Connected Consumers: Why Consumers Go Online (and How to Get Them to Your Site)

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Stop Playing Virtual Hide and Seek with Connected Consumers

The top reasons connected consumers go online probably won’t come as an earth-shattering surprise; the important thing is that you discover how to get more of them to find your business online.

Is Your Business Playing a Game of Virtual Hide and Seek with Connected Consumers?

In ever-increasing numbers, consumers are conducting the beginning, middle and often even the ending phases of the buying cycle online. Find out what’s driving them to the internet and what you need to do to get them to your website.

A November 2014 survey of 10,000 “connected consumers” worldwide reveals consumer’s top reasons for going online as exploration, convenience, connection and self-expression. Given that 97% of U.S. consumers said that their top motivation for going online was exploring new subjects, there’s a good chance that among these will be consumers who are looking for a business just like yours.

 Why connected consumers go online

The four main reasons connected consumers say they go online include:

  • 97% go online to explore new topics
  • 93% go online to access products and services (including making purchases)
  • 87% go online to find locations while walking or driving around
  • 80% go online to access entertainment on their own time table
  • 71% go online to connect with family and friends
  • 38% go online to express their opinions and make themselves heard

If you’re not doing all you can to help these connected consumers find your organization, they might find your competitors instead. When it comes to online shoppers, is your business playing a game of virtual hide and seek with consumers, or are you making it obvious where you can be found?

10 Ways to Stop Playing Internet Hide and Seek with Connected Consumers

1. Launch a Website

A recent article on Inc.com said that half of small businesses still don’t have websites of their own. While it’s possible that a consumer searching for a business like yours online might find you listed on a digital directory, on social networks or on review sites, wouldn’t you rather carve out digital real estate of your own?

2. Optimize for Search

Let’s face it, there are a lot of web sites out there that are not working to attract qualified leads. One reason for this is that many web sites are not optimized for search; meaning, they do not have keyword-rich on-page content, meta tags and other data that search engines look for when crawling and indexing a web site.

3. Blog

A blog (shortened many years ago from the term web log) is usually part of a website that houses articles (like this one). Like web pages, blog articles should be optimized for search. But while business web pages are often focused on the goods, services or brand of the business, blog content is much more varied. Some content may reference products and services the business offers while others contain content designed to attract, inform, interest or engage members of the target market – and may omit brand or business references altogether.

4. Earn Back Links

Back links are links back to your web site or blog from other web sites. The more high-authority sites that link back to yours (often linking back to a high-quality blog article), the more that search engines perceive your web site as a high authority link. The higher authority a search engine ascribes to your site, the higher up your content will land in online search results.

5. Pay for Search Engine Advertising (Google Adwords, Bing Ads, etc.)

Search engine ads often appear above or beside search results. Based on keywords you choose and how much you are willing to spend, you can pay for your search engine ads to appear when people search for something relevant online alongside the “organic” listings that search engines serve up based on optimized web content (per their algorithms). While optimized content can work over and over again to bring traffic to your site, search engine ads are “pay per click,” meaning, traffic will arrive on your site based on clicking on the ad, and your business is charged for every click.

6. Pay for Display Advertising

Like search engine advertising, display advertising is usually pay-per-click although some display advertising platforms may also a price-per-impression or price-per-thousand-impressions pricing structure. Banner ads are a type of display ad and provide additional benefit because they usually give you the ability to add an eye-catching visual as well as ad text.

7. Engage on Social Media

Most social networks provide for business or professional pages which can be customized to some degree. Social networks can help connected consumers find you in multiple ways:

  • Connected consumers may come across your status updates in their newsfeed or may see your status update on the page of someone they are connected with on the platform
  • Connected consumers may find your business profile while searching the social network platform
  • Connected consumers may find your social profiles and status updates (especially Google+ updates) listed among online search results

Additionally, social signals factor to some degree as an indicator in search engine algorithms. Traffic coming to your site from social networks and blog or web content shared from your website on social networks both send social signals that may boost your site’s authority with search engines.

8. Stay in Touch Using Email Marketing

Email marketing continues to provide one of the highest returns on investment, dollar per dollar, of any marketing channel. Email gives your business a low-pressure way to continually remind consumers that your business is ready to help them out when they need it. Email can be used to drive consumers directly to product, service or brand web pages, but can also be used to drive traffic to blog articles which may interest members of your target markets.

Don’t discount the benefits of non-promotional digital content. Bringing members of your target markets to your website on a regular basis helps to build brand awareness and trust, and lays the foundation for future sales, referrals and recommendations.

In addition to a regular schedule of informational emails or email newsletters designed to engage target markets, you can also set up email “drip” campaigns based on web site, social media or email site visitor behavior. For instance, if an email recipient clicks on a link to a product that may indicate a buying signal, you can set up an automated series of emails that will then be delivered to that individual to help them learn more about the item they expressed interest in, via a simple ‘click’ of the mouse.

9. Generate Positive Reviews and Ratings

Word of mouth is one of the most powerful impacts in the buying decision, and many consumers trust the reviews and ratings of strangers just as much as they do personal recommendations from within their familial or social circles. Asking your clients to go online and leave a positive review for your business is a great way to enhance your word of mouth marketing results, and positive reviews may well play a deciding role in whether a consumer decides to purchase from you or a competitor.

10. Manage Your Brand’s Reputation

While all of these digital marketing options can help you build your business through online engagement, it’s also worth noting that negative reviews left unaddressed can also hurt your business. You can manage your brand’s reputation online by ensuring that you claim your own “digital real estate” using the tools above; and, in addition, periodically search on your own brand name, services or products as well as check review sites to make sure there is nothing that needs to be addressed or corrected.

 

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