Digital Marketing and Its Impact on Consumer Behaviour

Published on May 05, 2022
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The ongoing digitalisation continues to reshape our world. One of the best examples of that is the growth of online marketing. With all the digital tools at their disposal, marketers have reinvented the marketing game, transforming consumer behaviour in the process. There is more to it, though.

Indeed, changes in digital marketing have profound effects on our decision-making process. On the other hand, consumer behaviour also has an impact on how marketers use online marketing tools. In other words, both marketers and consumers interact with each other, shaping their behaviours. What is more, with the world becoming more and more digitised, the influence of online marketing on consumers is only going to be amplified in the future. 

The purpose of this article is to explain how exactly digital marketing affects consumer behaviour. However, to get the complete picture, it is vital to understand what digital marketing is and through which channels marketers can reach out to consumers. 

Defining Digital Marketing

In its essence, digital marketing refers to advertising through online media and various other forms of digital communication. That being said, digital advertising involves using such channels as email, text messages, social media, video platforms, or websites. In other words, whenever there is digital communication involved in a marketing campaign, it is digital advertising.

The Importance and Benefits of Digital Marketing

All it takes to understand the importance of digital marketing is one look at the internet users statistics. According to the Digital 2021: Global Overview Report, as of January 2021, the global digital population stood at 4.66 billion active internet users. Of this total, 4.32 were mobile internet users, and 4.2 were active social media users. 

These numbers indicate that over half of the entire world population - 59.5% to be specific - regularly engage in online activities. This creates a massive opportunity for marketers to reach a global clientele, strengthening brand awareness, entering new markets, and acquiring customers - all this while getting the best possible return on investment (ROI). In a nutshell, digital marketing has become critical to business success.

However, online marketing also comes with numerous benefits for customers, with the most significant one being convenience. Nowadays, a user can quickly check and receive all the information regarding products, services, promotions, coupons, etc.

Online Marketing Channels

Companies utilise numerous advertising channels to reach their target audience and provide their customers with all the information regarding their products, services, and promotions. These channels also help build and manage customer loyalty, so critical in today’s incredibly competitive business environment. 

The most popular types of digital marketing include social media, email, content marketing, pay-per-click advertising (PPC), and affiliate marketing. 

Social Media

Social media marketing refers to building brand awareness, generating traffic, and increasing customer loyalty through engaging people via social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, TikTok, or LinkedIn. This can be done through numerous forms of engagement, such as posts, videos, live streams, polls, content, or participation in discussions. 

In fact, this form of digital marketing has become the clear favourite among B2C content marketers. It has also begun to take over the B2B sphere, and it is clear to see why. As already covered, there are 4.2 billion active social media users worldwide, which, combined with numerous platforms one can use, provide the best opportunities for businesses to engage with their customers.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is another popular channel used by digital marketers. The idea behind this form of online marketing is straightforward - a business sends promotional messages to its target audience, hoping people click on them. Performing a successful email campaign, however, is a much more complex matter.

When done correctly, it can deliver an excellent ROI, generating leads and driving revenue. In research performed by the Content Marketing Institute, 89% of surveyed marketing professionals named email campaigns as their most effective source of lead generation, which, considering 3.9 billion email users in 2020, should not surprise.

Content Marketing

Although content marketing can refer to several strategies in this article, it applies to taking care of a website. A website is another channel through which businesses can communicate with their target audience. Companies can use those to provide their customers with information relevant to their operations, be it via blog posts, announcements, videos, or product/service descriptions.

Websites are also treated as an educational platform by consumers. It is through websites that an average user can learn the most information regarding the company, including its operations, mission, vision, and values. That is why businesses need to ensure their content is top-quality. Otherwise, consumers may find their information irrelevant and choose the competition instead.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

Pay-per-click, PPC for short, means displaying ads on a platform and paying each time someone clicks on it. On the surface, this does not look like anything complex. How and when particular ads are displayed, however, involves quite a complicated process. 

In a nutshell, when a spot for an ad is available on SERP (search engine results page), the engine performs an instant auction, during which an algorithm prioritises ads based on several factors, including their quality, keyword relevance, bid amount, and landing page quality. 

Now, as for a standard PPC campaign, it usually comes with one or more target actions that a person should complete after they click an ad. These actions, called conversions, are divided into transactional and non-transactional. A conversion can be a purchase (transactional) or signing up for a newsletter (non-transactional).

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is defined as a paid partnership between a business and a third party to promote its services or products. An affiliate can be another business, a blogger, Youtuber, or an Instagram influencer. Usually, affiliate marketing operates on a revenue-sharing model, with an associate receiving a commission after someone purchases a product they promote.

