Use these psychological hacks to actually convert your first-time visitors

Posted on 21 June, 2016

How do they really do it?

Admit this.

You have asked this question to yourself after ordering that multi-colored rug after seeing a late night infomercial. They make you feel like you really need it and your life is incomplete without it. Duh!

We all have faced this situation where we almost reach out to our phone for quickly placing the order because it is a ‘limited time offer’ or the ‘limited quantity offer’. What is so compelling about this product that we are forced to order it even though we don’t really need it? How do they really do it?

We are all unique in our own way but we are psychologically wired in the same way. There are same triggers which make us feel emotional, happy or sad. We all react in the same way when we fall down the stairs or when we get good news. Our mind as associated certain behaviors with triggers as outcomes. We feel pain when we touch something hot, we feel happy when we eat a pizza and we buy a product when it is a so-called ‘limited quantity offer’. 

Our brain triggers the mental shortcuts when we are exposed to some situations which have happened to us in past. If you thought that there might be something wrong with your brain for buying that multi-colored rug at 3 A.M. from a channel you never watched, don’t worry you are completely normal.

Psychological triggers used by this infomercial can also be adopted by the eCommerce stores to actually make people buy from their first visit. In this blog, I have covered 8 psychological hacks to convert your first-time visitors of your eCommerce store.

1. Personalization

As we all are social animals, we like special treatment. Imagine yourself going to a good restaurant, as you sit down at your table you are presented with your favorite wine as a welcome drink, then you are presented with a menu especially curtailed to your taste and the waiter helps you select the best dish. At the end, you are presented with a thank you card with your name on it.

Wouldn’t you love it? 

Same is the case with eCommerce; no one would like to buy from a store that is just after money. We agree that you care for your customers, but do you show it to them? With the rate of information bombarded on customers, you need to stand out from the rest and make it personal. You will have to show to your customers that you are someone who is there to solve their problem and do not consider them as just a faceless source of revenue.

Amazon and Netflix are the best examples when it comes to personalization and everyone knows how they do it. I like the way how ‘The Chapar’ does it. Men often find it difficult to shop when they are in a fashion store. Most of them don’t even know what they should shop. The Chapar makes it easy for them to get styled with a few simple steps.

You get to fill out a short survey which will ask for your personal information and style preference. You get the box with clothes which are best for you. That’s it. You don’t have to browse around yet you get what is best for you. 

2. Social Proof or Liking

Social influence is one of the biggest psychological hacks which can be used to trigger the buy button in the minds of customers. Imagine yourself hanging out with your friends on the weekend and you decide to go for a coffee to a nearby café. Once you reach the café and get seated, your friends start talking about how bad the Latte is at that particular café and they would never drink it. One of them would even say that it was criticized by a local magazine for such a bad quality. 

But you love the latte at that particular café and it is what you ordered every time you went there. Everyone has placed their orders, it’s your turn, what would you do? Order a Latte or keep it for another day?
Or you have never been to that café and hearing your friends criticizing the Latte would you order it even though you haven’t tasted it?

We face this situation in everyday life where we depend on others say to make a decision. This psychological trigger can be used in eCommerce stores to build up the trust of a visitor and making him think that ‘All these people had a good experience, let’s buy it’. I have covered the point social proof in details on of my older blog Creative ways to increase average order value of your eCommerce store. 

Ozpoolshop sells pool equipment in Australia and normally visitors don’t buy products on the first go. They have thousands of products and it takes time for an SMB to build a good amount of reviews for all the products. So they decided to show store reviews on the product pages instead of generic product reviews. It worked out really well for them. Showing reviews about the shop builds trust and it also shows a quantifiable amount of reviews that people can trust.

Social liking and influence can also be used to trigger the purchase decision by showing what other people or their friends are doing on the store. Godeals has a section where they show what people are purchasing on their website. It has dual advantages 1) People can easily trust the website 2) As it is a daily deals site, it helps other people discover new products.

3. Limited time offers / Scarcity

I discussed the scarcity concept in the introduction and told how infomercials use scarcity trigger to drive sales. This concept has also been used in eCommerce from a long time. There are 2 approaches in eCommerce to apply scarcity concept.

Amazon does this really well to in its daily deals section to boost up the sales with scarcity trigger.

4. Highlight Returns and refunds

eCommerce is an industry where returns and refunds play an important role. An eCommerce store would not survive if it does not have a clear returns and refunds policy. First-time visitors generally have a doubt whether they are buying the right product or not. A clear and highlighted return policy on product pages can help clear out the doubts in the mind of customers and can encourage them to buy a product on their first visit.

Beneoshop has a small banner which shows ’14 days free returns’ right under the Add to Cart section. This gives confidence to buyers to buy right on their first visit as they have ample amount of time to return if they don’t like the product.

5. Psychological Pricing

Pricing is one of the most important factors when it comes to making a purchase decision. eCommerce is not an industry like SAAS where you show 3 options and highlight the best option which you want them to buy. This is not possible in eCommerce store as there is only one final price a single product can have. So, how to make pricing strategy a ‘smart’ pricing strategy?

Let’s start with a story again,

A salesman in his slim suit knocks your door on a Sunday afternoon. He is there to sell a scrub his company recently launched. You would want to scare away that salesman for disturbing you on the weekend, but he insists on just taking a look at the product which is at a huge discount and assures you that it will not take long. 

