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Conversion Optimization

25 Persuasion Techniques for eCommerce (with real examples)

Persuasion marketing: many retailers talk about it but few use it effectively. In this post, learn the art and science of persuasion from the top brands

25 Persuasion Techniques for eCommerce (with real examples)

Persuasion marketing is about fostering trust with your customers and inducing them to buy from you in the shortest time possible.

But effective persuasion doesn’t come naturally to anyone—we learn it.

You probably know it: mastering effective persuasion strategies empowers you to win sales even in a pandemic. The skill can help you go as far as converting buyers into long-term, loyal brand advocates.

Nearly 72% of marketers agree that persuasion is valuable for boosting sales.

importance of persuasion to marketers

But it's not something you can pick up on the streets—it’s a science, it’s an art.

Robert Cialdini, the author of the bestselling book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, believes 6 elements must be in play to persuade and influence consumers.

He identified the persuasion principles as:

  • Reciprocity
  • Scarcity
  • Authority
  • Commitment and Consistency
  • Liking, and 
  • Consensus (social proof)

This article explores 25 unique ways real brands use persuasion marketing to stay on top of their games. Then, you’ll learn how to level up like them using the exact strategies that worked for them.

So, let’s get to it.

1. Persuade them with pricing: use price anchoring

Product price is one of the first things consumers consider when shopping. 

Economists believe shoppers will buy more of a product if the price falls, while other factors like income and customer preference remain the same. 

That’s where you’ll need price anchoring.

Price anchoring provides comparative price points to shoppers when making buying decisions. For example, it could be as simple as putting a $200 watch next to a $1,000 timepiece to sell more of the lower-priced watch.

Steve Jobs used this practice to drive demand for the iPad. 

Before launch, the company touted $999 as the product price, which registered in the customers’ minds. But Apple revealed the price to be $499 during launch, making customers feel like they’ll be saving $500.

The company sold about 300,000 iPads at launch and over 15 million before the iPad 2 launch, more than all other tablet PCs combined. 

2. Know your audience, understand what they’re expecting, and deliver

Psychologists found that the more often people see someone, the more likely they will develop a favorable impression—familiarity breeds belonging.

It also holds true for consumers—they prefer familiar brands.

Most people believe something familiar is less likely to hurt them, so they don’t often want to risk the unfamiliar.

This affinity for familiar experiences explains why Amazon Prime members will convert at a staggering 74%, but less than 3% will checkout when shopping at other eCommerce websites.

Being in the news round-the-clock or constantly getting in front of your ideal prospects makes you familiar. It improves your convincing power, but it’s not enough—you also need to know your customers, understand their needs and give it to them. 

Amazon failed to understand this and paid a heavy price. 

The company’s much-touted Fire Phone—their major attempt at the smartphone market—flopped in a month, forcing them to cut the price from $200 to 99 cents. 

Instead of building a phone their customers want, they created what Jeff loves.

If the most successful eCommerce brand is a case study of how not to launch a product, no business is above customer and market research.

3. Make them emotional with your story  

People often don’t make rational decisions when they feel emotional about a place, person, or situation. Although that human behavior can be good or bad, you can tap into this human tendency to foster customer acquisition, loyalty, and retention.

Connecting to customers' emotions helps them ignore other factors and take action. For example, in one study, consumers were three times more likely to buy or recommend a product if they felt an emotional connection to the brand.

We all love good stories, and your customers are no exception. 

Find a story your audience can identify with and relate to and help them experience an emotional connection between the story and your brand.

Create content that tells authentic stories about your people, your brand, and how you’re working to solve your customers’ pain points—allowing your human side to shine through the story.

Also, tell your brand stories through the people they love and respect.

Fabletics uses social media influencers to tell their stories. It lets them cut through the noise to amplify their brand message.

Tell a story with the help of social media

4. Guide them with visuals - use visual cueing

You might have heard the average human attention span is now about eight seconds—a second less than that of a typical goldfish. 

Your customers now have less time to listen to what you have to say, meaning you’ll need to roll up your sleeves to get your sales messages across to them. 

But you could maximize your eight seconds with visual cueing.

The practice uses web elements to narrow visitors’ attention to exactly what you want them to see, helping them grasp your message effortlessly.

In addition, the cues eliminate noise from the primary interest area so that eyeballs get drawn to it.

You could create visual cues on your eComm website using:

  • Arrows
  • Color contrast 
  • White spaces 
  • Images of people looking at an area

Filly Flair used a lot of white spaces on its homepage, colors contrast and a smiling lady looking at its spring offer to draw attention to the CTA button.

