According to data from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), online retail sales in the U.S. increased from $598 billion in 2019 to $791.7 billion in 2020 amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. Around the world, the share of eCommerce retail increased from 16 percent in 2019 to 19 percent in 2020.
People now feel safer and more comfortable shopping and doing other transactions online to prevent the further spread of Covid-19. As commerce moved to the Internet, marketing must follow suit.
Trends in Consumer Behavior and Preferences
It is crucial for digital marketing to know the online consumer well. Consumer behavior is changing quickly. Upon crossing the digital divide, people adapt swiftly to the various uses of technology in day-to-day life. Data from Forbes show that the number of app downloads in the second quarter of 2020 increased by 31.7 percent compared to the second quarter of 2019. With many options at their fingertips, consumers are now also more difficult to convince. Click-through rates (CTRs) on various platforms declined substantially. The CTR of Google search ads decreased by 41 percent in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.
JungleScout released the results of its Consumer Trends Report for Q1 2021, surveying changing behaviors and preferences of 1,000 consumers. It shows that 54 percent bought products they discovered on social media. The top channels that influenced their buying behavior were Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok.
Almost half purchased groceries online in the past three months and more than one-third did restaurant curbside pick-up. When shopping online, 45 percent use browser extensions or plug-ins to find good deals. A majority or 69 percent search for and compare various products before buying. Still, 37 percent stated that their spending online increased in the past three months and as much as 19 percent do online shopping once a day or more frequently.
Consumers’ top reasons for shopping online changed between 2020 and 2021. In 2020, their top three reasons were convenience, having more product options, and the ability to search for a certain brand. In 2021, their top reason is free shipping that makes an item cheaper than having to go to a store to buy it. Second comes lower prices compared to physical store prices. Convenience only comes third. It is evident that by now, tight finances are influencing online purchasing behavior.
Designing a User-centered Website
Digital marketers must keep all consumers’ preferences and behaviors in mind when drawing up a digital marketing campaign. The campaign must revolve around the company’s website where consumers must come to browse the products or services it offers and make a purchase.
It is crucial for any company to hire a web design service that can integrate all these needs, from branding to technical expertise and SEO proficiency. The company’s brand, logo, colors, typography, and messaging must be well-designed coordinated to best represent what the company is, its unique selling point, and how it serves its consumer base.
A company website must be attractive to its target market. Today, it is imperative to optimize it for both mobile and desktop usage. More users are shopping online on mobile phones compared to desktop computers.
Once a visitor arrives, the website must provide an impeccable user experience that is fast with smooth and easy navigation. It must have an artificial intelligence (AI) powered chatbot to promptly respond to the visitor’s queries. Current AI applications can also customize each visitor’s experience based on his or her behavior on the site. Most importantly, it must be easy for a visitor to complete a purchase and pay online.
What Google Wants
A website’s rank on Google search starting May 2021 depends on the signal of its Core Web Vitals. The page’s main content must load fast in at least 2.5 seconds. It must be interactive in less than 100 milliseconds which is a tenth of a second. It must be visually stable with an unexpected layout shift of below 0.1. In addition, a website must be mobile-friendly, must have HTTPS security, must provide safe browsing, and must follow Google’s guidelines on pop-up ads.
Companies can check the experience metrics of their websites on PageSpeed Insights, Lighthouse, Chrome DevTools, Chrome UX Report, Web Vitals Extension, and Search Console. Google states that website owners are already assessing their pages with the number of users of Lighthouse and Page Speed Insights increasing by a median of 70 percent.
Tying It All Up
Digital marketing efforts cannot focus only on having a perfect website. If it does not perform well, is slow, and is difficult to navigate, a visitor will leave at once.
Digital marketers must not also focus only on technical requirements like rate of page loading, interactivity, and visual stability. If there are few to no visitors, these will not matter.
Neither can a campaign focus solely on search ranking and driving traffic to the website. If the website does not meet the visitor’s needs, it will be a short stay.
For a digital marketing campaign to succeed these days, the company must be able to successfully combine the elements of consumer expectations and demands with technological tools and expertise. Only a synthesized approach can produce the best results.