8 Persuasion Techniques to Use in Ecommerce

If you’re passionate about digital psychology and psychology in general, you probably know that you can use persuasion to influence people’s behaviour. What follows is a selection of persuasion techniques you can use to improve the way you communicate with your target audience, thus increasing your store’s conversion rates. Enjoy!

Although it is said that clarity trumps persuasion, having a functional website and simply stating the features of your product it’s not enough if you want your sales to skyrocket and win over new market segments. And unless you are Apple or Amazon, you’ll need to bring out the big guns if you want your business to grow and eventually become a leading brand.    

With these eight persuasion techniques you’ll be able to tap into your users’ minds and increase sales.  

1.Belonging and conformity

Since the beginning of time humans have preferred behaving in approval with their social groups. Our sense of belonging is highly developed. This is why once we become part of a group we’ll naturally conform to it and assimilate the group’s values and norms. 

The higher someone’s need to belong, the more he/she will want to hear the opinions of others before acting. This is probably one of the most important persuasion techniques out there. Let’s see how you can use it in your own advantage!

-> How to apply this principle in e-commerce:

  • Encourage dialog amongst your customers and prospects – for instance, offer them the chance to leave product reviews and rate each other’s reviews;
  • Be active in social media groups and engage with influencers on popular networking platforms – opinion leaders have the power to change the behaviour of their group members;
  • Show visitors that members of their social groups are also buyers – through social shares on Facebook, Instagram and other platforms. 

2.Autonomy

As human beings, we prefer situations that we have control over. A high level of perceived autonomy gives us a feeling of certainty, increased motivation and a reduced level of stress. 

If we begin a task which we feel we have control over, we’re more likely to persist and finish it. On the other hand, if someone takes away our autonomy by introducing deadlines, for instance, our motivation decreases and we become less interested in it. 

-> How to apply this principle in e-commerce: 

  • Reduce as much as possible the number of mandatory fields in your forms; in the same manner, design a simple and easy checkout process by reducing friction and unnecessary steps.
  • Allow users to go back and forward if they want to, without making it difficult for them by including any kind of restrictions; 
  • Be careful with deadlines – if visitors feel that they are under pressure and unable to finish a task at their own pace, they will become less motivated and they’ll most likely abandon the task. 

3.Self-efficacy

People are more likely to perform certain tasks if they are confident in their own competence. Whenever we are successful at something, we become convinced that we’ll be successful at it again. 

In the same manner, when we see someone being successful at something, we’ll start believing that we’ll also have success if we apply the same behaviour. 

What is more, positive feedback is highly powerful, as it contributes to the idea that we’ll be able to achieve our goal if we keep trying. 

-> How to apply this principle in e-commerce:

  • Make sure to provide instant feedback on correct behaviour; for instance, display green check marks whenever users correctly fill out the fields in a form;
  • When a task is easy to perform, emphasize this visually; for example, feature a progress indicator on checkout with three easy steps; 
  • Feature existing customers who have previously bought items; 
  • It’s highly recommended to use videos or ‘how to’ pages in order to show visitors how easy it is to act; 
  • Always use social proof to build trust with your customers; for instance, display the number of happy customers who bought from you before and enjoyed the product(s); others would see how easy it is to order and how rewarding the entire shopping experience is and they would most likely do the same. 

4. Ambiguity aversion

Without doubt, most people prefer options that are certain. As human beings, we like to minimize the risks when deciding on a certain option. 

This is why we tend to select options for which the probability of a favourable outcome is known. We automatically reject/ignore options that are too risky or vague, uncertain. 

-> How to apply this principle in e-commerce:

  • Make your offer as clear as possible and be specific in your overall communication style; 
  • Set clear expectations – for instance, let people know exactly what happens when they click on a call-to-action; 
  • Always provide feed-forward information – tell users what is the next step upon completing a task; 
  • Try to find the ambiguities in your competitors’ offer and use it in your own advantage by emphasizing your certainty there; 
  • Offer a money-back guarantee – if people don’t get the desired results from using your product, offer them a full-refund. 

5. Conceptual & associative priming

One of the most effective persuasion techniques is influencing one’s decision by using subtle cues that can only be perceived subconsciously. 

Using conceptual and associative priming to influence visitors’ thoughts, feelings and behaviour will lead to more people buying your product. 

-> How to apply this principle in e-commerce:

  • Run user research to try and identify the subconscious emotions and conscious thoughts that are involved in buying your product and subtly prime these in your website’s content; 
  • Test and use emotions, matching and stereotyping content, colours and images to influence users towards taking the desired action; 
  • Don’t be too obvious! If visitors can tell what you’re trying to do, you will trigger an opposite reaction also known as ‘reverse-priming’.

6. Peak-end rule

This rule states that people only remember the end and the highest peak of an experience. Using this knowledge, craft your website content in such a way that you’ll lead visitors in the direction you want in order to make them convert faster.

 -> How to apply this principle in e-commerce:

  • Bring your most persuasive moments from your sales dialogue in one powerful climax; 
  • This peak should be at the end of your sales dialogue if you want it to have the desired impact: visitors remembering it and acting on it;
  • Throughout your website content, create small positive peaks or micro-conversions to keep users engaged and connected; all these micro-conversions will lead to the climax we mentioned; 
  • More clearly, you can use enticing extras, such a discount on your ‘thank you’ page, or give users the opportunity to unlock nice benefits such as free shipping or access to exclusive content.

7. Hyperbolic discounting

People have a strong preference for immediate payoffs rather than rewards that arrive later. We are wired to feel and believe that the present matters more than the future, that is more powerful. 

Hypothetically, if we have to choose between receiving a chocolate bar right now or two chocolate bars in a month’s time, we’ll definitely chose the first option.

It seems that the longer we have to wait for a reward, the less valuable it becomes in our own perception. This is why, done right, this persuasion technique could significantly increase your sales.

  -> How to apply this principle in e-commerce:

  • Make your solutions directly available; 
  • Push products you really want to sell by making them more quickly available; 
  • Test upselling by making the cheaper alternative less available: for instance, you can extend the delivery time of the down-sell item in order to make the other one more desirable. 

8. Equivalence framing

It turns out that the way things are presented or portrayed has the power to highly influence our choices. Equivalency frames are often worded in opposite terms: ‘fat’ vs. ‘fat-free’, ‘full’ vs. ‘empty’ and so on.

The key is treating the same problem in opposite ways in order to be more persuasive. 

  -> How to apply this principle in e-commerce:

  • Upon listing all of your product’s features/attributes, think about how you can phrase it in opposite terms; for instance, if you sell a drink that contains 30% fat, would it be better to present the product as being a 70% fat-free drink? 
  • Always choose the phrasing that is generally perceived as being the most persuasive; 
  • Run in-depth research to find out the needs of your customers by looking into their Google searches, their social updates, finding out what they read etc.; then start targeting them with opposite equivalent frames.

Conclusion

Bear in mind that by applying these persuasion techniques does not mean neglecting other ecommerce principles. Persuasion and clarity are not mutually exclusive. You’ll still need to feature clear copy and a clean design if you want your persuasion techniques to work.

Ultimately, it’s all about blending all these practices into one effective marketing strategy. Then and only then you’ll be able to achieve your goals. If you need help with this, you can drop us a line anytime at contact@ontrack.agency and we’ll talk more about it! 

Cristina Neagu
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