Why Is Everybody YELLING?

Anyone who’s watched an episode of Real Housewives knows that the best episodes are the dinner party episodes. They quickly devolve into a screaming argument. First, someone boldly states a controversial opinion or asks an offensive question. Then, someone else gets triggered. Voice volume increases, others chime in, and then everyone at the table is yelling. It’s at this point that the network adds captions to the bottom of the screen, because when everyone is yelling at the same time, our brains can’t pick which person to focus on.

People yell to get attention, but when everyone is yelling, it’s just noise. As Caroline Beaton, an author who covers the psychology of millennials at work points out “Because the stimuli don’t change, we cease to be stimulated. The consequence is two-fold. First, like a kind of Chinese water torture, each identical thing becomes increasingly painful. In defense, we become decreasingly engaged.”

Breaking through the noise is a critical factor in all forms of advertising—from broadcast TV commercials, to radio, and online ads. The cheap tricks of puppies, babies, and attractive models are a two-thousand-and-late strategy. Let’s level up, shall we?

Step 1: Understanding Today’s Consumer

2018 saw the continued rise of American consumer stress and anxiety across all generations. According to a recent survey conducted by the American Psychiatric Association, 39% of US adults reported feeling more anxious in 2018 than 2017. Barnes & Noble saw a 25% jump in sales of books related to anxiety compared to 2017.

It’s important to note that there is a difference between general anxiety and a clinical diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder. Feelings of anxiety are a normal reaction to everyday stressors. Although reports of people feeling anxious are on the rise, researchers are unsure if there is truly an increase in people with generalized anxiety disorder, or if access to medical care, awareness of genetics, or a combination of both explain the rise in diagnosis. What’s important for marketers to be aware of is that consumers are feeling more anxious, and this is a segment we can accommodate.

Anxiety plays a role in consumer behavior. People are making conscious efforts to avoid stressful situations. Shape Magazine declared “Self Care” the biggest wellness trend of 2018. Remember FOMO? 2018 gave rise to a new acronym—JOMO, the Joy of Missing Out. This shift to a more peaceful existence continues to be a trend into 2019. It’s hard enough to get people’s attention, but now we need to also be cautious of creating a joy spark at the thought of avoiding our business.

An increasing population of individuals affected by anxiety creates a responsibility for businesses to break through the noise and provide an authentic message targeted to this consumer segment.

Step 2: Setting Great Expectations

Research has shown that a low tolerance for uncertainty, or a low risk tolerance, is a major contributor to anxiety. This is a good barometer to brainstorm ideas for marketing to potentially anxious customers. What can your business do to reduce or eliminate uncertainty throughout the buyer’s journey?

When people land on your website the first time, this oftentimes brings on a rush of rational and irrational fears:

  • Where am I? Am I in the right place?
  • Is this a scam? Is this a trustworthy business/website? Am I being catfished?
  • What’s the catch? This is probably expensive as heck or the quality is bad.

In order to combat these common, but irrational fears, it’s helpful to overexplain, provide relevant details, and utilize as many trust signals as possible. It’s also important that customers can tell, at a glance, and very quickly, that you are a professional business that sells or services what they need.

A website’s bounce rate is a great metric to gauge customers’ first impressions. Google defines bounce rate as the percentage of visitors to a website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page. I like my former professor’s definition better: I came. I saw. I barfed. 30-50% is an average bounce rate for most websites in most industries so if you are seeing rates higher than this, you may want to dig a little deeper.

For landing pages or industries with the goal of an immediate conversion or form fill, time on site can be a great metric when bounce rate doesn’t apply because users are finding what they are looking for without further interactions. Are people spending less than five seconds on your page, or are they spending a couple minutes ingesting your info? Are they on your page for a long time and not converting? Let the clues guide you.

This covers the beginning of the buyer’s journey, but we can’t forget about the rest of the path to purchase:

  • Will my item/service provider arrive on time?
  • Are there going to be extra fees?
  • What happens if I need to make a change or cancel my order?

Now that we know that uncertainty leads to anxiety, it’s important to do everything possible to empower customers to feel certain they know the answers to these questions at the right moments during their decision process.

