How to write content that converts – About buying triggers

How to write content that converts enquiries into sales?

Instead of talking about the mechanics and complexities of actually writing copy that sells, which I’ve covered before, I thought it’d be useful to look at the buying trigger angle. After all, you can write quality sales-led content ’til you’re blue in the face but unless you squeeze the specific trigger that drives an individual’s desire, they might never convert.

What is a buying trigger?

Here’s an example.

I can’t stand the phone. I always disliked using landlines and mobiles are no different. Because I can’t see someone’s face, I can’t tell when they’re about to stop talking and I end up interrupting them. I have to close my eyes otherwise I’m too distracted by the sights and sounds around me to hear what they’re saying. Crazy.

As you can imagine, I put off getting a mobile phone for ages until I saw an advert on TV about texting. I had no idea you could send texts – this was many years ago before mobile phones went anywhere near mainstream – and it converted me instantly. I bought a mobile the next day and never looked back. Here’s me, the texting queen.

Here’s another example.

As a phone-hater I’ve never been keen on smartphones. I already own a notebook, a desktop, a phone and a really good digital camera. I didn’t want a fancy version of a gadget I disliked in the first place. Until I discovered a totally brilliant smartphone app. It uses satellites to map exactly where you are within a landscape, counts the distance you walk, makes graphs so you can see the height above sea level and fastest / slowest walking speeds. And it plots the entire route then overlays it onto a map. I fell instantly and deeply in love.

One minute I didn’t want a smartphone. The next I did. The app moved me along the sales funnel at alarming speed, from someone verging on hostile to a person who simply couldn’t live another second without one.

Identifying buying triggers

There’s a lot of talk about identifying buying triggers in the digital marketing world. It’s sounds exciting, credible and eminently possible. But it’s always interesting to look beyond the marketing speak, getting down and dirty with the devilish detail.

Of course some triggers are nice and simple. Basic ones like these are probably typical in the smartphone sector:

  • I want that because everyone else has one
  • it’s new
  • my old one is knackered
  • technology has moved on and I want to keep up
  • it looks amazing
  • the brand is prestigious and aspirational

They’re all straightforward, all more or less universal, all easy enough for marketers to tap into. But let’s look at my second example again. How would a marketer identify my relatively obscure buying trigger, a single tiny and relatively insignificant app amongst literally millions of other apps?

  • I’m on Facebook and regularly post photos of our walks and how far we’ve walked. So it’s be easy enough to make assumptions bearing my Facebook timeline in mind. But marketers can’t get into my account – I’ve buttoned the security and privacy settings as tight as a gnat’s chuff
  • I also use Twitter. Anyone following me on Twitter knows I’m into walking. I mention it often enough
  • I also occasionally talk about walking in this blog, and I’ll probably do it more often as I develop the ‘diary’ category. Anyone reading it will be able to pin the walking bit down
  • Now and again I buy walking gear online. Assuming they collect my data, they’ll know

If a smartphone retailer combined all this information together and brought creative guesswork into play, they might hit the nail on the head. If they were lucky they’d realise the app I fell for would make a difference. But it’s a punt. And I’m probably a member of a very small chunk of people in the same boat. We’d need a specially-targeted campaign to reach us, which is pretty expensive compared to everyday mass marketing initiatives using general triggers.

Does it matter?

We tend to clump together, which is why Big Data lets marketers make reasonably accurate assumptions about groups of people. Generalised, top-level buying triggers are easy enough to identify. Because they apply to large numbers of us, using them to inform marketing campaigns can deliver low customer acquisition costs and big, fat ROIs.
But drill down a bit into the nether regions of targeting and you realise there’s a whole other layer of personal motivation that’s pretty difficult, if not impossible, for marketers to access. It isn’t practical to spend time, money and effort trying to second guess buying triggers at anything but the most basic level… yet. But in an idea world, content that converts is exactly that.

The marketing moral of the story?

Marketing is never as easy and straightforward as it seems. We don’t live in an ideal world. We have a long way to go before micro-targeting can tap into highly personal desires so deep that consumers themselves don’t even know they’re there.
But perhaps you know better. Say you’re a crack digital marketer. How would you pin down the highly personal and specific buying triggers I’ve revealed? If you could do it, would it pay? Feel free to comment.

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