We’ve all wished we could have more conversions at one point or another. But getting people who visit your site or your premises to actually buy from you is really tough. Most of the advice out there you could quite easily call “stylistic.” It’s all about how you present yourself and how to put your best foot forward.
It’s vaguely psychological in the sense that it accepts that enticing people to buy your product is important. But it’s naive in its approach. It doesn’t seek to exploit the psychological triggers that cause people to buy from you.
Here, we’re going to investigate the various psychological forces that trigger the buying decision. How you can influence them? Let’s take a look.
Trigger 1: Pleasure
Human beings might have very different personalities, but they’re all wired on a basic level in a very similar way. This is particularly the case when it comes to pleasure and pain. People like pleasure and they avoid pain.
This basic fact is important for companies. Companies that provide their customers with pleasure are in a better position to do business than those that don’t. Why? Because companies that provide pleasure will become associated with pleasure in the consumer’s mind.
The theory seems straightforward, but how to make it actionable? Today, many of the world’s top companies are using the A to Z process. The idea here is to take customers from their first interaction – point A – and get them as close to point Z as possible, before asking for money.
You see this sort of thing all the time from top tech startups. Almost all tech startups won’t charge for their software upfront. Instead, they’ll offer customers a free trial that lasts perhaps a couple of weeks.
In that time, customers will use the product and learn all the many ways that it can help them. And, ultimately, they’ll begin to associate pleasure with that product. When that happens, tech companies will look to close the sale. It’s an effective strategy and one that exploits a key human drive.
Trigger 2: Novelty
The media has known for a while that people strongly respond to both precedence and novelty. In the consumer world, the same is true. Take novelty, for instance. Neuroscience has shown that our brains react to novelty in a very interesting way.
When we see something new, our brains immediately release dopamine, making us feel good. We then start to associate new stuff with feeling good and become, in a sense, hooked.
Take the iPhone, for instance. Everybody knows that the difference between the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 6 is small. And yet people were quite happy to throw away their iPhone 5 and blow money on the new version, just because it was new.
So what can marketers do with this information? The key here is to continuously tweak your product. Add a couple of new features, change the styling, or even do a simple rebrand. These can all be effective in driving new sales and giving customers what they want.
If you do go down the novelty route, however, you’ve got to be careful. Customers will call your bluff if you don’t add meaningful new features or change your business model.
Trigger 3: Ease
The famous psychologist Daniel Kahneman said that the law of least effort applies to cognitive as well as physical effort. He says that if people have a number of options to achieve the same goal, they will choose the easiest.
His argument, therefore, is that people like stuff that is easy and dislike stuff that is hard. Evolution, he says, has made us lazy. It was a survival benefit for us to expend as little energy as possible because we never quite knew when our next meal would arrive.
Because laziness is so deeply built into our psychology, it’s something that is paramount for businesses. Firms need to make the customer experiences as painless and as easy as they possibly can.
Take making payments, for instance. Customers want to be able to make payments as quickly and as easily as possible. But often businesses don’t offer solutions that cater to their needs. Nobody wants to spend ages filling out a direct debit order form every time they make a big purchase.
Recently, however, we’ve seen the rise of consumer financing companies. These companies make it easier for businesses to offer customers financing options. Crucially, they’re quicker and smarter than the finance options of the past. And many of them can be handled by a single POS terminal.
You can also see the drive to make things as easy as possible in the rise of businesses like We Buy Any House. These companies exist solely because people don’t want to go through the hassle of selling on the regular market. They just want the process to be as easy as possible.
What’s the key message to convey to your customers? It’s that your business is the easiest and simplest way for your clients to get hold of the service that they want.
Trigger 4: A common enemy
Steve Jobs wasn’t the best manager or the best engineer. But what he could do better than anybody else in the world was sell. He understood that they way to sell to people was to create an alliance with them to solve a problem.
Creating a common enemy helps to unite businesses and consumers in a fundamental way. It makes it seem as if they are on the same team and have to work together to face down a common foe.
In the 1980s, Apple saw that Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard were running away with the desktop market. Jobs immediately saw an opportunity to cast Apple and its consumers as the underdog, and the PC firms as the corporate giants.
It didn’t matter that Apple itself was a big company. All that mattered was that Apple was uniting its customers under one banner against the PC.
The advice for small businesses is to find a common enemy. Remember, you don’t have to unite with people against a particular company. Having “colds and flu” as an enemy or “boring education” can be just as effective.