How to Identify + Leverage Customer Pain Points

6 Min. Read

On an instinctive level we have evolved as humans to avoid every kind of pain, simply because pain, often led to danger or death. While those extremes suffered in the past are infrequent today, the instinctive responses to pain remain, affecting every decision we make.

Pain is the greatest of all motivators, both in the moment and in terms of the expectation of pain in the future, – the anticipation of pain (whether physical or mental). 

Often hope and inspiration are quoted as being primary motivators, however in many cases these motivators also have roots in pain.  Why do we aspire to be better?  Why do we hope? Often, the answer to both these questions lie in painful past experiences.  

We turn to hope because otherwise we would have to accept pain as the norm, which is too grim to contemplate (pain avoidance).  

So what does this have to do with your customers?

Customer Pain Points TOC

The Customer Pain Point Meaning for eCommerce

We have all experienced or witnessed painful events in life, – seen the fallout from a difficult situation (whatever that situation might be).  Our response to these traumatic events often becomes hardwired, and can have a dramatic effect on our behavior. The tendency is that we try to avoid such situations and prevent re-occurrence at all costs where possible, or offset the risks of re-occurance. 

Any situation that is causing pain NOW, in the moment, is the greatest of all motivators, creating motivated buyers.

However, any product or service adapted as a means of avoidance of pain, whether it be a means of prevention, to minimize the damage or as a solution to recovery from the situation that causes the customers pain point is the ideal product for that customer.

The primary factor in all purchasing decisions is how we feel about the item.

If you can elicit the right mix (buying mix) of emotions during a targeted personalized customer journey, then you can convert far more website visitors into returning customers.  When I say emotion, you need to pinpoint the source of the motivation to buy, or in other words, your customer’s pain points.  Why are they curious about your product?

Human Complexity is a Marketers nightmare.

Human emotion is hugely complex, with various studies suggesting that there are hundreds of complex mixtures of emotion, or as some describe them, emotional motivators.  For most of us in the business of eCommerce, dealing with 100’s is just not feasible.  

Store owners should prioritize grouping of customers according to hopes and fears directly related to each product, or product category that is being sold.  When used together, hope is the solution to the problem, what I mean by this is that ultimately the outcome of successfully using your product is what is being sold, rather than the product itself.  The removal of the emotional pain associated with the situation.

For example in a job to be done situation, such as a tedious DIY job where 100’s of screws need to be used.  One pain point could be if the customer only has a manual screw driver, and the anticipation of a long, manual, physically-tiring job that could be done so much more quickly and easily with an electric screw driver.  The positive outcome if the task was done with the electric screw driver would be a job accomplished quickly with little effort or physical pain.

Tip:- Leverage the anticipated fear/pain of time consuming, taxing jobs, (anticipation of jobs to be done) to help the customer do things the right way (your way, using your product with the least effort).  You can sell the screw driver on the premise that the benefit of purchase far out way the costs.

Types of Motivation.

Marketers and psychologists often try to package emotions to better explain motivation, this common types of pain points include :-

  • Productivity pain
  • Financial pain
  • Process pain
  • Support Pain. 

The groupings listed above, are only relevant for this article to provide a range of potential ways to segment your customers. 

The table below goes a stage further, deeper by look at desires and inspiration.

Every single one of the motivating factors listed above should be considered in relation to pain points and desired outcomes, and as to whether they are relevant to your customers and your product.

In relation to the table above consider the opposite of each desire, as a potential pain point.

For example, the last one is perhaps the easiest to address, “Succeed in life”, therefore the opposite of this fear is to have a meaningless life with little or no success (fear of failure).  

So how can your product help the customer succeed? (a very broad example).

Easy right?

In this example, the campaign to address this customer pain point can be very broad initially.  This is because it is a very common fear, and then, later you can drill down into this fear when you learn about the common origins of this fear for your audience.

In this example, the type of products this fear works well for, is any product or service that can help your customers to succeed.  There are many different products and services it could work well for.

  1. Personal development products (training)
  2. Work management tools (process, productivity)
  3. Gym memberships (personal image)
  4. Work protection equipment (productivity, process pain types)
  5. Financial planning (financial type)

Again, consider the types of pain (listed above) when considering your product or service use-cases.

Tips:  Use a before and after context within your storyselling.  Use a image to convey a relevant scenario, – the pain (the before).  A/B test with images of different potential pain points.

Before = Fear and pain / pain avoidance (showing you understand and empathize with their pain).

After = The visual outcome of resolving this pain, it is the sum of all hopes, achievable by using your product or service (this is what you are selling)

Identification of Customer Pain Points

To determine customer pain points is to determine the customers motivation and thereby, what context to pitch the outcome your product or service can provide.

In a virtual world, pain points are determined by customer interactions with your channels of communication, throughout the customer journey.  This would include the stage of awareness, conversion funnels and touch points, as well as their viewing behavior on your website (behavioral analytics). 

The path they take through your content to move from stage to stage, this conversion funnel path provides endless opportunities to learn about your customers.

Much can be discovered through customer data analysis, your Google Analytics or Shopify Analytics data for example (for a holistic view on both consider using Conversific).  

To collect custom data via custom data fields you’ll need to conduct online surveys.  A SaaS A/B testing tool with a Shopify integration can be used to target specific customer groups through a range of targeting methods.  There are also survey tools that make it easy to collect data.

Questions that can be used to uncover customer pain points.

Show empathy by demonstrating that you understand their situation and pain in the questions you ask.  Your goal is to learn more about each customer to better target them, -this is easier than you might think.

From your customer analytics you know what content they have engaged with on your website.  You know what ads they clicked to bring them to you, from this data evidence trail you can puzzle together potential pain points to AB test for.

The strategy of storyselling a scenario with which your customer can identify with, (customer case study for example) works surprisingly well.  Ideally, place a face behind the story, a character that the customer can relate to.

Tip: Ask single questions when you have the opportunity, perhaps at micro conversion points.  This way it is less invasive.

Leverage open ended questions that require the customer to explain their answer, or at the very least provide a multiple choice question that does not require the customer to do any work except read and click to complete.

Targeting Customer Pain Points

You can target your audiences via all the usual channels using:-Customer Pain Points in Landing Pages.

  1. Customer Pain Points in Landing Pages
  2. Customer Pain Points in onsite popups
  3. Customer Pain Points in Paid Search Ads
  4. Customer Pain Points in Social Ads
Any of these options would be good, however it would be best to do it in the order suggested, assuming you have reasonable website traffic, since conversion rate optimization should be done first, before paying for traffic. 
You can A/B test on your website, leveraging your analytics and then transfer what you learn to your paid campaigns to gain better results.
Remember, its not just your ads you need to optimize, but your entire customer journey and the conversion funnel, personalizing content for different types of motivation.

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