This form of digital marketing has become extremely popular in recent years, especially with the rise of social media influencers. It is an excellent way for businesses to reach a wider audience and generate leads. What is more, with many influencers or affiliate pages having their unique discount codes and coupons, more people might be willing to take advantage of those, converting them into customers.

What Is Consumer Behaviour?

Essentially, consumer behaviour can be defined as the study of purchasing patterns and decision-making processes of individual consumers, groups, or organisations, referring to their motives and needs. By studying what consumers buy, as well as where, why, and when they buy, businesses can determine their customers’ expectations and adjust their marketing strategy accordingly.

What is essential here is that consumer behaviour constantly shifts, influenced by numerous internal and external factors, such as ongoing trends, age, or social status. Those behaviours also vary depending on the country, region, culture, etc. Based on these factors, marketers’ job is to adjust how they position the product. Even a potentially irrelevant thing like packaging can have a massive impact on consumer behaviour. 

Of course, the influence of marketing cannot be underestimated. To advertise a product or a service right, however, one must first understand what drives consumer behaviour. This is the correlation between advertising and consumers mentioned at the beginning of this article, with marketers and consumers shaping each other's behaviour.

This relation has been exceptionally magnified by the growth of digital marketing, which has reshaped the consumer decision-making process (more on that in the next section). All that being said, the conclusion here is that understanding what shapes consumer behaviour is key to creating an effective digital marketing strategy.

Impact of Digital Marketing on Consumers 

Consumer behaviour and marketing have always been two closely related terms, where one heavily impacts the other and vice versa. In recent years, however, there has been a significant shift in how consumers behave in the marketplace, caused mainly by the progressing digitalisation and introduction of new digital marketing tools. That being said, let’s look at some of the most significant effects of internet marketing on consumer behaviour.

Real-Time Research

Consumers nowadays are flooded with content coming from brands trying to promote their products through numerous channels. And while some of those ads tend to annoy users, this breadth of content also means convenient access to all the information a consumer needs to make a well-thought purchase decision. 

Today’s consumers can quickly research a brand and compare its products and services to competitors to determine whether they should make the purchase. Digital advertising plays a crucial part here. For instance, an email campaign or a Google Ad can create a need for a specific product. Then, using social media and a website, a consumer can determine whether they should trust this brand with their money. This is why it is so vital to have top-quality content.

In other words, through several different channels, brands can artificially create demand for their products. However, using the very same sources, consumers can inform themselves and find out if they should buy a product.

Access to Global Markets

In the past, entering a new market was a complicated and expensive operation. The marketing campaign itself had to be done perfectly. Otherwise, the whole internationalisation process would have crumbled. Nowadays, entering a new foreign market is a much more straightforward and cheaper project, all thanks to the internet and the growth of digital marketing.

Consumers today have access to an abundance of products coming from all over the world. With a single click of a mouse, a person can ship almost anything they want, no matter the country. This has a significant impact on the consumer decision-making process. There has been an increase in people’s interest in goods and services they didn’t have access to before. 

Globalisation also plays its part, with consumers adopting behaviours from foreign markets. It is a process heavily influenced by online marketing. On the one hand, it opens new opportunities for businesses and consumers alike. On the other, it has increased the competition and flooded markets with low-quality products. 

Increased Customer Feedback and Engagement

In general, consumers nowadays want to be engaged. Interacting with their favourite brands makes them feel important and needed, which plays a significant role in building brand loyalty. This increase in consumer engagement has grown significantly with the introduction of social media platforms. 

Accessible to anyone, platforms like Facebook or Instagram have become the main interaction source between brands and consumers. By engaging with their customers via posts, comments, or polls, businesses can strengthen their relationship with consumers, improving the overall customer experience. 

Other digital advertising channels also play their part in engaging consumers. Websites with blogs, forums, or consumer reviews sections offer a customer the chance to give feedback regarding a service or product. By giving consumers a platform to express their opinions, a brand can quickly build a stellar reputation through word-of-mouth marketing. 

Higher Consumer Expectations

With all the technological advancements, consumers expect fast and quality service at all times. A modern customer is impatient and demanding. If a product does not live up to their expectations, people are more than likely to express their dissatisfaction on online forums, social media comment sections, or customer reviews. 

In theory, this word-of-mouth marketing should help to build brand reputation. However, it can also ruin all the company’s efforts. Again, this closely relates to access to information, with consumers being able to read reviews, sponsored posts, or watching video ads that praise a product. 

