Conversion optimization techniques are based on sales psychology. When you apply the right triggers, sales of your eCommerce store increase.
Here are the top 15 psychological hacks for an e-commerce site to generate more conversions:
#1: Apply the Principle of Reciprocity
#2: Build Curiosity
#3: Leverage the Power of Scarcity
#4: Create Urgency
#5: Establish Trust by Using Social Proof
#6: Apply the A to Z Technique
#7: Use the Decoy Effect
#8: Apply Price Anchoring
#9: Use Loss Aversion
#10: Apply the Framing Effect
#11: Motivate Visitors With ‘Pain’
#12: Remain Honest and Authoritative
#13: Convert More Customers With Storytelling
#14: Use Smiling Faces
#15: Use the Inoculation Effect
Let’s understand these hacks in detail.
1- Apply the Principle of Reciprocity
The principle of Reciprocity says, “Do something for others, and in return, they will do something for you. People are obliged to return the favor.”
Famous sociologist, Phillip Kunz conducted an experiment in 1974. He mailed around 600 Christmas cards to randomly selected people who were complete strangers.
He wanted to see whether they return the favor or not. Interestingly, Kunz received around 200 replies five days later, thanking him for the card. Why did so many strangers mail to Kunz? This was Reciprocity at work.
The same principle works in eCommerce optimization. Offer something to the visitors as soon as they land on your website. You can give them a discount coupon as a simple start, and you won’t be surprised to see that many visitors would use that coupon to buy products from your site.
Related: eCommerce Conversion Rate Optimization Infographic
Powerful brands like Netflix and Amazon offer 30-day free access to their platform so that people can review their services and return back the favor by subscribing to the business.
2- Build Curiosity
Curiosity inspires action. Everybody has the desire to acquire more knowledge and improve their skills.
By building curiosity in your prospects’ minds, you can get them to open your emails and even buy your products.
Zomato, a food delivery company, sent me this email. The subject line reads, “here’s to all the amazing women out there”. Now it doesn’t explicitly tell what’s there in the email, but it does indicate that there’s something for women. This creates curiosity among women as what’s in there for me. That’s a curiosity in action!
3- Leverage the Power of Scarcity
Scarcity marketing makes people see limited quantities as more precious and valuable. As a result, buyers are likely to buy the product instantly.
One of the best ways to leverage the power of scarcity is by highlighting the short supply of the product.
Zappos uses a limited stock available to alert shoppers about the scarcity of items. When a buyer sees the product they like is near selling out, they have less time to second-guess, which means they’ll act sooner rather than later.
Another way to use scarcity to boost sales is by releasing a limited edition product. Limited edition products are unique, exclusive, and can be seen as status symbols. Since they are not bulk manufactured, shoppers are likely to buy it as soon as possible.
Balcones, an alcohol manufacturer, surely knows how to use scarcity for their advantage. They have a collection of special releases. As the below screenshot depicts, the text reads, “these whiskeys are extremely limited, some may never be re-released.”
This creates a sense of scarcity among the buyers and hence can boost sales instantly.
4- Create Urgency
Humans fear loss more than they desire to gain. Adding a sense of urgency motivates shoppers to complete the purchase.
Imagine that you’re looking to buy a flagship phone. You visited the company’s website, but it’s slightly out of your price range. After a few days, you receive an email from the company announcing a discount on the exact model you were looking at. However, the offer is only for 24 hours.
You start to feel the pressure to buy the phone as you don’t want to miss out on that discounted price. The same strategy works for every eCommerce business.
There are different ways to create a sense of urgency in e-commerce. Here are a few that you can implement in your online store.
Limited Time Offers
It is all about giving a discount or free delivery for a certain time period. You can run limited-time offers either on particular items or on the entire site.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.
Since the offer is valid only for 60 minutes, the shopper would want to complete the purchase before the promo ends.
End Dates During Sales
When people get to know that the sale is going to end soon, they feel pressured to purchase instantly.
Macys highlights when the sales end on the products page to create a sense of urgency and motivate shoppers to buy instantly.
As the name suggests, today-only deals are the offers that last up until the day ends. It would be great if you can add a “deal of the day” section where buyers can browse through all the products that are on sale that day.
Snapdeal has a dedicated page that shows the best offers for the day. It even has a countdown timer to create a sense of urgency among shoppers.
Last Chance Emails
Emails drive the highest ROI of all marketing channels. 86% of marketers use email to distribute content. According to a study, promotional emails drove 25% of site visits. Send personalized emails to your existing customers and attract them to your store again by letting them know that it is their last chance to do something (e.g., buy the limited edition product or get the discount).
