Effective Digital Marketing Managers Understand Consumer Behaviour

Posted by Ryan

In today’s highly competitive markets, it’s important to leave no stone unturned when considering ways to improve digital marketing strategy. All marketing messages are ultimately received by human beings that are influenced by a variety of complex behavioural factors.

Woman shopping

The more understanding you can develop about human behaviour as a digital marketing professional, the better you’ll be at crafting effective digital marketing strategies, marketing messages and campaigns.

Various Forces that Drive Consumer Behaviour

Individuals conduct decision-making through an intricate layer of filters and processes, some of which they are aware of and some of which occur at an unconscious level they might not be able to actively identify. When designing and implementing marketing campaigns, it’s important to understand how those various filters operate. This can help you better predict what types of messages and language will resonate with your audiences. Those filters can operate in a few different categories:

Psychological Influencers

A number of psychological and neurological theories can offer frameworks that help us understand what influences decision-making. One such framework that can be pertinent for marketers is the need-want paradox. Academic frameworks such as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs attempt to make sense of how we weigh differing or competing interests or bids for our attention.

As a basic example, someone who is experiencing food scarcity may not even notice a bus stop ad for a nice razor, and would not have a practical way of relating to a Rolex poster the way someone with expendable income would. Knowing your audience’s wants, needs, and how they stack against each other is a vital part of crafting effective marketing messages that will attract their attention.

Personal, Demographic, and Preference Influencers

In our world today we use understandings of different personality types, interests, demographic information, languages, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, genders and sexual orientations, socioeconomic status, and more to make general assumptions about groups of people at a time. The practice of marketing interacts with this reality.

Even though marketing messages are delivered to large groups and sometimes even masses of people, they are designed to relate to each of those consumers personally as an individual by appealing to some aspect of their personhood.

Marketing is created with subsets of people in mind. If a marketer attempted to create a piece of marketing material general enough to relate to every person on the planet, it would almost certainly be too vague to meaningfully connect with anyone. The more acutely a message resonates with a particular audience, the narrower that sliver of audience has to be.

This is why personal characteristics of an individual are important to know and understand — to speak meaningfully to groups of people, it’s important to understand their attributes and commonalities from an individual level.

Sociological Influencers

People are shaped not only by psychological and personal elements, but are also influenced by larger sociological factors that happen around them. These can include things like family of origin, economic status, community type and involvement, living conditions and location, involvement with (or proximity to) heritage or ethnicity, rules of engagement and conduct within their communities, and more.

People care about their communities, their relationships, and their place in society. These elements and more can create a thick fabric around people that can heavily influence the way they make decisions.

A well-known example of leveraging this reality in marketing is the famously controversial Multi-Level-Marketing (MLM) scheme, or (more politically correct) peer-to-peer marketing strategy. This process leverages an aspect of sociological influence to create new sales, i.e. someone is more likely to trust and listen to a person they know than a random marketer or sales pitch.

Understanding these various and complex forces are a pivotal part of creating effective marketing strategies.

Incorporating Consumer Understanding into Marketing Strategies

Much of marketing theory and best practice has been constructed using at least basic understandings of psychological, personal, and sociological influences. This provides a foundation for engaging with your audiences’ using principles of consumer behavior. However, it is important to note that this will not remain a sufficient groundwork for understanding consumer behavior.

Any marketing strategy (certainly any effective one) needs to be anchored to the realities of human nature and behavior to drive desired effects. As illustrated above with the MLM example, there are plenty of ways to do this. One of the most important reasons any marketing manager should become a student of consumer behavior is that the ways human behavior plays out change over time.

Societal, personal, and social factors shift and change both on a micro and a macro level. Because of this, the same messages and marketing campaigns that might have worked for one people group or during one decade usually won’t work for, or in, another.

One of the biggest ways to hone and strengthen your behavioral understanding of your audiences is to engage with them directly. Thanks to today’s technology-laden world, real members of your audience are often more accessible and approachable than in any other period of marketing history. This means that you can gain significant insights directly from your audience in ways that have never been possible before.

This can be accomplished via surveys, an email list, social media polls, trade show booths, case studies, personal conversations, and more. The sky and your creativity/capacity are the limit. Gathering insights this way could be used to help you better understand the channels your audiences use to communicate, the thought leaders and authorities they find interesting, the intricacies of their lifestyles, their likes and dislikes, their previous experiences with other solutions or competitors, their communities, and more.

All of these pieces of information can help you better understand and thus resonate with your customer base.

How to Increase Your Expertise in Consumer Behaviour Theories

If you are a marketing manager or professional that is interested in refining your understanding of consumer behaviour theory and prediction, there are different ways of going about this. One of the most effective and thorough tools you can employ is earning an advanced degree. This could include earning an MBA or pursuing a degree or certification in marketing.

These kinds of educational opportunities can help you develop an in-depth understanding of consumer behavior through both an academic and practical lens. If you are a marketing professional interested in increasing your effectiveness and success, this is a savvy subject area choice that could help you formatively improve your marketing efforts.