Use obscure persuasion techniques in CRO

Contributors

@andreea-macoveiciuc-content-expert


Business Benefits

Increase your conversion rate by making your copy more persuasive.


If your copy asks readers to perform a mental task, like buying a product online, test it using the Yerkes-Dodson Law.

The Yerkes-Dodson Law says that performance increases with physiological or mental arousal, but only up to a point. When a person’s arousal level is too high, their performance actually decreases instead. With tasks involving cognitive effort, you see an inverse U graph if you plot performance against incentives. First performance increases with rising incentives, but only until it reaches an optimum, and then it starts decreasing steeply as incentives rise further.

  • If buying and using your product is a mental task, run tests to find the point where incentives begin to backfire.
  • If buying and using your product is a physical task, incentivizing behavior will work well and you can offer high incentives without fear of backfire.

Any incentive you offer can potentially change your visitors’ motivation from intrinsic to extrinsic, meaning their buying and use becomes dependent on the incentive.

Use mimicry to build rapport by using similar language to your ideal customers and showing other customers buying and using your product.

Mimic your visitors by:

  • Using the words and phrases they use to describe you in your copy
  • Using the same tone / style as they do
  • Repeating the keywords they used to find you in your copy
  • Using pictures of them or people just like them, etc.

Encourage your visitors to mimic you by:

  • Using pictures/videos of other customers buying and using your product
  • Using testimonials near the call to action
  • Using social media to show which of their friends have purchased

Use Hobson’s +1 choice effect to improve customer emotions by offering two choices at critical decision points.

Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice, uses the following graph to demonstrate this effect:

Reaction to Increasing Choice

So, no options is bad, and one option makes you feel dramatically better. Two options gives you some autonomy and the “missed opportunity” factor is minimal since there’s only one other option. Offer two choices - for example, add to cart, save to wishlist, print, tweet it - to first-time visitors at critical decision points like near your call to action, even if both options eventually lead to the same outcome, like buying your product.

Experiment with offering specific-case data rather than more general, base data to boost consumer perceptions.

If presented with related base rate information (generic, general information) and specific information (information only pertaining to a certain case), people tend to ignore the former and focus on the latter. For example, “100% of customers active within the last 30 days would recommend us.” vs. “75% of all customers would recommend us.”

Use availability heuristics to connect your products to topics already on your customers’ minds, and boost the chances of keeping your copy ‘current’ in their memory using stories, humor, surprise, and emotion.

  • Since media is often top-of-mind, use case studies and testimonials from clients often covered in the media or make pop culture comparisons in your copy/images.
  • Use anecdotes, humor, nostalgia and rhymes to enhance recall.
  • Anything surprising or emotional will catch attention and enhance recall, so use surprise and emotion at critical decision points/points of friction.

Create strategic partnerships with non-competing businesses and comparison charts for competitor products to make use of the cheerleader effect.

If you are in a market with stiff competition, encourage comparison of price, product features, packaging, etc. whenever possible. Your product will appear better in a group than on its own. Create strategic partnerships (webinars, eBooks, sponsorships, etc.) with non-competitive companies. By grouping yourself with them, you will appear more attractive to potential customers.

Give customers a simple, easy task at the beginning of a conversion or onboarding process to boost their confidence and invoke the hot-hand fallacy.

The hot-hand fallacy is the belief that a person who has experienced success with a random event has a greater chance of further success in additional attempts. Highlight your company’s successes, like upcoming speaking engagements for the CEO, press mentions, client wins, awards won. If you’re marketing an info product, this is especially impactful.

Get your customers involved in the creative process to invoke a sense of ownership and use the IKEA effect.

The IKEA effect is a cognitive bias in which consumers place a disproportionately high value on products they partially created. Offer customizations on eCommerce products. Have customers choose the size, the color, the style of fit, etc. so that they become part of the creation process. Encourage SaaS customers to help improve the product. For example, 15Five (an employee review/feedback tool) occasionally asks their customers to suggest great questions to ask employees to help other customers.

During the onboarding process, have customers create something as quickly as possible. For example, Buffer encourages users to schedule their first post as quickly as possible and Canva encourages users to create their first image as soon as they can.

Remove images containing people’s faces from content that is heavily text-based, to avoid having your visitors affected by facial distraction.

When we subconsciously notice faces in our surroundings, we tend to first scan those faces, before looking at anything else. Moreover, we cognitively process those faces thoroughly.

  • If you have a famous (yes, “industry famous” counts) customer or advocate, use their face on promotional materials.
  • Since you already have visitors’ attention when they’re on your site, don’t use faces. If you do, make sure they are looking at and positioned towards your call to action.

Make your claims and offers as specific as possible to avoid provoking ambiguity aversion in your visitors.

Ambiguity aversion is a preference for known risks over unknown risks. An ambiguity averse individual would rather choose an alternative where the probability distribution of the outcomes is known over one where the probabilities are unknown.

  • Be as specific and detailed about your product, your most wanted action and what happens next as you can to eliminate ambiguity. Ignore generalized rules like everything below the fold gets ignored.
  • Use certain discounts and coupons instead of offering a chance to win a prize.
  • Highlight and explain your guarantees and quality assurances. For example, return policies and satisfaction guarantees.
  • Identify uncertainties and ambiguity on your site as well as your competitors’ sites. How can you eliminate them and make the superior offer?