Mercato, an online grocery store, excels at creating a sense of urgency via emails. The subject line reads, “final hours for Valentine’s day sale”. If you see closely, you’ll notice that they have capitalized on the words “final hours” to highlight that the user will miss the sale if they don’t act immediately.
5 – Establish Trust by Using Social Proof
People buy from websites they trust.
85% of consumers say trusting the website is the most important factor when interacting and sharing confidential information with an online store. 72% of shoppers won’t take any action until they read reviews.
The best way to establish trust with your potential customers is through social proof.
Social proof is based on the idea that consumers will adapt their behavior according to what other people are doing.
Ever saw a restaurant with a long queue outside, and found yourself joining it because you figured out that the food is good? If a lot of people are waiting outside to eat, it can’t possibly be all bad, right? That’s social proof in action. But how do you implement it in e-commerce?
Here are a few ways to establish trust by using social proof.
Highlight Your Contact Information
If shoppers don’t know how to contact you in case of any query, they are less likely to purchase from you. When you add clear contact information on your website, it’ll assure buyers that you’re easy to reach and that someone is listening to their complaints and feedback.
Shoppers Stop not only have added their office’s address on the website, but they also allow their customers to call or email them. Buyers can even submit their queries right from their contact us page. This is great to establish trust with prospects.
Frame Your Products: Assured, Number One
Presenting your products as number one or best selling gives your customers confidence and satisfaction with their purchase decision.
Amazon shows the best products at the top of the results page to instill confidence in the mind of shoppers. These products have a tag “Amazon’s Choice”.
Display Customer Reviews Under The Product
As mentioned above, people read reviews before buying a product online. Adding customer reviews under each product not only adds authenticity to your existence, but it also helps establish trust with prospects.
Walmart surely knows how to display customer reviews. They have divided the review section into two halves. One shows positive reviews, while the other shows negative ones. This makes it easier for shoppers to decide whether to buy the item or not.
Let the Shopper Know They’re Getting the Product At the Best Price
Shoppers tend to browse through different websites to find the lowest possible price. Let them know that you’re offering the best price.
Zulily has a “best price promise” guideline that promises to offer the product at the lowest possible price. If people are able to find the same product on any other site at the same price, Zulily says, “we will gladly match their price for the same size and color”.
6- Apply the A to Z Technique
All our actions are driven by the desire to gain pleasure and avoid pain. Even when something seems painful, we do it because we associate pleasure with the action or the end result. This is A to Z technique.
For example, mountaineers climb large mountains even in freezing cold. They do it because they relate the joy of pleasure with the process and the end-result (reaching the top of the peak).
But how do you apply it in e-commerce?
Your customers are at point A (when they are considering whether to buy the product), and you need to take them to point Z (where they start paying you).
Show them how your products can help them avoid pain and gain pleasure at the same time.
Moz, an SEO software, knows how to use the A to Z technique really well. They offer a one month trial for free to all their new users. This helps them bring their customers close to point Z so they get used to their service and start paying them.
7- Use the Decoy Effect
The decoy effect is a principle that says, when there are two versions of a product, people are likely to make purchases based on their personal preferences. But, when offered a third option, they’ll tend to choose the more expensive of the two original options.
National Geographic ran an experiment to understand how the decoy effect influences the purchasing decision. They offered the first group of consumers a small bucket of popcorn for $3 and a large one for $7.
Most people bought the expensive one as they saw more value in the large popcorn for only $0.5.
You can implement the same in your eCommerce store.
- Choose your key product: The one that is more popular with your customers.
- Offer exactly three options: Keep the choices to exact three. The more choices you provide, the more confused your customers will be.
Don’t make the decoy too appealing: The decoy is meant to make customers buy the most expensive options, and not the bait itself. The decoy’s price should be close to the most pricey option, but with a slightly better value than the cheapest one.
8 – Apply Price Anchoring
Price anchoring is the process of setting a price range that the customers can refer to when making a decision.
Apple is one such brand that has been using price anchoring for years. When they first introduced the iPad in 2010, the price that appeared on the giant screen was $999. Moments later, the $999 was reduced to the actual price of the iPad, i.e., $499.
None of the customers knew the actual price of the iPad and hence were delighted by the fact that they’re saving $500.
Most e-commerce companies apply price anchoring by striking a higher amount and offering the product at a lower cost.
Here’s an example. BestBuy offers Apple Airpods worth $159.99 for $139.99. They’ve also highlighted “Save $20”. It forces the shoppers into thinking that they’re saving money when they don’t even know the actual price of the product, and hence encouraging them to complete the purchase.
9 – Use Loss Aversion
Loss aversion refers to people’s preferences to prefer avoiding losses than acquiring equivalent gain. I would prefer to save $5 than to gain $5.