Persuasion through the power of visuals

The abundance of white spaces made the homepage noiseless. It grabs shoppers' attention on the fly and focuses them on the goal—to shop your new spring arrivals.

5. Make them put effort 

Consumers are loss-averse. They would rather not lose than get equivalent gains.

Their low-risk tolerance makes them loyal to brands that meet their expectations. But customers are also rational; they are also open to exploring better options. 

Getting them involved in creating their experience could be an excellent way to persuade them to switch sides. But of course, some consumers believe only they understand what they want. So, enabling them to customize their products could gain you their commitments.

Besides making customers and brands work as partners to deliver tailored offerings, enabling shopping experience customization makes them feel in control of their purchasing decisions and a part of your ecosystem.

Ben & Jerry sold nearly $1 billion worth of ice cream in 2021, over $200 million more than Haagen-Dazs, which came second. Gaining a foothold in the market could be a challenge.

But eCreamery navigated this by allowing consumers to customize their ice creams.

Persuasion through loss aversion

The brand lets them pick their favorite flavors from over 20 options. They can also personalize the pint with their photos or titles and shop over 50 artwork designs for any occasion.

6. Repetition is key

Saying the same thing more than once could make you more persuasive. 

Of course, your customers are not deaf, but there is no harm in repeating a good thing, as Plato rightly said in the 360 B.C.

According to three German psychologists, “selectively repeating information in favor of a particular decision alternative changes preference ratings in favor of this alternative and makes a decision for this alternative more likely.”

Stefan Schulz-Hardt and his colleagues were researching how repeating specific information influences decision-making. A study involving 100 college students found that repeatedly saying the same thing made nearly 70% re-evaluate their decisions.

Applying this principle in your eCommerce store design creates consistency and a sense of unity which reinforces your brand messages, making them more compelling and trustworthy.

Dollar Shave Club uses the same color throughout its website to create consistency.

Persuasion through repetition

You’ll also notice the brand is not shy of inviting website visitors to its shaving club. Dollar Shave Club earns a bulk of its revenue from the club subscription, so it tactfully repeats this information to appear more persuasive.

Also, using uniform product images adds consistency, reinforcing the brand messages.

7. Woo them with words - Use persuasive words and phrases

Connecting web visitors to your brand goes beyond repeating words or designs. It also requires you to be a bit creative with your choice of words.

All words are equal, but some words are more equal than others.

Gregory Ciotti of Copyblogger believes that certain words can influence buying decisions more than others. So leveraging these power words in your website or sales copies to promote your offers makes them more persuasive and compelling.

You might want to begin with these:

  • Free 
  • Because
  • Instantly
  • New
  • You 

Consumers love to maximize value. They also crave instant gratification, personalized experience, and exclusivity. But customers also need reasons to buy from you. So, using words that appeal to these primitive desires wins you their sales. 

The Stitch Fix website uses the persuasive word “you” to personalize its brand message.

Use of persuasive words and copy

Perhaps, it understands generalizing or speaking to everyone at once creates unnecessary noise that waters down the value propositions. So instead, using the power word adds a personal touch to their messages, letting them talk directly to their customers.

8. Connect their wants to their needs 

What your customers want stems from one of Maslow’s five levels of needs.

Abraham Maslow, a humanist psychologist, suggested that motivating people to achieve their ultimate goal usually requires meeting their different levels of need in sequence.

He arranged the 5 human needs in a hierarchy displayed as a pyramid.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow believes that people strive to meet the needs in the lower rungs before moving up to the next. He said that human needs become increasingly psychological and social as people progress up the pyramid.

As a result, promising a person who needs food and shelter a car would be a time-waster. But making the same promise to people who have met their basic needs could be enough to persuade them.

So, understanding customers’ motivation levels and tailoring your offering to match their wants helps you sell to them more easily. Next, segment your market to individualize your offers to each group.

9. Make them belong 

Offering customers the opportunity to belong often makes marketing more persuasive.

Belongingness creates a sense of community. It makes customers involved enough to take action. Social psychologists found that humans have an emotional need to affiliate with a group. 

Kendra Cherry said the need for group acceptance motivates attitudinal and behavioral changes in people as they seek to conform to the group’s standards and norms.

She believes that people spend ample time comparing themselves to other group members to determine how well they fit in.

According to Kendra, this comparison might lead them to adopt some of the prominent members’ behaviors to gain acceptance. 

You can use this human desire to belong to scale your customer base.

