumer psychology is the study of how our previous life experiences, thoughts, beliefs and feelings influence the way we consider and buy products and services. To get a bit more formal, check out this definition from Auburn University:

“Consumer psychology is the study of individuals, groups, or organizations and the processes they use to select, secure, use and dispose of products, services, experiences or ideas to satisfy needs and the impacts that these processes have on the consumer and society.”

Let’s break that down into everyday terms.

As marketers, we need to start examining our customers through a social and scientific lens, almost like a marketing microscope.

 

If we want to better understand what makes them choose and use our products and services, then we have to dig deep and ask questions such as:

  • Are there certain experiences they’ve had in life that would make them warm to our brand?
  • Maybe there are lessons they’ve learned along the way that attracts them to our specific products or services?
  • Do they feel specific emotions that would make them want to buy from our business over the competitor down the street or the next website in the search engine results page?

In essence, we need to listen, learn and leverage.

How do I listen, learn and leverage?

Couple in therapy session

Just recently, I was watching an episode of “90 Day Fiancé: The Single Life” with my wonderful wife, Linda. Judge if you must, but it’s my guilty pleasure because of how well they perpetuate the storylines, and we bond over how our relationship is not nearly as bad as some of these trainwrecks.

In one of the episodes, Colt (a polarizing character in the 90-Day universe) and his new girlfriend, Vanessa, attend a couples counseling session because Vanessa simply doesn’t trust him based on his old habits. As I listened to the exchange among the three, I couldn’t help but laugh because it sounded just like the advice I would give to a small business client trying to better understand their customers:

  • Ask questions to determine their headspace.
  • Build trust by being open-minded and honest in your exchanges.
  • Constantly focus on adding value to the relationship.

The entire scene was an overdramatized example of listening, learning and leveraging. Colt needed to anticipate Vanessa’s needs and act in a way that truly demonstrated his love and respect for her as a person. Vanessa, in turn, needed to know that she was good enough for Colt so that his eyes wouldn’t wander to the next woman.

Now. roleplay: You are Colt, and you’re courting a new customer (Vanessa.) The customer has a level of distrust because they know you want to sell them something. They just found you on Google, and they don’t know if you really care about their buying experience.

It’s your responsibility as the business owner to understand what they enjoy, what they can’t stand and what keeps them up at night.

 

Armed with that information, you make your customer feel more comfortable in the relationship, reassuring them that you truly value them. Your actions need to speak as loud as your words to let them know that they can trust you and their business is appreciated. Bonus points if you can provide such a “wow” experience that they come back for a second date.

Do you see what I did there? I just walked you through your own psychology session. I made you empathize with your customer and find a way to convey to them that they are more than just a dollar sign. Science doesn’t have to be complex or boring. In fact, you’re a scientist, and you don’t even know it.

How does science work into my marketing?

Scientist working with pietri dish

What you may not realize is that every time you publish a social media post or send an email marketing campaign, you’re actually doing a science experiment. Think back to middle school and high school when you learned about the scientific method. It works like this:

  • Question: Will this content make people buy my products or services?
  • Research: Find where your potential buyers congregate (i.e., Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, email inbox, etc.).
  • Hypothesis: If I publish this content, then more people will visit my website and/or storefront and buy.
  • Experiment: Post, publish and send. Get that content out there!
  • Analyze data: Measure your results with tools like Google Analytics.
  • Communicate results: Review what happened with your team and see what you can do to improve the next time around.

Now, you don’t have to be Bill Nye the Science Guy or Marie Curie, but bear with me. You’ll see how important the understanding of your consumers really is to the success of your business.

Why does consumer psychology matter?

You’re probably saying, “OK, Einstein, why should I take the time to care about this? I have a business to run!” I wouldn’t fault you one bit. I know your time is valuable, and there are only 24 hours in the day.

But I can assure you that if you better understand your customers, you can shave hours, days and even weeks off the time you spend marketing to them and win even more first-time and repeat business.

Consumer psychology in action: FOMO

Have you ever heard of “FOMO” or the fear of missing out? Well, it’s more than just a four-letter word — it’s science! According to a 1991 Princeton study, three psychologists found something quite interesting:

People are more afraid of losing something than they are motivated by gaining something of equal value.