You take a look at that scrub, which is a quality product and at a much lesser price than the market. You would want a scrub anyway so why not buy it now when you are getting that at a really low price. As a rational person, you buy it. You start using that scrub which worked really well and you start thinking that you got a really good deal on the scrub. This incident creates a positive impression of that salesman in your mind.

After a week or two, that salesman comes back again for selling that scrub. Now you will not want to scare him away, instead, you will welcome him with a smile for giving you a good deal. But this time he is not only having a scrub, he is also having a premium mop which is the bestselling product of his company. He asks you to take a look the mop, explains its features and everything. You are really impressed by the mop and decide to buy it without knowing its market price because you trust that salesman.

This time, that salesman sold you a scrub, a premium mop and also had a free coffee from you.
Will you allow any other salesman who is selling premium mop to enter into your door on a Sunday afternoon?
Getting my point?

This is a classic strategy used by salesmen to gain your trust and sell high-end products at the end. This can be also applied to new eCommerce stores who are planning to sell premium products. Sell a low-end product for a really low price; give excellent support and up-sell a premium product. It works really well. Even Amazon uses it to penetrate into a new market; they give high discounts at first on some products. Once we get used to it, we buy everything from Amazon.

Another strategy which can be used in eCommerce is the left digit effect, almost every one of us is aware of what it is and how it works. That .99 or .95 pricing strategy works really well in retail. Our brain is wired in a way that it lays more weight on the left digit effect, many companies have used this strategy in past to outrank their competition. You can start implementing this strategy site wide or some bestselling products. You can even use it to increase prices of your products for e.g. from $12 to $12.99. Customers won’t feel it as a big change, but it can increase your profit by a considerable amount.

6. Website and colors

Colors play a very important role in branding. Your website should have a color combination which urges a person to explore more. Red reflects energy, which can be used to create urgency, Black is more elegant and used to market luxury product, while blue shows trust and mostly used by businesses and corporates. Your website should reflect the product you sell and the customer segment you target.

How would you react if an eCommerce store selling baby products is having a black theme or a store which is selling high-end luxury watches for men is having a pink theme? It just doesn’t fit, right?

Every color has a different psychological association, you can check it here.

You also might have read some case studies on how just by changing a color of the ‘Add to Cart’ button a store increased its sales by a big amount. Start experimenting with colors, do some A/B tests and split testing, in the process you will find the best fit which can help you increase your sales.

7. Timing

Timing is Everything!

You have heard this before. It is very much important for eCommerce store to show right the message at the right time. As the attention spans have decreased this concept is even more important. If you are selling a smart phone, the right time to prompt a power bank or a phone case is when the customer has added a product to the cart.

Showing the right thing at the right time can also help you decrease the bounce rate. We have implemented this on one of our clients. The problem was a high bounce rate of mobile visitors who came from Adwords shopping campaigns. Most of the visitors left by scrolling the product page from top to bottom and did not check out the other pages. The ones who are interested directly purchased it from there but the ones who were not just scrolled and left.

To tackle this situation, we implemented a simple pop-up when a user has scrolled 80% of the page which redirects them to more products in the category. With this implementation, bounce rates decreased by a drastic amount. The pop-up was simple, the message was simple, it was just shown at the right time.

8. Reciprocity

 You get what you give

This sentence particularly holds true when it comes to eCommerce. We humans have a particular deep rooted urge to repay debts. Reciprocity has been proven to produce results because human nature since time memorial has asked one certain question, ‘What is in it for me’. No customer would just like to blow money on every other store he stumbles upon online, but if you give him money to blow up he will do it.

This principle particularly holds true with products which have high prices. Instead of just asking them to sign up on your store, ask them to sign up by giving free credits. By doing this, customers will feel that they owe you and would like to hear from you. eCommerce stores have been using this hack for quite some time now and it has really worked well.

Indian furniture retailer Pepperfry is doing an excellent job with it. It gives you coupons worth 10,000 Rs. just by signing up. You can use the coupons on different categories and it gives you a good amount of discount which is not normally available. People will be naturally inclined to it as it is offering a big amount just for signing up.

Let’s get started

We are humans, we all have feelings, we tend to reach in the exact same way in certain situations. These were some of the psychological hacks used by eCommerce stores to play with your mind. So, next time when you are on an eCommerce website look out for these hacks, there are a lot of people who use these in a creative way.

Now it’s your turn to get started and use these on your eCommerce website. Do comment below if you are using any of these on your store and how it helped you convert more first-time visitors.

Shetul Majithiya , Senior Digital Marketing Executive


About Emipro

Being an emerging leader in IT market since 2011, Emipro Technologies Pvt. Ltd. has been providing a wide range of business solutions in Odoo & Magento. We are pleased to have a large pool of contented customers with our meticulous work in the domain of ERP & e-Commerce. Our customers are companies of all sizes ranging from startups to large enterprises who realize that they need a professional internet solution to generate revenue streams, establish proper communication channels, to achieve desired goals and streamline business operations. [....] Read More

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1 Comment(s)


Posted on 22 July, 2016

With so many shops fighting for customers' attention [and their wallets] the more sophisticated approach will win. Of course you need psychological tactics as a retailer - big supermarkets already use them and we should follow their steps to survive. As an ecommerce expert I've seen it so many times: great website with plenty of products that doesn't turn profit - or makes a loss. You cannot just set up a website and bring traffic - you have to take a customer by a virtual hand and direct them from one amazing page to another with bold Calls to Action - making sure that the journey ends with customer subscribing, buying a product, downloading your ebook etc.