Buying Decision Behavior at May’s Camp Optimization

roboboogie Camp Optimization Event - May 2018

On May 24th, roboboogie’s Camp Optimization hosted Aaron Stusser, eCommerce Manager at Yakima Products, who spoke about the applying the theory of Buying Decision Behavior to digital content creation. Aaron discussed the psychology behind buying decision behavior in order to highlight how brands can make smarter content to drive conversions.

roboboogie Camp Optimization Event - May 2018

By breaking down consumers into different buying behavior groups, Aaron matched each group with a distinct content strategy in order to assist companies with serving content that would encourage their customers to convert. His presentation was insightful and engaging, and prompted compelling brand-specific conversations from the audience. If you missed the talk, don’t worry. We’ve outlined our top buying decision behavior takeaways from our event!

Introducing Aaron Stusser

Before jumping into the world of consumer behavior and purchasing practices, let us introduce our May Camp Optimization speaker. Aaron is an eCommerce Manager at Yakima Products. His focus revolves around directing consumers to the information that is important to them, in the easiest way possible. Aaron has background in consumer behavior, copywriting, and eCommerce.

speaker Aaron Stusser roboboogie Camp Optimization Event - May 2018

Rules About Consumers

In today’s crowded digital landscape, consumers’ buying behaviors are often dictated by the connection they feel with a brand. This means content has a powerful ability to drive customers’ relationships with brands to new levels, forging fresh perspectives and opinions about the brands attached to the products they are purchasing. By understanding where their target customers fall with a certain purchasing group, brands can effectively craft content to drive sales.

Aaron began his presentation by stating four rules that he has uncovered over his years in content marketing, to help frame up the Buying Decision Behavior theory. Each rule corresponds directly to how he interpreted content strategies:

  1. People Vary
  2. Markets Move
  3. People Change
  4. Consumers Care
roboboogie Camp Optimization Event - May 2018

The Theory: Buying Decision Behavior

Buying Decision Behavior is a marketing theory developed in the 1980s by Henry Assael. The theory splits consumers into four distinct groups, defined by their levels of perceived brand differentiation (how users compare similar brands and perceive their differences) in relation to their level of involvement (time, energy, etc. spent researching a purchase). In order to create content that will have the greatest impact on customers, brands must first identify which category of buying behavior their target consumers align with in relation to their product or service offering. By identifying how target customers shop, brands can optimize content to maximize engagement and help consumers feel supported in their purchase process. Buying decision behavior dives into the psychological habits and motivations behind each customer’s buying decision process, and if you understand these, you can directly address their needs.

Aaron identified four main types of consumers based on buying behavior: complex, dissonance reducing, variety seeking and habitual.

  1. Complex buying behavior is characterized by high involvement and high perceived brand differentiation. People often shop for cars, phones, and other electronics with complex buying behavior. Types of content that work best: in-depth, highly descriptive, inviting, theatrical, elaborate, competitive.
  2. Dissonance reducing buying behavior is characterized by high involvement and low perceived brand differentiation. People often search for car mechanics or other high-value services with dissonance reducing buying behavior. Types of content that work best: storytelling, representative, guarantee, affirming, value, support, acclaim.
  3. Variety seeking buying behavior is characterized by low involvement and high perceived brand differentiation. People often shop for cereal or other snacks at the grocery store with variety seeking buying behavior. Types of content that work best: differentiation, improvements, simple, forward, confident, something new.
  4. Habitual buying behavior is characterized by low involvement and low perceived brand differentiation. People often shop for commodities like salt or toilet paper with habitual buying behavior. Types of content that work best: consistency, same-or-better, confident, forward, simple.
Buying Decision Behavior Matrix: Complex - Variety Seeking - Dissonance Reducing - Habitual

If brands can group their target consumers into one of these purchasing groups, they can then begin to craft content that appeals to their motivations. As Aaron emphasized, everyone shops differently, and everyone puts different levels of involvement into choosing brands. This applies to every type of purchase, from buying weekly groceries to purchasing a car. Aaron presented four strategies to help put the right content in front of the right consumers, and to aid in getting the most out of Buying Decision Behavior.

Strategy #1: Cover Your Bases

This strategy highlights the importance of not putting all your content into a singular quadrant. Instead, use strategies other than the most common for your product or service offering, to reach consumers who simply shop differently for the same thing. For example, if you are selling a product like a new computer, emphasize guarantees, warranties, and customer support in order to effectively appeal to dissonance reducing consumers, in addition to the more common complex consumers.

