Whether you are trying to get people to buy your product, use your service, join your community, or change their actions and decisions about something, you must first understand their psychology. Why do people do what they do and how can we make them do what we want them to do (not in a creepy way, though)? How can you successfully persuade them into acting? Answering these questions is especially important when you run a business, and you need the conversions. There are a few principles, models, and techniques developed by foremost psychologists to help us understand people, their psychology, and the power of persuasion. I’ll be highlighting a few in this article.
Cialdini’s 7 Principles of Persuasion
Cialdini’s seven principles of persuasion were presented by Robert Cialdini, an American psychologist, in 1984 through his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. These principles, when applied correctly, have been known to drive conversions and make people say ‘Yes.’ The principles are;
Note: This video does not include information on Cialdini’s newest principal, unity. More on the 7th principle in Track 2.
With reciprocity, you give something to get something in return. This first principle of persuasion states that human beings are wired to treat others the same way they have treated us. Psychology explains this by stressing that we humans hate to feel indebted to other people. An example of its execution will involve giving people free tools, free downloads, free goodies — that they benefit from — and they’ll be way more likely to do something for you.
People like to feel consistent, so make this happen by subtly making them commit to something. You need to be assured that even after buying your product, they will return. An execution example will involve getting your site visitors to subscribe to a newsletter. You send ads for your product/service.
This persuasive principle describes a situation where a person’s purchasing decisions are influenced by another person’s rating or recommendations. An execution example will be to have glowing reviews of your product/service on your landing page.
Establish yourself as an authority in a particular field to make people trust your brand more. Placing authority badges or reviews from authoritative individuals in your industry on your landing page is a way to execute this principle.
The more an advertiser imitates their audience and gets them to believe that they are sincerely liked and appreciated, the easier persuading them becomes. In executing this principle, write a copy that sounds like a customer and encourages word-of-mouth recommendations.
This principle posits that the scarcer a product/service is, the more people want it. Increasing urgency by constantly emphasizing its short supply will increase demand greatly.
People naturally need shared identities. It is why building a community around your business is important for driving conversions.
Keep in mind that Cialdini’s book Influence mainly talks about these principles from the perspective of how to not get taken advantage of when someone tries to use this on you. We focus on how you can use them to boost conversions.
Fogg Behavior Model
The Fogg Behavior Model, developed by Stanford University’s BJ Fogg, posits that three elements must converge for a behavior to occur. These elements are motivation, ability, and a prompt.
Identify what would motivate your users to perform a certain behavior and use it. These motivating factors are grouped into three parts- sensation (physical motivations-pleasure, rewards), anticipation (emotional motivations-hope and fear), and belonging (social motivations-community).
Here, you have to gauge what your user can and cannot do correctly. Do not over or underestimate. Create processes/tasks that will be easily accessible by your users. Also, motivation and ability are complementary; if one drops, the other has to be higher.
Once motivation and ability have been established, you need to trigger the users to perform a particular action to get tangible results. Prompts include CTAs, notifications, etc.
Lessons from Neuromarketing
Neuromarketing was defined by Michael E. Smith, the Founder and Principal Scientist at Adaptation Research, as the “application of methods from experimental psychology and neuroscience to the problem of understanding consumer behavior.” Data from Neuromarketing research help brands interpret and predict users’ decisions and use them to make better design and marketing decisions. Some notable lessons from neuromarketing include; people’s brains anticipate a reward before they choose to pursue them, people are greatly influenced by self-service, a person’s behavior is influenced by mood, the brain loves stories, fear and anxiety is a very powerful advertising tactic, and several others.
A Big List of Persuasion Techniques
You can either rationalize or subtly make people do what you want them to do in your persuasion. Some popular persuasion techniques include; tell more brand stories to build trust, adopt specificity to make your claims more believable, repeat yourself often to increase familiarity, let your old customers provide you with social proof, use metaphors to make your users’ brains react faster, and so on.
Cognitive Biases — We’re All Affected By Them
Cognitive biases are errors in thinking that occur as we try to process information and, in turn, affect our (in)decisions. With this bias, people tend to make decisions that reinforce what they already think or believe. A person’s cognitive biases will affect how they react/interact with your brand. Although there are several manifestations of cognitive biases, these are some of the most common types; confirmation bias, in-group bias, self-serving bias, the Dunning-Kruger effect, the halo effect, hindsight bias, optimism bias, anchoring bias, and so on.
Emotional and Rational Decision Making
Although emotions and rationality have been argued to produce opposite decision-making results, studies have shown that these two concepts are intertwined. You cannot make decisions based on rationality alone. This is why advertisers must appeal to their users’ primal emotional desires while still appealing to their rationality by proving the value of the product/service.
How People View Websites
A visitor’s first impression of your website will determine if they are converted or not. Certain studies featuring eye-tracking examinations have highlighted the different ways people view websites, their reactions, and how it affects purchase decisions. Some of those conclusions include;
- The top left corner of your website is the most noticed.
- People scan content rather than read them, so they favor short and snappy content over heavy text.
- People will notice a bolder and larger introductory paragraph quicker. They will read all of it too.
- Most people do not go beyond the first and second results of their Google searches, so they favor long-tail keywords.
- People read from left to right. Hence, the left side of your page gets more attention than the right side.
- High-resolution images make pages more attractive, and so on.
E-commerce Product Page Study: Value Perceptions and Image size
If you run an eCommerce product page, you need to understand how the product’s image size affects the product’s value perceptions. For certain product classes like search/spec-goods that are easy to evaluate before consumption, larger images are perceived as more valuable/expensive. But experience-goods (goods that need to be used/consumed before their value is determined) are viewed as less useful when the product image is more extensive than usual. This valuation will help you present your products in a high-converting manner.
Cognitive fluency has to do with how well we process information to understand its meaning(s). Naturally, if your copy is simple, more people will be drawn to it, but it will put people off complex. To successfully persuade a potential user, you need to make the process look easy to understand. Studies have shown that products/services with high cognitive fluency attract high conversion rates.
Engaging some or all of these principles that define people and their psychology will make user persuasion easier. This will provide tangible results like high conversion rates and an increase in sales for your business.