No matter how digitalized our lives and our businesses get, one thing remains constant: we make decisions based on our emotions. Regardless of your approach to acquisition and retention or the tools in your ecosystem, you can only solve your problems if you answer one essential question: what emotions put your customers in motion?

With this question in mind, we asked Talia Wolf to tell us more about the importance of using emotional targeting to optimize conversions in eCommerce.

Talia Wolf is the founder of GetUplift, a conversion optimization agency that helps eCommerce brands and B2B companies drive more sales by optimizing their websites, funnels, customer journeys, and emails. 

The agency uses a methodology that Talia Wolf developed and has been applying for a decade now. Her methodology is called emotional targeting and helps companies run meaningful research, identify pain points, run A/B tests, driving to improved conversions. She also teaches this method online in Getuplift courses and worldwide when events are allowed.

We invited Talia Wolf to our “Top 100 eCommerce experts” interview series to share her thoughts on: 

  • Changes in the eCommerce landscape
  • The changes you need to make after identifying your store’s problems
  • The steps in the emotional conversion optimization framework
  • Using emotional targeting to optimize conversion for existing customers

Changes in the eCommerce landscape

Alexandra Panaitescu: Did you see any differences in approaching conversion optimization among eCommerce businesses in the past two years?

Talia Wolf: The biggest difference is that personalization matters more than ever.

You have to be more focused on your customers and really understand where they are and what they’re going through. COVID has forced companies that are more product-focused to become more customer-driven. 

The successful eCommerce brands are the ones that are really listening to their customers, taking an interest in what customers are doing or experiencing, and addressing that in their marketing, products, and everything the company does. So, the changes that I’m seeing are good ones.

COVID has forced companies that are more product-focused to become more customer-driven.

The changes you need to make after identifying problems

Alexandra Panaitescu: Businesses that attract enough visitors to their online store but have a broken funnel are just wasting money. How can eCommerce businesses identify problems & leaks in their funnel?

Talia Wolf: Identifying problems in the funnel is the easiest part of conversion optimization, using Google Analytics to see where the drops are. Especially in eCommerce, it’s pretty straightforward to identify if it’s your homepage, category page, product pages, or checkout page. Once the problems are identified, the challenge with conversion optimization has always been and will always be; knowing what changes to make on these pages that will actually make a difference.

To uncover the changes you need to make to increase conversions, you have to go back to the foundations. 

There are two ways to do it. 

#1 

The simple way is to start with a UX heuristic analysis: test the customer journey, have people go through it, see how they experience it, see if any bugs are coming up. Even watching a few people record themselves while using your website can give you a real insight into what’s going on.

#2

The second way (and most significant one) is doing in-depth customer research, which includes speaking to your customers (interviews), running meaningful surveys to identify their pains and desired outcomes, uncovering why they’re really coming to your website and what they’re looking for. 

When you have that information and know precisely what pains are driving people to your store, you can identify what content needs to be on the page and what changes you can make to increase conversions.

For example, our client Upright Pose has a brilliant product that helps people eliminate back and neck pain with a biofeedback posture training device. It’s ideal for anyone who’s sitting long hours in front of a desk and feeling back, neck, or shoulder pain.

When we started working with Upright, a lot of the content on the website focused on the product: what they’re selling, how it’s made, and how it works.

After completing the behavioral analysis (identifying the problems and key pages that need optimizing in the funnel), we conducted our emotional targeting research. It included (amongst other methods) customer & visitor surveys and customer interviews. We broke down the different emotional triggers and uncovered the real reason driving people to their website and what people needed to see, read and feel on their website to convert. 

The research helped us identify what was missing on their website, the hierarchy of information, the images they should be using, and of course, the messaging that was needed. 

The results: Sales increased by 33%, and revenue increased by 25% on their homepage on our first AB test. Then transactions increased by 27% on the product pages, and the average order value increased by 10% during our next experiments. 

“Customer research helps you find what pains are driving people to your store and identify what content needs to be on your website.”

> Find from Guido X Jansen what is the harsh truth about customers’ attention during an online shopping session.

The steps in the emotional conversion optimization framework

Alexandra Panaitescu: Any customer-centric business must understand the psychology behind people’s decision-making process. Your experience with clients revealed that this is often the missing piece in improving their conversion rates. What is emotional conversion optimization? What are the steps in this framework?

