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How to Use Consumer Psychology to Boost Conversion

The core of conversion optimization boils down to getting people to take action—whether it is to buy a product on your website, click on your PPC ad on Google, or respond to your marketing email.

Whatever it is, you want them to respond to your call-to-action.

But before a user takes any action you call for, they usually would have to make a decision first; and there are a number of things that can inform their decision— ranging from your landing page elements to product-specific benefits.

However, conversion optimization is more than just landing page elements.

While expertly-written headlines, attention-grabbing CTAs, and well-designed forms are important, what makes a person to buy is beyond that.

It’s really in the mind.


Having an understanding of consumer psychology and tweaking your marketing messages accordingly will position you to influence the decisions prospects make about your offering and will by extension, help boost your conversion.

Social psychology has been used in several fields of study to drive human response.

While most marketers are not psychologists per say, many of them have successfully used psychological principles to drive sales and conversions.

In a few moments, we’ll be exploring those ways through which you can get people to do what you want through the social psychology, but first, here’s what psychology is:


The screenshot above (taken from Google Search) shows that psychology is…


“the scientific study of the human mind and its functions, especially those affecting behavior in a given context.”

Bringing this into the context of conversion, consumer psychology deals with how thoughts, perceptions, feelings and beliefs influence how consumers choose, buy and relate to goods and services; it deals with how the human mind impacts conversion.


Here are 10 effective ways to use consumer psychology to your advantage, to boost your conversion rates:

#1. Use The Urgency Principle

When you apply urgency in your marketing message, it makes people act quickly; it makes them shelve every other thing and give great attention to your offering.


But how exactly does urgency affect consumer psychology?

Urgency has to do with feelings. Most conversion problems have to do with cognitive friction.

Cognitive friction causes people not to respond to calls-to-action right away simply because they do not feel the need to do so.

Raising the level of urgency cuts through this friction and makes people feel the need to act urgently.

The good thing is you can create and control the “urgency” feeling. From your landing page copy to your product descriptions to your CTA buttons, you can create a sense of urgency and get people to act fast.

Importance and Time

For an offering to be perceived as urgent, it has to be important. Important here means it has to be significant and relevant to the customer.

Urgency also has a lot to do with time.

When an important item is available for only a limited time, users will be compelled to act as rapid as they can.

In creating a sense of urgency, you can use words such as:


#2. Apply Loss Aversion

Loss aversion is an opinion which states that people prefer not to lose something than to gain something of similar value.

Though this opinion has existed for ages perhaps, the theory part of it was introduced first in 1979 by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky with the belief that losses have a greater impact on choices than gains.


Also, several studies have supported this theory.

Loss aversion is directly connected to the mind, and one effective way to use it to boost conversion is by stating the consequential result of NOT buying your product or service as a loss rather than stating the gains of buying the product.

For instance, if your service can help people boost sales, don’t express that in terms of gain…


…but express it in terms of loss…


Notice how direct and powerful the second sales pitch is.

#3. Build Anticipation

Ever placed an order online for a product you truly valued, and then…

…waited for days for it to arrive?

Chances are, you were expectant; you were imagining all the things you’d be doing with the product.

Yes, we’ve all been there. Counting the days; expecting the arrival of someone; anticipating something great that’s about to happen; calling to find out exactly when it’s coming. And excitedly at that.

That’s the psychology of anticipation: expecting something great, or someone special, with eagerness and keenness.

Huffington Post calls this the psychology of waiting in line.


Smart marketers who understand the power of anticipation uses this to build following for their product, book, service, software even before it is released.

Google is a good example of this. They did this with the coming of Google Glass.


Apple have been doing this too, giving users a glimpse of the next model of iPhone with “leaked” snapshots.


Microsoft and many others do this as well and so can you.

While anticipation is known to work for new releases, it can also work for pretty much any level of product or service, be it old or new.

For one, you can build anticipation for a product that’s always been there by optimizing your sales copy to get people to become expectant of the benefits the product will bring them when purchased.

Anticipation increases value and demand and also allows potential buyers to plan ahead for what’s coming.

If used well, the psychology of anticipation can boost conversion, up your sales and increase revenue.

So, if you’ve got something exciting coming up, talk it up to your prospects in advance. Engage their minds with excitement.

#4. Implement Scarcity

When there’s plenty of something, nobody really wants it; and when there’s not much of something, everybody wants it, as long as the product or service is of value.


That’s how scarcity works.

When people feel a product or service is in short supply, they want to get their hands on it before it runs out of stock. The fear of missing out causes them to make a quick decision to buy it now.

This makes scarcity one of the most effective psychological triggers there is. It works every time, especially for countable deliverables.

E-Commerce sites like Amazon are known to use this trigger well on their product pages…


Truth is, the product or service doesn’t really have to be in short supply before you implement scarcity.

In fact, Influenceology says

Scarcity refers to any limitation placed on a product or service with the goal of increasing sales through pressure placed on the consumer.

The product or service doesn’t have to be in shortage… It’s about making customers see the value they will miss if the said product or service were to run out soon.


Which means oftentimes, scarcity is created. Most other times, it’s just a trick, a simple marketing gimmick.

#5.  Create Time-Sensitive Offers

Time-sensitive offers make people act quickly within a stipulated time frame.

