Beyond Buying Behavior: The Only Way Ads Will Ever Work

Why does one advertisement seem more effective than 99.9% of the rest?

What is so special about it that it drives an emotional effect on our bodies and psyches? What is the reason that those ads capture our hearts and minds? When do they start making us think differently about our lives and adopting a new outlook? What has buying behavior have to do with all of it?

Lots of important questions, and here’s the answer. It’s quite a trick to shift the buying behavior of your customers while maintaining a special outlook on your brand. I hate to warn you, but there’s no scientific formula. You cannot erase creativity, but you can change how to approach online advertising that gets your ads in this coveted category.

Yes, it can be tough to design custom ads these days. Audience sizes are getting larger by the day online, and testing ads before launching any one campaign is far easier. But if you’re caught in a fishing exercise looking to see what bites, you can forget something important.

The landscape is tougher, more crowded, and louder than ever. But it’s also because of this that it’s even more important to create a special kind of advertisement. The kind that customers resonate with and will want to see over and over, and share with their networks.

Buying behavior and buying decisions

The godfathers of advertising and marketing have talked about how advertising is dead. It seems though that the new age child prodigies of Internet marketing say the same thing. But why has advertising been dead when it’s still alive and well?

It’s because of buying behavior.

What is buying behavior? It’s the holy grail of advertising. It’s the sum total of the attitudes a customer has towards your offer, their preferences to purchasing, their intentions to make a purchase, and the actual decisions to purchasing when using your offer.

Being able to understand what the consumer will respond to at the right place and the right time is the sweet spot of all sales and marketing. Knowing these intimate details of their life to influence what they will eventually purchase is an art and science. You first need to know the variables before you add your own spin to it.

Options, risk of the purchase, and active involvement

Buying behavior is categorized by the differences of risk between brands and a customer’s involvement in deciding to make a purchase. The higher the price, the higher the risk, the higher the involvement. So for the purpose of advertising, it must stir one of the four types to shape the future of decision making.

There are two views of looking to influence the buying behavior that exists (or doesn’t) as of right now and the buying behavior we want to exist. The difference is what is out in the market now or has known to be in the market, and what is still yet to be known. As such, advertising acts as a news source for consumers who then engage in the decision making process to purchase.

This is why we advertise. We advertise so that we can ultimately shift buying behavior as it is to what we aim it to be in the future. But it’s way more complicated than creating any old advert and posting it on a social channel like Facebook.

Why ads work and don’t

It doesn’t matter if we don’t like ads or not, we want them to stick in our minds to matter. Nothing in life sticks if it doesn’t produce some kind of meaning, even if it’s in fact meaningless. There is still room for meaninglessness in life because it’s something we can attribute with an emotion.

Everything that sticks has emotion in it. And the way we get down to the core of that emotion has much to do with the psychology of your target audience, but it also has to do with where they want to go and who they want to be. Knowing what those two key interests are means you can create your advertising to shape your offer in a way that resonates with what they desire.

Now we can’t overreach here. Humans are even more sensitive to false advertising and prone to discrediting what might be real. There’s just been so much poor advertising that was either spammy or scammy, it’s become second nature. Humans have a built-in shield now from years of disorganized mindsets stemming from traditional marketing.

It’s important to know what will register with certain audiences and their demographic backgrounds and psychographic influences. But buying behavior isn’t guaranteed by these factors even if they can point us in the right direction. Knowing additional factors will not only help to target due to fantastic segmentation, but it will also produce results we can measure with science.

Types of buying behavior examples that you should watch out for

There are four key types of behavior that indicate what kind of buyer a customer is. These are the most common ways to delineate where a customer is in their journey. Think through them from both the Business to Business markets or Business to Consumer markets to produce the best advertising.

1. Complex buying behavior

This is strictly related to the process when customers purchase expensive or unfamiliar goods, usually as a one-time purchase. Since many brands are in the market already, these decisions require high involvement from both the consumer and the company. The consumer will likely engage in lengthy research before committing to invest their resources. They’ll most likely envision how their life might change after the purchase. At this point, companies should create learning material to supplement the consumer’s process. This will aid them develop beliefs and attitudes around the company’s offer that are positive.