One of the best techniques to implement loss aversion in your website is by offering pre-order deals. Customers who pre-order the product will get it at a discounted price than those who don’t.
Samsung definitely knows how to use loss aversion to increase conversion. Samsung offers a pair of Galaxy Buds+ if you pre-ordered a Samsung phone within the time period given.
It instills a fear in the mind of the buyers that they’ll have to pay an additional price for Galaxy Buds+ if they don’t pre-order the Galaxy S20+ 5G by 8th March. This helps the brand in receiving more orders.
Another way to implement loss aversion in your online store is by creating a sense of urgency.
Let’s have a look at an email sent by Ghurka. It’s a reminder email that the product has been “saved” for them. However, there’s no guarantee that the item will last forever. They also mention that they don’t know when the product will be back in stock, thereby creating FOMO (fear of missing out).
10 – Apply the Framing Effect
Framing effect states that the decisions are influenced by the way the options are presented through different wordings, settings, and situations.
Framing effect helps you present the real value of your products. By choosing your words carefully, you can influence people into buying your products.
GearMoose, a store for men, applies the framing effect in their product category pages to influence their target audience into purchasing. Instead of saying something simple like “grooming is important”, they say, “a man’s body is his temple, and must be properly maintained in order to look and perform at it’s best.”
They are encouraging men to look the best by grooming their body and who doesn’t want to look great? Shoppers are then presented with the grooming products that can help them look their best.
11- Motivate Visitors With ‘Pain’
People want to avoid pain and they are willing to do anything to avoid pain. The pleasure that they get by avoiding pain is unbelievable.
Leverage the power of copywriting to tell your visitors how they can avoid pain by buying a particular product or how they can avoid the hassle of extra shipping costs for every product by becoming your permanent member as Amazon did with Prime membership.
When people are convinced that they can avoid pain by taking a particular action like buying a product or becoming a member, they will take that action.
12 – Remain Honest and Authoritative
People are willing to buy from eCommerce companies who remain honest with their business policies.
Moreover, authority plays an important role in converting the prospects because people don’t want to risk their personal details by registering for a company that they don’t know.
Hence, you need to follow two policies to earn the trust of your customers. Remain honest and become an authority in your niche.
For example, if you promise people to deliver the first order free, then do that. Don’t charge your customers unnecessarily with hidden expenses. Keep all the terms and conditions transparent.
Show all trust badges that people look for in an eCommerce store. Provide links to sites where your business has been covered. Display customer testimonials, influencer recommendations, celebrity endorsements on your website so that people find it easier to register on your site and start ordering their favorite products.
13- Convert More Customers With Storytelling
What do you want the visitors to do on your site? You really want them to browse your products, spend the maximum time on your website, and order the maximum items. Storytelling can help you do that.
Chances are, you might already be investing money in the online promotion of your online store. Try to use the power of storytelling to share an authentic story of your brand that is able to connect with your audience. There is nothing more acceptable than sharing a story that is a true reflection of your growth as a business. Think of your society and make your target audience as the hero of your narrative.
People love brands that do something for society. Your story should connect with your audience. If people start liking your business, they will come back, again and again, to buy from your online store.
Under Armour is one such brand that focuses on giving back to society. Under Armour volunteered to develop no-sew masks, gowns, and supply kits to support health care providers and staff amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
14- Use Smiling Faces
A smiling face gives confidence to the buyer. When the buyers see smiling faces of models with the products you are selling, it motivates them to buy the product.
Smiling is related to happiness. People smile when they are happy, and people shop more when they are happy. By displaying smiling faces, you are actually mimicking human behavior and pulling the customer towards a sale.
Etsy uses photos of models smiling while wearing the product. This boosts confidence in the buyers and encourages them to purchase the item.
15 – Use the Inoculation Effect
The Inoculation theory suggests that you can create resistance to persuasion by exposing people to persuasive attacks. McGuire suggested the theory of Inoculation in 1964.
What does this mean for eCommerce conversions?
You can ask people to comment on the quality of the products that they have purchased recently or on the experience of buying. People will share their opinion, and this will help them to read each other’s responses.
Again Etsy excels at using the inoculation effect for their advantage. They highlight their buyer’s opinions along with the product they purchased. This helps the consumer trust the brand as a whole and motivates them to buy from the store.
The eCommerce landscape is crowded, and your competitors are applying every tactic to acquire more customers. You should not lag behind. Leverage the power of the suggested 15 e-commerce conversion hacks to defeat your competitors and generate the maximum sales. Think innovative, have patience, constantly improve the UX, and use inbound marketing strategies coupled with conversions hacks to sell your products. Happy eCommerce conversion optimization!