How do we get to know the online consumer?

on 12.07.2012 by Meegan Rourke BLOG

What makes them tick?

This mystical creature, the online consumer, is one of the most sought after characters right now in the digital space. Who is the online consumer? What excites them? What shapes their behavior? 60,500 people globally search on Google for the ‘online consumer’ every  month, according to the Google Adwords keyword tool. 320 of these people are South Africans (and I am definitely one of them!)

Information overload

online-consumerI’ve read countless articles regarding the online consumer and have come to a conclusion… The minute we get to grips with who they are, they change. Our ever-evolving universe isn’t planning on slowing down anytime soon. With an  online presence consisting of 32,7% of the world’s population, that’s 2,27 billion people online (according to Customer Magnetism), and it isn’t stopping in time for anyone to work out their needs. We can however, constantly make ourselves aware of their ever-changing personality.

If or when we get to grips with this online consumer, the online world as we know it, will change explicitly. Marketers, advertisers and businesses spend a chunk of their working lives advertising and marketing to their client base. If you don’t know who they are and what makes them tick, you can’t meet them at their real need, and you might as well throw in the towel. I’m talking from a purely social media space right now, but if your consumers aren’t engaging on the social media platforms you’ve created, they’re not connecting with the content you’re supplying them with. The only way this can improve is to become more online-consumer-savvy.

How to become more online-consumer-savvy

Social media platforms

You’re connected on all these networks right?

1. Watch the digital trends in society

The online consumer craves everything new and relevant. One way to keep up with their personality is to watch the digital trends. Pinterest and infographics, and even video infographics, are the latest trends in terms of ‘visual literacy’, which is the display of information/literacy in a visual manner.

2. Use the visual-information realm

Information is everywhere, in huge abundance online, and the online consumer loves information! Especially when it’s visually represented.

The person who comes up with the next best way to represent information understands this need. Pinterest’s Ben Silbermann and his team discovered a concept which allows us to capture and store our information online in a fun, visual way. The world is moving towards a more visual style of literacy. A concept that has been developed over the years is infographics – a way to visually represent data and information, to help people process information and knowledge in a concise, effective way.

Video infographics are taking the world by storm. This video from the digitalbuzz blog shows how infographics can be brought to life by video.

3. You need it, you got it: information express!

Information overloadWhen the online consumer needs information, we find it! There are many tools that send information into our mailbox for us, ready to sort through when we find the time (whenever that will be!)

I’m constantly being ‘spammed’ with information on topics I’m researching. But it’s just comforting to know it’s there! Google Alerts, Google reader, Pinning articles/recipes. We live in the world of ‘You name it, you need it, consider it yours‘! The aim is to represent our information in a way that appeals to the online consumer, and gets their attention first!

4. Understand that personalities change, depending on the digital space

The online consumer changes shape when the digital space changes. LinkedIn, Twitter, Xing, Yammer, Asmallworld are among the many professional social networking realms. People’s behaviour, status updates, tone, pictures, even the adverts that appear on these networks are in a space of their own.

Facebook, Pinterest, Skype, StumbleUpon, and many others have a more social feel. This specific social space expresses the online consumer as someone who wants to experience life, make memories, find meaning. The tone is more casual, many more personal experiences are shared, images are racier and again: advertising is different.

If the personality of the online consumer changes with a different social space, we need to learn how to connect with the online consumer in each space.

5. The rise of the consumer experience economy

The rise of the consumer experience economy has brought about a few trends we now see in the online consumer space. 5 Digital Trends Shaping the Consumer Experience states that consumers are no longer seeking to use social networks to just broadcast, connect, and share their lives but to find meaning, to enjoy deeper online and offline experiences. We will need to find out how to enhance the consumers’ experience and meaning of life when we connect with them online. Not an easy task!

6. Be watchful and keep your ear to the ground

We become more online-consumer-savvy by watching, reading, learning and picking up trends. DigitLab is currently researching the online consumer and will be releasing reports in some time to come. So watch this space!

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