Some brands use membership programs to create thriving communities. For example, Amazon’s Prime membership provides subscribers expedited delivery, unlimited two-day free shipping, and other exclusive deals.

Recent data shows that sales during Amazon Prime Day reached $11.79 billion in 2021. The company also gets about $25 billion in annual revenue from retail subscription fees.

Amazon Prime Day Sales

10. Offer them more control  

Giving your customers more autonomy helps them make decisions faster. 

Customers crave immediacy—they want it now. Nobody wants to spend the whole day shopping online. So streamlining the process makes it easier to convert them. 

You can offer buyers instant gratification and more control over their shopping experiences with simple things like:

  • Shorter form fields
  • Guest checkout
  • Fast loading web pages 
  • Live chat feature
  • Same-day delivery or fast shipping 

In addition, customers also want money-back guarantees, a warranty, and easy returns. Offering them these experiences lets them shop without regrets.

Coastal has a 60-day free return policy that allows buyers to exchange their orders in new, unworn condition for a full refund. They can also exchange for another product.

Informing customers of company policies

It also provides free shipping for orders above $50 and allows a 14-day warranty claim.

11. Don’t let your customers fail 

Offering customers a seamless shopping experience makes them stick around.

The Baymard Institute found that 18% of US online consumers abandon carts due to a long or complicated checkout process. The study also revealed that 12% don’t check out due to a website error or crash.

Most consumers shop online for convenience. They often don’t have the patience for slow-loading pages or complex checkout processes. Failing to meet these expectations could spur them to abandon the cart for a more frictionless experience. 

But making it easy for visitors to complete tasks drives them to perform actions. 

You can support these visitors in at least nine ways:

  • Showing error messages in forms
  • Providing them with explainer videos
  • Using live chat support to provide real-time assistance
  • Introducing flexible payment options
  • Eliminating sales barriers with social proofs
  • Streamlining product discovery with recommendations
  • Enabling guest checkouts
  • Formulating a seamless return policy
  • Providing mobile apps to allow customers to shop on the go

12. Avoid ambiguity 

Shoppers are less likely to act on information that takes much effort to understand.

They don’t often have the mental strength to deconstruct complex and ambiguous information. So making it easier for buyers helps them connect to your messages effortlessly.

Customers want to know what they are paying for. They want to see if they can trust you to meet their needs and expectations. Simplifying your messages and offering them unbiased information wins you their trust and sales. 

So set clear expectations with website copies.

Show your audience the process of completing a task, the next steps, and everything they need to get the most value from your product, website, or offer.

Communicate clear outcomes with short and punchy sentences.

For example, Loaf speaks directly to buyers in their product description.

Clear and direct communication

Their product pages tell shoppers what they are getting from any order in less than ten seconds, setting clear expectations on the go. It also provides them helpful tips on getting the best out of their orders.

13. Take them to the peak in steps

Expecting new visitors to convert at the first touchpoint could be a huge ask.

A study found that it takes an average of 8 touches to generate a conversion. So asking shoppers for their money when they barely know you is a bit over the top.

You can use the peak-end rule to lead them to a climax of experiences. Psychologists observed that humans remember their experience as a series of snapshots rather than a complete catalog of events.

Our mind quickly averages the moments that most stand out in our memories to form our opinion of the past. - Lexie Kane

She believes that the most emotionally intense points of an experience and how the experience ends influence what we recall of an event. So providing customers a slight improvement near the end of an experience can radically shift their perception.

Using micro-conversions instead of selling to them on the go can lead them to macro conversions if you created a positive peak-end.

Macy’s incentivizes website visitors to join their email list with a 25% discount. 

Persuasion through micro-conversions

The brand engages subscribers with drip email campaigns to convert them into paying customers.

14. Persist with smaller favors 

Only a handful of your prospects will buy, regardless of how compelling your offers are.

A study found that the average eCommerce conversion rate across all industries is less than 3%, meaning nearly 97% of your customers are going to say no to you.

But you can navigate this using the Reject-Then-Retreat technique.

Rather than forcing sales on customers, the technique tactfully creates a stimulus that makes them willingly do that. The process seems natural, making shoppers feel they are in charge of their buying decision.

It could be as simple as responding with smaller offers when shoppers reject a bigger deal.

According to Dr. Cialdini, a boy scout once approached him to buy a $5 ticket to a social event. When he turned it down, the boy offered him some $1 chocolate bars to help fundraise for the event.

Surprisingly, he bought two even though he doesn’t like chocolates.

Cialdini admitted he would have said no if the boy had initially offered him the chocolate bars, showing how powerful the technique is. Using it in your marketing will help you win more sales.

