In this article, I’m going to be giving you a secret edge over your competitors —proven psychological triggers that get customers to convert at higher rates and to spend more money. Knowing about sale psychology is like having a secret weapon, and I have found that most online sellers neglect entirely this. I see a lot of them like to focus on numbers and special things like the best Facebook ad bidding strategies while completely ignoring why people choose to click on ads in the first place.
Here are 10 psychological triggers that you can use to increase your sales. I’m also going to be giving you actionable strategies as to how you can implement these in your online store.
- Incite Customers to Buy by Giving Them Something for Free
- Create Envy with Customer Reviews
- Use Curiosity to Drive Traffic and Engagement
- Use Photos to Help Customers Visualize
- Use Photos to Create Emotions in Customer
- Use Price Anchoring to Push Prices Higher
- Include Product Pictures with Human Faces
- Pain is More Motivating than Pleasure
- Create a Common Enemy
- Phrase Your Items as Low
Let’s jump into it!
1. Incite Customers to Buy by Giving Them Something for Free
So obviously giving a customer a 20% discount coupon encourages them to buy more from you because they’re now getting items at a discounted price. But that’s not the only reason why. When we give a customer a freebie like a coupon, especially if they weren’t expecting it, and it felt like a personal gift, we trigger the social norm of reciprocity.
The norm of reciprocity is simple. When someone does something beautiful for us, we feel a strong obligation to return the favour. If you move to a new house and a neighbour came over to bring you cookies as a welcome gift, you would feel obligated to back in something in return. This sense of obligation is very powerful.
In 1976, sociologist Philip Kunz experimented, he mailed at hand written Christmas cards. They contained a photo of him and his family to 600 random strangers. Despite not knowing him, almost 200 strangers sent him a card back.
The norm of reciprocity is one of the critical tenants of marketing in advertising. Think about a mattress seller let you try their mattresses for free at home. The customer feels indecent to the company for making them have the mattress. They don’t want to inconvenience the company, so many people even if they don’t want to keep the mattress will keep it anyway.
So how can you implement this psychological trigger?
Well, if you’re running your own dropshipping store, a really great way to do it is to add personalized coupons to your store.
For example, the spin2win coupon pop-up boxes you may have seen that give you a random discount these are a great example of this.
Not only do they feel more personal since the customer gets your own exclusive discount, but because they are engaged with your site and had a fun experience. They now feel indecent to you. And if you’re selling on Amazon customers rarely expect to receive anything with their order, so the really great idea is to include a note and a discount coupon inside the product packaging.
2. Create Envy with Customer Reviews
So let me ask you a question; “Why do you think it’s a good idea to encourage customers to leave reviews for the items that they’ve purchased?”
Well, the obvious answer is that it provides social proof for potential customers. They see that other customers have liked it, and so now they trust you more.
However, that’s the obvious answer. The other side to customer reviews is that it creates envy in your prospective customers.
Have you ever heard the phrase; “Keeping up with the Joneses.” It refers to the idea that if we see our neighbours (i.e. the Jones family) buy a car bigger than ours, then it makes us feel jealous, envious, and makes us want to buy a car to match.
So that’s what positive product reviews do. We see that other people are benefiting and enjoying this product, and we want to get that same benefit in our lives.
If your store on Amazon in it’s also crucial that you try to get as many customer reviews as you can. So you also want to be using an app like Jumpsend, which will automatically email the customer after the sale asking them to leave a review.
3. Use Curiosity to Drive Traffic and Engagement
Curiosity can be used to drive direct sales, but more often than not, it’s used by marketers and advertisers to drive clicks to websites and products or to increase engagement.
How can you create curiosity?
In 2009, Colin Camerer experimented; He took 19 undergrad students and hooked them up to a brain scanner and then asked them 40 trivia questions. They ranged from super easy.
Questions are like, “What galaxy is earth a part of?” The answer, of course, being the Milky Way. To more obscure, “What instrument was invented to sound like a human singing?” The answer is the violin.
The students were asked to do three things;
- Think silently about what they thought the answer to the question was.
- Write down how confident they were in the answer.
- Mark on a scale of how curious they were to know the answer to the question.
