Too few e-commerce sites emphasize benefits in product descriptions. Yet the complex personal, psychological, and social factors that determine how consumers rate the importance of product features serve a single motivation: How do I benefit?
Last week's article talked about how business customers frequently use a well-defined evaluation process to select products and vendors. The technique maps the importance of each criterion to how well a product performs, then calculates a total score for each product.
Consumers use a similar approach that takes into account both how well a product appears to meet their needs and how important they feel those needs to be.
In some ways, consumer decision-making behavior is much more complex than the corporate decision-making process. Marketers have researched consumer behavior for many years, and many articles have been published in marketing journals explaining how consumers make purchasing decisions. We now understand that consumers move through a well-defined process to make a decision. That process includes the following steps:
In mapping out the buying process that consumers use, researchers have identified several categories of motivation that determine how consumers attach weight to -- or rate the importance of -- product features:
Everyone involved in creating advertising and other marketing material knows that consumers are not as interested in a product's features as they are in the benefits they can receive. And it's no surprise to marketers that the way consumers feel about a product heavily influences the likelihood of their making a purchase. However, it may surprise Web marketers just how few e-commerce Web sites actually emphasize benefits in product descriptions.
For instance, many of the tools at Sears.com just list features and specifications without mentioning any of the benefits of owning and using those tools. This is very different from other marketing communications by Sears; the radio and TV spots frequently emphasize how good people feel when using their strong, reliable tools.
At the other end of the spectrum is The Sharper Image. Its Web site provides a significant amount of descriptive copy for products. For instance, the Talking Digital Tire Gauge at first seems a bit extravagant. However, the descriptive copy emphasizes a serious benefit that will hit home for anyone who drives an SUV: "Recent experience has taught the driving public how critical properly inflated tires are to safe motoring."
It's clear that the copywriters and marketers at The Sharper Image understand consumer behavior and the motivations that influence consumer purchases. Web marketers can apply such proven techniques to help customers make better purchase decisions. These are some of the ways to improve e-commerce performance:
If your Web site emphases features and specifications rather than benefits, it's time to look at updating the product descriptions.
Also, review the Web's various interactive techniques that can keep you in touch with customers. While some technologies are expensive and provide little value to consumers, others are affordable and effective.
It's always hard to persuade customers to purchase products, but applying an understanding of the consumer buying process makes it a lot easier.
This Year's Premier Digital Marketing Event is #CZLSF
ClickZ Live San Francisco (Aug 11-14) brings together the industry's leading practitioners and marketing strategists to deliver 4 days of educational sessions and training workshops. From Data-Driven Marketing to Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email, this year's comprehensive agenda will help you maximize your marketing efforts and ROI. Register today!
Cliff Allen is President of Coravue, a company that provides content management software and application service provider (ASP) hosting for Web and email. Allen is coauthor of three books about Internet marketing, including the "One-to-One Web Marketing, Second Edition" (John Wiley & Sons, 2001).
The Marketer's Guide to Customer Loyalty
Customer loyalty is imperative to success, but fostering and maintaining loyalty takes a lot of work. This guide is here to help marketers build, execute, and maintain a successful loyalty initiative.
The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising
Latest research reveals 68% higher revenue per conversion for marketers who integrate their search & social advertising. In addition to the research results, this whitepaper also outlines 5 strategies and 15 tactics you can use to better integrate your search and social campaigns.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014