Businesses these days are spending an awful lot of time generating leads. While most marketers have learned the ropes and are generating a lot of leads through their efforts, the conversion rates illustrate a different picture. A survey conducted in 2016 revealed that only 22% of marketers are satisfied with their conversion rates.

These numbers are far from surprising as most small businesses are on a limited amount of budget, resources, and time. However, it is imperative that businesses realize that marketing done by spending a lot of money and dedicating numerous resources is not the only effective way of marketing. More efficient ways of marketing can be devised if marketers spend more time understanding the psychology of their customers.

All humans have certain mental triggers that drive our actions. Once a business understands what these triggers are, and how they can be used to influence the customers, converting leads becomes much easier. The best part is, using these triggers to drive sales is as easy as it’s effective. Without wasting any more time, let’s jump right into what these triggers are, and how they can be used by marketers to their advantage:

The twin-effectiveness of pain and pleasure

The primary driving force of all human behavior is to avoid pain and gain pleasure. In fact, even when we are doing something that might be painful in that very moment, the ultimate goal is to attain pleasure out of the situation.

A great example of this would be the gym. Most people dread going to the gym, lifting tens of pounds, running without reaching anywhere but they still get up every morning, drag themselves to the gym, and complete their daily workout. The reason is simple, they want to look better, feel better, and be better. The sense of accomplishment that is associated with every workout is the driving force that not only brings them to the gym but makes them pay for memberships as well.

This principle can be applied in your business as well. If in your marketing communications, you illustrate to your customers how you understand their pains, and how your product/service would alleviate this pain, they would come flocking to you with their money.

Keep in mind that out of the two, pain avoidance is much more effective. In fact, something called “negativity bias” in psychology explains perfectly how negativity is the strongest driving factor when it comes to the human brain.

This twin effectiveness of pain and pleasure has given birth to something called the A to Z marketing technique. The technique is simple, it states that your potential customers are all at point A, from which, their aim is to get to point Z. Now, this approach can be taken in two ways:

  • The first way is to let your customers reach point Y for free. Let them experience some of the pleasure that comes with working with your business, and THEN ask them to pay. This was done beautifully by Dropbox when they started providing a free 2GB of space to all new customers. Their customer base jumped from 50 million to beyond 300 million because of this move and translated into 1.18 billion dollars in yearly revenue.
  • While the first approach dealt with ‘pleasure’, this approach does the job by making the customers realize the pain associated with getting from point A to Z, and educating them how your product or service is the perfect way to alleviate this pain. An example of this can be seen on Admito’s landing page. 

The rule of reciprocity

The rule of reciprocity says that if you receive, you are more likely to give. Dr. Robert Cialdini has explained this with a beautiful example in his book called ‘Influence: The Psychology Of Persuasion’. The example is of a waiter that experienced a 3% hike in the tip when he left his guests with a mint along with the bill. Tips increased by 14% when the waiter left two mints, and by 23%, when he left the guests with one mint, and quickly returned to give them a second one.

However, for this principle to work it is important to deliver real value to your customers. A great example of this is giving out free trials if you are offering a service. Rankwatch, the online marketing software offers a free 14 day trial right on their landing page. Once their customers have experienced the advantages of their service, they are not hesitant to pay for them at the end of the trial. Similarly, Amazon offers free samples for all their ebooks available on Kindle. Customers can download these samples and read through 10% of the book before making a purchase. The sample stays with the customers for as long as they would like.

Learn more about how you can effectively use the principle of reciprocity for your brand here.

The fascination of “new”

Humans are naturally attracted to new things or novelty. Psychologists have found that the region of our brain that deals with motivation and reward-processing responds better to novelty that to something that is familiar. This system is also responsible for the release of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate emotional responses, identify rewards, and motivate us to move closer to these rewards.

Novelty or the fascination of new things is what drives many people. In fact, stagnancy and monotony are some of the most feared things among people. This undying attraction towards the new is what motivates car manufacturers to introduce new models every single year, even if the features remain almost the same. However, when generating fresh ideas about how to induce novelty in your offerings or marketing, keep in mind what drives your potential customers and what they like, otherwise your communication might get lost among the clutter of ads and other marketing collaterals that one comes across every day.

