5 Ways in which Data is Empowering Consumers

This is a guest post from William Blears, Founder of Perceptive Digital.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about how data is driving online marketing forward. What you don’t often hear is how this same data is empowering customers to make wiser purchasing decisions. I thought it’d be interesting to highlight five ways in which empowered consumers can benefit from an abundance of available data.

#1. Considering the Bigger Picture

Companies these days do more than just give information about their products, as they are also likely to provide related information. For example, an organic food distributor might also provide information about health and wellness, or a car rental agency might recommend certain destinations in some of their key cities.

Becoming a well-rounded source of information not only reinforces a company’s brand, but also allows consumers to look at the bigger picture and how a particular product or service might fit into it. According to Internet marketing guru Neil Patel, a winning scenario occurs whenever companies determine what solutions their customers are seeking and then lay out the case for why their brand could best solve them.

#2. Personalized Interactions

Performing transactions online hasn’t eliminated the desire for people to connect personally with sales reps. As such, more companies than ever are also taking measures to humanize their websites , allowing visitors to see that there are actually real people behind them. Consumers are now researching people within a company almost as often as they are particular products and services in order to determine who they can and cannot trust.

#3. Providing more Resources

The fact that data is readily available means that more consumers than ever are checking multiple resources before buying. No longer reliant on a retailer’s home page, many people are flocking to websites such as Consumer Essentials, which gathers Big Data from a number of online sites and then uses its own algorithm to rank different products. Unbiased sources such as this one are proving very effective at empowering customers to make an informed decision, which is why it is becoming the new norm for people to view them before making an online purchase.

#4. Focusing on the Most Loyal Customers

Forbes recently reported on a study showing that it costs at least six times as much money to obtain a new customer as it does to hold onto an existing one. As such, companies are increasingly relying on data to determine members of their most loyal customer base so that they can target promotions accordingly. Businesses understand that loyal customers are more likely to promote their products on social media and through word-of-mouth advertising, so those who regularly visit an establishment are now seeing more perks for doing so than ever before.

#5. Taking Control of the Sale

Consumers are no longer satisfied with simply submitting an online order and waiting patiently for delivery. They are now using all the tools in their arsenal to negotiate prices and shipping terms. According to Internet Retailer, approximately 58% of all online shoppers are engaging in showrooming, the process of looking for products in stores and then using a smart phone to compare online deals. The fact that people are able to compare prices and features in real time means that consumers now have more leverage when it comes to asking for a better deal, particularly if they are someone who has been deemed a “loyal customer.”

Smart shoppers know where to find data and how to use it in order to find the best deals. This means that business owners must be ever vigilant in analyzing data if they are to see things from the eye of the consumer, who is now better informed than at any time in history.

William is also blogger at  www.onemansbrand.com


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Comments Icon5 comments found on “5 Ways in which Data is Empowering Consumers

  1. Although points #3 and #5 seem to belong together in one point, the interesting matter is that potential customers have an opportunity to use data—more than would be available otherwise—in making their purchasing decisions. Companies still have the advantage of larger amounts of data and more sophisticated algorithms which they can use to implement solutions that more strongly compel people to become customers, so it would be even more interesting if potential customers had access to more advanced algorithms to help them in their purchase decision as well. One idea for a more advanced algorithm is one that considers the cost of complementary and substitute goods over time to predict the price of a given product at a certain time, kind of like a weather forecast. Of course, such information might give reason for companies to deliberately price their products in defiance of these forecasts; then again, Smith’s invisible hand might win in the end any way.

  2. Going off of Nozomu Okuda’s comment, I also advocate providing customers with access to similar algorithms the retailer would use to “take control of the sale.” As noted in point #5, an increasingly larger number of shoppers are already becoming informed or smart shoppers on their own, but to take things one step further I can foresee where it might be beneficial, or possibly even necessary, for retailers to provide their user-base with this same information. This plays off of point #2 in providing a more personal interaction environment, where the company is now doing their users a favor by helping all of their customers be informed and smart shoppers. This can go a long way in developing good-will and loyalty in their customers, which often can far outweigh a potential lost dollar or two by pointing out more competitive prices. Several companies (for instance Esurance) are already starting to take this approach.

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