About three and a half decades ago (in 1984), Dr. Robert B. Cialdini wrote an awesome book on sales psychology called “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion“. In his book, he proposed ‘Six Principles of Persuasion’ that can make people say ‘yes’. Here, we will discuss Cialdini’s principles and see why digital marketers love them:
- The Principle of Reciprocation
In 1976, Kunz & Woolcott conducted a famous study where they sent Christmas cards to complete strangers. Surprisingly, the professors received many holiday cards in return. Many of those who returned these cards did not even inquire about the identity of the professors.
So, the reciprocity rule states:
When we receive a favor or a gift or an invitation, we feel obligated to return it in kind.
Digital marketers can use it to their advantage by deciding:
- what they want the visitors to do (buy something or sign up for a newsletter, and
- what they can offer to the visitors (a free how-to guide or a discount coupon).
For example, Neil Patel offers to consult services to increase your website traffic. His blog ‘Quick Sprout‘ offers excellent tips, advice, and suggestions about internet marketing for free. The readers who benefit from his blog feel obligated to buy his services to return the favor.
- The Principle of Commitment and Consistency
A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in April 1968 made a fascinating discovery. On a racetrack, bettors were asked about how confident they felt about their horse winning the race. It was seen that after betting, the bettors felt much more confident about winning the race than before betting.
So, the commitment and consistency rule states:
When we make a decision, we feel compelled to stand by it. We feel pressured to act consistently with the commitment we have made.
One great way to exploit this principle for digital marketing is to ask people which plan suits them best. When people compare their plans and pick one, they are more likely to pay for it as a next step.
For example, GoAssignmentHelp websites help students by assisting them in writing assignments. To the first-time visitors, it offers a 20% discount & free plagiarism reports to the visitors.
- The Principle of Social Proof
Everyone hates fake laughter tracks used in comedy shows. Canned responses seem phony, fake and stupid. Still, they are quite popular with TV show producers and directors. Research studies show that these laughter tracks make even poor jokes seem funnier. People laugh more when they listen others laughing at the joke – even if they know that the sound of laughter is artificial.
So, the rule of social proof states:
We try to behave in accordance with what others are doing. When we see other people behaving in a certain way, we believe to be the correct course of action.
People tend to browse ‘Most popular’ posts, ‘most read’ news items, and ‘Top 5’ products first. Likes, Comments, Shares, and Reviews of a product or post can go a long way in luring new visitors to check it out.
For example, CNET posts reviews from its in-house team of tech experts as well as by users. The experts’ reviews help people gauge the technical aspects of the gadgets while the users’ reviews offer them the proof of its social likeability.
- The Principle of Liking
The famous Tupperware parties employ all the persuasion rules mentioned above. Plus, they have the advantage of having one person to their side whom all the guests like. So, when a hostess invites her friends to the party, her friends feel compelled to buy the Tupperware containers from her. They do not buy the boxes because they need them. They buy them to keep the hostess happy.
So, the rule of liking states:
We tend to say ‘yes’ to a person we know and like.
Post images that look like your target customers. Talk about things that your customers like or want to know about (such as celebrities they love or sports they follow). Finding something common between you and your customers can help you win them over easily.
For example, Unbounce offers outsourcing services for customer service. It posts photos of real people talking to customers to help people feel connected to its staff. Another website called Amy’s Kitchen’ talks about the story of Amy and her family. The story and the real photographs help people connected to her.
- The Principle of Authority
Stanley Milgram conducted an experiment on destructive obedience in the laboratory. Here, the participants were divided into two groups: Teachers and Learners. The teachers had to test learners on the content they had to learn – and deliver them shocks as punishment if they failed to give correct answers. The shocks increased in intensity to the point of severity.
It was found that the teachers kept giving shocks to the learners (who were in pain) even when they felt what they were doing was wrong. They were emotionally disturbed by their actions but still listened to the experimenter.
So, the rule of authority states:
We are extremely willing to adhere to the commands of a person in authority.
Celebrity endorsements and testimonials from experts are the best ways to provide a role model to your prospects. The celebrities you choose should be the top names in your industry. Kim Kardashian is a good choice for fashion sites while Roger Federer may be a better model for a sports store.
For example, Bellicon is a company that sells trampolines. It features testimonials by chiropactors and therapists who advocate that their products are good for all age groups. People trust experts’ opinions on any matter which increases the credibility of the website.
- The Principle of Scarcity
In the world of collectors, the rarer an item is more valuable it becomes. So, a collectible like a double-struck coin or a stamp with the three-eyed likeness of George Washington is highly sought after because they are not easily found. Similarly, people are more likely to buy something if it is limited-edition and would be unavailable after some time.
So, the rule of scarcity states:
We are more motivated by the thought of losing something than gaining something of equal value.
Flash sales, countdown clocks, and limited-time offers are some of the best ways to seduce customers to buy a product immediately. The sense of urgency these offers induce hastens one’s decision-making process and boost website conversions considerably.
For example, Booking.com – a hotel and flight booking website – shows how many people have booked a room in a hotel, how many are looking at it – and how many rooms are left! You may even see a message which says ‘You missed’ the deal.
Do you know of some other psychological tricks to boost website conversion rates? Share them here.