How do you market your company? You probably try to optimize your site for search engines, try some content and social media marketing, test out a few paid ad sources, and maybe even focus on conversion optimization.
Although those tactics can help you boost your sales, you shouldn’t focus all of your time on traffic generating strategies. One of the most effective ways you can boost your sales is to integrate psychology into your marketing.
But before I get into how you can leverage psychology, lets first define it:
Psychology is the scientific study of the human mind and its functions, especially those affecting behavior in a given context.
Now that we are all on the same page, here is how you can integrate psychology within your marketing:
Tactic #1: Get people to commit before committing
Let me explain what I mean here. There are two ways to think about a commitment within your online business. The obvious one is a customer buying your product or service. The less obvious one is to get the customer to be mentally prepared to buy from you.
If you get your visitors mentally prepared to make a purchase on your site, they are much more likely to complete the purchase. And the easiest way to do this is through your website copy.
A good example of this is Unleash Your Thin. Dr. Jonny Bowden uses this copy on his checkout page to get you to commit to the purchase:
Jonny is really smart because not only is he getting you into the mindset of buying, he is also getting you to grasp that there is little to no risk committing because he will refund you your money if you are unhappy. Plus, he added a “check box” to give you the feeling that you’ve already checked the box and approved buying the product.
Unleash Your Thin isn’t the only company that is doing this. Gym Junkies used similar messaging with their software application and were able to increase sales by 16%.
Tactic #2: Future pace
The real estate industry is well known for future pacing their customers. Real estate agents will constantly drop lines like “when you have a BBQ in your new home, make sure you invite me”… even before you make an offer on a home.
What they are trying to do is to have you focus on the future outcome and not the purchase. Once you get hooked on all of the things that will happen if you go through with the purchase, you will be more likely to make the purchase.
You can also do this online with your marketing copy. Here’s a good example of how we do this at Crazy Egg:
By using the word “when”, we are assuming that you are already going to use Crazy Egg. If we didn’t want to future pace, we would have used the phrase“what do you get if you use Crazy Egg”. But by using future pacing within your copy we’ve found that it increases sales by 5% to 10%.
Tactic #3: Make people work for it
Just because you are selling something, it doesn’t mean anyone can have it. You can choose which customers you want to sell your products or services to by putting up roadblocks. Although this may seem counter-intuitive, in many cases it makes people work harder to buy your product or service.
If you look at the screenshot above, you’ll notice that Six Pack Shortcuts makes you go through a mini quiz to qualify you. What a lot of companies have learned is that if they make you work to buy their product, instead of just driving you to a page where you can add the product to your shopping cart, you are more likely to convert into a customer. Why? Because they made you feel that you are one of the lucky few who made it through.
The funny thing about this method is that I’ve seen it increase and drop conversions drastically. When I tested it out on sophisticated audiences like Quick Sprout, I saw an 18% drop in conversions.
But when I tested it out in non-sophisticated markets, I’ve seen an increase in conversion rates by up to 31%.
Tactic #4: The Power of Why
What’s the one thing that all kids do? They ask a ton of questions, right? And if you don’t answer their question with a sufficient answer, what happens? They keep asking it, right?
Your visitors are the same way. The difference is, if you don’t answer their questions, they don’t ask them again. They just leave.
Psychology is about understanding your customers and how they think. If you can survey them, you can figure out the concerns and questions they have. Some of these questions may be as basic as:
- Why is your product or service so great?
- Why should I buy from you?
- Why should I stay on your site?
Within your copy, you should focus on answering all of these “whys” your visitors have. But the responses you give them have to be really good because if they suck, people will just leave your site.
“Stop taking two and three plates of food,” my mother said to me angrily.
I was at a wedding and seven years old. Back then, at a lot of the weddings we used to go to, the food would be pre-served on a plate. I could never get enough of those calorie-ridden platters. Waylaying different waiters, (so I would not be recognized), I’d polish 3-4 plates without blinking an eye.
Mom wasn’t impressed, and told me to stop and desist.
“Why?” I’d ask. Her stock reply was always, “It’s bad manners to do that.” This Dustbin Hoffman (yes, I do mean Dustbin and not Dustin) act obviously got her goat, but it left me unfazed. It must have bugged her more than I expected though, because in a short while Dad was peering down at my food-stuffed face.
My question remained unchanged. “WHY?”
“If you invite a hundred people to a wedding, how many would you cater for?” he asked. “A hundred,” I answered, proud of my analytical genius. “If you ate four plates,” he continued, “how many would remain?” He prompted quickly, “Ninety-six right?” I nodded vigorously. “That means some people don’t eat. If you’re so hungry, we can go out after the wedding and get something to eat, but don’t deprive others.”
In that example, the dad made sense. He made so much sense that the seven-year-old boy listened and didn’t have an issue with the answer.
If you don’t give a good explanation every time your customers ask “why”, they’ll just leave.
