Every marketer (and sales professional) wants a crystal ball that can tell them precisely what their customers and prospects are thinking – and what they’re about to do. Armed with this knowledge, companies can be proactive and take measures to influence their customers’ behavior and drive desired outcomes. Sophisticated data analytics brings you closer to predicting what your customers are most likely to do, but how can you influence customer behavior – either individually or as a group?
From creating and driving trends to fostering brand loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing, there are many uses for tactics that can help you influence your customers’ behavior. To find out what strategies are most impactful in driving desired outcomes by shaping customer behavior, we reached out to a panel of marketing and customer relationship pros and asked them to weigh in on this question:
“What’s the most effective way to influence and change customer behavior?”
Learn more about what you can do to impact your customers’ behavior by reading what our experts had to say below.
Meet Our Panel of Marketing and Customer Relationship Experts:
Gene is a co-founder of GreenPal, which has been described as Uber for lawn care.
“What you sometimes have to do to change customer behavior is to…”
Limit their options.
What this will do is only allow the customers you want to use your product
or service. You can’t be all things to all people, so you must focus on the customers that will bring you the most business.
“Influencing and changing customer behavior is simple…”
Treat them as more than a sale. More than a customer. It really comes down to every person wanting to feel like they are cared for and heard. Find out what their needs are and go above their expectations in making them feel like their business is your business.
Donald Pettit is the Team Sales Leader at SalesWarp. He helps businesses manage their order processes to be more effective, reduce time, improve efficiency and create a better customer experience. He is personally responsible for doubling SalesWarp’s client base and diversifying its partner portfolio.
“The basis for creating a significant change in your customers’ behavior is…”
Understanding how well you know your customers. When you understand what customers consider a premium service or product, you can then incentivize them to continue using your service or product.
AJ Saleem is the Director of Suprex Tutors Houston, a leading private tutoring and test prep company based in Houston. AJ has created a big dent in the private tutoring market by offering well-trained, highly qualified teachers who are also dynamic instructors. The company also operates in New York and Chicago.
“The most effective way to ifluence customer behavior is…”
To offer incentives. For example, in the past, most of my customers would prefer to pay on a financed payment plan because they could spend less money, but after I started offering a free Starbucks gift card for paying the whole package immediately, I started getting full payment.
For more than 25 years, Robyn has developed marketing, marcomm, social media, advertising, promotion, and public relation programs that drive new business. An award-winning copywriter, she brings to Catalyst years of direct and digital marketing experience, both client-side and agency-side, working on major accounts such as American Express, Columbia House, Intuit, Xerox, IBM, Pitney Bowes, and Ziff-Davis. She holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Chicago and a Master’s Degree in Journalism with a concentration in Advertising from the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas.
“There are a few ways to influence customer behavior…”
1. Do research about what customers want. Starting with a customer journey map, which tells you what customers are thinking, doing and feeling at each stage of the customer journey. These maps generate qualitative data and insight into customer attitudes and behavior that is difficult to obtain through other research methodologies.
2. Use your journey map to identify opportunities. For example, a recent CX map that Catalyst conducted for a major retail bank showed that many of their customers felt that the bank’s communications were not personalized to where they were in life and the financial decisions they needed to make at that stage of life. Using that information, the bank was able to streamline its communications, personalize them and improve its overall account opening rates. A CX map we developed for a major national grocery chain taught the grocer what their customers wanted out of an online ordering system and grocery pickup service… before it was launched. A CX map we developed for a national insurance marketer showed the insurer why their customers were not renewing policies. Armed with that insight, the insurer was able to make corrections and significantly increase their customer retention rate.
3. Listen to your customers. They will tell you what you’re doing wrong and what you’re doing right. Then, act on that insight.
4. Get rid of internal silos. Many companies are organized by product silos. In banks, there are departments for checking accounts, investment products, mortgages, home loans, etc. Customer data is scattered everywhere. In retail organizations, customer data tends to be siloed by Point of Sale, Loyalty, Online/ecommerce, Customer Service, and third-party data. Often, customers are marketed to by silo, not holistically. (Omnichannel marketing.) Many of these retailers should know better – for example, if you buy something from VS.com, you can’t return it to the Victoria’s Secret store in person. If you buy something online from Pottery Barn and attempt to return it to the store (which they allow), you can’t get credit back for your purchase: just a gift card. These are sure-fire recipes for customer dissatisfaction.
