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Are You Subconsciously Stopping Your Customers from Spending Money?

Last weekend I had a friend come to stay at my house in the Scottish countryside.  For dinner, we decided to visit the new gin distillery that had opened nearby (because who doesn’t love a bit of gin).

I had been in London that week for SMWLon with the fine folks at Spredfast, Just Eat and HUSTLE + hush so I had to search for the distillery online to get their number and book a table.

No big deal is what you’re probably thinking, it’s certainly what I thought.

How wrong we all are.

I could find at least 20 articles on the new distillery opening but could I find a contact number, email address or even a website?


I can honestly say I searched for about two hours over the week that I was in London.  I could find no way to contact them.  To make matters worse in all the articles I read there was no name for the distillery, just that it was in my village, Dalton.

It wasn’t helpful.  I was frustrated – didn’t these people understand how we search for information online?!

In the end, I had to take a chance on rocking up on the night and hoping we could get a table.

We were lucky.  We got our table.

But that is where our luck ran out.

The waiter came to bring us menus but they were only for drinks.  We wanted something to eat too.  So, he told us that the food menu was written on a blackboard behind the bar – fine.

It’s starting to look like nothing is easy with this bunch but we’re still not at the punchline…

Looking at the menu and chatting another waiter asked if he could help us.  When we mentioned food, he told us that we could not order food because we had not previously booked a table.  Apparently, you need to pre-book your meal (don’t get me started).

But I thought I found a solution.  Their USP is that they serve you one tapas with every drink you buy.  So, looking for an opportunity to stay, eat and drink, I asked if we could buy extra tapas.

Nope.  Not possible.


We weren’t going out to drink, we were there for a meal and a couple of drinks…  They simply did not want to make money from us.

I explained the situation to him – you’re not findable online.  And, to my surprise, he advised: “we’re on Facebook”.  *Rage Face*.  Here are my thoughts on this:

  1. I cannot find details of their name. I know they exist because people have told me about it but even in all their PR there is no name, no email, no number.
  2. In using Facebook, they assume that I know their name. They’re new and none of their PR activity has told me what that is.
  3. Facebook search also sucks. Big time sucks. The chances of me finding them are slimmer than getting blood from a stone.  To be honest I didn’t even look but I doubt I would have found them because…
  4. They did not check to make sure that they were the only distillery in a village called Dalton. There is a much bigger whisky distiller in a place called Dalton in the US which makes it very difficult to find information on them.

Just because they think it’s ok to have a Facebook page doesn’t mean that every person is going to be able to find them with ease.  Interestingly, I was at SMWLon talking about the non-linear customer journey – so, this story is certainly fitting!

A word of advice… You cannot tell the customer how they should behave.  You need to sway to the customer’s behaviour – so you need to find out what that is.

My experience throws up a really important question for YOU…  How are you stopping your customer from spending money with you?

Barriers to Customer Spending

In the work that I do with conversion rate optimisation, I often find the same spending barriers arising:

  1.      – The business is not discoverable enough for how the customer chooses to use search.
  2.      – The brand touchpoints do not add value to customers.
  3.      – The touchpoints do not make a logical story and do not nudge a final sale.
  4.      – The onboarding process is too complex and requires the customer to jump through a lot of hoops
  5.      – The website or eCommerce platform is not optimised for sales.

It’s really important that you understand how your customers make decisions, and what information they require at what point.

There can be two major things stopping that from happening.

The Curse of Knowledge and The Status Quo

You hear entrepreneurs all the time saying that they find it difficult to do their own marketing, I know I find mine challenging.

It’s challenging because of the curse of knowledge.  Because we know so much about our industry or brand, we have a tendency to think everyone else has the same knowledge.  It happens with big brands too.

The failure with a lot of communication is that people don’t always have the same level of knowledge, which stops them from taking action.

Think about all the marketing buzzwords and jargon that fly about.  Tell them to a layman and they are lost, and they also tend to think you are a little strange.

Your knowledge means you are probably not in the best position to write communication or think about customer journeys from “gut feel”.  The phrase “a fresh set of eyes” hasn’t been around forever for no reason.

Then we have the status quo.  “It’s always been done this way” or “everyone else does it this way”.

I loathe the status quo.  It assumes two things:

  1. That the people who started doing something that way done the research and knew what they were doing.
  2. There have been no changes in technology, society, science, behaviour, thinking, no changes in knowledge or understanding since people started doing it that way.

You leave your success up to the knowledge [or lack of] that other people have. And, that’s plain crazy!

Just because someone else has an eCommerce site or marketing campaign that works one way does not mean that you should automatically follow.  Just because you have all this knowledge does not mean everyone else has it.

Don’t fall into the trap.

The solution?

You need to find out how your customers make decisions and then plot your strategy [and tactics] around helping them do just that.

How Social Media Intelligence Can Help

When run properly social media intelligence research can quickly give you the insight on how customers make decisions.

For example, analysis on the customer journey can let you know where there are ‘moments of truth’ or ‘pain points’ in your customer experience.

Some of the largest social data sets about brands are created during the consumption experience with a brand.  Think about a number of people who check in, share images and comments during their experiences, write reviews after their experience and reminisce about their experience long after it has ended.

If you segment the data into the customer journey you can find out about their experiences, and if you’ll quickly know if you are doing something that is stopping them spending more money!

Another example and one of my favourites is to use social media data to identify a customer’s decision-making heuristics.  I use this insight to lay breadcrumbs in marketing communication and also on-site optimisation.


The optimisation battle is not going to stay with onsite analytics.  If you’re only looking at what you’ve done before or optimising what’s already there you fall back into the status quo trap, and really, you’re marking your own homework.

  1. That the people who started doing something that way done the research and knew what they were doing.
  2. There have been no changes in technology, society, science, behaviour, thinking, no changes in knowledge or understanding since people started doing it that way.

Social media intelligence research will change how optimisation works – whether that is optimisation for conversion or content or whatever.

Social media intelligence research takes you back to finding out what’s happening in the world, what people are trying to achieve when making a specific purchase, and what they need to hear to take action.

Retailers all have the same information to play with, the information that is given to them from the manufacturer.  To optimise for conversion, the smart retailer will turn to social media intelligence to find out what parts of the information from the manufacturer are the most important to a customer when making a decision.

The smart retailer will also look at these important attributes and information, and begin to place their breadcrumbs in the on-site visuals.

Knowing the short-cuts that people use to make decisions and developing a platform that helps people to make decisions quickly is the next point of differentiation in eCommerce.

Not on-site analytics to change sizing or colour.

When done properly social media intelligence research can show you where you are making it too difficult for your customers to purchase.  Social data is not just for measuring campaign performance.  In fact, social media intelligence done properly will give you the differentiation in a sea of ‘white noise’.

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Jillian Ney
the UK's first Dr of Social Media and a Digital Behavioural Scientist. For over ten years I've been analysing social data to find insights into how people make decisions. I now use this knowledge to help brands to make their social data work harder for them and turn noisy social chat into actionable marketing intelligence quickly. More content by

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