2. Dissonance reducing buying behavior

Similar to complex buying behavior, it’s still involving expensive or unfamiliar goods at a one-time purchase. Although, this time, there are no longer many other brands to compare to. On top of that, there are limited options, resources, or time that a consumer requires to make a proper decision. Due to their pain caused by limitation and dissonance from the market, they’re more ready to act. They’ll do this without much research and on limited knowledge and options. Companies who place themselves correctly in this arena can run sales that target these customers. This can lead to repeat buyers of their brand with incentives and appealing discounts.

3. Habitual buying behavior

Here the consumers don’t really have high involvement with these decisions. They are repeat purchases usually for regular items from the grocery or toiletries. Consumers tend to just go with the usual of what they already buy or how they usually buy. They’ll do this even if there are a few other options that might be better suited to their needs. This means they have entered into a habitual state of purchasing. Companies should decipher the symbols and images that are associated with the customer’s habits and display those in campaigns. This association will bring positive and personal identification with the brand.

4. Variety seeking buying behavior

Again, the customer’s involvement is low here, but they will have many choices between different brands. Many times, the customer engages in swapping products since the risk is low to do so. The emotions that consumers deal with here are that of boredom and curiosity. They might engage in purchasing just to try something new and different out, so companies here must engage in the hardest type of marketing of giving deals, coupons, and possibly free samples to keep the customer interested.

What to keep in mind when creating ads *hint hint*

Even while knowing the types of buying behavior, a marketer must be mindful when producing creative for advertising campaigns. They must mind where their customer is in their journey and the boundaries that keep them there. This will hint towards the actual buying behavior of when it comes down to online conversions.

Now, there are many other influences than just the attitude types of the customer’s buying behavior. Too many to cover here. But when creating adverts, it’s imperative the marketing registers to the initial emotion of their point of purchase. Creatives must think of the time and location and mindset a buyer will be in. This strategical thinking will create new avenues for a customer to pay.

It’s not always about money or status either. Many times customers are looking to buy on something that is more of an emotional decision. Whether that be with a dry features list for an engineer or with some captivating copy for a designer, it’s all about the emotional buying experience. The emotion of status, pain-removal, adventure, or familiarity is what will drive a buyer to purchase.

Case Study: John Lewis & Partners shift holiday buying behavior in the UK

If you’re looking to see all this in action look no further. John Lewis, a major UK high-end department store, always pushes the envelope every year for their large seasonal holiday campaign. Once a year during Christmas, the time all buying behavior takes a spike, John Lewis pulls out all the cards. They aim to showcase some kind of brand storytelling through their advertising. Usually, once the ads are released, they’re always something everybody is buzzing about.

Their advert for their 2018 Christmas commercial is one of their most memorable. It’s simple yet so wonderful in how it conveys emotion for their buyers. It showcases the purity in how a gift can change the course of someone’s life, especially if given by a loved one. It makes our heart sing, and wish it was already Christmas just so we can purchase that special something for that special someone. You can watch the winning advert below.

Apart from the fuzzy feelings we get from watching, the buying behavior of shoppers made a significant shift that year. With 180.4 million dollars in sales revenue from the previous year this not only suggests they retained shoppers but acquired new business too. That is what you call effective advertising.

To follow this point, the 2019 Christmas ad from John Lewis was not as large of a hit to follow such a special advert. You’d think that shoppers would still shop at a high-end department store during a peak economical year, but the annual sales was at a 73.2 million dollar loss from 2018. Quite a significant difference made on the brand perception with advertising that didn’t do as well.

The buying behavior lesson to use in pay-per click advertising

Advertising doesn’t work as it did back in the 90s and early 2000s. It’s not where you see it once and it’s based on impressions on a certain network, channel, or publication. Now we can see an ad over and over again. It can amass millions of views from multiple shares over time while having the same effect as when it was shown.

Just because Elton John doesn’t leave his bed for a few million dollars doesn’t mean great advertising needs an infamous main character. All it needs is an emotion. The right emotion based on timing and location in the journey.

Humans connect through storytelling and emotion. We purchased based off of this very fickle yet powerful function of the body. PPC marketers can arm themself with this knowledge when analyzing data from advertising grids.

What should you do if you want to influence buying behavior for successful campaigns? Engage in brand strategy. Branding is the one thing that will create equity over time and a return on your investment. It will lead PPC campaigns with an edge over the competition while influencing your customers to go beyond their buying behavior and buy ahead.

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