5. Institute a unified customer database. Without this, you will never get a holistic view of your customers. Your database is the foundation from which all customer marketing decisions should be made. You simply cannot effect smart marketing decisions without a unified database, integrating all sources of customer data. And USE it. It’s next to impossible to impact customer behavior unless you truly understand it. Without the unified database, you’re working with puzzle pieces and you may be able to identify the most critical opportunities to change customer attitudes and behaviors.
Josh Brown is the Content & Community Manager at Fieldboom. Fieldboom allows businesses and marketers to gather customer feedback and capture leads with beautiful online forms and surveys that can be created easily within minutes.
“The most effective methods for influencing customer behavior are…”
1) Utilizing social proof (reviews, user-generated content, influencer messaging), especially for businesses that don’t have strong brand awareness and/or loyalty, as it makes whatever product they are selling more desirable (or conversely, negative social proof does the opposite). Social proof is powerful because at the end of the day we are pack animals, and we naturally look to others within our peer groups to determine what “appropriate” behavior is. Therefore, if a customer observes others behaving in a certain way (in this case, purchasing or making use of a particular product) it will create a strong desire for that customer to behave in a similar manner (by making a purchase).
2) Personalization is another great way to build trust with a customer, build brand loyalty and influence their behavior as it allows business to cater specifically to the needs of their customers by delivering personalized messages that are driven by data.
3) Provide a reward once a customer performs the desired action. As an example, after someone makes a purchase, offer some type of special, coupon and/or discount (with personalization this strategy is even more effective).
Rafael founded web design agency Weberous in 2011 to help businesses stand out and boost their online presence. Originally from Greece, Rafael lives in Los Angeles and when he’s not working at Weberous, he offers business and marketing consulting to small businesses. And when not working, he enjoys the California sunshine with his wife Jennifer and his puppy Goldie.
“We’ve found that the best way to impact and change customer behavior, at least on an individual level, is…”
To be diligent about responding to customers and potential clients on social media. We don’t care how busy things get; if someone is reaching out on Facebook or Twitter, we make it a priority to respond because the entire point of these platforms is to be social.
It pains us to see people reaching out to companies on social media and being ignored or being given some kind of automated response. Why have a social media account if you’re not going to be social on it? Show people who reach out that they matter and they’ll appreciate it.
Bryan Clayton is the CEO of GreenPal which is best described as Uber for Lawn Care.
“Last year we set out to tackle the same issue…”
How do we change customer behavior to further growth of our platform and benefit our partner suppliers?
It took courage; however, we were able to successfully improved customer behavior by limiting their options.
Our customers would like to be able to set up a custom schedule for when they would like to have service provided at their home. It took a leap of faith, however we changed the user experience to limit their options to either weekly or bi-weekly service, nothing else.
Limiting their options helped them overcome the paradox of choice and overall contributed to our 300% growth in sales in 2016.
David Tendrich is the co-founder of web development agency Reliable PSD and creative agency Unexpected Ways. He’s applied his proven copywriting skills to his companies’ customer service to transform the experience of his clients.
“Let’s focus on one kind of customer behavior: negative, rude, or mean behavior…”
Namely, when a mean customer writes in to complain – even if you didn’t do anything wrong.
Businesses typically have one of two responses to this:
- If they’re more reactionary, they respond in kind, and are rude right back.
- They try to win the negative client over and “kill ‘em with kindness.”
We’ve tried both. And they both failed.
So here’s another approach we switched to works wonders:
- Thank them for expressing themselves, and acknowledge them (without saying they’re right):
“Thanks so much for sharing all of that with me. I can totally see why you might say that.”
- Give them a reputation to live up to. If you call someone kind and reasonable and thank them for being so – they want to live up to that reputation! It’s really hard for someone to be mean after you’ve thanked them for being kind: “I really hate that someone who’s been as kind and reasonable as you have is feeling this way, and I want to thank you for being so great to work with.”
