Simple enough: We’re breaking down Google’s recent findings on consumer purchase behaviors. Why? Because not only is purchase behavior the backbone of Rock Candy Media Austin’s strategy as a top advertising agency (in Texas, and the U.S.), but it’s also a little sus(picious) that we need to rely on the word of an internet supergiant who brands virtually MUST advertise through for our advertising data. That would be like Facebook saying, “It’s 100% more effective to advertise on Facebook than any other social media.” You wouldn’t want your advertising/marketing agency to just roll with that, would you?
Here are two main graphics they provided to sum up their findings.
How people decide what to buy lies in the ‘messy middle’ of the purchase journey / Alistair Rennie, Jonny Protheroe / July 2020
The first graphic doesn’t really look that new, huh? And the second one is in need of some explanation. When we break it down, we’ll show you how it is indeed new and valuable– but only to the people who read it the right way.
There’s an infinite loop a consumer goes through before making a purchase behavior.
Your job as a brand is to break them out of the loop right into your hands where you convert the sale.
Graphic 1: Google summarizes that after Exposure to a Trigger (to look into buying something for some reason: product, service, brand, business, company, etc.), a consumer enters the Experience zone of your brand. Within this zone, consumers work in the infinity loop between expansive exploration (of your direct and indirect competitors, who they may want to buy from) and reductive evaluation (narrowing down their choices based on what they find until they make a purchase).
The brand’s job (that is, your job, or the job of your integrated marketing agency) is not only to keep them on your side of the loop, but to provide enough value in their journey that your’s is the one they convert on. The loop will continue round and round until a purchase decision is made, although some loops last longer than others. For example, the exploratory and evaluative loop is much longer for buying a new car, than for buying a fly-swatter (duh). Each brand must optimize its loop by knowing precisely what the consumer is likely to search, want, need, wonder, and click, and getting them to do it instead of clicking back into the explorative side.
Knowing these consumer behaviors and keeping them in your loop (and you in their shopping cart) is, essentially, a summary of Conversion Rate Optimization (what is CRO?). We broke that down here if you want to go even deeper (like into the optimization of button clicking, well-designed websites, social media posts, short- or long-term marketing campaigns, and more). For now we’re moving onto that second graphic from Google: the cognitive biases that influence consumer buying decisions.
Graphic 2: Six main cognitive biases affecting your target consumer’s decision-making.
Category heuristics: those go-to short phrases that make up product descriptions or easy-to-find summaries.
Power of now: the faster they can receive the product or benefit, the more persuaded they are to take action.
Social proof: word of mouth, friend’s reviews, influencer opinions. People want to trust their friends before they trust a review on your site.
Scarcity: people want what’s running out.
Authority: people will listen to a trusted source or expert. Yes, this gets wishy-washy with the social proof one when it comes to influencers.
Power of free: people are suckers for a free gift that tags along with the main purchase (even if it’s just shipping; even if it’s unrelated).
There’s the breakdown. Here’s why it matters.
Remember that whole part we said at the beginning about how this is only new and valuable if you read it the correct way? Truly, all this information, while it’s nice to be reaffirmed in 2020, is not that new. It’s why people hire copywriters just for Amazon product descriptions (category heuristics), why brands form entire influencer teams (social proof/ sometimes authority), and why sales always have an end-date or collections have limited availability (scarcity, power of now).
But here’s what’s interesting about one of them in particular. Category heuristics is a bullet-pointed version of an ENTIRE type of marketing strategy (not just a tactic within it, the entire integrated marketing strategy). And we don’t think Google meant to summarize it like that– we think they actually don’t realize that their one-liner is the tip of the iceberg called category marketing.
It’s so important for category heuristics to convert because it may be the only thing a consumer looks at before moving on (back into the exploration side of the loop). Attention goes quick, and their trigger to buy into you (deeper into the reductive evaluation loop) is gone in a blink.
So what’s category marketing?
It’s an integrated marketing strategy wherein your brand becomes not only the best of its competitors, but it stands out like its own category of offerings. It’s the application of microeconomics and demographic behavioral targeting (not just geographic segmentation) that frames your brand as separate from the rest, effectively cutting into that infinity loop and getting them more interested in your brand with drastically less time spent in the exploration (looking at your competitors) stage.
In short, it’s the productization of your differentiators. That naming strategy, that conversion rate optimization, that categorization of you in a higher quality tier of products than the rest of the market– that’s what sells. That’s what converts, retains, and then continues to build long-term loyalty.
So, yes, we owe a thanks to Google for reaffirming that these tactics still have a good seat at the table, even if they’re the ones we are used to keeping up with (marketing is a day-to-day evolving game, anyways). But moreover we have a thanks to us for knowing the right way to take in this information. Kinda braggy, we know, but we only speak the truth. And we’ll brag about your brand in its brand new strategic category marketing space like we brag about ourselves.