Want to attract prospects your competitors ignore?
Want to increase conversions and know which customers will buy—and which are just window shoppers?
Buyer motives are your answer. Once you understand what drives your customer, you’ll be able to target customer behavior like never before.
Today, you’ll learn how to understand and use buyer motives in your eCommerce store. But first, what exactly is a buyer motive?
What are buyer motives for eCommerce stores?
When I use the term “buyer motive,” I’m referring to an emotional buying trigger.
It’s a feeling generated by an event or series of events that sparks a desire in your customer to buy.
A simple example is the holiday season. For most customers in the US, knowing Christmas is coming up is a major buying motive. The emotional trigger is usually social pressure to buy a great gift for a partner, family member, or friend.
That’s a broad example. The more narrowly you can target—for example, a couple spending Christmas with one set of parents for the first time—can help you build a laser-targeted focus on what exactly the emotional triggers are behind the buyer motives.
Let’s break down the three kinds of motives you’ll find with your customers.
3 kinds of buyer motives
While these triggers can be nearly anything, each one falls into one of three categories—global, local, and individual.
1. Global buyer motives
Global motives happen in the world at large. Perhaps not literally across the globe, but something that affects a major market segment. The holiday season is a great example, as is Valentine’s Day, New Year’s, election cycles, stock market movements, and more.
What’s interesting is that global buyer motives often impact products you would never think of. Understanding how global motives impact your product sales can provide new insights into who buys and why.
The COVID-19 pandemic created dozens of tangential product boosts. Sales for products as diverse as puzzles, toilet paper, and baker’s yeast exploded. Of course, it wasn’t due to the pandemic itself but to factors related to stay-at-home orders.
eCommerce owners in these segments should ask themselves what other factors could cause similar triggers.
Understanding the emotional triggers behind global buying motives can help you target subsections of buyers with similar motives after a global event has passed.
2. Local buyer motives
Local triggers are like global triggers, just on a scale that affects a small portion of your market. That could be based on region (Florida’s hurricane season), buyer interests (NBA drafts), or something else.
Like global motives, local motives have an emotional reason behind them. But the same event can create different or even opposite triggers.
Having lived through (too) many Florida hurricane seasons, for example, I know some people buy snacks to eat while they’re stuck in evacuation traffic on the highway, while others stock up on canned beans to weather the storm in their bunker.
Same regional event. Two very different emotional triggers.
3. Individual buyer motives
Finally, individual buyer motives aren’t connected to major trends or changes.
They’re based on each person, like an upcoming wedding, buying a new house, or even seeing gray hair in the bathroom mirror. They can also be correlated to ongoing user needs.
Here’s a personal example. A few months ago, a business of someone I know was hacked in a ransomware attack, costing them $20,000 and a huge loss of data. Seeing it happen from the outside spurred me to invest in better backup and security equipment and software for my business.
A store that understands this trigger—hearing about someone else’s ransomware attack—could create laser-focused content that leads me to buy their solution.
How to discover buyer motives
The best way to understand motives is by talking to buyers, supported when necessary with analytics data.
For example, customer research is how we learned that one of the buying triggers for a direct-to-consumer fashion client was pandemic stimulus checks. Sure enough, the pattern played out in analytics data as well—during months when the US government sent out stimulus checks, we saw sales increases.
How to use buyer motives on your site
With explanations out of the way, let’s look at how to use this information in your store.
The first and most important strategy is to use buyer language and perspective across your content. Use frustrations, pain points, motives, and more in your product descriptions, category pages, ads, and landing pages.
I recommend recording your customer interviews (with permission, of course) or at least writing down specific phrases you hear to use in copy later.
While I’ve used the term “buyer” in the piece, as I’ve explained about persona types, you’ll want to target the “visitor” role with this content. Focus on emotions more than logic in content focused on buyer motives.
Consider segmenting your users based on relevant triggers. For example, a sports store might want to segment email lists based on sports and share promotions based on local events.
You’ll want to be prepared at all times for the next event. Don’t wait for hurricane season or Black Friday to prepare. Start at least a few months or even a year in advance. SEO results take time, so the sooner, the better.
How to use buyer motives to get people onto your site
One of the most powerful uses for buyer motives is attracting new prospects. Buyer motives can help you focus ad audiences, create effective content, find media partnerships, and more.
The seller who best understands buyer motives usually wins. That’s because they find new opportunities competitors miss, where ads are cheap and prospects are open to listening.
If you’re the only selfie stick eCommerce store buying targeted Instagram ads in cities with upcoming music festivals, you win.
Buy that only happens when you understand buyer motives.