By Steve Vargo, OD, MBA
Why do patients order online? Is it based solely on price? Neuromarketing is an emerging field that deals with brain science and how we make decisions. Many of the findings are counter-intuitive to what you might think.
For years it was assumed that consumers used ration and logic to make purchasing decisions. Current brain science tells us that’s typically not the case. As opposed to making deep and logical assessments of marketing messages and purchase decisions, our brains prefer to conserve energy and make fast and efficient decisions when presented with purchase options. In fact, many of the decisions we ALL make every day are made…subconsciously!
How do online retailers leverage this?
While it may be assumed that price is the only reason that customers order eye wear from the Internet, a strong argument could be made that several (subconscious) factors influence this decision. Whether intentional or not, a few of the tactics used by online retailers to influence their customers buying decisions are Habit, Familiarity and Processing Fluency.
Habits, formed through use and experience, play a huge role in consumer behavior. Amidst all the choices in the toothpaste aisle, why do you routinely choose the same brand? Habits bypass conscious deliberation. Once patients order once or twice online, it can become a (subconscious) habit… see Dr. Smith for my exam, then order my glasses / contacts online.
How to compete: Break the habit! Remember, habits are often subconscious behaviors, performed without cognitive deliberation. So… get them to deliberate. Deliberation is where counterarguments are formed and where conscious intentions are made. The conscious mind always has the capacity to override subconscious processing. Discuss what makes your products and services unique. Provide the patient/customer with a different set of desirable qualities that are NOT associated with the online retailer, but rather are associated with YOUR practice. Grab their conscious attention. Disrupt the (subconscious) habitual buying cycle!
People tend to equate familiarity with likeability. We are drawn to things that are familiar. THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL DRIVERS OF CONSUMER BEHAVIOR. We feel comfortable and more certain around things that are familiar, and are able to exert much less mental energy toward it. Familiarity provides a decision-making shortcut for our efficiency-driven minds.
Well-known brands build familiarity through repeat exposure to their product. This is especially relevant for online vendors. Once a customer places an order, their email is captured for future marketing and promotions. Not to mention a robust social media presence and print / TV advertisements. Often times it’s not the content of the ad that influences behavior, rather it’s the repeat exposure to the brand that translates into familiarity, liking and repeat purchases.
How to compete: Keep your name and brand in front of your patients. Consider investing in a patient communication system like SolutionReach or DemandForce where you can stay connected with your patients via email and text. Bolster your social media presence. No time? Get in touch with Daniel Rostenne over at EyeCarePro.net. Offline strategies might be advertising in the local paper or getting involved in your community. You don’t have to be a marketing guru, but you do have to be visible.
Processing fluency is the ease with which information is processed. Mental effort takes energy, and our brains prefer effortless, immediate results to time-consuming deliberation. Ever bought something from Amazon or Ebay? Pretty easy, right? A quick search, a couple clicks and the desired item is on its way to your doorstep. The same can be said for ordering eyewear online, right from the convenience of your Lazy Boy.
How to compete: Keep the process simple. Avoid overloading the patient with confusing product offerings and pricing options. You may feel that you are impressing the patient by presenting a plethora of options, but the “decision-making” part of our brain prefers fast, efficient, easy solutions. Make the process linear and effortless for the patient.
Current brain research shows that the part of the brain responsible for making decisions is the more primitive “old” brain, which operates subconsciously. In fact, research shows that conscious thought only influences about 5 to 10 percent of our information processing. Let’s not be so quick to assume the decision to order those glasses online was logically and rationally deliberated by the patient. Perhaps we exert more influence over this situation than we assumed?
Below is a video we created to “Break the Habit” of ordering online. Feel free to share with your patients! http://bit.ly/1p7gnUJ
Photo: Copyright: cobalt / 123RF Stock Photo
Steve Vargo, OD, MBA is founder and CEO of OD Success magazine. He frequently writes and occasionally speaks and consults on business related topics. He is the owner of iMobile Communications, a company that works with small businesses to integrate mobile marketing strategies. He is also President of New Media OD, a media and education company that publishes this magazine. He is in private practice in the Chicago area, where he lives with his wife and 2 sons. Contact Steve at NewMediaOD@gmail.com