Selling to creatures of habit
I remember a time when you had to trek to a book store just to see if they had your desired book on the shelf.
If not, you’d have to trek the next one. And the next one.
Then Google happened and suddenly I could search for whatever I wanted, find the place that had it, and buy it without ever leaving the couch. Facebook helped me find new trinkets, and Netflix made sure that I didn’t have to sit through another louder-than-the-show TV commercial ever again.
Targeted advertising in all its forms, turned brands into trinkets, getting no more attention than what could be squeezed into a 10-second ad or an 820x360 px banner.
It’s no surprise that we’ve gotten so side-tracked by data-driven ads and programmatic everything that some of us seem to have forgotten that incessant split testing and machine-generated ad-copy don’t excite people.
Still, you wouldn’t think that including keywords from customer reviews in your ad copy or a recognisable product in ad-creatives could drive a triple-digit improvement in ROAS…
…but you’d be wrong.
Because Amazon’s head of global creative success, Heather Kehrberg, helped two sellers do just that.
The first case involves artificial Christmas trees. The seller increased page view rate by 75% and ROAS by 140% by highlighting product attributes that people were already raving about in their reviews.
The other is a beverage brand that increased ROAS by 250% by sticking to the same logo and a recognisable product in their ad creatives.
Most of our decisions are irrational.
But that doesn’t mean we lack a decision strategy.
We go through several phases of exploration and evaluation until we’ve narrowed it down to a few brands or products for final consideration.
As Malcolm Gladwell explained in an interview with Google:
“Through most of our history as human beings, problems were caused by a lack of information. They were puzzles you solved by finding new data. But we’re no longer in an information-scarce world. We’re now in the opposite.
We’re no longer really dealing with puzzles. We’re dealing with mysteries. You have a big mound of data in front of you and now your job as a consumer is to sift through that data, make sense of it, prioritize it, throw out what isn’t important, and zero in on what is important.”
Each and every one of us has our own set of mental shortcuts to zero in on what’s important and throw out what isn’t.
The secret sauce is mental and physical availability.
The terms come from Byron Sharp. In his book “How Brands Grow”, he shared a ton of other examples and empirical data on why it’s easy for people to prioritise and buy from a brand when it is mentally and physically available for them.
In simple terms: when selling to creatures of habit, the most direct way to increase your brand’s sales is by improving your mental and physical availability.
Physical availability comes through distribution and you may not have much influence over it right now.
But that’s not a reason to stop improving the probability that someone will notice your brand, recognise it, and consider your brand when making a purchase (aka mental availability).
Start with something simple, like these six biases Google’s insights team narrowed down, that influence purchase decision:
Category heuristics – We like to get the most important information first.
Authority bias - We are naturally influenced by an expert or trusted source.
Social proof – We tend to copy the behaviour and actions of others.
Power of now – We prioritise things we can get now over later.
Scarcity bias – We hate missing out on a good deal.
Power of free – We love to get free stuff.
Think of the six biases as a mental model (not just a checklist) when evaluating your current and future marketing assets, including your landing pages.