- Insert your viewpoint on the complaint at hand (if you’re wrong, profusely apologize. If they’re mistaken and just being mean, spell your side of the story out reasonably). “With that said, I wanted to clarify a couple points…”
- Ask them what they would like to see happen to resolve it (by putting the ball in their court, they’ll either tell you something clear that’s easy to do and that they themselves said would make them happy… or, “At the end of the day, I just want you to be happy. What would it take for that to happen?”
Boom – problem solved, behavior changed. Watch as they now live up to the reputation you gave them.
Drew Stevens is an industry leading thought leader in branding, sales and marketing. He is the author of 12 books in sales and marketing and Professor of Marketing at a major Saint Louis University.
“87% of customer behavior is driven by controversy or provocation…”
In other words, making the consumer do, act, feel against the norm. For example, renting is against the norm than purchasing, streaming live data versus cable is provocation. For marketers, it is imperative to create and motivate with being disruptive. Disruption stirs emotion and from a psychological perspective 94% of most purchase decisions are emotional.
Ben Walker is the CEO for Transcription Outsourcing, LLC.
“To influence and change customer behavior…”
Unfortunately, we have many transcription services customers that initially call us and treat us a commodity and are somewhat rude on the phone.
In those cases, we give them the information they need, and we also throw in a few questions to loosen them up. Using the right tone of voice and asking the right questions that pertain directly to them and their situation usually does the trick and we almost always land them as clients if we can keep them talking.
Daisy Jing is a YouTube vlogger and a young entrepreneur who founded and bootstrapped a now multi-million beauty product line named Banish. She is 27 years
young with knowledge and experience in business and marketing.
“They say that you are who you follow, so impacting and changing customer behavior is about…”
As an entrepreneur, it’s awesome to spread positivity and create a culture with our customers. Our advocacy is to share good vibes, happiness and courage to all our followers. I can see that through our posts on social media, our customers’ outlook on life change. It feels good and fulfilling to know that we give them new hope and encouragement. We do this by making videos and posting photos that show transformations and testimonials of those who have inspiring stories to share. We see to it that we’re known a a business with a heart.
Vicky Llerena is CEO, host, and digital marketing strategist for Social Vibes Media.
“If you study consumer behavior data on digital platforms, you will clearly see that…”
Social influence has a huge impact on consumer purchase habits.
Deloitte recently published a report that demonstrates nearly 1 in 3 US consumes are influenced by social media in their purchase. The results for millennials were even more significant: 47% of millennials are influenced to purchase by social media , compared to 19% for other age groups. So what are the most effective ways to change customer behavior? This of course is through organic social content: customer reviews, video testimonials, authentic pictures of product, and users creating social posts that share their experience using the product or service.
Perry is the Co-Founder and CEO at Aventr.
“For impacting customer behavior, the team at Aventr.com is 100% behind the Wegman’s model…”
Employees first, customers second.
It boils down to human interaction. If we can create a happy and engaged workforce, the effects trickle down to the customer experience. We have looked to positive psychology to pull our 3 main focus areas: Feedback, Heroes, and Qhub. In order to keep feedback constructive, we have given our team an allotment of five votes per month, so we can see which areas are the most meaningful to them. We also sentiment score feedback posts in real-time so there is a focus on keeping them constructive. Heroes is our peer recognition area, users get to accumulate badges each time they are peer recognized. Qhub is our safe place to ask and answer questions pertaining to internal or external organization functions.
Educating and assisting shoppers about financial products has been Maxime Rieman’s focus, which led her to joining CoverWallet, a startup dedicated to simplifying insurance for small businesses. Previously, she launched the personal insurance team at NerdWallet, and helped create an innovative brokerage comparison product.
“Changing customer behavior as a business can be difficult…”
Because you may know that you’ve written a variety of articles that provide advice and sent several emails with handy tips, but from a customer perspective this can be overwhelming. To be more effective, one of the best practices you can implement is to keep communication short and sweet with clear calls to action. Instead of just creating long, in-depth content, can you create a checklist that will help customers through most situations? If your customers have provided information on themselves, can you send them a quick notification when an item needs attention? Cutting down touch points and improving their value can be a big driver in changing practical behavior.