 

You experience FOMO every day as a consumer, whether it be countdown timers on websites or subject lines stating, “Seats are filling fast” or “While supplies last!” When you’re faced with a sense of urgency or exclusive offer, you focus on — even stress about — the thought of not having that opportunity again, and so often, you end up buying products or services you may not even need. That potential loss is just too much for you to risk.

Maybe you’ve heard of Groupon?

A great example of a business that leveraged FOMO is Groupon. In 2008, Andrew Mason took a small website dedicated to getting people together to accomplish a collective goal and morphed it into Groupon. Groupon was a site dedicated to advertising local businesses by offering deals for a limited time (FOMO!).

Screenshot of first-ever Groupon offer
Photo credit: Groupon

The first-ever Groupon was a deal for Motel Bar, located just downstairs from the Groupon office in Chicago, Illinois. By promoting a significant discount (two-for-one pizzas) and attaching an exploding offer (limited number of vouchers and limited time only) the coupon sold out quickly. The concept caught on, and in just two years, Groupons were powering deals for small businesses in most U.S. cities and all over Europe.

The fear of missing out, as it turns out, is big business.

Empathy is mission-critical to your marketing

An empath is someone who can mentally put themselves in the shoes of someone else.

Empaths are also some of the most successful marketers! That’s because if you can think like your consumers, you can improve the way you market to them, making you more efficient and much more effective.

Knowing the answers to these questions would help you peer into the mind of your customers:

  • What emotions drive them to buy from you?
  • How do environmental variables such as friends, family, media and culture influence their buying decisions — especially in today’s connected world?
  • What motivates them to choose one product over another?
  • How do personal factors and individual differences affect their buying habits?
  • And last, but certainly not least, what can a business owner like you do to effectively reach out, engage with and convert your customers?

How do I tap into the mind of my customers?

By now, you understand consumer psychology better and see how it can save you time and make you money. But how do you tap into the mind of your customer? Let’s talk about building your very first buyer persona.

What is a buyer persona?

A buyer persona is the definition of your perfect customer: that person who would either call you, click to your website or walk through your front door and buy right away. No objections, no hard questions — just a simple, seamless purchasing experience. We all dream of that customer and would love to have an influx of them.

How do I create a buyer persona?

The first thing to know is that building a buyer persona is a process. It’s not just a one-time thing. As the world turns, your customer will surely evolve. For example:

  • They may move from the city to the suburbs.
  • They may start working remotely or split time between home and office.
  • They may use a tablet or smartphone while they watch their favorite shows.
  • They may speak to Google instead of typing their search query.

Building a buyer persona is all about asking yourself the right questions again and again.

You’ll need to revisit and redefine your buyer personas on a regular basis.

 

Knowing the importance of a buyer persona, my team put together a helpful buyer persona quiz to make it super simple for you. Just answer the questions, and you’ll be sent a PDF with your brand-new buyer persona.

What do I do with my buyer persona?

With your buyer persona in hand, there’s plenty you can do. For example, take a look at this example I cooked up:

After taking my own buyer persona quiz with a client, we invented Mary. Mary is a 74-year-old retired engineer who lives in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. She loves gardening, rom-coms and her five grandchildren. She buys online and through catalogs, and we know that she is analytical because she was an engineer. Just these few information points can substantially help me market to Mary.

Once I have the persona, I take it a step further and find a stock photo on Pexels.com. Then I put the photo and info together (in a PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation) and print it out, so I can always have Mary by my keyboard. This next part may sound silly, but it works.

The next time I brainstorm a promotion or create a social media post or write an email campaign, I’m going to look at Mary and say, “What are you interested in today, Mary? What will get you to click and buy?”

Maybe I will send an email and talk about watching “Bridget Jones’ Diary” with my wife or recount a story about when I brought my kids to the local museum and all the fun we had as a result. I can tie these stories into my message and end with a nice call-to-action, like “Buy Yours Today!”

Do you see where I’m going with this? You can be creative and speak to Mary’s interests, her feelings, her passions. You don’t just have to tell her to buy now, but you can relate to her sensibilities while still making a compelling reason for her to purchase your product or service.

Putting it all together

Yes, you may not be a licensed psychologist, but you now have a better understanding of how to use consumer psychology to grow your small business. By tapping into the minds of your customers and understanding their interests, desires, passions and experiences, you can better relate to them and bolster a profitable relationship with more thoughtful and empathetic marketing messages.

