What’s My Motivation? The Psychology of the Online Buyer

3 minute read

October 18, 2016

What’s My Motivation? The Psychology of the Online Buyer

It’s the reason why businesses hire psychology majors out of college, why market research analysis is an ever growing field, and why advancements in heat-mapping websites and data mining are continuing to change the way we think about marketing.

The psychology of the online shopper can vary somewhat from the offline experience. In an analysis of online buyer behavior, the Journal of Competitiveness identified the specific attributes of the online shopper:

1. The internet provides a shopping environment unlike the offline equivalent. The customer is able to source a wide variety of information on the product or service they are looking for, compare numerous providers, and has access to a treasure trove of objective and subjective opinions, reviews, and customer experiences.

2. Traditional push marketing tactics are less effective online. The rise and efficacy of inbound and content marketing methods support the notion that modern consumers, specifically online, are more receptive to marketing that demonstrates a clear value to them.

3. Online consumers like to talk. They communicate with their peers regarding a variety of products, services, interests, values, and more. The opinions of an internet community help to guide and counsel consumers and will ultimately influence the decision to purchase in ways that marketing cannot compete with. The efficacy of social proof has been well established and wise internet companies do their best to ingratiate themselves into, or create their own online communities.

4. More and more products and services are becoming available for online purchase. Items with relatively low quality concerns such as simple consumer goods (books, music, movies) topping the list. In fact, about the only products that aren’t routinely purchased online are household groceries and even that is changing as more services are becoming available.

The primary motivations of online shoppers, are unsurprisingly: value, convenience, and availability:

1. 71% of shoppers believe they will find a better deal shopping online than in stores.
2. 40% of men and 33% of women say they would ideally purchase everything online if possible.

Smoothing the path to checkout

Online consumers respond well to the wide availability of products as well as the information and research they are able to do on them. They are willing to spend their time and money to find good value products, and respond best to marketing methods that demonstrate clear benefits. Understanding these factors can help drive your sales and marketing processes by:

1. Delivering value-based offers and incentives: Since customers are interested in value and believe they will find a better deal online. Those expectations can be met through providing marketing and promotion.

2. Inbound/Content Marketing vs. Interruption Marketing: Since customers are most responsive to marketing that resonate to their values, communicating through social media, peer-to-peer community and influencer marketing will yield better results than traditional outbound marketing methods such as ads or pop-ups.

3. Building and supporting an online community: Not only do online communities allow the business to create a “captive audience,” they provide other opportunities as well. A branded community enables fans and customers to share thoughts, provide feedback, and generate ideas on past, present, and future offerings. The opportunity also exists to provide direct as well as self-service support to the community and promote goodwill between the customer and the company.

Customers who feel a connection the company and their products, who feel their experiences are valued and are well taken care of with premiere customer service, in turn reward the company with their time, money, and word of mouth recommendations. This helps to grow the company brand and expand their reach.

Customer motivations are fickle and ever changing. There is no end to the number of companies who continue to study and attempt to decipher the psychology of the consumer. From what we do know about consumer motivations, we can safely say that people have a myriad of choices as to where to spend their time and money.

Providing exceptional customer service, understanding the needs of the customer, and working to provide value in these areas goes a long way towards building a successful business.

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David Dumas

Written by David Dumas

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