In the business-to-consumer (b2c) model, obviously, the consumer is the more important participant. The ultimate goal of b2c marketing is to convert shoppers into buyers in an aggressive and consistent manner which is why most b2c companies employ more merchandising activities such as coupons, promos and displays that would entice the target market to buy. However, in order to successfully sell to your consumers, whether online or offline, you need to understand them first.
Although similar, b2b (business-to-business) and b2c behavior can be different in a lot of ways. B2B buyers is influenced by what their businesses’ need and how they would use their purchased product or service from you in order to make their business grow; wherein consumers would most probably be influenced by their needs and want for themselves or for their personal lives.
Most consumers’ influences come from their basic needs, family requirements, economic situations and lifestyle choices. Other influences may also be from word-of-mouth or direct advertising that they have heard or seen.
- Problem/Need Recognition. This is often identified as the first and most important step in the decision process of consumers. Of course, consumers will always think about what they need for their everyday lives or for their current situations (whether economically, personally, etc.).
- Information Search. After having recognized their need, the next step is to research on the solution for their problem. This is the buyer’s effort to search internal and external business environments in order to identify and evaluate information sources related to their purchasing decision. Your consumer may rely on advertisements such as print, visual, online or word-of-mouth in order to obtain the information they need. This is where you have to make sure that you have a good SEO or SEM in order to appear in searches of your consumers.
- Evaluation of Alternatives. Of course, as smart-buyers, consumers often look at different products or brands that would give them the best solutions for their needs; in other words, those that have the ability to deliver the benefits the consumer is searching for. Being on top of search engines or being visible online comes handy during this process as in most cases; consumers trust those who have high ranks in search engines.
- Purchase Decision. This is where your costumers would purchase the product that they chose (congratulations if it’s you!). However, that doesn’t stop there as there are factors that may disrupt the purchasing decision; these factors include negative feedback and the level of motivation of the consumer to accept the feedback. This is why you should make sure that your website or your product has a good online reputation management or else, you would lose their trust.
- Post-Purchase Behavior. After purchasing your goods, customers will compare them with their previous expectations and will be either satisfied or dissatisfied; hence, this stage is critical in retaining customers as this can greatly affect your online reputation
Keeping them Loyal
After your customers have purchased your products or services, you have to give them a reason to keep coming back in order to affect their post-purchase behavior and keep a good reputation. Furthermore, the best way to make them feel that you care about them is by asking their comments and suggestions after they have purchased your product. One of the biggest mistakes people make is forgetting to follow up with their customers so if there would be negative feedback, they wouldn’t know about it. So make sure that you really contact your customers and after they have given you their feedback, take it seriously—especially negative ones as they would help you avoid issues in the future. Also, showing that you care about their opinions encourages consumer engagement.
Also, keep them interested by giving them a reason to follow your social media accounts and blogs by creating contents that would be relevant to them. These contents should be produced in a way that will educate your readers and not by directly selling your product to them.
You can also utilize e-mail marketing in order to keep in touch with your customers by sending them updates or relevant articles. However, make sure that this is optional for them as some customers may not like getting too many e-mails.
Also, reward those who have been loyal to you with discounts, rebates and promos that they can use. This will truly build a good relationship with your customers.
Keep in mind that loyal customers are your best salespeople so spend the time to build your network and do follow-ups. Make them feel that they are important to you as they should really be. Your customers will be your partners so keep them loyal by understanding their behavior and their needs.