Don’t forget to take a stab at building your own buyer persona, so you can clearly envision your ideal customer the next time you write a blog post, film a video, or create a simple Tweet or Facebook post.

Ultimately, remember that marketing is a marriage of art and science, and it’s your responsibility to keep learning and expanding your skill sets, so you can better serve your audience.

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The Benefits of LinkedIn Ads

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LinkedIn wouldn’t necessarily be the first platform that comes to mind when considering social media advertising. However, if you are a B2B organisation, the platform can allow you to reach professionals across the globe. LinkedIn allows you to generate brand awareness across targeted professional sectors and reach out to decision makers directly.

Advertising is all about targeting the right people. Users of LinkedIn tend to be older, professional and have a higher income than the average user of other social media platforms. So if that is your target market, LinkedIn offers a great opportunity to reach them. Professionals use LinkedIn for business networking purposes so users are generally in work mode so engaging with them should be easier than on other platforms.

Here we outline the six main advantages that LinkedIn Ads have over other social media platforms.

1. Variety of ad formats

LinkedIn offers a number of options for advertising:

  • Sponsored content – this type of ad appears in people’s feeds, it is the least personal form but good for promoting content from your business page and encouraging people onto it.
  • Text ads – these are only viewable by people using a desktop. With these you can choose the audience you want to target and you only pay per click.
  • Message ads – these appear in users’ inboxes and are proven to be good for conversion.
  • Video ads – great for storytelling, you can also retarget users who have watched the video, aiding conversion rates.
  • Dynamic ads – these allow you to fully personalise your ad by showing user’s photo, name and title within the advert.

2. Generate high quality leads

The ability to target professionals and gain good quality leads is the primary benefit of LinkedIn ads. Users are looking at work-related content so will be more open to solutions for their business needs.

With more than 800 million users in over 220 countries and territories, LinkedIn is the biggest social network for professionals and businesses alike. 4 out of 5 LinkedIn members drive business decisions and the platform has been rated the best for lead generation by marketers.

By using LinkedIn advertising, you can access their Lead Accelerator feature. This feature allows businesses to follow their best prospects and offer more targeted ads directly to them. This includes remarketing to website visitors, which helps nurture leads, making them more likely to become customers.

3. Targeting

LinkedIn allows you to target specific demographics, enabling you to create much more personal advertising campaigns. Facebook lets you target interest and behaviour based factors however LinkedIn is the right medium to use if you want to target individuals based on their industry and job. You can filter your audience by:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Company name
  • Company size
  • Degree subject
  • Job title
  • Seniority
  • Industry
  • Member skills

These variables make the platform the ideal choice for B2B organisations wanting to target decision-makers.

Entrepreneurs executing on a business idea
photo credit: LinkedIn Sales Navigator / Unsplash

4. Remarketing

LinkedIn allows you to specifically target people who have shown an interest in your products. Matched audiences show you which users have visited your website and the pages that they went on. This allows you to target them with specific ads in the hope that they will return to your website and convert to a customer.

Matched audiences can be created with:

  • Account Targeting – Uploading a CSV of company names to LinkedIn allows you to target decision-makers.
  • Website Retargeting – Target the users who have visited your website and re-engage them to aid conversions.
  • Contact Targeting – Uploading a CSV of email addresses of your contacts to LinkedIn enables you to nurture your leads and prospects even further.

5. Increased conversion rates

The ability to target specific groups, nurture them and remarket to them will increase your conversion rates.

A year-long study by HubSpot found that on average, LinkedIn ads convert users to leads at a 6.1 per cent conversion rate. This compares to 2.58 per cent for Google search ads.

MD of exhibition stand contractor Black Robin Exhibits, Alan Jenkins, managed to achieve a conversion rate of 8.2% with a LinkedIn campaign earlier this year, he said “We were delighted with the results, it wasn’t a huge investment, we could set the budget and the conversion rate was fantastic”.

6. High control

A big benefit of LinkedIn advertising is the high degree of control that you can have. You can set a specific start time for your advert and specify when it will end. As well as this, you can set daily budgets to ensure your advertising costs are kept at the right level for your business.

Businessman using LinkedIn app

Conclusion

Setting up a LinkedIn campaign is not straight-forward due to the variety of advert types and different ways of targeting. But the platform has a number of advantages over other social media sites if your target market is professional businesspeople.