Ultimately the study found that curiosity is like a U-shaped curve.
- When we know nothing about something, we are not very curious.
- When we know a little bit about something, we become very curious.
- The more we know beyond that the list curious we become.
So how can you implement this psychological triggers to increase sales online?
The spin to win discount coupon pop-up boxes is another great example of this. The customer knows a little bit they know that they can win a potential discount if they play the game. But they don’t know what they will win. This curiosity drives them to take action and sign up so that they can find out the answer.
And curiosity has been used by many dropshippers to sell this avocado slicer. Check out this video ad.
It creates curiosity by showing us the strange-looking tool of the start and telling us that it will help us sliced avocados better. But not showing us how. It makes us want to see it in action because it looks so odd. It’s hard to figure out how it works just by looking at it.
If you’re something on Amazon, then a great way to add curiosity into your strategy is to be creative with the email titles that you use for the emails that you seemed out asking customers to leave a review these email titles that will pique curiosity.
So normally people will send that email titles like “How are you enjoying your avocados slicer”, instead try email titles like “I have a favour that I would like to ask you” Titles like that piqued curiosity the customer thinks oh what favour do they want from me. And so it drives them to open up the email so that they can find the answer to that question. For more e-mail marketing strategies you can the article.
4. Use Photos to Help Customers Visualize
When you’re selling items online with your dropshipping store, photos are the most important part of your product listing. Yes, Amazon has tested this and photos are the number one conversion factor as to whether a customer buys a product or not.
One of the most powerful things that you can therefore, do is include a photo in your product listing that shows the products being used in a real-life context. Because this helps the customer visualize themselves actually using it. Customers can imagine themselves actually using a product then they are far more likely to buy it.
If you’re dropshipping from Aliexpress than don’t just include the basic photos of a product against a white backdrop, instead, look for photos that the supplier has provided showing it in a real-life context. If the supplier doesn’t have these consider buying a test product and taking your own photos, here is the 12 great photography tips for your store.
5. Use Photos to Create Emotions in Customer
Honest truth, when most people try to sell things online, they take a very dry approach to marketing. They say, “Hey I have this avocado slicer, look it’s made from food-safe plastic. It cuts avocados and look it takes out the avocado pepper. It creates every cubes. Buy my avocado slicer!” —No,
You know what works so much better approaching it from this angle, “Hey do you love avocados but you find cubing them to be messy and annoying? Well, guess what this toe fixes the problem.” Now, this is so much more effective for multiple reasons. One of the reasons is that it triggers emotions in the customer.
Emotions are integral to decision making. Professor Antonio Damasio conducted a study. He took a group of people who were mentally impaired at feeling and experiencing emotions who could still access the rational, logical parts of their brain. He discovered that they struggled to make simple decisions like what to eat for dinner because they lacked any sense of how they felt about the different options. In other words, a lack of emotion leads to indifference, and indifference leads to a lack of motivation.
So yes, words can create emotions, but photos are some of the most effective ways to do that.
Before it became massively saturated, a lot of people has success dropshipping this ring because of this photo the AliExpress supplier provided.
They slept this photo on relevant Instagram influencer pages, and it sold like crazy, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why. When you look at this photo, it really feels like you’re there at the ocean at sunset.
6. Use Price Anchoring to Push Prices Higher
We’re presented with the products that we would like but we have no idea what the value is and it’s not your fault. It’s called price anchoring.
In phase one of the study customers had two choices. A standard beer for $1.80 and a premium beer for $2.50. Around 80% of people chose the more expensive beer. Phase told the study, customers were given a third choice. A cheap beer for $1.60. Nobody bought the cheap beer but now 80% people were choosing the $1.80 standard beer instead. In phase three of the study the cheap beer was removed and replaced with an expensive $3.40 beer. The result was that people went back to buying the premium $2.50 beer. A small number would buy the $1.80 beer and 10% opted for the expensive $3.40 beer. They made more money overall.
Basically price anchoring is when you place multiple products side by side and it’s usually most effective if you’ve got at least three pricing tiers. Most people will choose the middle option. It looks cheap compared to the expensive option but they assume that it’s higher quality than the cheaper option. Of course the study also shows us that there are some people out there there will always choose the premium product.
