The Sixth Sense: Digital Shopper Segments

By | July 12, 2013

A customer's shopping journey is important to understand, in order to improve conversion.

For some industries, purchases and the journeys that lead to them may be more influenced by behavioral factors than by demographics. A new report from Compete and GroupM revealed that digital media and advertising heavily influences almost half of all purchases. Digital media and advertising aren’t the only things affecting the purchase process and decision. In fact, digital shoppers can be often be broken into six categories based on their purchase journey route. Knowing the details about the purchase journey for your ideal customer can help you determine the best methods for email and social media marketing as well as online advertising. In order to be more effective with your digital marketing, consider how your business is reaching each of these six segments.

Basic Digital Consumers        

This audience is comfortable shopping online, but they’re often less likely to use social media or mobile devices during their path to a purchase. 73% of those surveyed that fit this segment are looking for promotions. Because this segment has the highest percentage of those who remember a display ad, using promotions within your display ads is the best way to target these consumers.

Retail Scouts

Retail scouts prefer to buy from retail sites and while they’re comfortable shopping online, they’re also on the lookout for coupons and deals and shop offline. The right retail site (whether in-store or online), product and price are at the forefront of this segment’s mind when shopping. Because these shoppers are scouts, they’re going to be using search. If you want to reach retail shoppers, make sure your site, products and brand presence on external sites are optimized for search and determine the best ways to promote deals your business offers.

Brand Scouts

Brand scouts, while similar to Retail Scouts, differ in their purchase path. 72% of brand scouts start their journey with a brand in mind. Often times, these shoppers know what brand they want to buy and face the question about whether or not they should buy. While this segment is less susceptible to pricing fluctuations between one brand and another, they do appreciate perks. To incite action from brand scouts, promote sales and if possible, offer free shipping and returns. To reach this audience, run video ads, display ads and offer non-monetary incentives.

Digitally Driven Consumers

The study from Compete and GroupM suggests that while these consumers are already a large segment, they will be the dominant one within five years. Digitally driven consumers use social media, smartphones and local review sites (such as Yelp and Foursquare) to make a decision. 29% of paths from this segmet include a branded social media site and these consumers use mobile the most to do research. If you want to reach this segment, and you should, consider your business’s current SoLoMo strategy and make sure you take the necessary steps to optimize.

Calculated Shoppers

Similar to digitally driven consumers, calculated shoppers compare pricing, features, and brands. However, this audience is one of the least concerned with where they’re going to buy. This audience is the second most likely to use social media and they’re often looking for ways they can save. This segment uses search, so paid search advertising is a great way to reach this audience. Loyalty programs, a mobile-optimized site and great content can have a positive impact on this segment.

Eternal Shoppers

This is kind of the “catch all” segment as these consumers are asking the should, what and why of a purchase all at the same time. This group takes the most steps during their path to purchase, but they only utilize four tools: search, retail sites, brand sites and social media. To reach this audience, look for ways to trigger excitement. You can cut down on the steps taken and peak their curiosity in your brand or product.

This study and the resulting segments indicate that social media, brand sites, retail sites and search all play a role in the purchase process of today’s digital shoppers. If your business wants to reach a specific audience, consider the route that audience takes and what your business can do to optimize its site and marketing efforts for the target segment.

Author Bio: Erica Bell is the Social Media Specialist at Business.com and a copywriter who covers topics such as e-commerce, marketing and social media trends. Connect with Business.com on Facebook!