You need to realize that today we’re living the biggest parts of our lives online, which means the competition out there is fiercer than ever. What shapes the conclusion about your business in customers’ minds is their first glance at your website and your interaction on social media. In order to engage them in a meaningful way, you need to understand what are the things that make them click. And you have very little time to do this since the modern world of quick fixes and instant gratification has to lead to a lack of deep thinking and a loss of patience. The attention span of your average online customer is lesser than that of a fold fish, leaving you with 8 seconds to do your magic. But this can be enough if you have the knowledge of deep-rooted behavioral patterns that psychology can offer.
The New Realm
Although many of ‛creators of their own destiny’ are trying to deny it, psychology has an immense role in everything we do. Our beliefs, thoughts, and behaviors are not only shaped by our own experiences but also by the environment around us, whether or not we realize it. With the evolution of internet another realm has appeared in our lives – the online environments we have readily inhabited. Needless to say, they also influence our behaviors and attitudes, providing us with the opportunity to craft persuasive user experiences, websites, and marketing strategies. Your most important goal should be to design an online environment that will persuade your customers to behave in a certain way.
This psychology of persuasion works in all business aspects, at all times. You might think that print on demand (POD) businesses are an exception because if the customers are the ones who dictate the products there can’t be any persuasion involved. But this would mean that the success of these businesses is a dice roll, which is far from the truth. If you look at the immense success that custom t-shirts Australia has established you’ll realize that there are ways to stand out from the crowd even when the customer ‛dictates’ things. When you have an eCommerce store it’s easy to forget that there is a real live person behind the customer number. And that person is also subject to psychological theories, cognitive biases, and persuasion techniques. So let’s see how you can push their buttons.
Offer Something in Return
If we give something to someone we expect that someone to return the favor. Besides giving you their money, your customers are also giving you one even more important thing – their trust. And they won’t repeat the same mistake if they are not offered something in return. This is where the social norm of reciprocity comes in. Returning the favor must be a voluntary act, you can’t wait for them to ask for it. The trick lies in the fact that the value of a given and returned favor don’t need to be equal. If you’re in a POD business you could let the customers choose how much should they pay based on their assessment of the complexity of the demanded design. If you think that would result in less than a standard cost you’ll be surprised. If you offer the right value – state of the art facilities and quality materials – they’ll feel the need to reciprocate much more. The other way to achieve this effect is by offering occasional discounts or gifts such as free shipping, products samples, etc.
Avoid The Changes
There’s nothing that terrifies people more than changes. Since we live in extremely insecure times we’re under a constant fear of things not remaining how they are. Even the most loyal customers might flee at the sight of things shifting. This is where the cognitive consistency theory comes in handy. The best way to commit to something is to do it in writing. We feel secure when the actions and thoughts are aligned, so listing your beliefs on your website will attract all visitors these beliefs resonate with. They will buy precisely because of this alignment, engaged in self-persuasion. But you should also require commitment from them. Start from small ones like downloading relevant free sources or subscribing to your email list, and they’ll lead to bigger ones. You need all the public commitment you can get, so it’s important to encourage social sharing at every step of the way. This also means testimonials, reviews, ratings – people base their beliefs and actions on those around them so social proof is mandatory. Pricing is the area in which consistency is harder to achieve so you’ll have to employ price anchoring, which is basically creating a bigger price and that way leaving the space for negotiations for the real one.
Make Them Like You
We all tend to say yes to people we like. But what makes us like something? First of all, the physical attraction. But this doesn’t mean you simply need to have the breathtaking design. Far more important is how this design directs and manages the focus and the attention of your customers through visual cueing. But the real attraction lies in the principle of familiarity. You’re more likely to persuade someone if you appear similar to him. That’s why you mustn’t come across as a big corporation, but as a friend – your brand needs to seem human. Familiarity is also built by the frequency of seeing things – that’s why we tend to order the same favorite meals, why we’re so attached to our neighborhood, or why the cart should be at the top right-hand corner of the store. You need to match previous experiences of your customers and to make it easy thinking about your business, and that’s why knowing your target audience is mandatory. That way you’ll be able to use phrases and words they’re familiar with and speak their language.
After you’ve made them fall in love with you it’s time to strengthen that bond with scarcity. If products are limited in quantity they’ll automatically receive more value. This means that the closer your eCommerce stock is to zero, the more persuasive you are. Of course, that doesn’t mean you need to actually run out of stock to make this work. Simply offer limited-time-only deals and discounts with a countdown to when they end. Or provide free shipping for purchases made before a certain time of day. But this loss aversion theory also works the other way – people prefer to avoid loss than to acquire gain which makes them evade risk-averse choices. So while you focus on what they’ll lose by not making the choice, it’s important to focus on the gain by making it, at the same time. To put it in words, ‛Don’t miss our fantastic 10% off’ is the way to go.
When you think about it, it’s quite logical – you need to return the favors and stay true to your promises. You should be their friend, but not the one they can hang out with whenever they like.