The one thing that 99% of Online Marketers do wrong


There's the one thing that 99% of websites just do wrong: Understanding our customers motivations.

Uhmmm... Motivation?

Motivation moves the world. It's what gets us doing things, achieving goals, buying stuff. It's what gets us solving our needs. So if we are hungry, we are motivated to get food, but we wont' be motivated to read a book or buying an iPhone. As the Maslow defined in his famous pyramid, needs are different. Motivation is what makes us move up in to the "needs" ladder.


Once the basic Physiological needs are solved (we'll let them out of our analysis) motivation drives us up on the safety, love, belonging, esteem ad self-curating escalator.

Notice here that motivation can't be be confused with UVP (Unique Value Proposition). Motivation is what drives the user to your site. The UVP is what you offer the user and how you do it. One way of achieving top converting Value Propositions is targeting the right motivation.

According to Steven Reiss Ph.D.(Professor Emeritus, Ohio State) there are 16 different kind of desires that motivates our actions.

The point that Dr Reiss stresses more is that we must focus in our user's own motivations. It means: not focusing on what makes my product so good, but what can it do for you, and how can my product help you achieving your hidden motivation.

How can this increase my conversions?

Think about it for a minute. Why our customers are buying us? What pain are we solving for them? What need? At this point you must be very aware that "having this or that feature" is not a need. We don't need "features".

In this case, (Online Travel Agency) uses a "motivation targeting oriented" picture for it's Facebook page:


This picture is 100% real, took by Massimo Tartarini, Restaurants GPM in

It's not about using this picture to show how good our travel search engine is. It's beyond benefits. It's about what gets us traveling. It's about emotions.

Focusing on motivation is about using our web page elements (copy, pictures, video or design) to connect with user's motivation, gaining relevance, being remembered, and filling user's willpower.

Let's see an example: Jim and Mary

Jim and Mary. Middle age marriage, with no children, both working with good salaries, are planing this summer vacations in the beautiful Mexican Riviera Maya. Mary starts searching "5 stars Hotel Adults only resort" in Google.

What's her motivation to go to Mexico?

Shiny sun? Excellent weather? Clear waters? Bath tube rooms? Historical and cultural excursions? Fabulous food and better people?



Those are features, which properly communicated will become benefits for them, but sand, water and sun, are not the goal. They are ways to achieve a goal, to solve a need.

Her motivation is (most surely), having some romantic time, a movie-like experience, showing some social status power with a long trip, and earning some popularity and envy uploading their lovely pictures of their tanned bodies visiting the pyramids.

In a picture, what Mary wants is that:


Can you see the difference? Can you feel it? If you can, that's the dopamine effect on your brain.

Learn more about how dopamine influences our decissions here.

So, traveling is more than visiting places. And most of times it's more about social status than about discovering new places. That's why so many people gets obsessed about uploading their pictures to facebook as soon as possible.

This happens with most of products, there's more than features and benefits to work with when talking about motivations. There's a lot hidden, waiting for us to find out.

No need to talk about Apple and reference groups here...

What's the right moment for targeting motivation?

Motivation is to be focused on the very early stages of the buying process.Mainly at the need recognition and information search stages.


That fits perfect in our Home page or Landing page to get visits entering the funnel. Like persuasion, targeting motivation will help us fill the broad side of the funnel.

Motivation won't fit so well in our result page, tho. There our motivated user needs features and benefits to choose the best election. We can't keep targeting motivating all the time, or the customer will be motivated to compare choices and buy somewhere else.

How to target the right motivation?

There are many ways to connect with customer's motivation keeping the scent strong. But pictures just work so great.

  • Pictures. That's a great way to focus on user's motivation. It allows us keep the UPV and copy for other purposes. When talking about motivation and pictures remember always: Show the product being used and shot from the user's point of view (from the room looking to the beach, rather than from the sea to the beach). Let's see an example:
  • Copy: That's the other great way to adress user's motivation through words. Be creative and write for the users needs. What are you going to do for them. In this example we see a good combination of Copy and picture focusing motivation, and a central call out "save up 50%" offering the benefit. Notice that the bottom right link gets you to Pinterest where it becomes a "motivation" storm. Nice example from Karisma Hotels.
  • Testimonials: Let some other users or experts talk by you and focus your customer's motivation. Lets see one more example from Karisma and how they mix in one testimonial (this case a Forbes reference) so many motivations:
  • Other strategies: inlcuding great design, a call out, a video, etc... Anyway we can let the user know that we are going to solve his need as we really understand why he is in our site.

This is not easy. Not at all.

What's our challenge here? Targeting the right motivation.

It can be easy to focus motivation in the landing pages for "romantic hotels in Caribbean" or "family trips to Disneyland". But in most of cases and products, we'll be having different motivations form different users.

What motivates someone to run? Some health, many more lossing weith, gaining self steem, others relaxing... What is to be adressed? That's not easy. But the experts are clear here: Focus on one customer, win more. Onse size fits all doesn't work.

We need to give our best when it comes to homepages and generic landing pages. Our customer research knowledge will be the key to success. Again.

A methodology using customer research, developing analysis based on personas and testing is the best way to find what the true motivations are moving our users, and how to use it for increasing conversions in a long term basis.

¿Any comment?

PS: If you want to learn why all this actions connect our moitvation, don't miss the post on Dopamine: The neurotransmissor related to motivation.