B2B organisations will be able to target specific demographics with personal ads, nurture and remarket to them. All this will increase conversion rates, making LinkedIn a valuable marketing tool.

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Beginners’ guide to Instagram Reels

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Get ‘Reel’ results

If you haven’t already heard the news, according to Instagram, they’re no longer a photo-sharing app. Shocking, right? The company announced they want to start focusing more on video content, like that offered through Instagram Reels, as opposed to being the original square photo-sharing app they’re known for being.

“At Instagram, we’re always trying to build new features that help you get the most out of your experience. Right now we’re focused on four key areas: Creators, Video, Shopping and Messaging.” — Adam Mosseri, Instagram CEO

This makes total sense because short, engaging videos (shown to us by hyper-accurate algorithms) have proven to keep our attention more effectively than ever before. So effectively that 93% of marketers who use video say it’s an important part of their marketing strategy. Additionally, users are twice as likely to share video content with their friends and family than any other type of content, including social media posts, blog posts/articles and product pages.

So if you’ve been hesitant to start making Instagram Reels or just needed a little encouragement, we’ll cover the basics, give you some ideas on what content to create for your business or brand, and help you understand the data behind it all.

But, before we do, let’s talk about why Instagram Reels needs to be included in your marketing strategy.
What are Reels and why should you start using them?

Person recording elephants on smartphone

Instagram Reels rolled out in late 2020 and the feature has continued to increase in popularity. Reels provide creators with a way to produce and share short, engaging videos using a collection of mainstream music and user-generated audio.

With more advanced editing tools, such as speed controls, filters and transitions, you can effortlessly edit multi-clip Reels up to 30 seconds long, entirely within the Instagram app, which is amazing if you don’t want to use multiple apps and extra equipment to film, edit and post to social media.

Reels are definitely a useful feature of the platform as a whole that is worth exploring. When it comes to metrics, Reels receive 22% more engagement than videos posted directly to a feed. In addition to IGTV, Live and Stories, Instagram Reels are another great tool for you to use to get noticed on the platform and reach potential customers.

Nearly two-thirds of Instagram users are between 18 and 29, with 18- to 34-year-olds the most active age group. That means there’s a ton of opportunity for businesses to be discovered by your target audience on this platform. So, if your Instagram strategy needs a boost to stay top-of-mind and ahead of the competition, Reels could be your solution.

Related: How to plan an Instagram marketing strategy to attract business

Instagram Reels small business content ideas

If your business is active on Instagram but hasn’t posted a Reel just yet, don’t worry, it’s not too late to start. Accounts that don’t follow you can find your content while scrolling on the Explore page, which is why it’s so important for brands to be active where their target audience is.

Don’t let lack of inspiration hold you back, here are some simple and effective video ideas:

Educational content‍

The best way to increase your reach and engagement is to give your viewers value. If you can create something that is helpful, users are more likely to like it, share it with their friends and follow you for more. That ultimately, tells the algorithm your content is worth being promoted to others on the app.

For example, you can create shareable workout, cooking or crafting videos just by showing your step-by-step process.

Showcase your products‍ or services

Highlight what makes your business unique with Reels dedicated to each product or service you offer. This could be a tutorial on how to best use your products or a way to update customers on new offerings.

Create original content‍

Easier said than done, but I know that behind-the-scenes content, user-generated content and FAQs are always a big hit with loyal audiences.

You also have a few different ways to get trending and possibly even viral. You can use trending hashtags, popular audio clips or filters and get discovered among other videos with those elements.

Re-creating a popular trend while highlighting your brand is one of the quickest (but not the easiest) ways for business growth with Instagram Reels.

How to optimize your Instagram Reels

Improvised video recording setup

Improvised video recording setup

Like with any social media platform, there are always hidden steps you can take to increase the likelihood your content gets seen and please the almighty algorithm.

For example, many users who create content for TikTok have started uploading those same videos as Reels. Seems like a logical time saver, right? Well, Instagram has not only clearly advised against re-posting content that’s “visibly recycled from other apps,” it has also updated its algorithm to recognize and prevent it from performing well on their platform.