If you are looking for a good web-based example, check out how we answer the question of “why should I use Crazy Egg instead of Clicktale”.
The response is so thorough that potential customers don’t ask us the question anymore.
Tactic #5: Build up anticipation
Would you rather go to a club that doesn’t have a line or one that has a line? The one with the line, right? Because if a club doesn’t have a long line, it can’t be that great.
Making people wait before you let them buy doesn’t just increase your chances of getting a sale, but it also lets you charge a premium for whatever you are selling. Just look at Apple: not only are their products expensive, but people wait in lines over night to buy their products.
There are a few strategies you can use to build up anticipation:
- Time delay – don’t give people what they want right away. Make them wait days, weeks or months to buy from you. A good example of this is I Will Teach You To Be Rich site. Their subscribers are told about offers but typically don’t have access to buy them until the 30-day mark.
- Applications – usually you are the one who is doing the selling, which, as you already know, doesn’t work too well. You can switch things around and build up anticipation by making people apply to buy your product or service. You’ll find that people will try to convince you to sell your product to them with this tactic.
- Drop hints – Apple uses this strategy really well because you’ll see hints of what their products will look like or the features they will have, but you don’t know everything about the products until they want you to know about it.
Tactic #6: Use The Word “You”
The word “you” is the golden rule of marketing. These three simple letters are infinitely powerful. Why? Because the word “you” is the most direct connection between two human beings — especially over the internet.
The word “you” conveys a strong sense of empathy. It’s a subtle way to reinforce that your company exists to solve your customers’ pain points.
In the context of online advertising, the word “you” is the introductory handshake between your brand and potential customers. From the very first interaction, you want to form a connection. The whole time, your customer is thinking “what’s in it for me?”
If you start the dialogue by focusing on yourself and your own company, the people you’re trying to reach will just shut off. So make your writing about your audience. Any time you’re using the word “we” or “I”, think about whether you can use the word “you” instead.
Here is an example from QuickSprout, asking a question that many online marketers are asking. “Do you want more traffic?” Anybody in their right mind would answer “heck yes”.
Tactic #7: Use The Word “Get”
This best practice goes back to the idea of incentives. People don’t want to do extra work (or think about doing extra work). They’d rather sit back, hang out, and have something delivered to them.
That’s where the word “get” comes in. It instantly reinforces that your brand exists to make your customers’ lives easier.
SmartShoot, an online marketplace for photographers and videographers, has put this concept to the test. Here’s some context:
SmartShoot connects businesses (and individuals) with professional photographers and filmmakers. For the company to succeed, customers need to do three things:
- Fill out a project request form
- Create an account
- Publish a project request
Like many websites, SmartShoot gets significant traffic to its home page. The funnel usually looks like this:
SmartShoot’s goal is to get people past step 2 (the project request form). Originally, SmartShoot wanted to A/B test this form with another variation, but they weren’t quite sure where to start. The team went back to the data and ultimately decided not to test the project request form, but to focus on the homepage instead. Why?
The homepage receives almost 5x the traffic than the request form. The SmartShoot team realized that optimizing the homepage would yield higher returns. When SmartShoot first launched, the company analyzed its counterparts and notice that they were all using “Post a Project” as the website call to action. Here is what the original homepage looked like:
After a few months, the company revisited this CTA.
“Posting a project is not something people want to do. Heck, it’s not something I want to do. It feels like work”.
Customers want SmartShoot to do the work.
So, SmartShoot went back to the drawing board and had a few conversations with its customers.
The marketing team learned:
- Customers want quotes from vetted photographers and filmmakers
- Customers want samples of the creatives’ work
- Customers do not want to sift through the emails to see quotes and sample work
Customers want quotes from photographers and filmmakers and need a service that has done the legwork of evaluating and rating them.
SmartShoot decided to do something very simple. They swapped out “Post a Project” with “Get a Quote”.
Testing the project request form would have taken months and costed thousands of dollars. It was much easier and cheaper to change the CTA on the homepage.
Here is how the new CTA affected conversions:
In terms of getting users from the homepage to the request form, “Get a Quote” converted at 3.65%, and “Post a Project” converted at 2.61%. That was a 40% improvement.
But clicks aren’t the final piece of the puzzle. What SmartShoot cares about is the entire conversion funnel between the homepage to the published request (a transaction). “Get a Quote” outperformed “Post a Project” by 35%.
Tactic #8: Be Direct About What You Want
This tip is an important, but frequently overlooked tactic. Oftentimes, marketers are afraid to tell their audiences what they’d like them to do. Why?
Marketers are afraid of seeming aggressive or salesy — they’re afraid of pushing audiences away (rather than reeling them in).
Don’t fall into this trap.
When you’re not clear about your CTAs, users will be confused about what to do. If you’re worried about seeming salesy or too aggressive, provide a gentle nudge instead.
For some audiences, the intent behind a CTA is obvious. When audiences see a button, they know that they’re supposed to click. The challenge, however, is that these web-savvy audiences are only a small cross-section of everyone who’s viewing your website.
