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6 Psychology Hacks Marketers Use To Increase Conversion Rate

By allysa on March 15, 2016

Psychology of Influence What is psychology? Well, in layman terms, it’s basically the study of human beings. This includes their thought processes as well as their physical behavior. The field of psychology is designed to study us; and so, surely enough, there is something to learn about marketing. Marketing and psychology often go hand in hand. Every time you browse through a website, there are certain elements implemented by marketers to subtly ‘push’ you in a certain direction. Be it a big opt-in button or simply just UI/UX, a good marketer should know how to use these hacks. If you’re in for some quick learning, you’re in luck! It all started with Robert Cialdini. He came up with the Theory of Influence. In his book titled ‘Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion’, he listed 6 key principles of influence. The 6 principles were written around 1984, however, his theory can still be applicable to online marketing today! And I’m going to show you how.

Theory of Influence

As for the theory itself, Cialdini listed 6 key principles of influencing people. Just as Spiderman said it, with great power comes great responsibility, what I’m telling you should be used ethically. Now, without further ado, if you could master these 6 key principles, you’ll be on your way to be an influencer (pun intended). Here’s an infographic before we dive into things.
How to Influence & Persuade [Infographic]

How to Influence & Persuade [Infographic]

Now that you’ve got a basic idea, let’s move on to the first key principle of influence.

#1 – Reciprocity


Start the cycle of giving! You’ll might just get the ‘Yes’.

Reciprocity, as the principle suggests, represents a cycle of giving and receiving. This was built upon the idea that people tends to return favors. Say you buy your colleague a cup of coffee today, if the math is right, your colleague will appreciate the effort, and maybe even reciprocate the favor. In online marketing, this strategy is not unheard of. What marketers do to exploit this, is to start the circle of giving and receiving, by giving first. Let’s look at Spotify. Spotify is an online video, music, and podcast streaming service, but it isn’t free. What Spotify does is that it gives you a time period where you can use their services for free, and when the time is up, they hope you have enjoyed Spotify and continue supporting them. This works for Spotify for two reasons. One, they started the giving first, and going along with the principle of reciprocity, their customers will be more likely to support them back. Another reason is that people are consistent in their behaviors and commitment. Keep this in mind, it’ll be in the second principle. What you can do:
  • Giving Freebies – Giving freebies is always a good way to start the cycle of reciprocity. Be it an E-book, podcast or even a song, your audience will remember you better and have a higher chance in reciprocating the favor.
  • Giving Them Discounts – Giving your audience a discount offer on your website can go a long way. Start the cycle of reciprocity by giving first! Your audience may feel more inclined to again, you’ve guessed it, reciprocate the favor.Giving Discounts Kohl’s offering 15% discount on storewide item is a great way of starting the cycle of reciprocity.

#2 – Commitment and Consistency

Commitment and Consistency

People are usually less inclined to cut the chain of consistency; and thus they are more inclined to continue with their commitment.

People are usually consistent in their behaviors, what this means is that, if I have gotten used to eating an apple a day, I will be eating apples a day for quite a long time. What Cialdini drew from this is the principle of commitment and consistency. People are more likely to be committed if it is consistent with what they’re already doing. Cialdini did an experiment on this. He gave two groups of people a hideous and big sign to put up on their front lawn that reads ‘Drive Safe’. Not surprisingly, no one wanted to do it. However, the results were 17% agreed to put up the sign in Group A, while a whopping 76% agreed to put up the sign in Group B. What changed that? Cialdini had a secret, he knew what has to be done to change people’s perception. The secret was that he had everyone in Group B put up a small window sticker that reads ‘Drive Safe’. That’s it! Cialdini wanted Group B to identify themselves as an advocate for driving safely, and subsequently, 76% of participants in Group B didn’t mind the giant ugly sign on their front lawn anymore. What you can do:
  • Free Trials – Remember Spotify? Yes, they used both principles with one tactic. Spotify’s Free Trials uses the principle of reciprocity when they started the cycle by giving first, and then subsequently uses the principle of commitment and consistency. When your free trials on Spotify has expired, you will be more inclined to continue using their service; simply because, you are more likely to be committed, just to be consistent.Spotify Free Trial Spotify’s 60 days free trials uses both reciprocity, giving you a free trial; as well as using commitment and consistency, that once you’d used it, you’d be more inclined to continue using them.
  • Return Policy – Return policies are always a good idea. It conveys the message ‘it’s okay if you don’t like it, you can try it first’. By introducing a return policy, you are giving a commitment-free option to your customers. The hack begins here. With the principle of commitment and consistency, by the time you start using a product, you have already developed a commitment for it, and thus maybe not even returning the product anyways.

