Influencing consumer buying patterns is essential to the success of your small or midsized business. By tailoring your knowledge of how and why customers choose to purchase your products or services, you can help position your company for future growth and diversification.

Here are three key steps you can take to help influence consumer buying patterns:

1. Deliver consistent content of value.

By providing content of value to your target audience, you can subtly influence their buying decisions over time. The key is to embrace the value aspect of content marketing, not the promotional element. You know what matters most to your customers and what they want, need and enjoy. For your marketing materials, create short, clear, easy-to-read content that addresses those concerns, but avoid bragging about how wonderful your company is — customers will get that message if you give them practical content that makes a difference in their lives. Commit to a regular schedule of delivery, be it blog posts, newsletters, feature articles or other types of content.

2. Customize your website for maximum effect.

Consumers will buy more of your product or service if the online shopping experience is seamless and convenient. Is your site easy to navigate? Are your product descriptions sufficiently detailed and accurate? Do they focus on benefits more than features? It should be easy to click on a product, store it in a shopping cart and complete a purchase. Even getting all this right isn't enough in today's mobile era. Ideally, your business should offer a mobile app, but at the very least the site must be optimized for shopping on mobile devices to satisfy, among others, the rapidly expanding numbers of millennial buyers.

3. Get serious about social media.

You may have tested the waters on Facebook and Twitter, but until you fully commit to a social media strategy, you're not influencing buying patterns as much as you could be. Social media puts you directly in touch with your customers, an ideal venue for resolving complaints, boosting brand awareness and inviting ideas for new products and diversification. Dedicate time to "feeding" your social media channels. Plan out a schedule of customer-focused content and stick with it, week in and week out.

Want to better understand your customers? Put yourself in their shoes and take a look at your business through that perspective. Gather and analyze all the data you can on their behavior. And finally, don't be afraid to ask your loyal customers to answer this question themselves.

Tags: social media strategy content marketing Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs consumer buying patterns business website social media content of value Buying patterns