You’ve created your online store, advertised your business online and seen a good flow of traffic to your store. However, visitors are not checking out from the shopping cart and this gets frustrating. What is the art of selling online? Well, we’ve got scientific answers for you.
While humans are highly complex, the way we process and analyse information is relatively predictable. Our brains tend to stir up emotions and get us to act on something when triggered psychologically. Mastering how to sell online begins with understanding how your customer process information during the buying process. You can easily influence them to purchase from you with this proven psychological principle, otherwise known as ecommerce psychology.
Ecommerce psychology is a term to illustrate the ability to persuade customers to purchase. Written and published by Dr. Cialdini in 1984, his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion clearly describes 6 tactics that address customers’ emotional needs and how it impacts ecommerce sales conversion.
The concept of reciprocity suggests that there’s a tendency for people to feel obliged to give back after receiving something. This is especially true for brick-and-mortar retailers, as customers who take the product sample will be more inclined to purchase it. So how do we replicate this experience online?
Giving away discounts is a great tactic to motivate them to purchase from your online store. Online shoppers are often attracted to words like free samples, discounts, free delivery as this will trigger their buying impulse to act on it now while there is a good deal. More often than not, online retailers make use of their newsletter sign-up to offer a one-time off discount, and in return they will get customer’s personal details to send them the latest product updates.
Whenever you see your favourite celebrity on the TV endorsing a particular product, the next moment you will find yourself tempted to buy the product and try it out. This is known as the liking principle where we are generally attracted to people we feel connected to, which is why most brands are using popular bloggers to advertise their products. However, it can be an expensive tactic for online retailers with limited budget.
Alternatively, online retailers can leverage on the liking principle by creating a compelling ‘about us’ page. Tell your brand story to your customers as it’s the primary connection point between you and the customers. Take for example, Le Petit Society, an online store that creates safe and comfortable products with fabrics that children will want to wear daily. The owners of the store are parents to two little girls, and their commitment to bring comfortable clothing to children seeks to connect with like-minded parents.
As the term suggests, people are motivated to purchase when they think they might missed out on the best deal. Most online retailers make use of this principle by having limited promotion period as one of their tactics to drive a sense of urgency for customers to purchase.
Instead of indicating the promotion validity period (which is a common mistake made by online retailers), online retails should highlight the timeframe to the end of the promotion. Compare these two promotion copies: ‘promotion will end 2 days later’ to ’48 hour limited sales’ – it’s obvious that the latter creates urgency to make immediate purchase even though both offers are the same.
This principle suggests that people are unconsciously drawn to things or people that we view as credible or authoritative, and this can be in the form of expert reviews or endorsements. Gryphon Tea Company, a family-owned tea importer that strives to make the highest-quality gourmet teas, has been receiving The Great Taste Award, better known as the “Oscars” for food and drink, since 2008. The brand has almost 100 years’ worth of experience in the tea industry, further enhancing their position in the hearts of the consumers.
Believe it or not, our ego plays a big role in making this principle work. We will generally go the extra mile to maintain a consistent image of ourselves, to the extent of doing irrational things. You might not have realised, but if you have previously visited a restaurant and posted good reviews about it on social media, it’s likely that you will go back to the restaurant again to keep consistent with the public’s image of you. That’s the main reason online retailers are encouraging their customers to share their purchase over social media.
Consensus, the last principle stated by Dr. Cialdini, is none other than social proof where people are influenced by what others do, viewing it as a ‘correct behaviour’. It’s extremely powerful and effective in persuading people to purchase, and online ratings and reviews are often the best way to build trust and credibility among customers, especially for first-time visitors.
While it’s not mandatory to implement all of these persuasion tactics, it is definitely good to know how customers think and behave when buying online so that you can create the right experience for them, and thus increase sales conversion.