Social proof

Social proof, in definition, is the influence that other’s actions or words have on our own behavior. The idea is simple, people feel the need to buy something or do something because others are doing it. Social proof has been an integral part of marketing strategies since before the birth of the internet. Used in form of celebrity endorsements, social proof today has taken many forms. Whether it is a mention of your services on an authority blog, or the good old testimonials, social proof works wonders when it comes to marketing.

For example, the Rankwatch website features a number of different forms of social proof. Check these out:

The website features a list of logos of other authority websites where Rankwatch has been featured. Such a list would help add a sense of credibility to your business, especially if the places you have been featured are iconic websites that would be easily recognized by your target audience.

Genuine testimonials or reviews work great as they provide proof of positive experiences of others that have used the product/service in the past.

Apart from these, there are many other forms of social proofs you can employ to drive conversions:

  • Subscriber counts- If you are trying to get people to subscribe, let them know how many already have. This will positively reinforce the idea of subscribing in their head.
  • Ratings and reviews- Don’t you personally like to read the reviews of an application on the App Store before downloading or purchasing it? When you think like your potential customer, you will realize the importance of reviews. Think about which websites your customers visit for reviews, and ask existing customers to review your business on those websites.
  • Social connections- Social sharing buttons that display the number of likes or followers you already have also make a desirable impact on every visitor.

Scarcity

One of the most commonly used triggers in marketing, the effectiveness of scarcity has been proven numerous times throughout the history of advertising. One such instance was this experiment that saw people willing to pay 50% more for the same set of watches when they were labeled as “limited edition”.

The more difficult it is to get your hands on something, that is, the more scarce some is, the more we want it. Humans are programmed to feel anxious when they are deprived of something, which then interferes with our motivation, which causes us to become more open to suggestions and temptations towards getting the scarce object.

In marketing, scarcity can be utilized by creating “limited time only” offers, or countdown timers, early bird registrations to drive your audience to act. Great examples are Amazon’s deal of the day, or Groupon’s ‘limited time only’ offers that are featured along with a countdown timer under every “buy” button. Another more recent example would be the boost in gun sales in the USA right after there was a call for more restrictive gun laws around the country.

Keep in mind to not trick the customers and that might compromise with the perceived value of your product or service. On the contrary, real scarcity, of any form, will have customers become much more receptive and reactive to your communications.

Foot-in-the-door (FTID) technique

The foot-in-the-door technique dictates that it is easier to make someone agree to something (buying your product or service) once you have already made them agree to something smaller (downloading your free infographic, for instance).

FTID works because after agreeing to an initial request, the person feels a certain way about themselves. This feeling encourages them to make future decisions that are consistent with the decision made at the beginning.

The effectiveness of FTID was first proven by Stanford’s Jonathan Freedman and Scott Fraser in a series of experiments called “compliance without pressure”. In the first experiment, 156 housewives were divided into four groups. Three groups were given a call enquiring which household products they used before a second call, which was given three days later, to all four groups. This call was used to request the subjects to let a researcher come into their home and catalog the household products in their homes. This meant letting a stranger into their homes and explore parts of it that contain these household products. However, to no surprise, out of the three groups that were initially given a call about the same subject, 52.8% agreed to the visit against the 22.2% of the group which was being contacted for the first time. Similar results were seen in the second experiment and several others that followed in the coming years.

Answer the “why”

The world-famous Xerox experiment by psychologist Ellen Langer demonstrated that people are more likely to agree to your proposal if it is accompanied by a reason, even if the reason is arbitrary. For instance, in the experiment, more people let Ellen cut the line when provided with a reason, as compared to when she plainly requested to let her go first.

Conclusion

The human mind is extremely complex and responsive, but psychology in the recent years has helped shed some light on how it works. Using these triggers of the human mind, you will definitely see visible changes in your conversions. The key to real success, however, is to think of combinations, while knowing when you are overdoing it.