Are you in the business of selling, and want to increase your sales? Well, you should be looking at psychology and persuasion to influence new purchase behaviours.
I personally believe the future of marketing will be psychology paired with technology. Technology to physically reach people (we all have smartphones glued to our hands) and psychology to connect with people on an emotional and decision-making level.
You can shove ads in front of people as much as you like, but they can respond in kind by blocking them with ad blockers or simply ignoring them (banner blindness). But if it’s something they’re truly interested in and helps solve a problem they have(need or want), you’ll have their undivided attention.
In today’s society, attention is at a premium, with more and more advertisers vying for eyeballs. And those eyeballs are highly distracted in the 21st century we live in. But there’s a way to cut through, we’re all ruled by our reptilian brain, connect with that you’ll get the attention of new customers.
The psychology of persuasion
To understand this better I’ve enrolled in CXLs mini degree in digital psychology and persuasion and this is my review of what I’ve learned and discovered this week.
Cialdini Rules of Persuasion
In his book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” Dr Robert B. Cialdini talks about his seven principles of persuasion. I first read this book a few years ago and loved it but the knowledge faded away without frequent use/practise. Re-visiting them again through the lens of attracting, connecting and converting new customers has re-lit the fire in my belly for these principles and how effective they can be. They are by no means the only persuasion principles which can be used.
- Reciprocity: Give a little to get a little, we basically want to return the favour if given something first for free e.g. free trial or ebook.
- Commitment/Consistency: We have a deep need to be consistent so if we publicly committed to something we’ll feel the need to follow through.
- Social Proof: If someone is unsure of your product, seeing that someone else has used it and loved it will help them get them across the line.
- Authority: We respect authority, something built into us from childhood obey and respect your elders or some in a position of power/authority. So when we see a respected figure we think “…well it must be good if so-and-so uses it…”.
- Liking: Simply put if we like someone we’ll be more influenced by them and this also lends itself to the more attractive someone is the more we’re influenced by them and yes its true beautiful people do sell more.
- Scarcity: so many companies use this on us you only have to to go to an airline and accommodation booking website to see it’s the effect “Only 1 left of this room/seat” we know they’re using the principle but we still don’t want to miss out on our desired room/ seat. But a word of warning you cant artificially create scarcity for something that’s not scarce for example “Digital PDFs” are abundant.
- Unity: “I’m just like you” what you have in common with someone connects you e.g. someone you went to Uni with and see years later you instantly connected with them over your shared bond. Finding ways to create unity successfully will be powerful for your business e.g. just look at CrossFit junkies attachment to their group (shared values and lingo). Using unity can be as simple as “join the group”.
Fogg Behavior Model
Learning about this model was an eye-opener for me, and makes complete sense. What hope do you have you of convincing (or triggering) someone to “Buy Now” if they:
- Don’t care enough (low motivation), and
- It’s hard to do (complex sign-up process)?
This model shows the importance of these 3 factors (motivation, ability and prompts). Looking at the graph above, the top right-hand side of the graph e.g. high motivation and easy to do your “Buy Now” prompt will work but if they are used in bottom left-hand situation e.g. low motivation and hard to do it will fail.
Motivation: Ideally your prospective customer has some motivation already, as they are on your site, but you can increase their motivation by well-written sales copy, great images and easy to navigate website. Use those assets(copy & images) to tap into the reptilian brain leveraging these basic human desires every human has:
- Pleasure/pain: Increasing pleasure and avoiding pain
- Hope/fear: BJ Fogg himself consider hope the most ethical and empowering motivator you can see it in The Barack Obama “Hope” poster, designed by artist Shepard Fairey and came to represent his 2008 presidential campaign.
- Social acceptance/ rejection: We are motivated to do things that win us social acceptance and status. It impacts everything we do from the clothes we wear to the cars we drive we want to feel accepted and respected by our peers. And we will go great lengths to make sure we aren’t socially rejected.
Ability: It needs to be as easy as possible for your customer to take action. You can spend a lot of time amping up their motivation but you’ll fall at the first fence if it’s too hard to take action e.g. 10+ form fields. Look at Amazon they made it so easy to buy, your card and address information is pre-loaded and it’s as simple as “Swipe to buy…”. That’s why Amazon is a retail giant, recording a whopping $280 Billion in net sales for 2019.
Prompts: They nudge you into taking action but it needs to be the right time and at the right stage in the buying process e.g. Buying a car isn’t the first step maybe downloading the product specifications PDF or booking a test drive is the first step. As BJ Fogg says you wouldn’t expect a person who is learning to swim to just jump in the water and start swimming. You need to break it into easy step-by-step instructions, slowly building them up.
Lessons from Neuromarketing
Neuromarketing is all about recording and understanding how our body responds to marketing stimuli e.g. MRI, eye tracking, facial coding. So instead of recording what people say we record how their body reacts. This helps us understand why we make decisions and how we’re wired.
Our brain has 3 parts or layers: new, middle and old (see below).
We are dominated by the most primitive part of our brain (old brain) which is concerned with the 3 F’s:
- Fight or Flight
Getting to know this old part of the human brain will help you to sell more. Why is that you ask? Because Neuroscientists have shown the old brain (the most ancient and primitive part of the brain) is responsible for releasing all of our decisions.
It’s called the Reptilian Brain (because we share it with reptiles and all other vertebrates). It’s mostly concerned with survival so it overrules our “new brian” or the sophisticated one we normally try to rationalise with/talk to.
Neuroscience shows the old brain can only be triggered by 6 stimuli:
- Self-centred: it’s selfish, only concerned with its own survival and benefits so using words like “you” will talk to that self-interest.
- Contrast: When the brain can see a clear difference and benefit e.g. “before and after” photos to help sell fitness plans before our plan = x and after our plan = y
- Tangible: old brain prefers plain input to avoid the extra energy involved in thinking so plain speaking without jargon makes the most impact & is easily absorbed.
- First & last: The old Brain is only triggered by changes, i.e. is there danger present now something has changed? Think of it as survival instincts, this old brain is active at the beginning and end so strong openings and ends are important in your website, videos, blogs as that’s all people will remember. The key is a novelty, to keep people engaged you need to keep adding novelty. Novel means unknown, and what is unknown demands the attention of our brain.
- Visual: Ever heard the saying “A picture paints a thousand words”? Well, it’s true, the optical nerve is 25 times faster than the auditory nerve and it is connected directly in the Old Brain. So use images next to text to communicate your key messages.
- Emotion: A spreadsheet, detailing exactly the pros and cons of your product over another even if it offers fantastic value, will not stimulate the Old Brain. It’s already asleep but shows an emotive picture it will trigger the desired effect. Charities have perfected this method just look at Australian charity The Smith Family below.
Recap: the Psychology of Persuasion
This is just a teaser of what I’ve covered so far in CXLs mini degree in Digital Psychology and Persuasion. I hope it’s sparked your curiosity to learn more about the psychology of persuasion and how important it can be to help you attract and convert more customers.
As Einstein famously said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”.
So if you want to make a big difference to your business instead of just increasing ad spend, take a step back and learn something new and apply it. By taking the time to understand the psychology of persuasion and how humans make decisions you’re equipping yourself with valuable information. This information will stop you from wasting money on ads that won’t resonate or using copy and images that don’t connect and help you win new customers.