Victor Clarke has been the owner of Clarke, Inc. for 20+ years. Clarke, Inc. serves up epic small business marketing advice daily. If you want the marketing pretty boys we’re not for you.
“The days when you could channel information to potential customers have long gone…”
The Internet provides a wealth of information on any given product, and many buyers have already done their research which extends to checking out reviews of your business.
Given this change, it makes sense to refocus your marketing to provide online answers and favorable reviews online so your prospects’ behavior is altered to consider your business as a prime source of quality information.
Justine Beauregard is the owner of Mirelle Marketing.
“The most effective way to impact and change customer behavior is…”
To leverage industry influencers. This subtle form of marketing acts as a powerful driver of sales and brand engagement. It quickly impacts customer behavior and incites change in a positive way.
Myron Goldsmith is the Marketing Director for F13 Works.
“The best way to impact and change customer behavior is…”
To change the message you are sending your current and potential customers. This leads back to Simon Sinek’s ‘Golden Circle.’ As businesses, we often communicate on three levels with our customers. These levels are what we do, how we do it, and why we do it. Most companies communicate in that specific order; what, how, why. However, we often have trouble communicating the ‘why,’ both internally and externally to our customers.
Put yourself in the place of the customer. Imagine you’re an online shoe store. Your message to customers is that you sell good shoes at low prices. As a customer, I may buy a pair of shoes from you, but there is nothing memorable or significant about the experience that will persuade me to do all my shoe buying with your store. Using the ‘Golden Circle’ method, let’s try communicating the ‘why’ first, then the ‘how,’ and ‘what.’ Now when a customer interacts with our company, the first message they see will say, “We know you are business-minded, determined, and successful, so we want our shoes to reflect that same message.” Now, a customer associates your brand and product with determination, successfulness, and business. Next time they purchase a pair of shoes, they are also buying into your message, your purpose, and your vision. This will turn one-time shoppers into loyal, life-long customers, effectively changing their behavior for the better.
Alessandra is a marketing specialist at GreenRope, a Complete CRM and Marketing Automation platform. She specializes in pipeline marketing, content, and customer journey mapping. Throughout her career, she has worked with a number of different companies to help them establish effective content marketing strategies, customer journey maps, lead nurturing processes, and more.
“Technology is making it both harder and easier to influence consumer behavior…”
One the one side, consumers are more savvy than ever. However, with technology and especially the use of data, organizations are able to navigate their customers’ journeys. In my opinion, the most effective way to impact and change the customer behavior is to create very specific and detailed customer journeys. The best way to create an organized and meaningful customer journey is to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Understand what they go through when they engage with your company. Are there points in the process where a piece of content might be helpful in driving them down your funnel or upselling a product or service?
When setting up your customer journeys you will want to identify each part of the puzzle. This includes where the lead came from, what they are looking for, how you communicate your message (drip campaigns, sales follow ups, workflows, etc.), and of course how you keep them engaged.
Create customer journeys that take into account inaction rather than solely action. What happens if a contact doesn’t click on your email, what happens next? To influence, you must be present. Think about what next step might inspire them to open or click on your email? Maybe a customer testimonial, a promotion? Once you have established a birds-eye view of your customer’s journey, you can identify opportunities where you can step in with a touchpoint that will influence them in one way or another.
Joe Cole is the Marketing Head at Coupon Goo.
“If you are looking ways to convince maximum customers, and if you want to impact and change customer behavior, the most useful techniques are…”
Price concessions are the most effective way to change the customer behaviour. Even the most unwilling customers become ready to buy different products when offered at discounted prices.
Effective marketing can also help a lot in changing the behavior of the customer. Effective marketing includes commercials on TV and social media and telemarketing. Different marketing campaigns can also help in this regard.
Many experts suggest that if you enhance your product or if you offer some extra things, you can attract lots of people, even those who weren’t interested in your product previously.
Customer experience is the most important thing that you need to consider if you are willing to maintain a huge customer base. If the customer finds the overall experience of visiting your website and from the selection of the product to its shipment, he is certainly going to change his mind if he has some other brand in mind, because from now on he is going to follow you.
