Recently, a niche retailer we’ve been working with for years began to fret about monthly promotions and asked, “Do people just wait for the next sale?” The concern was that intermittent discounts were disrupting consumer behavior.
We love questions like this. There’s always something to learn from a client question, especially if that question is rooted in concern.
Here’s what we did. (And you can do it, too!)
Conduct shopper behavior research with a survey.
Ask the right consumers. In this case, we wanted to know more about people who shop during promotions. We used HubSpot to create a smart list of shoppers who had used a coupon code during a promo.
Use free tools. A simple Google Form did the trick for our research. Don’t use more muscle than you need. Most of the time, a free tool will do the trick.
Incentivize feedback. Engagement with customer surveys is typically very low. We offered an incentive of $10 to every respondent. The incentive resulted in a 50% conversion rate.
Be clear about the time commitment. At the top of the survey, we made it clear that it wouldn’t take long, and that the research was being used to help the niche retailer better serve shoppers.
Allow for feedback. Though we had very specific questions we needed answered, the survey allowed for additional comments. This gave shoppers a chance to speak directly to the retailer — and they did!
Sharpen buyer personas.
Buyer personas aren’t static. If you created them a year ago or more, you should revisit them.
We used this survey as an opportunity to glean more information about shoppers — discovering where they go for information in the niche industry, whether they use products personally or professionally, and how often they browse.
As a result of the survey, we have a better understanding of the types of content loyal shoppers find useful, and where (and why) they shop when they’re not shopping with our client. This insight will inform future tactics, especially around the types of content we create as part of robust inbound marketing strategies.
Come at key questions from different angles.
You’ve done a personality test online, right? The most annoying part is having to answer the same question over and over. While we didn’t go full-on irritating, we did ask one particular question in two different ways.
- Will you wait for the next sale to make another purchase?
- Have you made another purchase since the sale?
While half the shoppers surveyed claimed they’d wait for the next sale before making a purchase, 71 percent of shoppers had already made another purchase on full-price items since the last sale. Behavior doesn’t lie.
Our client was happy to learn that every user surveyed indicated that they planned on shopping again in the future.
While this seems like a vanity statistic, it has value to us as marketers. We know that our client is being perceived as remarkable — a key element of successful marketing.
Dig into communication preferences.
Our client has been building a highly engaged email list for nearly a decade. They were very concerned that sending too many marketing emails might upset their list and discourage recipients from shopping.
Act on the results.
Research is useless if you don’t use it to grow. Digging deeper into consumer preferences gave us two major takeaways for our client.
Email is powerful.The results of the survey allowed us to not only demonstrate that their shoppers prefer email, but it gave us the insight needed to pivot toward even more email communications. Now, in addition to a weekly newsletter and sale email, we send a blast about a limited edition product and a spotlight on an additional product each month. Open rates hold steady around 35%.
Switch things up.While we quickly discovered that sales don’t disrupt consumer behavior for this particular retailer, we also learned that shoppers preferred a wide variety of sales and discounts. We remain unpredictable with sales, offering a mix of BOGO sales, free gifts, free shipping, and percentage discounts.
Replicate this research on a scale that works for you and your audience to get the same kind of valuable insight. Then adjust your tactics accordingly.