A FOUNDER’S GUIDE: Sales Secrets from 15 High-Converting Websites

15. Think like your customers—with data 

Getting into the mind of your customers makes convincing them to buy more effortless.

It often begins with understanding what drives them to buy and aligning your offerings to meet those objectives.  You could use interactive survey tools like SurveyMonkey or Typeform to uncover their expectations, fear, and preferred communication channels.

This information helps you tailor your offerings to match customers’ unique needs.

Today, customers want brands to treat them as individuals. Mass personalized campaigns that group them by segments no longer sit right with them. They expect brands to anticipate their needs and adapt to their changing realities in real-time.

Stitch Fix deploys an on-site survey tool to understand its customers. 

Survey tool for customers

The company uses data science, algorithms, and the personal touch of expert stylists to curate clothes their shoppers love. It also leverages big data and machine learning to drive personalized product recommendations.

Data science isn’t woven into our culture; it is our culture. We started with it at the heart of the business - Katrina Lake, former CEO

16. Be on their minds

Achieving top-of-the-mind with your audience is probably the most fantastic form of persuasion. 

Customers always have a plethora of shopping options. So being memorable is essential to winning sales. But, of course, people won’t buy if they don’t remember you.

Humor and storytelling help you make a solid and lasting impression. Relatable stories connect customers to your brand, making them susceptible to your influence.

Humans inherently crave to connect with people of shared attributes, values, or interests. So identifying common interests with customers and playing on them makes them trust and like you. 

You can also use a signature lifestyle and recurring experience like regular Instagram giveaway contests to get into your customers’ minds. 

According to a study, an Instagram contest or giveaway can help you grow your followers 70% faster in three months than if you didn’t host a contest at all.

Melted Soapery uses Instagram contests to create meaningful connections. The company gives away about eight full-sized products worth up to $92.

instagram contests by Melted Soapery

The contest allows participants to follow the brand on Instagram, share the post on their social media accounts, and tag friends for a chance to win.

17. Offer them more than what they bargained for

Customers' needs have evolved, making meeting them more challenging.

About 45% of consumers said they’d dump brands that fail to anticipate their needs. So businesses that must survive the crowded marketplace must learn to anticipate and exceed their expectations. 

The rule of thumb is to focus on the most compelling features in your copies and promotions and allow customers to discover the rest. Overwhelming shoppers with your product features often leave them confused and skeptical.

For some customers, “it’s fake if it’s too good to be true.”

You may also use the cheerleader effect to make your products more attractive in a group. 

According to psychologists, people appear more beautiful in a group than assessed individually. These pundits believe that our disproportionalities tend to average out amid a group of faces, making weird appearances appear less unpleasant.

The principle also holds in eCommerce.

Amazon uses product bundling to make its offers appear attractive in groups. Moreover, bundling products create psychological effects that make shoppers believe they’ve got the best value for their money.

product bundling by Amazon

18. Use trivial choices to help them choose 

Shoppers love having options; they want to be in control of their choices. 

However, overwhelming them with options depletes their mental energy. The author of The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz, observed that having too many options problematizes decision-making instead of making people happy.

A study found that people often go for the “leave it” option when faced with a “take it” or “leave it” situation. But giving them two options commits them to at least a choice. 

This cognitive bias, called Hobson’s +1 choice effect, makes them choose an existing option due to decision fatigue. You may influence them by adding a trivial choice to the alternatives.

You can boost your checkout rate by allowing buyers to make seemingly trivial decisions. For instance, You could let them choose between adding a product to their cart or performing trivial actions like printing or tweeting the product listing.

19. Try the persuasion game as in poker

Basketball fans usually expect players who have made their three shots to make the next shot because they have “hot hands.”

The streak of success often prompts individuals to overestimate the probability of ongoing success. This fallacy makes them believe an individual is “hot” or “cold” depending on past performance, even when the result has no direct influence on future outcomes.

Use the Hot Hand Fallacy to help customers win at an unexpected challenge on your site to make them take more action to continue the winning streak.

Several online forex trading platforms provide new members up to $10,000 to try their hands-on demo accounts. Then, the algorithm allows them to enjoy a bull run which convinces them to fund their accounts for actual trade. 

persuasion in forex

20. Give an identity to your customers 

Customers would want to be consistent with other people’s views on them. 

So labeling them can help them take the desired action. For example, if you sell fashion products, labeling your customers' fashionistas will make them want to stick to that role and buy your products.