Kerri Gois is the Marketing Manager at BroadbandSearch.Net.
“I think the biggest way to change customer behavior in today’s world is…”
To really capitalize on your online presence. Consumers have largely turned to online platforms for everything from grocery shopping to automated bill pay. How does your company’s online experience differ from everyone else’s? Marketing managers need to be using tools such as social intelligence and customer analytics to really drive home their online marketing strategies. Without these tools customers will not click past the first page.
Tyler Dishman is the President of DiscountFilters.com. They manufacture and sell cost-effective, American-made air and water filters for your home.
“The most effective way to impact and change a customer’s behavior is…”
To demonstrate a better way for them to do something (significantly better, if possible). Anything short of providing a truly better solution is just trickery, which is unlikely to have long-term, lasting effects.
At DiscountFilters.com, the challenge we faced was changing the way people buy air and water filters for their home. Traditionally, you would have to order your air filter from your HVAC contractor, unless you were fortunate enough to have one of the small handful of sizes that were typically carried in the brick-and-mortar stores. It was pretty common to spend a good part of your afternoon driving to a few different stores only to discover that nobody carried your size (or that they were out of stock). Your HVAC contractor likely wouldn’t carry your size, but they had access if you were willing to pay a rather large markup and wait a few weeks (and then suffer through the inevitable sales pitch that comes with dealing with your contractor).
As online shopping began to take hold with homeowners (who tend to be older, and slightly later adopters of new technology), we knew we had to deliver a significantly better experience to get them to change their past behavior, which many of them wouldn’t even think to complain about. By offering a much larger array of choices, a simple interface to help get them to the right size quickly and timely reminders about when it’s time to change the filter it didn’t take long for people to appreciate this better way of getting new filters. Even though it’s a simple thing, by spending as little time as possible buying filters, our customers are freed up to do more things they’d prefer to do.
Nick is a product and growth focused CEO of multiple startup companies, such as Remote.com. When he’s not working he tries to stay physically active, participating in half marathons and Tough Mudder races. This year he looks to hike the half dome at Yosemite.
“For ecommerce companies, one of the most impactful aspects of customer behavior on your business is…”
How long it takes for a visitor to convert into a customer. One way to change this behavior is by offering time-based incentives. Think about the most recent infomercial you saw on TV, usually there’s an offer like, “and if you buy within the next ten minutes we’ll double your order for free!”
Just like this, ecommerce companies can utilize coupons and offers that will expire after X amount of time from when an item is first placed into a customer’s cart. Since shoppers instinctively feel the need to take advantage of promotions and discounts available to them, this is a great and easy way to change this piece of customer behavior.
Sean Martin is a Marketing Manager at Directive Consulting. They publish thought leadership in Moz, PPC Hero, Wordstream, Sitepoint, Crazy Egg, and more. They also speak at State of Search, SMXwest, Digital Summit, and are recommended by Moz, Unbounce, Google, and Bing.
“As Buzzfeed has proven time and time again, the best way to target customer behavior is to…”
Mold it yourself. Buzzfeed’s success in viral posts and social engagements has come from their ability to target 80% of users with only 20% of their content. This is why the term listicles is now an official entry in the OED (Oxford English Dictionary). Providing content within which users can choose their own meaning to take from the piece, instead of having to engage and agree with the entire piece as a whole is only one way Buzzfeed has revolutionized how we target our content to our readers. The more meanings we can provide our users within our content, the more users will take a way a targeted experience from your piece. Customization and personalization are the new values of the new generation of digitally savvy users – so make sure you tailor your writing to these new values of the modern age.
Andre Palko is founder and editor of the Small Business Rainmaker. He’s devoted to sharing the marketing tactics that helped his team get Technifold USA, Inc. to the Inc. 5000.
“The most important way to impact and change customer behavior is through…”
Regular communication, right from the start of the relationship. Email and print newsletters backed with social media channels always ensure a tight connection with our customers. Regular publication grants an authority status that lets us educate, re-train, and sway customers when needed. They are receptive to a suggestion for change because they are used to getting good info from us on a regular basis.