Believe it or not, the internet (and online marketing) are very new concepts for most of the United States (and world). For some audiences, calls to action come naturally — it’s like looking at a traffic light and knowing that ‘red’ means stop and ‘green’ means go. For others (professionals who are new to digital media), calls to action are much less intuitive.
If you want your audiences to ‘tweet’ something, tell them what it is you want them to share:
If your want your readers to enter in a giveaway or subscribe to your email marketing list, be extremely direct — your audience’s aren’t going to read your mind.
Tactic #9: Over-Think Your Website Calls To Action
Your website calls to action are what turn your web traffic into sales. They’re what inspire your prospects to engage with and learn from your brand. Even the smallest details can yield a significant impact in terms of how users are engaging with your brand.
If you’ve made it this far into this guide, you’re well aware of the following concept: marketing is about people. That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to the following design elements of CTAs:
We talked about color quite a bit in the last few chapters. By now you’re well aware of powerful colors can be in inspiring different feelings and moods.
When choosing colors for your landing pages and CTA, you need to think beyond aesthetics to focus on what feelings you’re evoking. Connect your aesthetics to your brand persona so that you’re well-positioned to build a rapport with your customers.
‘Click here’ buttons are the doorbells and crosswalks of the Internet. The best ones will feel extremely familiar and intuitive. The worst? Audiences will have no clue how to respond to them. Think about the CTAs that most inspire you to click.
For instance, studies have shown that people are averse to sharp edges. Rounding your buttons’ edges may compel them to click.
You need to guide your audiences towards the actions you need them to take. Well-placed CTAs can help with this process. Give your CTAs prominent spots on your website that are distinct from other design components. One word of caution, however — don’t shove your CTA in peoples’ faces. Give them a gentle reminder of your company’s products and services, but be respectful of the fact that they need some breathing room, too.
No matter how compelling your offer, if you don’t make it easy for audiences to click on something, they’ll always miss the mark. Make your website CTA as prominent as possible on your website, part of the content area, and easy to find.
“Click here” is far from an effective call to action. Clicking is a means to an end. Unless you explain what happens after the click, consumers are going to be skeptical. Instead of just asking for clicks, inspire users to take direct action. Your message should be energetic and extremely clear.
Veeam Software asked website visitors what additional information they’d like to see. Visitors said that they wanted pricing details. Veeam couldn’t disclose that information — they sell their software through partners, and those prices vary.
Veeam did, however, put up a “request a quote” link that led to a sales inquiry form. The goal was to increase CTR to the sales inquiry page. The company tested two different messages. One was “request a quote” and the other was “request pricing”.
Conversions went from .54% to 1.40%.
The Veeam Software case study demonstrates a key step that businesses sometimes fail to take — surveying users. Instead of just testing random ideas, Veeam talked to customers beforehand. Then, they experimented with tactics to overcome common hesitations and managed to generated a higher conversion rate as a result.
Tactic #10: Reduce Friction
When you’re shopping for something, looking for a service provider for your company, or requesting more details about a product — what stops you from moving forward?
Make the sign-up process as easy as possible. Embrace the heavy lifting so it’s disgustingly easy for your users to opt in. Make it so easy that your laziest customer can’t say no.
Keep your forms as short as possible — collect only the minimum required information. Ask fewer questions, and limit sign-up processes to 1 or 2 steps, max. The more you ask your prospects to do, the more likely they are to drop off.
Flying Scot, an airport parking company in Edinburgh, put this idea to the test. They wanted to increase conversions on their website, so they made some edits to the sign-up process.
Here is what the original page looked like:
As you can see, the company was requesting a heck of a lot of detail — which is bound to turn some customers off. The company decided to simplify the process and test a variation of the airport parking page:
The result was a 45.45% increase in visitors moving to the next step and a 35% increase in form submissions.
The moral of the story?
Don’t make users work too hard. Don’t even make the process look complicated. You’ll just freak people out. Filling out a form should not feel like extra work.
A great example to follow is Dropbox. All users need to do is give their name, email address, and password. The sign-up process takes about 15 seconds.
Tactic #11: Offer An Incentive
What better way to win your audience’s hearts than to give them something of value — for free?
American Express’s Scott Roen calls this concept reciprocal altruism — when brands give something away for free, they’ll, over time, see amplified sales.
As one type of tactic, your company can host a contest or giveaway like HubSpot does:
Your company can also offer a free e-book like Clarity does:
A free trial might be enough to move users through the sales conversion funnel. Keep in mind that people who visit your website may not be ready to take out their credit cards and make a purchase.
You don’t have to make big changes to get big results. Making small adjustments to how you do your marketing, or how you portray your message, can have a positive effect on your sales.
As you learned above, replacing simple words like “if” with “when” can increase the number of sales you’re making from your site.
So, what do you think about integrating psychology into your marketing? Are their any other psychological tactics that we all should be using?