Using these channels, a company builds consumers’ expectations. If a product does not deliver, though, they risk facing adverse repercussions. This example perfectly illustrates how significantly consumers and digital marketers influence each other. 

Shaky Brand Loyalty

Before digital marketing started to change consumer behaviour, people tended to stick to their tried and tested brands. Opting for familiar products was preferred, as there was not much information on competition’s alternatives. Online advertising threw this concept away. 

Nowadays, consumers are exposed to a much broader range of products. What is more, they can quickly compare different brands’ offers. In other words, the digital marketing revolution has given consumers choices they did not have before. This has caused a trend of people switching to various brands without a moment of hesitation. That is primarily because of eased access to information, which has made experimenting with alternative brands practically riskless.

Businesses acknowledge that shift in consumer behaviour, creating numerous incentives. Discounts, coupons, loyalty programs, premium subscriptions - all these features are an aftermath of the online revolution. And as brands continue to compete, consumers can only reap the benefits of improved and cheaper services.

Personalised Experience

With all the consumer data available, businesses can now create a much more personalised marketing experience. And while it has caused some controversy, personalised ads is something consumers have become accustomed to. Thanks to a more personalised shopping experience, customers can now spend less time researching. Instead, they expect to receive what they want on a silver platter.

Data has become king in the digital marketing world. It allows brands to position themselves better and create personalised content to drive sales. By tailoring the whole shopping experience to individual consumers, a brand can build customer loyalty, which, as already discussed, is crucial in today’s highly competitive business environment.

Impulsive Buying

Impulsive buying refers to a situation where a consumer makes a spontaneous purchase decision, which stands in contrast to a well-researched and aware buying decision. And while such behaviours are not new, digital marketing has significantly enhanced that last-call urge to purchase something. 

That is because consumers are bombarded with ads, pop-ups, discounts, coupons, ongoing sales, or unique deals. These practices are used to influence consumer behaviour, artificially creating the need. Usually, brands use social media or websites to promote their future and current promotions, creating interest that often converts into a purchase.

What the Future Holds

As referred to at the beginning of the article, internet marketing is only going to increase its impact on customer behaviour, primarily due to the new technologies’ intensively progressing digitisation. Experts predict future consumers to expect even more convenient and personalised experiences than they have now. 

And while this does not involve a drastic change in consumer behaviour, marketers will need to adapt. As predicted by digital marketing professionals, future trends will include:

  • Featured snippets: A segment of text, usually composed of no more than a couple of visual lines displayed as a separate box at the top of SERP. Its goal is to answer a consumer’s question directly, increasing convenience when searching for information.
  • Voice search optimisation: Voice search receives more and more recognition each year, with personal assistants and smart speakers slowly taking over households. This poses a challenge to SEO specialists who will need to implement the right tools to make easier voice search possible.
  • AI chatbots: Artificial intelligence will play a massive role in internet advertising. One of the significant features it is expected to offer is advanced AI chatbots. These will take the customer experience to another level, providing consumers with faster and more efficient aid and problem resolution.
  • Shoppable social media posts: Instagram has only recently introduced shoppable posts, but they have already proven to be an effective conversion generator. According to sources, approximately 130 million Instagram users top on such ads every month, and this number is expected to grow, which, considering its convenience, should happen sooner rather than later.

Looking at all these future trends, one can reach a simple conclusion - convenience and personalisation are two consumer behaviours that will fuel the growth of digital marketing. Consumers will demand even faster service, with simple yet informative content helping them in their purchasing decisions.

In Conclusion

Although traditional marketing has always influenced how consumers perceive particular brands and products, online marketing has magnified this impact. Nowadays, internet marketing can affect practically every step in the consumer decision-making process, from creating the need through providing information to maintaining post-sale relations.

The goal of marketing has evolved, reshaping consumer behaviour in the process. Today’s consumer is more aware of the marketplace. They are also more demanding, expecting fast and efficient service no matter the circumstance. Most importantly, however, consumers have become more involved, expressing their praise or dissatisfaction through numerous communication channels.

All this provides brands with more opportunities when creating digital marketing campaigns and adjusting their positioning strategies. And with the progressing digitalisation and technological advancements, it is expected that consumers will continue to enhance their impact on businesses’ operations. On the other hand, however, these new technologies will also help brands manipulate purchasing habits. With all that being said, the future of internet marketing looks more exciting than ever.


Charlotte Marshall

Lead Editor

Being a full-time content writer and part-time shopaholic, globe-trotter and avid lover of all things food (and wine)...I love researching the best money-saving hacks so that I can help fuel my own passions, and yours!


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