Strategy #2: Move Your Market

The second strategy, move your market, is all about changing the way consumers perceive, and therefore shop for, your product. Aaron talks about how some markets, regardless of content strategy, are extremely difficult to win. Products like peanut butter, laundry detergent and cereal are dominated by incredibly large players who overtake the selection of options. These products often fall in the habitual quadrant, so the recommendation here would be to aim content at creating perceived brand differentiation where there normally would be little-to-none.

For instance, Proctor & Gamble’s Tide brand controlled 70% of laundry detergent industry last year. Persil, an up-and-coming competitor, used variety seeking content strategies in order to move the market and stay afloat. By emphasizing product features and elements that appealed to the variety seeking group, Persil was able to directly influence variety seeking customers and see increased market share for their brand.

Aaron Stusser speaking at roboboogie Camp Optimization Event - May 2018

Strategy #3: Hold Steady

The third strategy, hold steady, revolves around holding your ground, and really speaking to how the majority of consumers shop for your product or service. For example, habitual purchasers have a singular goal when shopping: to buy the product they know and use. Aaron stated that the number one way to target habitual purchasers is to hold steady with your content marketing. People habitually buy the same brand of salt, ketchup, paper towels, and so on because the packaging, messaging and content is familiar and clear.

Tropicana rebelled against this strategy by releasing a newly branded orange juice bottle, which ended up causing a 20% drop in sales. The reason? Consumers could no longer immediately recognize the product, and with low brand loyalty in the habitual space, simply opted for the next most familiar bottle.

Strategy #4: Innovate

The final strategy is focused on innovation for the future. Finding ways to engage and excite customers by the process of experimentation is vital. Continue trying new content strategies to see what works with different consumers. Use data as a baseline for measuring results, and iterate towards the most effective solution.

people gather at roboboogie Camp Optimization Event - May 2018

Great Content makes Happy Customers Convert

After Aaron shared each of his four strategies with us, he concluded by commenting that the most important thing content marketers should be focused on is designing for their target customers. By connecting with the customer, you are not only learning more about their needs, but realizing how your story can impact their decision to convert based on what you choose to highlight in the brand’s content.

Thank you, Aaron, for an incredible and informative event! Curious about our next Camp Optimization event? Save the date for Thursday, July 26th at Washington High School. See you there!

Takeaways from Digital Growth Unleashed 2018


The roboboogie team was fortunate to be a sponsor at this year’s installment of Digital Growth Unleashed, so we packed up our bags and made our way down to Las Vegas. Our week was full of great meetings and engaging conversations, but don’t feed too bad if you missed out this year. We’re here to recap our eventful week in Vegas at DGU.

Among a number of great speakers, the overarching theme was around bringing in and converting qualifiedusers on site. Our unique perspective on ways of crafting customer-centric experiences fueled a number of engaging conversations, including organizations we are excited to help grow!

The conference was packed with insightful keynote presentations that left both the attendees and sponsors with more firepower to inform their web and marketing strategies. Of course the roboboogie team had to spread a little happiness in our own way!

The roboboogie team loves to get out and talk shop, and it’s one of our favorite things about going to conferences. The energy was there this year at Digital Growth Unleashed, and each attendee brought their own unique industry knowledge to make it an eventful week in Las Vegas. Do you have a conference that you think we should put on our radar? Send it our way.

Interview with Melissa Ashcraft, Director of Marketing at Wacom Technologies

Melissa Ashcraft, Director of Marketing at Wacom Technologies

Melissa Ashcraft is the director of global B2B marketing for Wacom. She’s spent her career arranging words, first as a novelist publishing two books with Random House, then as a freelance journalist, and a PR person representing, among other things, a circus. Though the circus thing was short-lived, spending a few days at 3AM navigating the dynamics of the AM news, Russian trapeze artists, a ring leader, and most importantly, elephants, taught her the importance of communication and managing expectations. Pro-tip: no matter how you spin it, the tigers just. won’t. do.

How do you describe what you do?

I aim to understand what customers need help with or are curious about, then I make content that answers those needs and questions while trying to convince them that the product I’m marketing is relevant to their lives. I’m one part concierge, one part fortune teller (complete with crystal ball), and one part aspiring-Tina Brown.

I recently read a book review for Nell Scovell’s book, Just the Funny Parts. She writes, “When I write, I feel like an optometrist, constantly flipping between lenses and asking: ‘Is this better? Is this?’ Slowly the world comes into focus.” This is a great description of the process of content marketing and the AB testing we do when a marketing program is live. We know our audience has a problem or a need, and we know we have a solution. But what is the best way to present that solution? We keep iterating until we’ve presented the solution in the most appealing way possible.

What is a belief regarding content marketing do you have that others in your field might not agree with?

Quality writing matters. There are content farms where you can get cheap, fast content. And most people think that because they took a writing class, they can write. But any reader can sense bad writing.

