Human behavior is very predictable at times, thanks to certain psychological truths. Our brains still often revert back to our more primitive selves, concerned about survival and self-preservation. When you understand these basic psychological truths about humans (and, specifically, potential customers), you can help improve marketing quality.
The following four psychological concepts can help improve your conversion rates and sales.
1. Social Proof
Humans are emulators at our core. We see something we like, and we borrow bits (or all) of what we've seen for inspiration. Why do companies pay so much for celebrities to promote their products? Because these testimonials are instant social proof. We love to copy celebrities, co-workers, friends and family when we make purchasing decisions.
In 2016 referral software Ambassador partnered with Nielsen's Harris Poll Online to poll 2,000 Americans about word-of-mouth referrals. The results found that 82 percent of those surveyed seek recommendations from friends and family when considering a purchase.
It's human nature to seek other's advice and guidance when purchasing. There are some easy ways to add social proof to your marketing, like adding:
- testimonials of satisfied customers
- social share counts
- links to reviews and testimonials from media
- internal metrics (e.g. “81 percent of our customers have bought this product")
- review counts (e.g. star ratings)
- awards and accolades
The more you can prove that people use and love your products, the more you can improve marketing quality for your company.
2. Micro Commitments
When it comes time for customers to part with their hard-earned money, our copy and calls to action may come off as a little too aggressive. One way to make our calls to action seem less intrusive is to break them apart into smaller, non-threatening chunks.
This technique of guiding the potential customer into making a series of small, easy commitments (“micro commitments") is seen in surveys with a bunch of questions. Instead of showing the entire form on one page and expecting the visitor to dutifully fill the form, the form is split into multiples steps. Each step might have a couple of questions with a “next" button.
You can utilize micro commitments in lots of places on your website, such as filling out a form or putting in their credit card information. If you can take the sting out of making an effort, you can improve marketing quality on your website.
3. Anchoring Bias
The anchoring bias is the cognitive bias of putting too much weight on the first piece of information you receive. It's used often with pricing, and retail stores use it liberally. If you see a product that is $10 on sale for $5, you'll think it's a bargain. If you see the same product later for $15, you'll believe it's overpriced because you initially saw the product for $10.
Anchoring is helpful when trying to provide context or justification in pricing. This is why retailers almost always provide an “original price" next to the current or sale price. You can utilize anchoring to convince customers to pay more up front in cheaper yearly plans versus more expensive monthly plans.
While anchoring is often used in pricing, it can also be used to convince buyers to purchase a newer version of an existing product. This is a popular tactic in the tech industry, where newer and more innovative products frequently hit the market.
Humans are finely tuned to scarcity. Necessities like food and water weren't always plentiful, and our ancestors learned to capitalize on using and storing them. While most of us have our needs taken care of, we still haven't quite let go of that primal urge to let scarcity affect our purchasing decisions.
Scarcity is often used in a natural way. For example, there are only so many people that can fit into a concert venue, so live shows have a set amount of available tickets. There can only be so many houses in a neighborhood, only so many people can fit on a plane, and so on.
But marketers have also figured out how to use artificial scarcity to improve marketing quality and sales. For example, it's common to sell an informational product at a reduced rate for a couple of days, and then increase the price (or stop sales altogether) once the time limit passes. This shortened amount of time encourages the visitor to purchase out of fear of missing out, and in my experience can improve conversion rates drastically.
The problem with artificial scarcity is that if used too often or forcibly, the customer can feel taken advantage of. Too much artificial scarcity can hurt conversion rates if used improperly. Scarcity is an incredibly powerful tactic, but with great power comes great responsibility.
If your business needs to improve marketing quality, it might be worthwhile to assess how your marketing appeals to psychological truths that most humans share. Humans are hardwired with the need to minimize pain and fear, and taking advantage of the above psychological concepts can help ease a customer's pain and fear while hopefully improving your sales.
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