impulse buyers

How To Impress Holiday Impulse Buyers With Online Reviews

If your business is positioned around micro moments, customer reviews should be positioned around your business. Impulse buyers need to see your reviews.
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Updated: 11/5/2019

Her brakes have just gone out.

Alina Tugend couldn't drive her care home safely. To make matters worse, her two children were in the back seat. Fortunately for her, she was at a standstill. She was able to inch over to the shoulder using her emergency brakes.

Now she had another problem.

Who should she call for help? What should she say? She didn’t know much except that her brakes were out.

When she shared her story, she admitted it was scary. She had no idea what she should do or where to look first. In the end, things worked out.

At that moment, Alina was an impulse buyer

It’s common for impulse buyers to be seen as people with lots of discretionary income, pulling the "buy it now" trigger on anything that appeals to them.

The truth is, in reality, more nuanced. Impulse buys depend on context.

Google captured this in their micro-moments campaign. They show how these micro-moments create questions, desire and curiosity.

  • A pair of orange pumps creates love at first sight, prompting the desire to search for a pair of her own.
  • A father struggling to load his car, thinks “wouldn’t it be nice if we had an SUV?” prompting him to search for what he wants; the Acura RDX.

Practically speaking, what does this mean?

According to John D. Wells, researcher at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, there are four different types of impulse buyers.

1. Planned impulse. Here's a good example of a planned impulse buy. You're shopping at a store and you're ready to checkout. You see a banner ad that says "orders over $50 ship free." You have $43 of product in your shopping cart. So you find some other product you need to qualify for free shipping.

2. Pure impulse refers to an unplanned purchase you've made while browsing through products or services online (e.g., Amazon's deal of the day or Cyber Monday sales).

3. Reminder impulse. You've just purchased a camera, but you forgot to get a replacement battery pack. You quickly add it to your shopping cart then proceed to checkout.

4. Suggestive impulse. This is exactly what it sounds like. You see a product or service recommendation. You realize you need what they're selling. You purchase that product.

These impulse buys are all dependent on reviews as a conversion mechanism. A strong review portfolio for your product or service means customers are far more likely to act on these impulses when they appear.

What does this mean?

We’re all impulse buyers, thanks to context

Micro-moments are an important piece of the inbound marketing funnel. They attract and convert customers in the moment, so the process is hyper-accelerated. Having your business SEO properly configured on major search engines and vertical search engines like Yelp, helps your customers to get the information they need in the middle of these impulse or need-it-now micro-moments.

Think back to Alina’s story, she needed:

  • Someone to fix her car.
  • She’d need a ride home.
  • Food for herself and her kids.

She was driven to search for a solution to her problem. But she also needed a way to evaluate each of the providers she encountered. In the absence of a personal or familial recommendation, what's she going to rely on?

That's right, reviews.

Her tool of choice? The Smartphone.

Research from Statista shows that mobile usage has exploded.

Statistic: Local search query volume in the United States from 2014 to 2019, by platform (in billions) | Statista Find more statistics at Statista

Has local search tracked with these changes?

What's the connective tissue here?

All of these decisions are, at some point, going to require confirmation. Regardless of the industry, product or service - customers want social proof. They want to verify that other customers have received the results you've promised.

This means reviews.

We've outlined the value and potential return of online reviews significantly in the past. Here are some ways that could play out for various local businesses.

  • Customers check offline retail stores, large and small, for their hours of operation. Any search for your establishment will bring up your review portfolio across the big three (Google, Facebook, Yelp).
  • Local attractions and holiday-specific outlets will prompt customers the search for information and reviews. Attractions and events with a stronger review portfolio will attract more customer attention.
  • Accommodations – hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, Airbnb, etc. – will attract a significant amount of searcher attention during the holidays. Customers will (use travel search engines like TripAdvisor) to identify top-performing accommodations. Locations with a strong and pristine review portfolio will receive the lion’s share of business.
  • Service providers may be needed to help customers during the holidays or busy periods of the year. For example, plumbers or electricians with strong review portfolios may be called on to solve emergency issues for customers.

See what I mean?

Google reviews are front and center in each of these examples. Local search provides customers with your hours of operation, star and review ratings on the SERPs and click to call.

Our mobile devices put the solutions to our problems at our fingertips. In a split second, we’re able to find a tow truck, restaurant, auto body shop – anything we need. But an impulse buy can’t give us the one thing we need most.

We need reassurance that things are going to be okay; we need to know we’re making the right choice when we buy because the wrong choice could be a disaster.