Talia Wolf: When I first started doing conversion optimization, I was trying to change the elements on the page like the call to action button, the header, the headline, or the image. But I wasn’t getting the results that I wanted for my clients. Then I started digging into how our brains work, and I realized that if I want to drive meaningful results and have a real impact on conversions, I have to understand how each of our clients’ specific buyers makes decisions. 

I poured through psychology and neuroscience books to understand the science of decision-making. All of that led me to understand that emotion is the most significant component in decision-making.

Emotions directly impact every decision we make in life, and this can be from choosing an insurance company or accounting software to buying a simple t-shirt. 

The math was easy. To drive more sales and revenue for my clients, I had to understand those emotional drivers:

  • What is impacting my customers’ decisions?
  • What are their pains and challenges?
  • What are they feeling right now?
  • What’s driving them to your website or solution?
  • What do they want to feel after they find a solution?

People don’t buy products. They buy better versions of themselves.

Customers don’t care about your product or its features. Not at first. What they want to know is what’s in it for them.

Emotional conversion optimization is a framework that helps you identify your customers’ emotional triggers, pains, challenges, desired outcomes. 

The process includes tactics such as customer surveys, interviews, social listening, competitor analysis. As a result, you identify the emotional triggers that help you create content that converts and stand out in a competitive market where everyone else seems to talk mainly about features and pricing.

For example, after our research, we changed the messaging of our client selling the posture training device from “The number one posture training device in the world” to “The simplest way to transform your posture. Helping 750,000 people transform their posture every single day.

The product really is the best on the market, but people need to know the emotional outcome – that they will feel and look healthier. 

Another thing we uncovered was that people really do care about their posture, but their life is filled with other tasks and problems that prevent them from actively solving it. So we emphasized that the product does the work for you. All you have to do is place it on your back, and you’re done.

“People don’t buy products. They buy better versions of themselves.”

> Brian Massey encourages online stores to experiment with the mobile versions as if it was a completely different business. Find more advice from our interview with the Conversion Scientist.

Using emotional targeting to optimize conversion for existing customers

Alexandra Panaitescu: Online stores need to win the trust of potential customers and keep high satisfaction levels among existing customers. This can be a challenge in an environment that lacks direct human interaction. How can online stores use emotion and persuasion to optimize conversion for existing customers?

Talia Wolf: Emotional targeting helps retain and convince customers to keep coming back and shopping with you. 

The key is writing strong email marketing sequences that remind customers about their end result and the ultimate value they’re getting. 

Great examples include speaking to their previous challenges, what they’ve experienced since purchasing the product, what to look forward to, ideas about the next steps, and the changes they could go through.

Most companies, especially within eCommerce, are sending sales emails that are focused solely on the offer and forget they have to remind people what outcome they’re purchasing, the result beyond the product itself. It’s the difference between: 

  • Get 80% off, and 
  • Eliminate back pain today AND get 80% off. 

You’re trying to build a relationship, and emotional targeting is key for that goal. You can use all the software, automation, AI, and machine learning. If you fail to leverage the one thing that matters most – emotion, you’re never going to get the results you want.

Think about the number of messages we see online and how many companies target us daily. Everyone in the online environment competes for customers’ attention, and every year it gets worse and worse. If you want to keep your prospects’ attention, you need to grab their attention from everyone else and leverage emotion to stand out in a very crowded market where everyone seems to do the same things.

When talking to an existing customer, you’re using emotional targeting in strong email marketing sequences to keep reminding the end result and what they will feel.

Takeaways

We hope this interview gave you a better understanding of using emotional triggers to create content that converts and stands out in a competitive market.

Here are five takeaways from our interview with Talia Wolf:

  • COVID has forced companies that are more product-focused to become more customer-driven.
  • “Customer research helps you find what pains are driving people to your store and identify what content needs to be on your website.”
  • “Emotional conversion optimization is a framework that helps you identify your customers’ emotional triggers, pains, challenges, desired outcomes.”
  • “People don’t buy products. They buy better versions of themselves.”
  • When talking to an existing customer, you’re using emotional targeting in strong email marketing sequences to keep reminding the end result and what they will feel.

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