Unconscious Marketing – Please Purchase This Wooden Camel

| 6 min. (1178 words)

Picture the scene – I’m wandering through a busy street market, the ones you find in most busy tourist spots and cities around the world. The noise is deafening as the stall holders try and entice people into their stores and view their merchandise.

As I meander down the narrow aisles trying to avoid other shoppers, I’m hit with a barrage of questions from all angles….

“How about some new shoes for you today Sir?” “A new shirt perhaps? “A small wooden carving of a camel maybe?” – No thanks, not interested*.

Thanks, but no thanks

Thanks, but no thanks

Perhaps I’ll see something I like and buy it today, maybe I won’t. I’m not really at this market to buy, I’m just looking around really, taking in the atmosphere. All of these stall holders are slamming me with what I can only describe as ‘interruption marketing’. They’re looking to take my attention away from what I’m currently doing, forcing me to look at their products and decide within seconds that I need it, right there and then. They have only a few seconds to say the right thing, get me interested, switch my brain around into buying mode and complete the sale. For even the best salesmen, that’s difficult to do.

Let’s rewind and go back to the beginning. As I wander down the market this time my friend is talking to me, telling me about the new running shoes she bought a few weeks ago and how much they’ve improved her running performance – interesting, good for her I’m thinking. Next, as we approach an intersection, I see a poster on the lamppost. It’s advertising those running shoes my friend was talking about, and they do look good, perhaps I should look into getting a pair of those one day.

A few paces further down the market I see one person, then another, actually wearing the running shoes my friend recommended and happened to be on that poster back there – surely they must be good if other people are buying them too? As we get through the crowds I hear a voice – “How about some new running shoes for you today Sir?”, and my attention suddenly turns their way. I notice they have the same running shoes I’ve heard so much about right there on his stall. I’ve actually been looking around the market to see if I could find them and I don’t even notice the other brands on sale. After trying them on, I decide to buy them and I’m very happy with my new purchase.

What were the defining factors between the two experiences I had at the market that got me to buy?

  • I was told about the product BEFORE I actually needed it
  • The product was RECOMMENDED to me by someone I trusted the opinion of
  • I saw SOCIAL PROOF that other people used the product too
  • The right CALL TO ACTION was used at the RIGHT TIME to get me interested

As software marketers we often focus on the following:

  1. Getting people to our site
  2. Optimizing the likelihood that they will buy from us

Most of this process we can measure through the vast array of tools marketers now have available, but there are things we can’t measure so easily. How many of your customers hear about you and then sign up or buy straight away?

How many hear about you for the first time but take weeks / months before they actually take an action of signing up or buying? That becomes a lot harder to measure accurately.


Unconscious Marketing

It’s well known that retargeting (or remarketing as it is also referred to) is a medium that works, and it’s been well proven that users who are subject to retargeting are 70% more likely to convert. This has given Google and other retargeting service providers a lot of success over the years (especially as it evolves to be more and more intelligent), but again, this form of interruption marketing (as with any banner ad) is taking someone away from what they were doing at the time, and flipping their brain into a different task – finding out more about your service.

Unconscious marketing efforts take a much more subtle approach. Just like those billboards for Coke that say “Thirsty?” alongside a big picture of a refreshing Coke, you suddenly ask yourself. Am I thirsty? Well yeah, maybe I am… and you can guess which liquid beverage I will likely choose when I’m inside the shop. I assume the advert would have very different results if it simply said “Go buy a coke!”

Working out how you can frame your offering to slowly influence your customer is far more effective than any interruption marketing efforts, as it is the user that is actively making the choice to try your service, rather than you actively telling them they should. Of course, Raygun is hands down the best error tracking tool you will find, but maybe you don’t need an error tracking software right now? You will however, remember our cool logo and our name, perhaps you’ll see a couple of articles from us here and there, follow us on Twitter, hear that one of your friends is using us and then, when you do need that visibility of errors in your application, you’ll give Raygun a try, and be much more likely to become a customer from your previous exposure.


Although that’s not in any way a revolutionary idea and is practically the whole concept of content marketing, it is important when marketing software products we do not only focus on the things we can measure reliably with our data. Taking a more holistic view to your marketing activities means you can reach people who are not necessarily going to buy from you right now but plant a few seeds, rather than trying to interrupt them constantly shouting “Try me, try me!”, in the hope they’ll show up on your conversion reports.

What can you take away from this post?

I hope that this post helps with your software marketing efforts and gets you thinking about other ways you can promote your service that aren’t so easily measurable or direct. Being so focused on tracking conversions and clicks now we have these tools available, means you can lose valuable opportunities to do things that promote your product and reach people in new and less obvious ways. Attempting to disrupt people and get noticed is expensive and conversions are likely to be relatively small. Instead, try to focus on building a longer term journey for your customers with several touch-points amongst the different channels they frequent.

They’re sure to remember you when the time is right.

* Footnote: I did use it as an example but it’s highly unlikely, even with flawless marketing and a very enticing sales patter, that anyone would convince me to buy a small wooden camel for ornamental purposes. They’re a bit tacky.

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