Fact or Fiction? Most Customers Seek Out Deals, Discounts and Coupons Online


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‘Have we conditioned most customers to the point that they expect discounts and won’t buy without one?’

This is a great question, and it’s worth considering in more depth. Recent research shows that coupon redemption is at an all time high, and at the same time, Ben Bernanke warns that the economic recovery is fragile and taxes will inevitably have to rise. It’s no wonder that customers are nervous and cautious.

This is evidenced in a recent Forrester Research report that found that some 136 million people abandoned shopping carts in the U.S. last year, a full 88 percent of the online shopping population. The number one reason why people abandon shopping carts is price, specifically the cost of shipping and handling (44 percent), rapidly followed by ‘Not yet ready to buy’ (41 percent) and ‘Looking for a better deal’ (27 percent).

These numbers would suggest that many, but not all, customers are deal hungry—scouring the internet for the best price, free shipping offers and voucher codes.

So, it was with some interest that I read ExactTarget’s latest installment in their Subscribers, Friends and Followers series. Their most recent research paper, ‘The Social Profile,’ looks at the different online personalities and identifies 12 specific personas:

1.    Inner Circle: 47% of online consumers

Inner Circle consumers are interested in maintaining and deepening existing relationships with family and close friends, not necessarily developing new online relationships.

2.    Cautious: 33% of online consumers

Very selective about with whom they communicate and the types of information they’re willing to share online.

3.    Info Seeker: 33% of online consumers

Info Seekers go online to find and consume information. They aren’t interested in creating new content or in commenting on the experiences of others, though they do seek out others’ opinions.

4.   Enthusiast: 32% of online consumers

When Enthusiasts go online, they’re motivated by offline interests and hobbies.

5.    Deal Seeker: 30% of online consumers

Deal Seekers have a huge appetite for promotional content across all online channels. They see email, Facebook and Twitter as opportunities to obtain exclusive deals, freebies, discounts, coupons, and sale notifications.

6.    Shopper: 24% of online consumers

As their name suggests, Shoppers are most interested in the topic of shopping when they’re interacting online. But their interests aren’t limited to online transactions—they spend a lot of time researching and preparing for in-store shopping trips at their favorite local stores. In contrast to their Deal Seeker counterparts, Shoppers tend to be more focused on quality, as opposed to savings, though both are important to these consumers.

7.    News Junkie: 21% of online consumers

Consumers who are motivated by the quest for real-time breaking news and current events. News Junkies use the internet as either their primary source of information for news-related content or as a secondary source to supplement the information they get on cable news networks. These consumers are active social media contributors, especially when it comes to posting articles on sites, commenting on news stories, and submitting ratings and reviews to retailer websites.

8.   Gamer: 19% of online consumers

Gamers are motivated by the latest and greatest in gaming software, and can be split into two sub categories—Casual vs. Serious.

9.    Social Butterfly: 13% of online consumers

Making and maintaining a lot of online friendships is a Social Butterfly’s #1 priority. And to do so, they use a wide variety of social media tools. Social Butterflies use Facebook to maintain their social lives, and their Friends are personal contacts, not work colleagues. In addition to becoming Fans of brands on Facebook, these consumers are also interested in promotions and sale notifications across email, Facebook and Twitter.

10.   Business First: 8% of online consumers

Business First Consumers use the internet for business purposes, keeping up with the latest trends, communicating with business contacts, and making new connections through sites like LinkedIn. In short, they’re actively engaged in promoting their companies and personal careers online.

11.    Megaphone: 7% of online consumers

Megaphones want to connect, educate, and share resources and information online with others. These consumers clearly fall into the “influencer” category—meaning they can impact a brand’s bottom line—but Megaphones represent an especially elite group that takes their online interactions very seriously.

12.   Open Book: 6% of online consumers

Open Books are uninhibited consumers who freely express their likes, dislikes, experiences and opinions with the online world.

What’s interesting about these profiles is that only 30 percent are Deal Seekers. It’s very easy to forget that the deal-focused consumer is in fact a minority. The ExactTarget research also points at Shoppers (24 percent) and Social Butterflies (13 percent) as being interested in promotions, and connecting with brands by both social networks and by becoming email subscribers. But these consumers are not driven towards deal-seeking as their primary motivation online, rather they are focused on shopping research and the social aspects of shopping, respectively.

These online personas are interesting reminders to us to not treat website visitors as a homogeneous mass—it’s all too easy when we use language like Unique Visitors, Page Views and the like as part of our daily web analytics language.

Unfortunately, these types of online personas cannot easily be used to personalize our online marketing strategies but do contribute to our understanding of all the different types of online consumers.

This is echoed in some of the remarketing campaigns that our customers run (see Q&As with Rockler and Eat N’ Park). Some of the most successful abandoned shopping cart recovery email programs that SeeWhy powers—generating millions of dollars each year for the brands—do so with any form of promotion.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Charles Nicholls
Charles Nicholls is a social commerce expert and board advisor to several e-commerce startups. He founded SeeWhy, a real-time personalization and machine learning platform, which was sold to SAP. Serving as SVP of product, he built SAP Upscale Commerce, an e-commerce platform for direct-to-consumer brands and the mid-market. Today, Charles serves as chief strategy officer for SimplicityDX, a commerce experience company. He has worked on strategy and projects for leading ecommerce companies worldwide, including Amazon, eBay, Google and many others.


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