Creating Content for Transactional vs Relational Buyers

Website traffic: Are you attracting Transaction shoppers obsessed with bargains, or Relational shoppers who search for quality? What’s best?

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There’s a wealth of information online about sending out the right message through your website to attract and retain customers.

Blogs, news, product descriptions and more – there are lots of ways to introduce content on your site and tell your story, but are you hitting the right note?It’s important to remember that not every one of your potential customers has the same set of expectations. Calling on the renowned marketing guru Roy H. Williams, we can categorise these shoppers into two distinct groups: Transactional and Relational.

Transactional Shoppers aka “The Bargain Hunters”

Note, this also could've been Tim Wonnacott

Generally speaking, these shoppers are most concerned with never paying more than they need to. That is, they want the best price. Discount codes, coupons and end-of-season sales drive these guys to buy and they’ll consider any brand if it looks like a good deal. The Conversion Scientist calls them “competitive shoppers”.

The Characteristics of a Transactional Shopper

Characteristics of a Transactional Shopper

Relational Shoppers aka “The Quality Seekers”

Hyacinth Bucket
Source: John Cogill –

As the name suggests, these shoppers are more focussed on buying the right or “best” product. They’re driven by high standards and rely on experts to guide them in their decision making. They tend to be loyal to brand and are willing to pay more if they believe they’re getting a superior quality of product or service.

The Characteristics of a Relational Shopper

Characteristics of a Relational Shopper

Write for the Right Audience

So we’ve established that Transactional shoppers are all about price. If you’re targeting this sort of buyer, you’d do well to emphasise a deal. Back to The Conversion Scientist for an example: Their home furnishings client was running a PPC Campaign to promote a discount on a particular range with an ad:

“Now 20% Off – Save up to $100 on Advanced.”

Using a percentage discount, and a monetary amount, this is clearly tailored to the Transactional Shopper. The headline on the landing page, though focussed on the benefits of choosing their store:

Reactional - The Conversion Scientist

By talking about removing the potential stress involved in shopping, the client was aiming to relieve the Relational shopper’s anxieties. However, changing the landing page headline to emphasise the amount of money a customer could save resulted in a 42% lift in conversions:

Transactional - The Conversion Scientist

According to a case study by Wizard of Ads, “Relational Shoppers represent a smaller share of store traffic but a larger share of sales, higher closing ratios, higher average sales, and higher profit margins.”  It makes sense, then, to bear these customers in mind when creating your copy.

Here’s an example from us at Browser Media with our client who offers a print management service. We ran a test on the introductory copy on one of their service pages. The original version focussed on the transactional “save 40% on printing costs”, while our variation incorporated Relational copy, addressing industry-wide concerns about sub-standard companies offering poor service:

Reactional Shopper copy- Browser Media

The Relational variation resulted in a 48% increase in engagement with the page and the use of their Money Saving Calculator. By offering a story, or a reason to trust the organisation, users were more inclined to use the calculator and find out how much they could save.

So, Bargain Hunters or Quality Seekers?

I was going to write a summary paragraph about testing variations of your copy to see if your customer base is made up of more Transactional or Relational shoppers before deciding how to sell your service or product… Then I thought about it, and really, it’s just not that simple. Aren’t all consumers a little of both?

Always test your website copy, specifically on important pages like landing pages, product pages or service pages, but I’d say the main thing to keep in mind is how clear you are in communicating the value of your product or service. Avoid trying to be clever, just state your value proposition clearly (multiple times if necessary) and be specific. If you can save your customers money, tell them. If you offer a great service, tell them that too. Honesty is the best policy.

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