What’s the most important factor in getting someone to buy from you?
- A clear product offering?
- Compelling copy?
- A simple checkout process?
- Accessible customer service?
- Timely and engaging abandonment emails?
We talk about all these factors here at Cart Recover. But in actual fact, each of these are just pieces of a puzzle.
The frame of that puzzle is more important than all the pieces combined.
The most important factor in getting someone to buy from you is understanding and leveraging the buyer’s psychology.
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Dr Robert Cialdini, is one the most famous books ever written on this subject.
The book goes into far beyond selling on ecommerce sites, but the principles are so powerful that if you apply them to your business, you can expect a dramatic upswing in revenue and long-term customers.
The 6 Principles of Influence
Principle 1: Reciprocity
People are hardwired to keep score. If you do something for me, I feel compelled to do something for you. It’s why marketers love a free sample – people who receive a ‘gift’ are more likely to ‘give’ you something back (usually their money in exchange for more of what they sampled).
If you can offer people something valuable, they’ll be more likely to do business with you. For example, could you ‘give’ them free shipping? A risk-free trial period? Whatever perks you can offer your customers, frame them in such a way that each person feels like you’re doing them a favour.
Principle 2: Commitment and Consistency
People are hardwired to be consistent. It’s why we’re all so habitual and do so well in routines. We like things to be constant – including our self-perception.
For that reason, if someone makes commitment (either verbally or in writing), they’re more likely to follow through. This is because they want to maintain a congruent self image.
Humans hate the feeling of saying we’ll do something and then not doing it. It causes cognitive dissonance – the uncomfortable sense that things are not as they are supposed to be.
This is why the classic ‘yes ladder’ technique in sales is so effective. If you can get someone to agree with you on small things (known as micro-commitments), they’re more likely to say yes to the big things to maintain cognitive peace.
For example, if you run a pop-up survey on a sales page, asking 3 obvious ‘yes’ questions, then follow it up with ‘would you like to try this product?’, they will be more likely to take you up on the offer.
Here’s what that might look like on a page offering ceramic coffee cups:
- Do you like coffee?
- Do you like to have beautiful things?
- Do you like to be thought of as unique and stylish?
[No thanks, I like my IKEA carbon copies] > this would just take them to sales page without the offer.
Offer: These hand-crafted coffee mugs, sourced from local artisans, will tick all those boxes. Do you want to add them to your curated collection?
Principle 3: Social Proof
People are hardwired to be communal.
We do not like being out on our own. We do much better when we’ve got supportive relationships, or even just incidental interaction with other people. Things go bad when we roll solo for too long.
We’re also highly influenced by what other people are doing. (How many times have you decided to have dessert or another drink just because your friend was doing it?)
That’s why including testimonials or evidence of other customers is extremely powerful.
Other people are doing it, so it must be a good idea.
Think about it: if you go to a website and there are no testimonials, customer stories or social media channels, how do you feel? I certainly start wondering if it’s a real company… and I’m definitely hesitant to send them my credit card details.
Show people that they’re in good company with you. Show them how many other cool, good-looking people – just like them! – are customers of yours.
Principle 4: Authority
People are hardwired to respond to authority. It is incredibly powerful.
It’s ingrained in us from birth to do what we’re told by people with more authority than us.
Most of us accept what our parents, teachers, coaches and politicians say… simply because we feel like they know what they’re talking about.
That’s why endorsements from celebrities or experts can explode sales overnight. People trust authority.
For example: if you are selling workout clothes, an endorsement from a professional athlete will be more compelling to a customer than anything you can say about the quality of the materials.
Well if it’s good enough for a pro, it will definitely be good enough for me!
People get on board with authority figures. Find an expert (a real one, not a shill) and include their opinion wherever you can.
Principle 5: Liking
People are hardwired to cooperate with people they like.
Think about the last time your best friend asked you to help them. You probably didn’t even give a second thought – you just did it, because you like them and you know they like you.
But if you think about that one person who really gets under your skin…. there’s no way you’d just help them if they asked you casually for it. Maybe you’d do it in a drastic situation… but you really wouldn’t want to.
Make sure your buyers feel more like you’re ‘best friend’ material than ‘extremely irritating’ material.
I know that ecommerce can seem a bit impersonal, but you can get people to like you a number of ways:
- Speak their language: if your customer have a particular way of speaking, or common jargon they use, that’s how you should speak too.
- Do cool stuff: don’t just promote your own stuff all the time. Send them stuff their friends would send them on a Friday afternoon. Throw events. Surprise them.
- Overdeliver: add a bonus to their order. Send birthday presents or thank you notes. Upgrade their shipping.
Principle 6: Scarcity
People are hardwired to avoid loss.
Think about how annoyed you feel when you see that a flight that was £300 yesterday is now £400. You feel like you really missed out (even if your budget was actually £400).
This is why things like these work so well:
- Limited time only!
- Limited space / seats!
- Only available for 24 hours… / to the first 50 customers….
- Only 5 left in stock…
- Countdown is on! 17:36 to go…
If you miss the offer, you feel like you’ve missed out altogether. People often act quickly and impulsively to avoid this kind of loss.
Countdown timers, stock counters, and other scarcity signals can significantly increase your sales.
Note: these signals should be true.
Don’t lie to your customers – they will catch you out and all the trust they’ve put in you as a result of these 6 principles will evaporate instantly.
That applies to all the principles. It’s easy to forget that people are very perceptive – even when you never interact with them except from behind a screen.
The best thing you can do is cultivate their trust and deliver on it time and time again. Keeping that in mind, how can you start building these principles into your business?
(Need help building an effective ecommerce strategy? Click here to get tailored suggestions for your business)