Use Cialdini's 7 Principles of Persuasion

Business Benefits

Improve the effectiveness of your marketing messaging and tactics.


Use reciprocity principles by offering something your audience values in exchange for something you value, like their contact information.

Cialdini explains that human nature causes us to avoid feeling indebted to others. Offering clear value to your audience compels them to return the favor, either immediately or later in the sales funnel. For example, your audience will be willing to provide their contact information in exchange for in-depth, expert level content.

In addition, providing additional content value to your leads without an immediate sales ask will also prime them for later sales pitches. Other examples of reciprocity in marketing include exclusive discounts and loyalty programs.

Establish a pattern of commitment and consistency that asks your audience to take multiple small steps rather than fewer large steps in your user journey, which causes internal pressure to remain consistent.

Cialdini explains that we tend to model future behavior after past behavior. That inherent desire to remain consistent can become a crucial persuasive technique in the user journey. For example, asking your users to provide only their email address is a small commitment.

Once you have it, you can ask for more information, which your audience will be more likely to give you because they’ve already committed to providing information. Their commitment to consistency will drive them through multiple micro-conversions on their way to becoming customers.

Our need for consistency becomes even stronger when we state our behavior publicly. For example, current customers who publish positive reviews will be more likely to remain loyal to your brand because they don’t want to break their publicly stated pattern.

Use social proof to reassure your audience that they are making the right decision in taking the action you want them to take.

We inherently seek safety in numbers, and look to do what others are doing rather than standing out from the crowd. Hearing from their peers will make your audience easier to persuade. Examples of effective social proof include:

  • Developing short customer testimonials that speak directly to your audience’s pain points.
  • Creating hotel bathroom signs that ask guests to reuse bathroom towels because others have done the same.
  • Writing long-form case studies of current customers using your product to encourage sales.
  • Including a Clients section on your homepage that shows brand logos of well-known customers.

Connect your brand with external authority to establish trust and credibility in your messaging.

We intrinsically tend to trust and be persuaded by authority figures when they speak about relevant topics. Authority can be based on societal status, wealth, or perceived industry expertise. Connecting your brand with an authoritative voice from outside your company establishes trust that you can then leverage in other, more sales-oriented messaging. Examples include:

  • Testimonials from industry experts.
  • Prominent webinar guests and content creators, like guest authors.
  • External certifications from an unbiased source your audience recognizes as credible, like OSHA or the FDA.

Use your messaging to build rapport with your audience, getting them to like you by using a shared language, complimenting them, and using messengers they trust.

Cialdini’s Liking Principle states that people are more likely to say yes to a request from someone they like. Get to know your customers, and use what you know about them to build trust on a peer-to-peer level. For example, you can:

  • Authentically use the same tone and language your audience would use, without coming across as trying too hard.
  • Paying them compliments, like thanking them for positive reviews or sharing your content.
  • Using social media influencers that your audience considers peers to spread your message.

Establish a credible sense of scarcity in your messaging by emphasizing deadlines, supplies, and time-based events where relevant.

When we believe that something is in short supply, we increase our urgency in trying to obtain it, concluding that demand and perceived quality must be high. Examples of scarcity based messaging include:

  • Emphasizing that only a few products are left in a limited run.
  • Promoting the end of a period in which a product or service has a reduced price.
  • Highlighting the date of a marketing event with a countdown clock.

Credibility is a key consideration when using the scarcity principle. If your messaging isn’t believable, you will lose credibility. For example, if you emphasize a sales deadline but continue to offer the same lower price after the deadline, your audience will become less likely to trust future scarcity messages.

Create a sense of shared identity with your audience using the Unity Principle.

The Unity Principle builds on the belief that people need to belong, and gravitate to others who share the same or a similar identity. It builds on the Liking Principle by creating a deeper sense of connection using one of a few potential factors:

  • Family ties.
  • Professional background.
  • Shared age group and experiences.
  • Nationality.
  • Shared Norms and values.
  • Shared hobbies.

Brands who establish unity through emphasizing these shared factors in their messaging become more likely to align themselves with their audience long-term. For example, a brand that emphasizes its sustainability will become more persuasive to audiences who share a personal belief in the importance of reducing corporate environmental harm.