This works well with special freebies.


“Order within the next 24 hours to get [some freebie goes here]”


“CHRISTMAS SPECIAL: Sign up before Dec. 26 at a discounted price of $29. Regularly $47”

One company that does this well is the web hosting firm, iPage. They tend to be offering time-sensitive discounts every now and then:


Another good example of time-sensitive offers is “the early birds advantage” kind of offering where you offer a discount to the first set of people, say first 30 people to buy your new stuff. Or give a free access to a paid resource, say membership site, to the first 100 people to sign up. This works well with email lists.


When an offer is made for a limited period of time, people act quickly before the expiration in order to get the advantage offered.

#6. Communicate from a Second Person Perspective

2nd person narrative is when you talk directly to your customers, using words like “you” and “your.”


Trouble is, marketing messages that are written in 1st person (using words like I, we, me, us, my, our, myself and ourselves) do not speak to prospects on a personal level and do not communicate benefits well.

They are self-centric.


But copy that uses 2nd person speaks to the customers. 2nd person narrative help you create a personal connection with buyers and make them feel you’re really talking to them. It makes them feel you’re seated across the same table with them in the same room, having a conversation about the solution to their problems.

When that happens, the benefits your products offer become clear to them; they can relate to it and they can easily personalize it.

#7. The Psychology of Pain and Pleasure

People buy because they either:

         *Have a problem that’s causing them pain

         *Or they want something that’ll bring them pleasure.

In fact, humans are naturally programmed to stay away from pain or things that causes pain and gravitate to the things that brings comfort and pleasure. We do this consciously and unconsciously.

Understanding this two psychologies will help you engineer the decision your prospects make about your offering.

And when it comes to the psychology of pain and pleasure, pain far outweighs pleasure.


That is to say, people loathe pain. They’d rather let you take away their pain than give them new pleasure.

If you’re going to use the first option (pain), a simple way to do this is to apply a copywriting technique called the Problem-Agitate-Solve (PAS) technique.

Here’s how it works:

You start off your message by outlining the pains and problems they are going through. You make it so personal to them that they can relate to it.

Then you agitate on the problem. You agitate some more. And some more. Just to make them really feel the pain.

Then suddenly, you present the solution (your product or service) to them; you show them how that your offering is just what the doctor ordered for; how that it is the messiah they’ve been waiting for.

This technique works well.

It’s like showing them their present world of pain and the trouble they are going though in it. And then presenting to them a brand new world (your product—the solution) that’s completely free from those pains and troubles.

#8. Join Battle with Them

Ok, not quite the world-war kinda battle you might be thinking but the trick here is to create a common enemy and get some folks to join forces with you against the enemy.

This is to get them psyched up to patronize you and your product.

Think of the top football clubs in Europe. They’ve successfully gotten some folks all to ally up with them. You’d even find some of these fans betting on them, some going as far as traveling with them to games and all that jazz.

But hey…

…the enemy doesn’t necessary have to be a competitor. It can be a product type, a common problem, or even a life challenge.

It’s like when film makers gather up some people to say no to piracy.

#9. Raise the Price

In his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, social psychologist Dr. Robert Cialdini told a beautiful story of how a local jewelry shop in Arizona dramatically sold out all its jewelry which had hitherto been abandoned by customers.

Guess how they sold them? By increasing the price.


People associate price with quality, most times at least.

They perceive that the higher the price, the higher the quality.

I’d like to call that perceived quality.

Cialdini made it clear that businesses can actually increase conversion by raising price; and in an interview, he gave the reasons that saying:

“in markets where people aren’t completely sure of how to access quality, they use price as a stand-in for quality.”

While price increase can boost conversion, it doesn’t work for every business.

Just as stated above, it only works for certain markets like creative services.

So before trying this out, do your homework to be sure the result won’t be the reversed—losing businesses.

Another pricing psychology that boosts conversion is “the fear of price increase.”

This happens mostly when there’s a promo running at one price, and next thing is, you announce that promo will end and price will go up in 48 hours, perhaps.

But you don’t need to run a promo to announce price increase. However, when you do, be careful as it doesn’t work for every market.

#10. Portend to Take It Away

Ever seen a message like this?


Marketers use this trick to drive sales and sign-ups; they portend to take the offer away within a given period of time.

If people think an item will soon become unavailable or inaccessible, they are more likely to buy it.

This works pretty well with offers like coaching, mentoring & consulting programs, eCourses and other one-off opportunities from niche experts.


Final Thoughts

Oftentimes, we think of conversion as one single, particular moment when a prospect clicks to buy.

Of course, there’s such a moment but conversion is more than that.

Conversion really starts from the mind of a potential buyer. The prospect has to make a series of decisions which will lead to the final moment of conversion.

Good thing is, you can literally play a role in (or more tersely, influence) the decisions your prospects make. And this is possible through the use of psychological triggers in your marketing endeavors.

So, go ahead; use the thoughts shared above to boost conversion and make more sales.

P.S Want to know what people think of your business? Give TruConversion a spin here and supercharge your conversion. It’s risk-free.

Picture of Nora Flint

Nora Flint

2 Responses

  1. Nora, incredible insight to conversions and customer thinking. All 10 of these techniques are great ways to boost converting customers. Thanks for the tips!