For this to work, we have to understand WHO the customers are, drilling down through as much information about them as possible. It helps us paint a vivid picture so we can segment the customer list and speak to them appropriately. And of course, by having a vivid picture of our ideal customer, we can preempt some of the need to change customer behavior by attracting the right kind of customer to start with.
Haris Mumtaz is currently associated with one of the leading VPN service providers in the industry, PureVPN, as a Brand Strategist. Apart from being an online security activist, he also keeps an eye on the latest marketing trends in the industry. When he’s not at work, he loves to go on adventurous trips with music as his sole companion.
“If we talk about consumer products, the best way to create an impact and change customer behavior is to…”
Study their habits and how they use a particular product. Once you learn that, you then find a way to influence their behavior by suggesting other ways that product can be used more effectively.
Let’s take an example of some anti-bacterial soap. Such companies tend to create TV advertisements where they emphasize how children should wash their hands on key moments to ensure maximum hygiene. Parents then try make it their children’s habit by making them use their soap on such occasions to have a hygienic environment.
Murat Evin is a Creative Director at The London School of Make-Up.
“The best way to influence and change customer behavior is to…”
Make purchasing from your website a rewarding experience for your customers. You want to encourage people to come back to your site again and again, so make it a habit for them; introduce quizzes to the site and give your customers the chance to win a great prize, perhaps once every three months. This will entice them back to your site to continue to enter the competition, therefore giving them the chance to check out your latest products and deals.
Tom Feltham is the Marketing Director at Discover CRM. Tom leads company marketing initiatives including lead generation, product development, advertising strategy and email marketing.
“In order to influence and change customer behavior, you should…”
Make data-driven decisions to improve customer interfaces. Whether your customers interact with an online SaaS product or an e-commerce site, customer experience should be measured and acted on. Customer experience at the interface level is often plagued by subjective opinions on the preferences of customer demographics. Data can easily be omitted from the equation.
Customer interface metrics may be bounce rate on a webpage or user churn rate for a SaaS product. They key is to identify the metrics which correlate with your best accounts or positive customer behaviors, and use these metrics to assess the efficacy of any processes designed to influence customer behavior.
Tyler Butler has extensive experience creating corporate responsibility programs for large companies such as Microsoft and is solely responsible for producing all the charity based efforts shared by GoDaddy. She now has her own firm that focuses on helping companies who operate with a conscientious. Her firm 11Eleven is leading the way in creating innovative, meaningful programs that help companies do well by doing good.
“My perspective on influencing customer behavior is a bit out-of-the-box…”
When companies focus on creating real ways to positively impact society as a whole, the communities where they operate, company culture and their employees are all positively affected; which in turn alters customers level of loyalty to their brand. In fact, 88% of global citizens were found to be more loyal to a brand given that they have a
reputation of doing well by doing good. And 90% of global citizens would actually switch brands to one that is associated with a good cause, given similar price and quality.
Ed Lateef is a Chairman at Intelliverse, which provides business communications services, CRM solutions and sales acceleration software solutions that help companies achieve higher sales goals and customer satisfaction. He’s a serial entrepreneur who has founded several companies, including Orchestrate Technologies, Amvensys Capital Group, LLC, AmigoMobile, and others.
“The effectiveness of any attempt to change customer behavior depends on…”
Identifying the behavior that is being tried to change and the reason for it. Next, comes the research about that particular behavior and finding out the answers to questions like why are the customers behaving the way they are.
As it is true that purchase decisions are often taken emotionally, triggers should be identified to initiate the change. As other people’s opinions also influence a lot for any change in consumer behavior, the social context of the changed behavior should also be studied. In this context social media can be used to change consumer behavior, but for that to happen a brand has to instill trust and loyalty into customers through engagement. This can also be done by framing questionnaires that detect any problems and proposed solutions can be offered through the website free. In this way, tripwires can be designed to convert leads into conversions.
Thus, the intervention for the change has to be designed by framing a proper customer experience with the desired triggers for the change. The companies should provide customers an effective experience and allow them to practice the changed behavior. Lastly, it is always a safer option to test the new interventions formulated for bringing about the change through a pilot program before rolling it out on a mass scale.