Step 3: Solidifying Your Raison D’être

What was the reason you started your business? What need is being met that wasn’t previously by your competitors? What do you do better than the competition? Let this be your north star all marketing is crafted around.

There is nothing more refreshing than a brand that is 100% authentic and confident. This gets attention. This breaks through the noise. An honest, gimmick-free approach is also a great way to attract consumers who feel anxious.

A great example of this is the classic 1959 Volkswagen Beetle ad that is still referenced to this day as being groundbreaking. The VW Beetle is a small, affordable car. Instead of appealing to a glossy aspirational self, the ad campaign went for an angle of honesty and simplicity. Consumers that had become numb to the sameness of traditional auto ad campaigns took notice and became excited.

Once you’ve clarified your raison d’être (aka competitive advantage), choosing an appropriate call-to-action, or CTA, becomes clear. The level of difficulty involved in purchasing your product or service along with the level of service you provide will help determine your call-to-action.

A good example for this is comparing businesses that sell cars. Carvana is a relatively new brand and their raison d’être is to facilitate a completely online car buying transaction. They alleviate customer uncertainty with smart branding that explains the process, and with ample relevant information on their website that car buyers are looking for before purchasing a car. They have a very clear raison d’être of 100% online car buying, so they have a few different call-to-actions depending on where you want to start. A traditional dealership on the other hand, their raison d’être might be something like non-pushy sales staff, so while they still have ample information on their website to keep uncertainty at a minimum, their call-to-action is going to be more along the lines of “Schedule A Test Drive.”

Your competitive advantage and call-to-action are critical pieces of your marketing message. It’s not something to be taken lightly, as overpromising features and unclear differences between your business and your competitors can raise needless red flags.

Step 4: Optimizing Your Online Marketing Strategy

Ah, the sweet solitude of the internet. Search engines and social media platforms are constantly updating to ease access to information people want to see. The trick is keeping up with the latest upgrades, so you can find and implement them.

Google Ads Local Inventory Ads

If you have an ecommerce business with brick and mortar locations and plan on targeting local consumers, Google Ads Local inventory ads would be a great option. These ads are a nice hybrid of a shopping ad and a map listing, giving customers the necessary information to make a purchase decision, including whether an item is in stock or on backorder.

Utilize Ad Customizers in Google Ads

Depending on the technical expertise of the person handling your Google Ads campaign and your ability to integrate FTP uploads, there are a handful of underutilized features within ad customizers. You can highlight the quantity of inventory left, countdown to the end of a sale, and change your ad message for mobile phone users, all with Google ad customizers.

Is Your Map Listing Even Set Up?

This is an often overlooked section because it’s free. If you have a brick and mortar location you want customers to visit, make sure your map listing is fully fleshed out. Be sure to check back frequently to see if there are new fields where you can enter information about your business. Many consumers use Google Maps as a search engine, so think of your maps listing as the first place they interact with your business before making a purchase decision.

List Your Holiday Hours

Even if you are open, if there are no holiday hours posted, customers will be uncertain. Post your holiday hours on your social media accounts and website to avoid potential lost business and excessive/unnecessary calls to your staff.

Set Retargeting Frequency Limits

Retargeting potential customers is a great way to help remind people of a product or service they were interested in and may want to purchase. There is a difference between helpful reminders and annoying someone into never being a customer to begin with, so be sure to set appropriate frequency caps on retargeting ads.

Segment Abandon Cart Shoppers

Retarget and send emails to abandon cart shoppers. These are often people who left looking for a discount code or were spooked by the shipping price, so by offering this segment a discount or free shipping, you can help tip the scales from a visit to a conversion.


It takes a lot of effort to be the loudest person at a noisy Real Housewives dinner fight. Your business can steal the scene by exuding a confidence that comes with knowing you have more to offer than other people at the table desperate for attention. Focusing on what may seem like unimportant details like staffing to reduce long lines, and updating website copy to inform of parking and holiday hours, will come across as respectful, trustworthy, and refreshing. Not only can this attract a customer segment that identifies as anxious, it is also great for spawning word-of-mouth and online reviews, as well as converting new customers into long-term customers.