Using Psychology to Increase Conversions: 4 Sales and Marketing Tactics

State of Payments | 7 mins

95% of purchase decisions are subconscious—that means that, in order to succeed in ecommerce, you don’t just need to appeal to people’s logical side but to their emotional and psychological reasoning, too.

The companies that earn the most business from their target customer base and ensure they come back for more are those that understand the psychology of marketing—the tactics that help engage people on the other side of the screen.

The tactics below are powerful tools for enticing customers, and any marketer can use them.

Tactic 1: Limit customer choice

Limiting the options your customers have sounds counterintuitive — it can feel like you should cater to shoppers’ every whim in order to entice them. However, the phenomenon of choice paralysis suggests that too many options can overwhelm shoppers. Research shows that fewer choices lowers shoppers’ anxiety and makes them happier with their choices after purchase.

This doesn’t mean you should throw out half of your product inventory just to give customers a better shopper experience. Instead, limit what customers see, not what you have available, by tailoring your homepage.

The RTA Store’s homepage is a great example of this. The RTA Store is a leader in ready-to-assemble cabinets, and when customers first land on The RTA Store’s homepage, they’re greeted by a clean, white design that immediately guides them into one of four journeys:

  • Browsing kitchen cabinets (all)
  • Signing up for a free kitchen design
  • Shopping ready-to-assemble cabinets
  • Shopping pre-assembled cabinets

This helps shoppers narrow their choices to only the type of cabinet they want. They’ll never be disappointed by seeing a style that is only available as ready-to-assemble when they wanted pre-assembled or become overwhelmed by colors and styles. Simply directing customers to the products they’re most likely to buy as soon as they enter your website can be an easy way to limit customer choice in order to combat choice paralysis.

How to overcome choice paralysis: Make your site navigation easy by pointing customers in the right direction on your homepage. Clearly define product specifications or categories and put them front and center. If your product offerings are highly customizable, consider adding detailed search filters or a “quiz” feature to your website to funnel customers only to relevant items.

Tactic 2: Align your marketing with your customers values

A study from the University of California, Berkeley, concluded that all humans want social status, even if one doesn’t want its traditional markers, such as a high-powered job. One way that we communicate status to ourselves and each other is through what we purchase. That’s because how we present ourselves and our spaces directly relay our values and tastes.

In order to tap into your customers’ inherent desire for social status, all you need to do is tell them how your product or service will improve their lives and, whether directly or indirectly, contribute to how their status is perceived.

A great example of this tactic is jewelry seller EraGem, which offers a wide range of estate, retro, and antique jewelry to a discerning audience. They use status purchasing psychology in their website copy to great effect.

Their descriptions for vintage and antique engagement rings romance customers with the promise of jewels from historical eras. This makes the buyer feel that, if they commit, they will belong to a small number of select people who have the privilege of owning such a ring—something with heritage, an “heirloom” piece. The type of jewelry that could be passed down for generations. When a shopper reads this and explores their website, they get a sense of history and prestige, a history that few people have. EraGem makes shoppers feel like they can tap into the inherent value of their jewelry that goes beyond the monetary—they’re not just buying any old ring.

The key to tapping into status shopping behaviors is to highlight what makes your product or service so valuable and unique. For EraGem, it’s their collection of antique gemstones; for you, it might be imported products, handmade pieces, or top-of-the-line engineering. Whatever you would brag about if showing off your product to a friend, highlight it in your sales copy.

How to leverage social status: Tweak your homepage copy and product descriptions to emphasize one-of-a-kind features, high-quality materials, and exclusive qualities. Where applicable, emphasize how your product/service helps your customers achieve a certain lifestyle.

Tactic 3: Leverage social proof

In the past, we relied on the recommendations of our friends and family. Now, people trust online reviews and endorsements, even if they aren’t necessarily from people in their immediate networks. In fact, 84% of people trust reviews they read online and recommendations from friends and family equally. Take advantage of this by making it easy to leave feedback about products and displaying it proudly.

The Original ScrapBox, a company that helps people organize their crafts and other projects, nails social proof on their website. The brand has more than 1,000 reviews from happy customers and prominently displays these reviews alongside photos of real customer workspaces. This helps new customers vet their products, as well as showcases the many different ways that the ScrapBoxes can be used in each individual home.

Rather than take the company’s word for how great their products are, shoppers can read candid pros and cons, tips, and ideas from actual customers. Adding customer pictures is an especially good way to show off products, as browsers can see your product “in action.”

Especially if you have a product that is customizable, like ScrapBox, or a product that is more expensive, social proof is a great way to help customers make the decision to purchase. The rise of online review channels on YouTube, review websites like Yelp and specialty forums, and reviews on everything from technology to tires coming out from experts online means that customers are going to look for information before they decide to spend. Giving them what they want right on your website builds trust and removes steps from the user’s journey to purchase.

How to use social proof: Add a section to your product pages for customer reviews with photos. Encourage customers to leave a review on your website by including a link to a review page in an email receipt or newsletter.

Tactic 4: Contextualize your price

Ecommerce customers have their choice when it comes to shopping online. Whatever they are looking for, there are multiple stores that sell a version of it—which means that retailers need to be able to justify a higher price tag. The good news? Research shows consumers actually want the highest-quality items available in their budget, not simply the cheapest items available.

The retailer’s job is to contextualize pricing for shoppers. You know that your product is far and above the cheaper versions in quality, lifespan, and performance. But if your customers don’t, then they may be put off by a higher cost. What makes your offerings top-of-the-line? Is it materials, warranty, craftsmanship, features, sustainable supply chains? Be specific. Give that information when you give your pricing.

A great example of one way to do this is Thos. Moser, a luxury furniture maker. To order a piece, you have to put in your specifications. A price is then listed for you. You can change the type of wood and options to change the price.

Note that they emphasize that each piece is made-to-order with the materials you select. This showcases their primary value to customers: craftsmanship and custom pieces. While $4,475 may be a steep ask for any old twin bed frame, in the context of a handcrafted piece made out of solid walnut, the price feels appropriate.

How to contextualize your prices: A little goes a long way when it comes to helping customers understand your price. If you can do a full cost breakdown a la Everlane, that’s great. But if you can’t, follow Thos. Moser’s steps and give customers the reasons why your costs are what they are. Emphasize what makes your products different and better than your competitors.

Build Better Conversion Rates with Psychology

Creating a great product or service and bringing it to market is only half the battle. To win the other half, the best brands rely on the psychology of marketing to resonate with customers’ basic motivations. By investing in tactics like choice limiting, status spending, social proof, and price framing, you improve the chances that website visitors don’t just see why your product is the best, but purchase it.

If, after all your efforts implementing the tactics of the brands on this list, your customers are still leaving empty-handed, Bread can help with that. With our alternative financing software for retailers, we can help make your product or service affordable for everyone in your customer base.