So we rely on customers to make that happen.

The very same customers who chose to share their experiences with the providers we are now considering. In one click, we can do the same thing, sharing our experience with Google searchers.

Or Bing.

Bing Search Results

Or Yahoo.

Yahoo Search Results

Or Yelp.

Yelp Search Results

Or any other review site that has your customer’s undivided attention. And what are these customers looking for? Satisfaction.

And the only way for you to provide that satisfaction is to stay in front of customers. But there are hundreds of review sites. Where do you focus your attention?

1. Focus on customers demographics and psychographics

Your impulse buyers. The key to staying in front of your customers is knowing them deeply. Knowing your customers deeply means you know their desires, goals, fears and frustrations. It means you know where they spend their time, how they spend their time and more.

You see them as real people, rather than an imaginary persona.

This is the part where almost every business says, "We already know our customers." Interview customers, conduct surveys and new details appear. A good customer persona depends on actual interactions and information from your customers.

2. Map out customer micro moments

Knowing your customers is a prerequisite – everything you do with your marketing afterward is dependent on who they are. Get it wrong, and your sales suffer as your marketing falls flat.

So how do you get it, right?

You map out their micro moments. You approach your product (or service) from a customer’s point of view. Take our Greek restaurant, for example. What kind of micro moments would prompt customers to look for you?

  • Greek day festivals
  • Sports events
  • Local traditions
  • Travelers on the highway looking for a place to eat
  • Food truck nights
  • Charity events and local causes

Most businesses have hundreds of micro moments they can focus their attention on. Which moments matter most? Which ones are profitable? At first glance, this seems like an overwhelming problem; until you find the solution.

3. Let customers decide which moments matter most

Think about our Greek example: Are the vast majority of customers visiting these restaurants because they’re traveling? Are they hungry locals looking for a quick bite to eat at lunchtime? Greek natives with a hankering for home?

Your marketing should position your business around these micro moments, providing customers with the reviews, the social proof they’re desperately looking for.

What if you don't have a strong review portfolio?

Here are some steps you can take to boost your review count and improve the strength of your review portfolio.

· Select a review management platform. A review management platform will automate the process, making it easier for you to receive reviews from happy and satisfied customers.

· Create review templates. You'll want to create a series of templates you can use to request customer reviews. We've created a massive collection of templates you can customize for your needs.

· Ask customers for reviews. Research shows 70% of customers are willing to leave a review if asked. Most brands aren't requesting reviews as often as they should.

· Respond to negative reviews. Responding to negative reviews is essential for several reasons (a.) a thoughtful response from brand owners/managers blunts the effect of a negative review. (b.) it gives you a chance, in small cases, to win customers back.

It's not rocket science, right?

But it's still incredibly important that you pursue reviews consistently. If your business is positioned around micro moments, customer reviews should be positioned around your business. Wherever you present your business, prospective customers should see your reviews as well.

Doing this is essential because it:

  • Reduces your advertising and marketing costs
  • Increases your return on ad spend (ROAS)
  • Increases your conversion rate
  • Amplifies the effectiveness of your advertising and marketing campaigns

Do you need impulse buyers for this to work?

Doesn’t really matter if you don’t have impulse buyers

It seems like a legitimate complaint, but the reality is actually the opposite. When we think of impulse buyers, we typically think of people who can’t control themselves. These impulse buyers don’t need much convincing to get the products they already want.

It’s the rest of us, the customers who need help, who struggle with doubt. We struggle with the fear of falling for yet another bad experience, yet another business that failed to deliver.

These strategies are more important for other customers because they’re the ones who need reassurance.

Mobile devices put online reviews at our fingertips

Impulse buyers, early adopters, laggards; as customers, we have access to more buying options than ever before. But with more options comes uncertainty, we’re paralyzed by a plethora of choice.

Which option is best? Which ones will hurt us?

We need reassurance that things are going to be okay; we need to know we’re making the right choice when we buy because the wrong choice could be a disaster.

So we rely on customers to make that happen.

Want to stay in front of customers? Get to know your customers deeply; map out customer moments, positioning yourself around the moments that matter to them. Use mobile to meet them where they are and you’ll find you’re ready for your customers – impulse buyers or not.

About the Author

Andrew McDermott

Andrew McDermott is the co-founder of HooktoWin and the co-author of Hook: Why Websites Fail to Make Money. He shows entrepreneurs how to attract and win new customers.

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