I'm a retail expert – these are the tricks companies use to get you to buy something… even if you don't want it | The Sun

HAVE you ever been scrolling through social media and ended up spending your hard earned cash on a product you had never even considered buying before?

Impulse buys are becoming increasingly common with the growth of online shopping – and advertising experts are coming up with new tricks to grab your attention and get you to part with your dough.

These advertising experts have shared their tricks of the trade so you can know the tactics, illusions and gambits advertisers use to outwit shoppers and convince you to buy their products.

Why You See Ads More Than Once

Mark Smith, a social media strategist with Double up Social, said that when it comes to online platforms, a tactic known as 'retargeting' plays a huge role.

Retargeting refers to a customer being shown the same advert several times to make sure the product is entrenched in their minds.

Mark said: “Consumers are unlikely to purchase after seeing an advert just once.

“Therefore, advertisers will identify who has engaged or interacted with their past ads, under the idea that if they have engaged with past ads, they must be interested in the product in some way.

"Advertisers then show them more ads in the hope that they can persuade you to purchase.

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“This is why, if you click on an ad, you'll likely then see many more ads from that same company.”

A similar trick by advertisers explains why you may often see similar looking ads, even as you switch between different platforms.

Mark added: "If you use an email address to sign up to an email newsletter (and opt into marketing) – advertisers can then transfer those emails onto Facebook, and if you used that email to create a Facebook profile, they can then show you ads directly on Facebook too.

"For advertisers, it's all about putting their product in front of your eyes in as many places as possible!”

A Picture Tells A Thousand Words

It may seem obvious, but imagery has an important role in how you are sold ads – including ways you won't be aware of.

Jordan James, Director of Unlockd Marketing, shared that imagery can be key to grabbing your attention:

He explained: “A picture is worth a thousand words and it couldn’t be truer with product advertising.

"Advertisers will typically run a series of ads across channels, using a cross-section of photos and/or video to whet your appetite.

"This will range from simple imagery of the product against various backgrounds, to lifestyle images with models who look just like the target demographic."

Jordan also revealed a secret industry tip: if it’s a hand-held product, advertisers will focus in on model's hands.

Seeing other people using a product can subconsciously help you to see yourself using it, increasing the chances you'll want to buy it.

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Celebrity Endorsements Up The Appeal-Factor

Seeing your favourite celeb with a product is a great way to add to its interest value, and it can make all the difference.

“It’s no secret that celebrities can help get sales soaring" Jordan added.

While people usually assume brands pay for endorsements, the advertising insider revealed that sometimes "the celebrity is happy to be used for promotions in exchange for a freebie or two – which happens more than you think!

"Advertisers use celebrities who resonate with their product’s audience to get those cash registers ringing!

"The reason celebrity endorsements work well is that celebrities are familiar with us and that breeds trust. Trust is a key component when selling products, especially new ones."

Draw The Customer's Gaze

It can be a challenge for advertisers to draw a person's gaze when scrolling on their phone, but there are certain tricks advertisers pull to catch your eye and keep your interest.

Rich Mehta, founder of Rigorous Digital, said that being able to draw attention to an ad is a key aspect of selling online – and they use a handy trick to do so.

"If we want someone to read something or to draw their attention towards a certain space, we take an image of someone looking in that direction.

"That means we place someone in an advert looking at the product – that will often focus a customer's gaze on it."

Rich also said that the average person won't be able to recall a brand or relate to it until they have seen or heard about it at least 8 to 10 times – which is why once a brand think you may be interested, they'll repeat.

Take Customers On A Journey

Generic advertising that feels like it is aimed at anyone and everyone is a thing of the past.

Ads have now evolved to try and take you on a journey – and you making a purchase is the destination.

Amanda Philp, director of Digital Marketing Engine, said advertisers often try and engage you in a fresh way, making you feel as though you are discovering the product yourself.

The marketing director said this is key as people are “no longer fooled by clickbait, hyperbole, or too-good-to-be-true offers.”

“Advertisers need to both grab attention – quickly – and more importantly, retain it. One-hit wonders simply don’t work.

"You know when you search for a product, and then you start seeing ads for it wherever you go online? That’s taking you through an awareness journey – with a specific and targeted end goal that you will eventually succumb and make the purchase."

So, this is the journey the big hitters online take you on:

  • First, create an initial desire, where ads get you to begin to think "this looks interesting…"
  • Then, identify the current problem to get you wondering "what is missing in my life…"
  • Present a solution to this problem, so consumers see that "life will be so much better if I have this…"
  • Repeatedly display the product, creating the illusion that it's "shiny and perfect…"
  • Finally, show the customer where to buy it – and lead them there

"It’s easy to see which advertisers are getting it right or wrong – next time you see an ad pop up on your screen, take a moment to analyse it" added Amanda.

"You’ll know pretty quickly if it speaks to you in your own tone, or if those precious ad spend pounds have been entirely wasted on you!”

Shock Factor is Key

In a world where ads are everywhere, instantly grabbing people's attention and boosting engagement through controversy, shock and surprise can be a useful tactic.

James Holden, marketing manager with Protect Line, said: “The world is saturated with adverts and people are overwhelmed by them, to the point of tuning them out completely.

“For effective advertising – we use shock value!

"Capturing the attention of the audience within the first few seconds is vital, and sometimes that means using controversy or engagement bait.

Brands want people to react strongly to their ads, especially online because it encourages the algorithm to boost the advert reach, so shock value is carefully considered and planned.”

Context Can Make All The Difference

When it comes to how an advert is specifically targeted at you, the time and place you see it can determine whether it looks appealing or completely irrelevant.

Abs Hassanali, spokesperson for Integral Ad Science, an advertising data company, said: "Context is key. All things should have the right time and place.

"We all like a cold beverage from time to time, but think about receiving an ad for one a Monday morning on LinkedIn. We'd much rather see this ad on a Friday evening on Facebook! 

"Ads can be super smart and creative but if they reach audiences in the wrong environment, then they will likely fall flat.

"People are much more likely to buy a product when it is related to the content they are already looking at."

Next time you come across an advert, pay attention to the time of day and what platform you are on – it may make a lot of sense why you are seeing it at that point in time.

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