#3 – Social Proof

Social Proof

Facebook Likes are a great source of social proof.

Imagine this, you want to get a coffee maker; so you go to Amazon.com, and searched for a coffee maker. What would be a good indicator of a good product, if you were to buy it online? This is what social proof is all about. Social proofs are like footprints on the floor, when you see footprints on a snowy day, you’d know someone was here; and that it’s safe to follow the footprints too. Marketers exploit this all the time. Facebook is a great platform to use the principle of social proof. Facebook takes into considerations of likes and comments for news feed ranking. A post with a huge number of likes and comments may be ranked higher for that reason. Seeing a post on Facebook with more than 500,000 likes and comments is, sure enough, social proof that the post is viral. What you can do:
  • Display user’s actions on your website – Show your audience what other users did on your website. A counter for a number of shares, likes, comments helps establish social proof. If you want to go one step further, you can always have a live counter for any stats on your website, includes things like website entrances, YouTube Subscribers or even Google searches.Social Proof You can have a Social Share Counter on your website to exploit the use of social proof.
  • Encourage participation from your audience – This works well with social proof, any sign someone else has been to your website helps in building your image as well.
  • Showing customer’s testimonial – This can be the most power tool to use in conjunction with social proof. Customer’s testimonial or review carries the most weight when influencing new potential audiences. From the perspective of a new potential lead, knowing that other people have bought your product and gave it a good review can really be the final motivation for making a purchase.

#4 – Authority


Think about Authority as an Influencer in your niche. Their opinion matters!

Authority is a little more straightforward. People get influenced by authority figures. Whoa, I’m going to back off a little here. What I meant was that authority figures have the power to convince people easier, as compared to someone who is not an authority figure. There are two ways marketers use this to influence you. One is when they hire an already authority figure, or; Two, they built themselves up and be the authority figure. If you’re planning on using an authority figure, you just gotta make sure it’s compatible. For example, if McDonald’s’ is choosing Matt Cutts as their authority figure, it’ll be totally out of place. The other alternative is you build yourself to the authority figure. It may sound hard, but psychologist Stanley Milgram may disagree. His famous controversial experiment on obedience showed that people are willing to hurt other people just because someone with authority said so (no actual damage was done, it was all an act). But the takeaway point from the experiment was that it doesn’t take much to be the authority figure. It only took a while lab coat and a clipboard for participants to identify the authority figure in the experiment. What you can do:
  • Professional’s Opinion – Having a professional’s opinion on your website greatly increases your authority appeal.
  • Collaboration with an authority figure from your industry – Collaborating with an authority figure can help boost your standing in terms of influential power. The drawback from this is, it is a double-edged sword. On one hand, collaborating can bring about a better image, but on the other hand, constant reliance on it may give off the wrong impression to your audience.
  • Write great content – Writing epic content tells people you know what you’re writing about. And that’s the secret to being an authority figure in your niche. Having all 10 qualities of a good inbound marketer definitely help in writing good content!Once you have published your content, you may check your content performances using BiQ’s Content Inteligence. It will show you a summary of your content performances together with AI-guided optimization suggestions to help you improve your ranking.
    Try BiQ’s Content Inteligence for free now!

#5 – Liking


There are certain things most people like, and there are some things only some people like. But why?

