July 27, 2020
By Nick P – Optimization Architect,

Motivation is perhaps the single most important element to generating online sales. It is the driving force behind a person’s thought process leading to a decision and it’s constantly evolving. During this challenging business climate, it is more important than ever to reset your understanding of how consumer behavior and subsequent purchase motivation has been altered during this pandemic..across channels.

For example, prior to the pandemic only 2 – 3% of consumers were purchasing groceries online. Since the start of the pandemic that number has increased dramatically to 15%. That is a significant shift in behavior for a product during “normal” times would be fast and convenient brick and mortar store purchase. Now consumers must consider so many other factors when deciding on the speed and convenience of your local mart with social distancing, wearing a mask etc.

Many people are purchasing groceries online these days. If you ran out of milk and then go online to order more, your motivation to go online would be to get more milk and also factors related to the pandemic; avoid people, wearing a mask etc.. Motivation doesn’t have to be a physical object either, you could be bored and go online to browse your favorite ecommerce sites, in that case you are motivated by relieving your own boredom and the aforementioned factors associated with the pandemic.

There are also underlying motivations, suppose you ran out of milk as you were making mac-n-cheese for a hungry group of homeschoolers, the required speed of getting that milk (for your sanity) would be an additional factor included in your decision making process. How much you are willing to give up in exchange for those additional factors we of course, refer to as value and as a result you may pay a premium for faster milk delivery. Both primary and underlying motivations are the foundation that guides a majority of human decision making. As marketers, our goal is to influence human decisions around purchasing products or services and thus having an understanding of these motivational concepts are vital to getting the most out of any online experience. So in our milk example above, this conceptually translates into having the foresight to offer an upgrade via delivery speed at a premium price.

Now think about products consumers purchase that were already discretionary spending such as clothes, entertainment or beauty products. From a general standpoint, getting consumers to shift to purchase online is no longer an obstacle but what’s changed are the underlying motivations to a consumers’ decision making process and motivations for which products they buy, how much and how fast they want or need it.

How much you are willing to give up in exchange for those additional factors we of course, refer to as value and as a result, and you may pay a premium for faster milk delivery? Both primary and underlying motivations are the foundation that guides a majority of human decision making. As marketers, our goal is to influence human decisions around purchasing products or services and thus having an understanding of these motivational concepts are vital to getting the most out of any online experience. So in our milk example above, this conceptually translates into having the foresight to offer an upgrade via delivery speed at a premium price.

Decisions are of course complex and include things like value (what we are willing to give up in exchange for fulfilling a given motivation) and friction (level of difficulty involved in each decision action). Additionally, there are various levels of motivation and depending on how high or low motivation is, the impacts of value and friction vary. The charts below represent how varied levels of visitor motivation impact value and friction.

3 Customer Motivation Strategies to Improve Your eCommerce in the New World

Despite the harsh current economic situation, many Americans are still shopping and spending albeit with more scrutiny as many are still out of work or even in fear of a potential layoff situation. Underlying motivations like these are continuously altering customer decision making. Below are three motivation-based strategies that are being used by companies with the most rapid growth.

  1. Customer loyalty – Loyal customers are more important than ever. Humanize the brand and go above and beyond to show gratitude for continued support to your existing customers. Give back to the community in your own way. It always sends a strong message to show humility and to be a little bit vulnerable, especially in times like these.
  • Promote a sense of “we are all in this together” through content and messaging.
  • Enhance website capabilities to focus on those familiar with your brand
  • Increase revenue through personalization technologies, loyalty programs, email, payment options, and impeccable customer service.

  1. Drive higher quality transactions – Drive more revenue with a focus on quality, not quantity. Cross sell and upsell to increase revenue per visit from high converting segments. Using low price point accessories as add on suggestions will increase Average Order Value and make every transaction mean more for the business. Also, if you have adjusted your margin and/or transitioned to a free shipping model as a result of the economic situation, this type of effort will help to recoup some of those costs.
  2. Improve online experience efficiency – Commit to a Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) program to increase efficiency throughout your online funnel. A CRO program is especially vital in today’s landscape when every single visit is important to maximize revenue. As the chart above shows, increasing value and decreasing difficulty throughout an experience based on different motivational segments is necessary for converting medium to low motivated visitors. Making targeted improvements to shopping and buying pages will increase revenue per visit, the primary metric of performance.

As customer motivation and behavior changes, incorporating motivational concepts into your digital business strategy will significantly improve the likelihood of its impact to your business in both the short and long term. Investing in key strategic decisions and technologies that support customer loyalty, drive quality transactions, and improve online experience efficiency is where the most success will be found.