You pour heart and soul into your website. You tweak it to make buying from you an enjoyable experience. And then test it again to improve it even more.

And yet, many visitors still prefer to buy from your competitor…

But it makes sense, no? You two offer similar products. You offer the same terms and conditions, and your prices aren’t that far apart.

So why them and not you?

For one, because your competitor might be actively stealing your customers.

After all, where else could they find more qualified buyers than among your site’s visitors?

But let’s make something clear, by stealing customers I don’t mean targeting the same keywords as you, or replicating your marketing strategies.

I’m talking about using various psychological tricks that convince people to buy from one store and ignore the others. And that’s even if that store sells products at a much higher rate!

Luckily, that’s what I’m going to talk about it this post. I’ll show you 5 mind tricks companies use to increase conversions on their sites.

Ready? So, let’s begin.

#1. Labelling Customers

Various research studies have shown our need to belong. And as it turns out, we are more likely to take action, if we feel included in a group.

For example, one research examined if telling people that they’re considered more politically active would affect their voting turnout. And as you can guess, it did. People labeled this way had a 15% higher turnout.  (source)

That’s a reason why so many brands label customers as “gold”, “platinum” or in any other way. They do it to affect their willingness to buy.

Why we behave this way? As Gregory Ciotti explains:

“Our brain seeks to maintain a sense of consistency (even if it’s artificial). […] We enjoy being consistent so much that even being told we are a part of a group makes us more receptive to its message.”

And so, offering customers an option to join a private club, and becoming labeled as VIPs, Gold Customers or in any other way helps entice them to purchase from your store.

Hah, even Lego uses a VIP program to attract more customers to buy directly from their site.


#2. Increasing Happiness by Giving Away Coupons

True, coupons are nothing new in Ecommerce.

Almost every store these days offers coupons or discounts to encourage people to buy from them.

But only the smartest ones use this strategy to its full potential.

You see, there’s a little-known fact about how we, customers respond to coupons:

Receiving coupons make us feel happier.

That’s what discovered after conducting research on the effect of coupons on customers together with Dr. Paul J. Zak, from the Claremont Graduate University.

The research revealed that when a customer receives a coupon, the level of oxytocin in their body increases. In fact, study participants, for example, were 11% happier after receiving a coupon. According to the study, receiving coupons produced more happiness than kissing or hugging.

Incredible, huh?

But it does make sense. After all, oxytocin is called the hug hormone or moral molecule, partially because it’s typically released when people hug or cuddle. And among other things, this hormone activates the rewards centers of our brains.

Bowtie, for example, offers every new visitor a coupon for free shipping, increasing the likelihood of a person purchasing on their site.


#3. Helping Customers Make Buying Decision Faster by Rounding Up Prices

I’m sure you’ve heard of the left-most digit theory. It’s the main reason why so many stores reduce their prices by 1cent.

According to the theory, the first digit of the price is responsible for our perception of it. In other words, we perceive the difference between 3.99 and 4.00 as bigger than between 4.50 and 4.49.

But did you know that rounding up the price might actually help you sell even more stuff?

How? Because, according to research by Monica Wadhwa and Kuangjie Zhang, our minds process rounded numbers faster.

As a result, they help customers make a buying decision faster, as they don’t have to spend so much time processing the price.

Native Union, for instance, includes prices reduced by a cent. And sure, they seem smaller as a result but take customers longer to process.


V-Moda, on the other hand, presents their prices as rounded numbers, simplifying the price processing for customers.


#4. Attracting The Person’s Attention with Images

I’m sure you know this already:

How you present your products in the store can affect a person’s willingness to buy.

But did you know that WHAT you include on those images could also help convince someone to buy from you?

For example, featuring people holding your products in the right hand attracts more attention. And believe it or not, marketers have been using this trick for a very long time.

As I explained already in this post:

Most of us are naturally drawn to the right side. One reason for that is that the majority of us are in fact right handed. That’s one reason why supermarkets, for instance, design their stores to make you move from right to left.

We’re also more likely to buy products on the right side of the store shelf.

Similarly, a person holding a product in their right hand will attract our attention quicker than if they held it in the other one.

Crazy, isn’t it?

But it works.

Gazelle includes pictures of their customers holding products they purchased on the site in the right hand:


#5. Charging Higher Prices to Communicate Uniqueness

Finally, many stores use this another old trick in a book to convince visitors about their products’ uniqueness and higher quality.

Many consumers use a price as a measure of a product’s quality.

As Steven M. Shugan from the University of Chicago writes in his paper, Price-Quality Relationships:

“Many empirical studies (e.g., see reviews by Monroe 1973 and Olson 1977) have shown that when consumers have some uncertainty concerning a product’s quality, the consumer often assumes that a higher product price indicates a higher level of quality.”

In his seminal book, Influence, Robert Cialdini tells a story of his friend, an owner of a small jewelry store, who struggled to sell a particular line of items. She tried various strategies, like making those products more prominent in-store, etc. However, nothing worked. Frustrated, she left a note to an employee to mark them 1/2price and went off for holidays.

However, upon return not only she discovered that all items had been sold but also, for much more than she originally had them priced. Reason? An employee didn’t read the instruction carefully and instead of discounting items by ½, she doubled the price.

Marked 2x the normal price items began to seem like a better deal to customers and sold out almost instantly.

A lesson from this? Sometimes discounting prices only pushes visitors to buy from a competitor…


Credits: Image: Flickr CC: Dierk Schaefer

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Pawel Grabowski

I'm the founder of Usermagnet - a content marketing agency for B2B SaaS companies. We create and promote content for you so you can focus on growing your SaaS.