Use persuasion to boost conversions

Contributors

@paul-boag


Business Benefits

Improve your conversion rate by persuading visitors to become customers.


Give something useful to visitors like industry advice or a free download, to engage reciprocity and increase the chance of them giving back by buying or subscribing.

Cialdini’s first principle of persuasion states that human beings are wired to return favors and pay back debts, to treat others as they’ve treated us.

One of the best examples of this Cialdini principle in action is Brian Dean’s website, Backlinko. Dean’s website is centered on his blog, which is single-mindedly focused on giving its readers tips, advice, and suggestions on how they can be more successful webmasters, and SEO analysts.

Thanks to his very informative content, regular site visitors are more likely to sign up for his paid training courses or contact him for consulting services.

Encourage visitors to engage in small ways like commenting on a blog post.

The principle of commitment declares that humans have a deep need to be seen as consistent. As such, once we’ve publicly committed to something or someone, we’re much more likely to go through and deliver on that commitment, hence consistency.

By getting site visitors to commit to something relatively small, and usually free, like a guide or whitepaper, you increase the likelihood that those site visitors will eventually see themselves as customers.

A striking and memorable example of this Cialdini principle in action can be found on the Copyblogger website. Right on the homepage, you’ll notice a big headline urging you to grab the company’s free online marketing course. Just enter your email address:

Clearly, this is a form of public commitment meant to get you to see yourself as a customer of the company. It’ll raise the chances that you’ll go on to purchase one of their services.

Use social proof to boost feelings of safety and validation.

Cialdini defined social proof as people doing what they observe other people doing. It’s safety in numbers. We’re even more influenced by this principle if:

  • We’re unsure of ourselves.
  • The people we observe seem similar to us.

For instance, if our coworkers work late, we’re likely to do the same. If a particular eatery is always full of people, we’re likely to give that establishment a try.

One of the most powerful ways to use social proof is through so-called “wisdom-of-the-crowds.” Take Modcloth. Their product pages include not just reviews but also a counter that tallies the number of site visitors who have “hearted” a particular item:

Use factors like impressive job titles, qualifications, and aspirational clothing to add a sense of authority.

Accessories, such as job titles (Dr.) and uniforms, infuse an air of authority, making the average person more likely to accept what that person says. You can see this in commercials that, for example, use doctors to front their ad campaigns.

ShoeDazzle, which specializes in women’s shoes and accessories, relies on this principle. The company was co-founded by Kim Kardashian, who also serves as one of ShoeDazzle’s chief fashion stylists.

use of celebrity to imbue authority into an advertisement.

Image credit

The company brought in Kardashian as a co-founder because she’s an authority figure for young women shoppers.

Share more personal information about yourself to help your customers see commonalities and boost likability.

The more you like someone, the more you’ll be persuaded by them. Liking is based on sharing something similar or a more superficial interest, like physical attractiveness.

A company that wants to boost conversion rates should create a great About Us page. That sounds absurd, but it makes sense when you understand that a company’s About Us page is an opportunity to tell potential buyers about the similarities between its staff and site visitors. Since similarity is a key building block of liking, an effective About Us page is vital.

For example, a company called PetRelocation helps pet owners all over the world move their pets from country to country. The company’s About Us page is full of staff bios, and every bio emphasizes not only the staff’s love of dogs, but also humanizes managers and employees by including hobbies and other personal details.

Adding this information increased the company’s likeability, which in turn boosted the conversion rate of site visitors.

Limit the amount of stock or the time in which it’s on sale, to make a product seem less available and engage the principle of scarcity.

Scarcity is the perception that products are more attractive when their availability is limited. We’re likelier to purchase something if we’re informed that it’s the last one or that a special deal will soon expire.

For example, Booking.com employs the scarcity principle in many ways:

  • “You missed it! We reserved our last available room at this property.”
  • “Our availability in Dublin is low on your dates – lock in a great price before it’s too late.”
  • “Today 45% off.”
  • “5 people are looking right now.”
  • “In high demand – only 4 rooms left on our site!”

There’s also time-limited scarcity. Monetate has a great example of this principle. A blurb that reads, “Offer Ends in…,” with a countdown resulted in an average order value (AOV) increase of 0.07%.

example of time-limited scarcity principle.