The writers I work with are all professional writers and usually come from a background in journalism. The writing is funny, smart and feels like something you’d read in a magazine. I pay my writers more than most publications do, and more than any content farm out there because a great writer is making something that taps deep into someone’s brain. Writing is an art and it should be acknowledged and celebrated.

From your perspective, what makes content “successful”?

Successful content adds value to a person’s day. Ideally successful content will trigger some part of the reader’s brain to say, “thanks, I needed that.” If content is not adding value, it’s just noise.

What is your advice for turning a creative idea into reality?

Start with the goal. What do you hope to happen as the result of this idea? Plan, then be meticulous in the steps you need to take. And stay focused on the goal. Don’t go chasing shiny. Sometimes people can bring new ideas that may be great but move the idea away from the goal. Ignore those ideas and constantly ask if you’re tracking to the goal.

What is one particular content-driven initiative or campaign you have been a part of that you are particularly proud of?

My most favorite program I’ve made at Wacom is Mindful Meetings. I partnered from the start on Mindful Meetings with Roboboogie, who helped me refine the vision. Mindful Meetings was originally called Laptops Down but, as John Gentle (the Founder of roboboogie) pointed out, and numerous people backed up, it was too aggressive. When I started the project with Roboboogie, I said, “We’re not changing the name. That’s non-negotiable.” But it just goes to show that when Roboboogie shares data and strategy, they’re convincing and, I suppose, right. (I still sometimes call it Laptops Down. Take that John.)  

Meetings have the potential to be an important connection point in our working lives, but more often than not, they are a total waste of time, and worse, they are alienating because people don’t feel heard. We did a ton of research into meetings and found that technology is a culprit of this alienation – everyone was staring at a screen during meetings.

The literal goal of Mindful Meetings was to build the Bamboo brand’s email newsletter list. But in my heart, the goal was to change the culture of meetings globally and remove screens from the meeting environment.

The program itself had a lot of believers and supporters within Wacom and with those who were working on the program. Once my colleagues and agency partners stopped using laptops and phones in meetings, they noticed a huge improvement in what they got out of meetings and how they connected with colleagues. But we just couldn’t get the program really airborne and change the world, like I had dreamed we would. It’s okay. It still lives on.

How do you approach measuring the impact of content?

I’ll tell you what I don’t measure: impressions. No measuring impressions. Ever. The first thing I look for is engaged sessions – that’s sessions lasting longer than a minute. After that, I measure actions that map to a program’s goals. So if I’m looking for sales, I’ll measure clicks to Amazon, or add to cart. If I am running a program to increase a newsletter list (like Mindful Meetings was), then I’ll measure the amount of email addresses I get.

All content should be goal-oriented and the KPIs should map to the goals.  

How do you harness learnings from previous campaigns to improve efforts moving forward?

The first time I partnered with Roboboogie on a measurable content marketing program, we didn’t have the customer journey right. I just couldn’t explain to others or to myself why we were linking to the places we did. And our results showed what my gut said. We had really high clicks on things like add to cart, or buy now, but the sales didn’t show a lift. We were sending people off to environments we didn’t control where the messaging was different, and the look was different. The next time I joined forces with Roboboogie, we had the data to back up my gut instinct: the journey wasn’t right. After that, we fixed the customer journey and saw sales double YoY during holiday time.

When I start a new program, I think about the things that bugged me about the last one. No program is perfect, and I do my best not to get stuck on the things that bugged me and the things that data showed to be not right, but sometimes things just bug me. I also try to pay attention to the good things too. We nailed the customer journey the second time, and that journey has informed several programs since then.

What content marketing trends are you currently most excited about?

I love multimedia content. I love all of the features the New York Times does with the video, writing, sound, pictures, maps etc. It’s old, but Snow Fall is a great example. I also loved Deliverance from 27,000 Feet. Fun fact: I’m terrified of snow and heights. I can’t ski, not because I don’t know how, but because I get paralyzed with fear. (I have this experience at karaoke too.) It’s odd that both of those articles are literally my worst fear. The only thing that would make those stories worse for me is if they had to sing George Michael’s “Faith” in front of a television screen. I digress! If I had a ton of money, I’d make those types of long form features. But I do not have all of the money, so I stay focused on shorter content that’s crisp and gets right to what the customer needs to improve their day.

Melissa – thanks for sharing your wisdom and passion for content strategy and the importance of paying attention to the little details in marketing! And a personal thank you for seeing us as more than just partners, but as friends that do cool shit together. You continually inspire us to think more creatively, to get out there to find fresh ideas, and to bring our best day-in, and-day-out. We are so grateful to work together!