If you wondering if you could influence people’s liking, you’re in the right place! According to psychologists, there are 3 elements to consider for attraction: similarity, proximity and physical attractiveness. Ultimately, people like it when they like the person selling something to them. People like things that are similar to them. I’m not saying if you fancy a toaster, you have to be one. In marketing, it’s more along the lines of your marketing strategy syncing with your customer’s expectations. Take Subway for an example, they’re a fast food chain, but their slogan reads ‘Eat Fresh’. Subway is then appealing to crowds who enjoy fast food but wanted something healthier. Subway’s slogan is similar to their customer’s expectations in that way. Next, we move on to proximity. As the name suggests, proximity is all about distance. The nearer you are, the higher chance of people liking you. In online marketing, distance doesn’t really come into play, what I meant was, online presence. If you could establish your online presence everywhere (which would be cool, but unachievable) on the internet, I can guarantee people will like you. The closest example is Google. Google is everywhere! Lastly, it’s all about the looks; physical attractiveness. We like beautiful things., and that’s about it. Wait.. that can’t be it. Right. In online marketing, the first thing your customer notices is your website, be it on social media platforms or a website itself. I’ve heard webmasters skimping on design because it isn’t important. Well buddy, wrong move. Attractiveness contributes to the overall liking of a brand or company. Never skimp on design. What you can do:
  • Audience, audience, audience – This tip can be traced back to knowing your audiences. Understanding who your targeted audiences are is very important. This goes with similarity, if you’re targeting older adults, do not overly rely on internet memes.
  • Be everywhere – Online presence is now associated with influence. People tend to associate greater influential power with greater online presence. This works best when you are signed up to most social media platforms, and your audience can find you everywhere. It’s called the ‘Mere-Exposure Effect’, the more you are exposed to it, the higher chance you will like it.
  • Smile – Online accounts nowadays almost always require a profile picture. What better way to exploit physical attractiveness than to smile in your profile picture. It can really go a long way. Check out Buffer.com’s research on how to have the best profile picture.Bruce Willis Smiling A sincere smile can go a long way! Note the raised cheecks and widen lips, textbook genuine smile.
  • Use colors to your advantage – Did you know different colors are associated with different emotions? Using the right color can definitely turn the tide for your website. Check out how to use colors to your advantage here.

#6 – Scarcity


Rare item are usually associated with a high demand. People are then more motivated to get it, for fears it may be their last chance.

On to the last key principle, Scarcity. Scarcity can be a very powerful tool for influence simply because of FOMO. FOMO is short for Fear of Losing Out, and we all share this fear. Scarcity plays into that, it taps into a deep understanding in us saying, ‘get it, or it’s gone’. Scarcity is extremely useful when there are limited supplies. What happen when there’s no limited supply? Well, you create one. You see, the thing is, we are hardwired to associate low supply with a high demand. In a way, if something is running out, it means it has a demand for it; if it has a demand for it, it must be good! Using both social proofs as well as scarcity here. What you can do:
  • Limited time offers – The time limit on the offer makes it a scarce deal. People might be more inclined to make a purchase, just so they don’t miss out on the offer.Starbucks's Season Frappuccino Offer Starbucks’s limited time only season item is a great example of how you can use scarcity.
  • Hosting an online auction – Having an online auction uses 3 of key principles of influencing. Scarcity, social proof as well as commitment and consistency. Scarcity works here because the item is one of a kind and many people want it. When people want it (when they bid on the item), that’s good social proof that the item is of some value. And finally, if a customer’s starts the bidding, they would be inclined to continue bidding out of keeping to commitment for consistency sake.
  • Limited time deals – This works especially good for Starbucks. They launched different seasonal items as well as seasonal drinks every year. This strategy has worked well for them.


I have listed all 6 key principles of influence. One key takeaway from this is that, whatever you’ve learned here, should be used ethically. The power of influence is a strong tool. Feel free to unleash your newly gained influential power! Do you have any thoughts on the matter? Let me know down below in the comments section.
Related articles:

How To Improve Conversion Rate Using Colors

  • Interesting Facts About Color Psychology.
  • Real Case Scenario Included.
  • Best Color Tips To Increase Conversion Rates!
  • A Complete Guide Every Marketer Must Have!

Updated: 19 July 2024


About Allysa

Allysa is always eager to learn something new whenever she got some free time and that includes SEO and inbound marketing. She also has a passion for traveling and discovering the unknowns.

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