In this lesson we will look at the differences between online and offline customer behaviours. We’ll also cover how audience segmentation can help you choose where to focus your digital efforts when moving online.
So what are the key differences between a customer in a physical shop and a customer online?
Imagine you just set a personal goal to improve your fitness, and now need new running shoes. In the offline world your journey might go a bit like this:
You visit the local shopping centre, going from shop to shop. Ultimately, you make a decision based on price, quality, returns policy, friendliness of staff, and stock availability. You process all that information, head back to the store with the shoes you liked best, and make the purchase.
When it comes to online purchasing, you’re likely to engage in four distinct stages throughout your online shopping journey. Theses principles are described in the “See, Think, Do, Care” framework, and offer a useful way to identify where a business should invest effort in connecting with customers. Let’s take a look at our shoe shopping example, while highlighting these four stages:
In the SEE stage, you notice that some of your friends have taken up running, and are posting maps of their favourite routes on their social media accounts. This inspires you to start running yourself. In the THINK stage, you get your phone and type ‘what are the best running shoes for beginners?’. This introduces you to a whole lot of online content, from blog articles to targeted ads, giving you more factors to base your decision on. Eventually, you make your purchase, which makes up the DO stage, and perhaps post a photo on social media. This last step of sharing your purchase is part of the CARE stage.
Keep in mind that customers don’t necessarily experience all four stages every time - your individual journey might begin at the THINK stage, or end at the DO stage.
Now let’s combine offline and online activities together. Imagine you are in the sport shop having just tried on the new running shoes. You get out your phone and search for them online - perhaps checking if they are cheaper elsewhere. The chances are you might buy online after visiting a physical store- an approach called ‘showrooming’.
Understanding the differences and similarities between online and offline shopping can help you create a more balanced online customer experience.
So how can you identify where to focus your efforts online? To choose the right channels, find out out who you’re talking to, when you should talk to them, and what you should talk about. This is called audience segmentation.
You can segment customers in many ways, from basic demographics like age and gender, to specific interests. For example, segmenting customers by location may benefit an e-commerce store if certain products are only available to ship to specific areas. Segmentation can also help with your online advertising; as most channels allow you to target paid advertising to specific audiences, based on information like what an audience likes or dislikes. You can also make your ads appear only to people within a certain radius of your shop or business, which can be handy when offering promotions to local shoppers.
To wrap up, when it comes to taking a business online, think about the customers and put yourself in their shoes: which channels do they use most? How do you engage differently with them online and offline?
- customer behaviours online, and how these overlap with offline behaviours
- the "See, Think, Do, Care" framework, and how to use this to help understand the online customer journey
- how to group your audiences using audience segmentation.