Humans often have a sense of who they are. This self-concept drives them to belong to several groups. But those group affiliations change with a change in their location and occupation at any time.

Harvard Business Review explained that business executives waiting in an airport’s executive lounge to board a plane might reach for a business magazine, not just for its content, but to reinforce their identities as successful business executives. 

It’s also no coincidence that people of the same profession love buying similar products.

So giving customers an identity that resonates with them could make convincing them to buy more straightforward.

give customers an identity
Source

21. Use the power of faces (but carefully) 

Like texts, human faces are also capable of passing a message.

Seeing a face immediately commands our attention and influences our feelings. It's so powerful and so pervasive, we see faces even when they’re not really there.
persuasion through the use of faces
Source

Using human faces in web design improves the user experience. For instance, they can occasionally pull our attention away from boring texts, revitalizing our mental strength to keep us engaged with the message.

Furthermore, images are punchier than texts and can also tell instant stories. They convey messages that are far stronger than those communicated through texts. So use them in your persuasion games.

According to James Coston, “when you include a picture of a face, you are sending implicit messages, fundamentally changing a page’s message and influencing readers.”

But too many faces can cause distraction. 

Too many faces can cause distraction

They constantly pull readers' attention in different directions, preventing them from focusing on the message and conversion goals. 

So, only use them in the right places to avoid facial distractions.

22. Make them fit a personality

People like identifying themselves with generic personalities due to the Barnum Effect.

This cognitive bias, also called Forer Effect, makes people believe that personality descriptions apply to them more than others. As a result, it makes humans think information is about them despite being generic.

If you read any newspaper's daily horoscopes, you’ll notice the predictions appear pretty accurate. But unfortunately, the Barnum Effect tricks people into believing that, making them vulnerable to any of the psychic’s persuasive games.

Using this effect can make your selling techniques more persuasive. It creates the illusion of a personalized experience that makes customers identify with a product. 

A straightforward way to leverage this cognitive bias is to create a generic personality that fits your customers. For example, Swag.com makes its website copies appear to speak to visitors one-on-one, even though it's talking to everyone. 

copy that speaks to customers like a human

People browsing the homepage will think the brand is speaking to them directly. 

23. Persuade them with context 

As per the Context Effect, the environment you create influences your shoppers’ buying decisions.

Psychologists believe that environmental factors surrounding an event affect how people perceive or remember it. This cognitive bias makes them see an event as favorable if the surrounding environment is appealing.

Providing shoppers context could make you convenience them with less effort.

For example, if they had already bought a product, reminding them to reorder at the same time when they purchased creates a favorable environment that can influence them to do it.

24. Use the Apple effect 

Consumers don’t buy because of product features; they shop for value.

Shoppers don’t want to spend on products that’ll break their hearts—they’re loss-averse. So providing them with quality products creates unshakable customer loyalty that drives repeat business and word-of-mouth advertising.

Like Apple, you can offer buyers a thorough insight into your manufacturing processes to demonstrate your keen attention to delivering only quality products. Walking them through everything that goes into making your products might convince them to switch to your side. 

Keith Yamashita observed that Apple’s greatest strength is its obsessiveness. He said, “Apple’s focus is on out-executing themselves, not the competition.” 

According to Yamashita, “They are obsessive about the supply chain, obsessive about the design of the product, the packaging.”

And it seems the company is not shy to share its stories with customers.

25. Cut down objections with “even if” 

“Even if” is a powerful term to use in persuasive writing. 

Customers feel they are superior or above average, so they may have several reasons for not needing your product. Using the phrase can help you persuade them. 

It emphasizes that, albeit something may happen, another situation remains the same. 

Customers might be skeptical about trying a new product due to perceived risk or a lack of enough information to make informed decisions. But using the phrase in the sales copy could reinforce their confidence.

For instance, preaching that a product gives glowing skin in four days might not be enough to sway buyers. Instead of boosting your sales, it might come off as a ploy to make them buy. 

Shoppers love buying with confidence. Telling them what they stand to gain even if the product doesn’t meet their expectations can future-proof your offerings, cutting down objections.

Activate Your Persuasion Marketing

Getting customers to switch brands is more complicated than it sounds. But you can knock it out of the park with these 25 persuasion methods.

Adding the tactics to your marketing toolkit lets you win more sales with less effort. 

Beginning with the more straightforward strategies ensures you don’t overwhelm yourself and run out of steam even before getting started. You can also design an implementation plan to streamline the process and have a timeline to work with. 

Furthermore, don’t forget to A/B-test the changes to eliminate guesswork.

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