5 Ways to Improve Your Marketing Using Conversion Psychology

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Jeremy Ellens
Jeremy Ellens




This past weekend, I went to a dueling piano bar in San Diego. What I quickly learned while watching this show was that the people performing were very talented musicians, but even better businessmen.

This particular duet consisted of a male and female, who used their genders to garner a sense of rivalry in the room. “Ladies, can we get some Taylor Swift requests going tonight?” the woman yelled into the mic. Next thing you know, a $5 bill was placed on the piano with a Taylor Swift request. “Gentlemen, let’s get $6 up here for some Guns N Roses! Let’s stop this fan-girl nonsense!”

Seconds later, men were racing up to the stage. This battle between the men and women went on for nearly 15 minutes, with people putting as much as $30 for their gender-stereotyped song to be played.

What I found most exciting among all of this was the way these two used mindgames to bring in money. Those performers used psychological triggers to create this sense of rivalry in order to get the audience to take their intended action.

You might be thinking--”That’s manipulation!”. Not necessarily. Those were grown adults who, despite probably having a few drinks in them, were all well aware no real battle of the genders existed. They wanted to take part in this imaginary competition because it was something that they enjoyed to engage with. You can provide a similar experience for your customers--even if you can’t sing.

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Psychology plays a part in every element of your marketing strategy, but it is not always given the consideration it requires to be successfully integrated. This blog post is going to go more in-depth with conversion psychology and the elements that your business can implement into its landing pages to optimize conversion rates and produce happier customers.

Law of Past Experience

How prospects interact with your product or service is entirely dependent on how well your brand aligns with their personal vision. One of the first things they are going to do when interacting with your brand is compare it with past experiences of their own. The law of past experience states that a prospect’s previous experiences, whether it involved your business or not, will contribute to their current experience.

While many marketers’ main take away from this law is that they need to differentiate themselves to further enhance a prospect’s current experience, this is not always the case. Let’s take a look at a case study done on Fab.com. Fab.com is an e-commerce retailer that experimented with a unique “add to cart button” on their website.

Fab test
The variations above differ in their CTA button and the amount of descriptive text used. Take particular note of the cart icon used as the CTA in the control variation. While Variation 2 led to a modest 15% increase in CTR, Variation 1 increased CTR by 49%. These results illustrate that despite it’s sleek design, the CTA in the control variation was not working well.

This is attributed to the idea that consumers are used to seeing the checkout button say “Add to Cart” and are confused when seeing otherwise. Not meeting customer expectations, even if you think you may have exceeded them, can hurt your CTR and conversion rates. This is just one instance where behavioral psychology conflicts with design-related decisions.

Understanding different psychological traits and the role they play in your marketing strategy certainly is not easy. Different consumers have different traits, but by running split tests like the one seen above, you can gradually gain a better understanding of your particular target market’s traits and predict how changes will impact performance.

Psychology of Happiness and Pain

Common knowledge among marketers today is that it’s all about the customer. One of the easiest ways to show that it’s all about them is through use of the second-person narrative.

Notice how the landing page above makes it all about “you”. Both sentences use “you” as the direct object, which helps the audience stay rest assured that your business understands their well-being, the choice they are making, and how it will make them feel.

The list goes on and on of the elements that play into making prospects feel happy (i.e., images of smiling people, cute animals, bright colors, customer testimonials), but even more effective than including things they want to see is including things they want to avoid.

Referred to as the psychology of pain, this concept states that “The magnitude of pleasure reaches its limit in the removal of all pain”. This doesn’t mean you should be solely advertising distressing images on your landing page to scare prospects; but rather supplementing them with solutions. Take a look at the example below.

This landing page directly addresses a source of low-self esteem that many people face, but then offers a solution to mitigate it. Doing so builds relationships with prospects looking to make a change by showing empathy for their situation and offering help. “Hit ‘em where it hurts!” might not be the best terminology to use to describe this approach, but in retrospect addressing the self-conscious feelings of your audience isn’t immoral if your business offers a genuine and truly effective solution for those looking to make a change in their life. For more tips on designing landing pages, check out one of our previous articles, "Don't Let These 8 Landing Page Design Mistakes Haunt Your Business".

Psychology of Cost-Benefit Analysis

Cost-benefit analysis refers to the internal process that takes place when humans are weighing whether or not the fox is worth the hunt. In other words, is what you are offering, whether it be an ebook, webinar, or other lead magnet, worth what they are going to have to do to get it, like give up an email or complete a survey.

Elliot Shmukler, VP of Product Development at Wealthfront, describes the importance of decreasing friction for your customers. He illustrates that once you have driven traffic to your site, you then need to make it as simple as possible for your visitors to take your intended action. This could mean bigger CTA buttons, less opt-in form fields, fewer pages in the check-out process, pre-filling forms, etc.

Doing so decreases the mental friction preventing your customer from making a purchase. For instance, the example below shows how even optional fields in your opt-in forms can create friction.

Expedia 12 million dollar increase test
Shortening the form field in the variation on the right by eliminating the optional “Company name” field increased revenue by $12,000,000. You read that right--eliminating one field added 8 figures in revenue.

Gather Allies

Some of the most successful businesses are the ones that instill their customers with a sense of loyalty by having a common “enemy” in mind. Think about the passion exhibited by those who are a part of nonprofits or human rights campaigns. It’s because they are fighting against something together.

Some B2C and B2B businesses have garnered a similar sense of camaraderie. Apple and Microsoft are probably one of the best examples of this. The on-going rivalry between Apple and Microsoft has been taking place long enough that I am surprised they don’t ask you to specify which team you are when filling out a job application.

Similar to the musicians that I discussed in the beginning of this article, Apple and PC have generated friendly competition between their followers. The idea of “choosing a team” makes for more loyal, long-term customers who are then easier to upsell in the future.

                apple vs microsoft     apple vs microsoft

Positive Anticipation

As a final point to touch on, and one that might sound easier said than done, write content that is going to have your audience nodding in agreement. This notion of positive anticipation involves writing content that shows empathy and optimism.

For instance, in some alternate universe, the DMV might advertise, “Long lines are a painful experience--We can help”. The point is to empathize with them and then assure them that you have a solution. Doing so ensures that their anticipation is met with confirmation. Another example of this is seen below.

Single Grain
The ultimate goal of gradually building up positive anticipation is to get your prospects from A to Z. If you can catch their attention, empathize with them, and prove you have a solution, you have already gotten them far enough down the sales funnel that they should be ready to buy--without even mentioning a sale.

Implementing psychological triggers throughout different elements of your tactical strategy will optimize the way your audience interacts with your landing page. Understanding how and why your prospects feel the way they do when viewing the content on your landing page is essential for improving conversion rates and creating sustainable solutions for your customers in the future.

So what can you do right now to optimize conversion rates and produce happier customers? Stay ahead of the curve and download our free eBook going over inbound marketing trends this year and our predictions for 2015. Click the image below to get it now!

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