Are Your Buyers Fast or Slow Decision-Makers?

When a customer visits your online store, they’re on a mission.

A mission to browse, a mission to explore, a mission to kill time. Even if it’s not always the mission you want them to be on (“hurry up and buy already!”), you can be sure they’re visiting your site with some kind of intent.

While we’ve talked at length about getting to know who your customers are based on everything from data to surveys, your product category can also give you a concrete idea from the outset.

We did an in-depth analysis of customer behavior across hundreds of B2C brands and found two types of customers pop up again and again. Here, we’ll look at the two categories: customers who are on a mission to make a quick purchase, and others who take their time getting to know your brand before they purchase.

By determining which category your company tends to attract, you can know how to better target your customers, ultimately leading them down the path of loyalty with the right marketing strategy.

“You’re the one that I want” customers

Remember those customers on a mission? Shoppers in this category know what they want, when they want it, and how to get it. This is why they’ve decided to purchase from your brand!

We’ve all had the impulse to make purchases on-the-fly. Aside from the occasional quick search to check online reviews, we know what we’re in the market for and usually have a pretty good idea of where to get it.

This “I know what I want” mentality plays into our need for instant gratification and easy access, two of the hallmarks of hyperbolic discounting. The trick for marketers with products in this category is to build a sustainable, loyal customer base in spite of the largely one-off nature of these purchases.

We scoured more than a hundred examples from Zaius customers, and sure enough, these types of brands fall into the “fast first purchase, but slow second purchase” category. For example, one sporting goods brand we looked at had an average acquisition-to-first purchase length of just three days. Pretty good, right? The first-to-second purchase average told a different story, however, with a 138-day average.

That disparity doesn’t make it easy to build a loyal customer base, especially when the all-important second purchase might never happen. And convincing impulse buyers to be impulsive again isn’t quite the foundation you want to build your marketing strategy around—especially when it’s such an unpredictable model.

This is where your post-purchase marketing gets a chance to take center stage. How will you convince these one-off impulse customers to stick with your brand and make multiple purchases in the future?

Turning to educational, nurturing content is a great place to start. For the yogurt brand Chobani, they know most of their customers will probably make an impulse buy either online or browsing the aisles of a grocery store. Whether it’s the packaging, the flavor, or the convenience, the brand itself might not factor into the decision-making process, at least initially.

But where Chobani can set itself apart is in its follow-up marketing. With an entire page on their website dedicated to recipes, as well as an email series that highlights their product in various dishes, Chobani educates their customers on the many delicious things yogurt can do.

The star of this email might be pumpkin scones, but throughout the recipe itself, Chobani features its product heavily, including an easy-to-use product finder that makes locating the right version a cinch.  

“I wanna be part of the movement” customers

Some products take more careful consideration from buyers before they make the final decision. These customers study up on what they want, research which brand fits those qualities best, and settle on whatever one resonates most with them.

Going back to the data, we looked at a slew of Zaius customers and found some interesting patterns. For instance, one jewelry company saw an average acquisition-to-first purchase length of a whopping 387 days. But after that, the first-to-second purchase average was only 13 days. This is the exact opposite of the impulse buyer purchase!

While we can’t definitively say which specific product categories fall into the “joining the movement” category, there are some similarities. These brands tend to offer more expensive items like jewelry, furniture, or high-end electronics, and the pattern does hold true for brands that require more buy-in from customers.

In this scenario, the question is how can you speed up that first purchase so that you’re not waiting around for a year or more for customers to buy? Start by providing more resources for your would-be customers that affirm your brand as the go-to choice in the market.

Take a brand like Sonos, for example. Outfitting your home with a music system is going to require more than attentive research and planning; there has to be innate confidence that the product you’re investing in is worthwhile.

Sonos carefully centers their content around their expertise, informing customers here of a new release while also educating them about what makes the device so distinctive.

They even include a handy checklist that lets customers know whether or not the product (or the “movement”) is right for them.

Taking it a step further, Sonos knows one way to tap into their most dedicated customers–the customers who wouldn’t wait so long between making a first and second purchase–is to give them a behind-the-scenes look into the inner workings of their product. Talk about insider access!

Once a Sonos buyer has decided to invest in the system, they’re then more likely to buy additional speakers to add to their home. This is a classic case of a long, considered first purchase, followed by a much faster path to long-term loyalty.

A tale of two customers

By now, you should have a pretty good idea of which category your brand—and your customers—fall into. Whether you’re a Chobani, a Sonos, or some combination of the two, your ecommerce strategy depends on you knowing what about your product attracts a certain subset of customers.

Once you have that category in mind, you can craft your content strategy to your ideal customers’ unique needs, whether they’re purchasing on impulse or after a long period of education and consideration. With that meticulous customer research and planning behind you, customer loyalty will be just around the corner.

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