Many business owners believe that continuously sending consumers messages to remind them how great their products are is the best way to increase sales in today’s crowded marketplace.

CEB research shows that the key to driving sales is make the purchase process simple and straightforward. (Andrew Harrer/BLOOMBERG)

CEB research shows that consumers are overwhelmed by the volume of messages coming at them from brands. This cognitive overload makes consumers overthink purchases, which actually increases their likelihood to waver on intent to purchase and damages brand loyalty.

The findings also debunk three key myths of consumer interaction:

Most consumers are open to a relationship with your brand: Actually, they’re not. Only 23 percent of the consumers in CEB’s study said they have a relationship with any brand. Others made comments like “No! It’s a brand, not a family member.”

Interactions build brand relationships: Brand relationships are based on shared values (beliefs that both the brand and consumer espouse), not just frequent interactions (e.g. emails / texts from the brand, visits to the brand’s website or social media sites). In fact, 64 percent of consumers surveyed cited shared values as the primary reason for their current brand relationships.

The more interaction the better: There’s no correlation between interactions with a customer and the likelihood that he or she will go through with an intended purchase, purchase again, and recommend.

So, what should small business owners do to drive growth and encourage brand loyalty?

CEB surveyed more than 7,000 consumers and interviewed 200 marketing executives across consumer brands and industries and found one key to success: decision simplicity. In fact, increasing the perceived ease of purchase by just 1 point on a 5-point scale (scale running from very hard to very easy) results in a whopping 96 percent increase in customer loyalty. 

Small businesses can streamline the decision-making process for their customers by helping them with three critical steps in the purchase process:

Trusting information: Provide recommendations, ratings and reviews from trusted consumer advisors.

Learning effectively: Simplify the research process by offering clear product information targeted to each decision stage.

Weighing options confidently: Make transparent buying guides and brand-differentiated information easily available.

Our research also revealed that simplifying the decision-making process makes consumers 86 percent more likely to purchase your brand and 115 percent more likely to recommend it to others. What’s more, decision simplicity is the number one driver of likelihood to buy, and the impact of simplifying purchase decisions for consumers is four times stronger than the favored marketing strategy of engagement.

The best way to build brand loyalty is to make your customers feel confident about their purchase decisions through simple, targeted information. After all, a confident customer will be a steadfast one.

Patrick Spenner is a managing director at CEB, a member-based advisory company.

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