That being said, here are some tips on how to optimize your Reels for the best results:

  1. Try to record (vertically), edit and add effects to your reels from within the app, rather than uploading a video you’ve created elsewhere.
  2. It’s also important to use text overlays, hashtags, audio, and descriptive captions to let Instagram add you to an algorithm relevant to the content.
  3. @ other accounts, when appropriate. Just like hashtags, you’ll get more reach by including their name in your content.
  4. Use custom thumbnails. Doing so will make it easier for users to find videos they want to watch when scrolling on your account. It’s also a great way to incorporate your branding and help your feed look cohesive.
  5. Sharing your Reels to your Stories and even on your feed will get more people to see it. You can share it when you post it or, if you have posted enough that day, share on a day when you don’t have anything else to post.

Algorithms are constantly changing, and not always for the better. Doing just a little bit of research to stay on top of current trends and best practices will pay off in the long run.

Related: 3 ways to use Instagram Stories for digital storytelling

Understanding Instagram Reels Insights

Bodybuilder recording workout

Bodybuilder recording workout

Finally, you’ll need a way of knowing if your hard work is paying off.

Instagram has included a dedicated tab, which is similar to the Insights tab on your static posts and videos, that details the metrics relating to your Reels. With the Instagram Reels Insights, business owners can see important metrics like accounts reached, plays, likes, comments, saves and shares.

By knowing what type of accounts you’re reaching with your Reels and which content formats are most engaging with your audience, you’ll be able to adjust your content to better serve your target audience and grow your account.

Measuring these stats is the best way to make sure all the efforts you’re putting in to engage your fans is actually working.

Once you have a good idea of where your metrics are on average, try experimenting with the time of day, type of content and hashtags you use when posting your Reels. Start thinking of ways to get in front of new users with videos like tutorials, bloopers or more user-generated content. You could even share customer testimonials or success stories for added social proof.

Final thoughts on Instagram Reels

I know I personally struggled with the idea of including yet another item on my content creation checklist, but I’ve found that even just repurposing a few old clips from videos on my YouTube channel into Reels has proved effective in increasing my engagement and reach on Instagram.

Exploring a new feature of social media can be intimidating and overwhelming at times, but Reels seems to be a fun new way to expand your social media presence through the use of short videos. I recommend testing it out and seeing how well it works for you and your audience. You might find it to be your new favorite tool in your social media strategy.



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5 Strategies to Drive Customer Engagement

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Engaging with your customers is the key to driving sales and growing your company. However, some businesses are not sure how to do this effectively. It means that when they finally manage to engage with their customers, they are not entirely sure what worked. Knowing how to drive customer engagement is all about knowing your customers.

Here are 5 strategies that you can use to drive customer engagement.

Customer engagement
photo credit: Edmond Dantès / Pexels

Communication is the Key

Communication between your company and your customers is fundamental to engagement. If your customers are trying to talk to you about your products or services, then you should listen to them. Avoiding contact will simply drive them to another company.

Here are some tips you should follow.

1. Listen to Your Customers and Never Assume

If you have a customer that approaches you on social media or any other channel, it is vital that you engage them in a conversation. Their initial message might not be the complete story, so you need to work with them to find the right answer.

Once you have found out what the customer wants, go through your products with them and pinpoint what works for them. Your sales team must never assume that they know what their customers want, or they might find the customer goes elsewhere.

2. Seek Help with Engagement

Sometimes no matter what you try, you are unable to engage with your customers or retain them. It may be that there are strategies that you haven’t considered or lack the knowledge to implement.

This is where companies such as TCC Global can help. By helping you and your marketing team to engage with your customers and create brand loyalty, you can start to grow your business.

3. Respond Quickly to Questions

There is nothing more frustrating for customers than asking a question on social media and not getting a reply. Even a delay of a few hours can be enough to cause someone to look elsewhere.

If your business has a presence on social media, then it is vital that it is monitored at least during business hours.

Selling to existing customers

4. Chat to Your Customers

There is a temptation to use your means of communication to just sell products. While this is an important part, there should also be more customer engagement through conversation.

If you find something interesting, tell your customers on social media. Reply to them if they answer you and keep the conversation going.

5. Blog About the Popular Questions

If you are seeing a trend in questions your customers are asking, then it may be a good idea to write a blog post about it.

Blog posts will drive visitors and potential customers to your website and from there they may go to your products. Answering these popular questions will also save time for your customers and build loyalty.

Conclusion

So, there you have it – 5 strategies to drive customer engagement. These are just a few of the ways your company can build a relationship with its customers and build a loyal following.

It is important to remember to stay engaged with your customers even after they make a purchase.

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