In the data-driven 21st-century world, we’ve managed to define many different kinds of customers. From new prospects to impulse buyers, loyal patrons to individuals with buyer’s remorse, there are many different categories and definitions for those who buy from a company.
One kind of customer that often doesn’t get enough attention is the “maybe” customer. This is a kind of “almost buyer” that I’ve had a lot of experience wooing — both with success and failure. Let’s take a look at what this hesitant buyer looks like and consider some tips to turn them into loyal supporters of your brand.
What is a “Maybe” Customer?
A “maybe” customer is as simple as it sounds. It’s a consumer who is on the fence about buying a product or service. They’re interested in what you offer and often have expressed that interest in some form. However, they haven’t come to the point of making a purchase yet.
I’ve found that there are many factors that can create a maybe customer. They might be hesitating over price. They may want to review alternative options. They could even be struggling with a simple case of overwhelm as they attempt to sort through the endless barrage of information thrown at them in the modern 21st-century world.
Whatever the reason, maybe customers shouldn’t be a frustration. They’re a great group that represents a prime source of potential revenue. They are a demographic of consumers that are on the cusp of patronizing your business. All they need is the right push.
The Struggle to Make Buying Decisions in the Modern Era
There is a reason there are so many maybe customers out there. A decade ago, Harvard Business Review was already pointing out a growing issue with the online shopping experience.
In the past, potential customers leaned on the quaint, personalized service of a store manager or employee to help them make a decision. This was often someone that they knew or had repeated interactions with.
With e-commerce forming a growing portion of the shopping experience, the ability to ask a human for their already limited help has become a rarity. Now, maybe customers, especially those isolated by the online shopping experience, must fend for themselves as they try to figure out if they want or need something based on their own knowledge and research.
HBR adds that it isn’t all bad news. There’s a modern marketing tool with the potential to fill this glaring advisory gap — data.
“Advances in information technology, data gathering, and analytics are making it possible to deliver something like—or perhaps even better than—the proprietor’s advice,” says the management magazine, “Using increasingly granular data, from detailed demographics and psychographics to consumers’ clickstreams on the web, businesses are starting to create highly customized offers that steer consumers to the ‘right’ merchandise or services — at the right moment, at the right price, and in the right channel.”
This ability to use data as a way to inform the buyer and push them past their indecision takes many different forms. Let’s take a look at a few of the best ways I’ve found businesses can use data to convert maybe customers into profitable patrons.
Use Reviews to Head Off Questions
Reviews are powerful marketing tools. They’re user-generated data points, which gives them a unique level of authenticity. LocaliQ also emphasizes the fact that reviews can be a game-changer when it comes to making purchase decisions.
Online reviews influence 67% of consumers. The bonafide feedback of previous buyers is a mighty testament to the success or failure of products and services to do what they’re supposed to do.
By cultivating reviews on your website, you create a repository of customer-created data that can push hesitating consumers to make a purchase.
Chatbots Can Hold the Customer’s Hand
Customer interactions are difficult to maintain online. Businesses often lack the ability to interact with every questioning customer at any time of day.
Fortunately, chatbots have come to fill a crucial gap in the customer acquisition process. While often seen as a tool to help with customer service post-sale, Chatbots Magazine broadens the use of these data-driven tools by defining them as “self-help tools for improving communication.”
In other words, a chatbot can engage with a maybe customer before the point of sale. It can provide quick, time-sensitive responses and answer basic questions.
Many chatbots are also capable of assessing a customer’s more nuanced questions and then passing them off to the right customer service rep for a more detailed answer. This keeps a hesitant consumer “on the hook,” answering questions and keeping them from walking away due to a lack of relevant information.
Don’t Forget Retention Marketing
Maybe customers aren’t just new customers. They also exist within your current customer base in the form of potential repeat purchasers who are hesitating to make more purchases. That’s why, along with encouraging waffling new prospects to become profitable customers, you also want to invest in retention marketing.
Retention.com gives the goal of retention marketing as “keeping the customers you already have and increasing their spending on future purchases.” The focus is to overcome existing customer hesitations and turn their post-purchase “maybes” into repeat purchases.
Investing in things like abandoned cart emails and targeted promotions using existing first-party customer data can turn unconvinced one-time customers into loyal patrons who provide a consistent source of revenue.
Taking the “Maybe” Out of Making a Purchase
There are many elements that can lead to a hesitant buyer. The important thing for businesses is to meet these consumers where they are, take them by the hand, and guide them toward the answers to their questions.
Like the store owners and informed employees of old, businesses must use data solutions to ease fears and stoke interest, pushing maybe buyers to make the leap to become profitable patrons, not just now but in the future, too.
Image credit: Shvets Production; Pexels