So how can you action this psychological trigger to increase sales?
Well, if you’re running your own dropshipping store, then make sure that you don’t have all your prices seat to be the same price. Don’t have every item in your store be $9.95. If you’re selling on Amazon, often the most safest pricing strategy to follow is to price your items somewhere in the middle of your competitors. Don’t be the cheapest option but don’t be the most expensive.
7. Include Product Pictures with Human Faces
It probably doesn’t surprise you but humans are drawn to other humans faces and in particular that drawn to eyes.
A study was conducted with photos contained faces were placed on e-commerce stores to see if they would increase trust or decrease trust. It was found that if the potential customer did not trust the store that showing photos of faces helped to build trust. However if the customer already had trust built in the store, in photos of faces did not improve this.
Building trust with potential customers is one of the challenges that new sellers and stores face. So you should take advantage of this hack to create free easy trust. So if you are dropshipping from Aliexpress and your supplier doesn’t have photos like this, just make sure that they take at least one photo that contains a human face.
8. Pain is More Motivating than Pleasure
Of course when most people try and sell a product online, they simply list the different features that aprox has which of course is huge mistake. You should be of course explaining how this product benefits and improves someone’s life.
Which is better; focusing on how a product adds some pleasure into someone’s life, or focusing on how a product solves a problem?
It has been studied and found that usually people are more motivated by avoiding short-term pain. At the expense of both short-term and long-term pleasure. That’s why everyone procrastinate so much.
So how can you implement this psychological trigger to boost your sales?
Take this little tool here this little inconspicuous little tool sounds like crazy because it actually solves a problem then a lot of people have which is slicing vegetables like onions and having it fall apart within your fingers. So if I was selling this in my product description, I would be emphasizing how frustrating, how slow it can be to chopped onions, and how much this little thing solves the problem.
Of course, the honest reality is that some products don’t solve any problems. But they do more fun. For products like this, don’t try enforce a problem.
9. Create a Common Enemy
Here is a quick tip: If you’re struggling to create an interesting product ad or an interesting product description, in an easy way to make it more interesting is to create a common enemy.
This is a pretty common and effective marketing tactic probably the most famous example is Apple, who for years ran an advertising campaign that drew a sharp distinction between Mac and PC users — essentially creating an us-versus-them attitude amongst its users. Apple no longer uses this marketing tactic, but it was extremely effective.
I remember I had some friends who were sitting in a history class at school when they were learning about the different world wars, and a teacher asked them a question, “What would you do to unite the whole world together and to stop everyone from fighting amongst themselves?” My friends said an alien invasion. The teacher was not impressed with this answer, but I actually thought it said it was genius because it’s exact idea despite all of our enormous differences. If aliens were to invade, we would all suddenly have a much worse common enemy which could, in theory, unite us all together under one common goal to defeat them. Regardless though of whether or not you think that that would work, common enemies definitely work when it comes to marketing.
So how can you implement this psychological trigger to make more sales?
Well, let’s say that you were selling dog treats made from all-natural ingredients. So guess what your common enemy would be? — processed dog treats.
Or maybe you are dropshipping reusable funny shopping bags, guess what your common enemy would be? —plastic shopping bags.
10. Phrase Your Items as Low
I have another question for you; “Why do you think that free just pay shipping promotions to work so well?”
There are many reasons, and one of them is that you get to take advantage of possibly the most powerful word in marketing and that is the word “Free”. But there is another word in there that you may not have considered and that is the word “Just”. The item is free, just pay $9.99 for shipping.
Carnegie Mellon University researchers did a study. They took a free overnight DVD trial but had a $5 shipping charge. They changed the way it was phrased from “a $5 fee” to say instead “a small $5 fee”. Guess what? Conversions increased by 20%
So yes if you were phrasing your offer as, “This item is free. Shipping is $9.99” that would be far less effective than saying “This item is free you, just pay $9.99 for shipping”. So when you’re phrasing your pricing and marketing materials, don’t be afraid to minimize the price verbally.
Those are my ten psychological triggers.
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Muammer is a Marketing Analytics Manager at Turkcell. His mission is to empower entrepreneurs and to help them achieve their goals. He also has a passion for illustration.