The world of eCommerce is a huge expanse of purchasing decoys and sales pitches that are all designed to influence our behaviour when shopping online. If you think you’re a rational shopper making rational decisions when it comes to parting with your cash, think again.
When you look underneath the surface of the eCommerce industry as a whole, you’ll find several strategies that are utilised by thousands of businesses to influence your thought processes and ultimately encourage you to hit the ‘buy now’ button.
To give this strategy its official title, conversion rate optimisation is a common practice and shouldn’t be viewed in a negative light. Its entire premise is to simply deliver a higher rate of conversion, and one of the best ways to do this is to tap into the cognitive biases that exist in the mind of every shopper.
So what are these biases and more importantly, how can they be linked to eCommerce and conversion rate? Let’s take a look at some of the most common ways user behaviour is being influenced by online stores:
1 – Time-sensitive Delivery
The first is one of the most obvious tactics companies use to create a feeling of urgency and drive sales. Whenever a store is offering a discount or running a sale, chances are you’ll see a countdown of some sort – especially when it comes to added extras like enjoying next-day delivery.
Research has shown that shoppers are much more likely to take a lesser discount if it means their product arrives sooner, compared to a larger discount that they have to wait longer for.
This obviously goes against the logical choice which would be to take the larger discount and be patient, but the power of cognitive bias steps in and makes the smaller yet faster deal seem the more preferable. From an eCommerce retailer perspective, this can give considerable savings from the smaller discount being selected alongside an overall increase in total sales.
One of the best ways to increase overall conversion rate is to tap into the cognitive biases that exist in the mind of every shopper.Tweet this now
2 – The ‘Third’ Option
I like this one as I feel it’s particularly devilish in its construction, plus I’m almost certain I’ve been caught out by this strategy myself!
Also known as the ‘decoy’ option, this method of influencing user behaviour works across a wide variety of products but is most effective on customisable ticket items – for example, taking out a new mobile phone contract.
When shoppers are measuring up and comparing the available options, retailers can look to influence the final decision by making one option look considerably better than the others. Here’s an example:
Option 1 is the latest iPhone with 2GB of data for £30.00 per month.
Option 2 is the same phone with 4GB of data, but for just £28.00 per month – however, this option has an upfront cost of £29.99.
At this point in normal circumstances, most consumers would be contemplating how much data they need and how much they’d like to spend per month. Not only that, they will also be weighing up if they can afford the upfront cost.
Cue the ‘third’ option.
Option 3 is the same phone, but with 3GB of data for £35.00 per month and no upfront cost.
Now obviously option 3 is the most expensive per month compared to options 1 and 2, and it clearly has fewer data available per month than option 2. The key here is that chances are people won’t choose option 3 for these reasons – but its presence promotes option 2 as the go-to choice. It’s likely that option 2 will be chosen a lot more regularly than if option 3 wasn’t there.
Adding that ‘third’ option can influence the final decision of a buyer as it reaffirms one of the previous options as a logical choice, even though that choice is completely subjective.
3 – Purchase Justification
One of the biggest factors that can come into play during the purchase phase is when a consumer has to justify the transaction to themselves. In most cases, they’ll look to assign positive attributes to the product or products they’ve added to the basket.
What is interesting is that if a shopper feels stuck and can’t decide between two items, they’ll often play one off against the other by highlighting pros and cons. Doing this helps them to feel they’ve made a better, more reasoned decision.
Parting with money inherently feels like something that brings regret, so consumers need justification – they need something to tell them that was the correct decision. eCommerce sites can assist with this by highlighting the pros of the product or service after the customer has paid at the checkout.
‘Congratulations on your purchase! Your new washing machine will keep your clothes looking their best for years to come.’
You get the idea. It seems simple, but a computer congratulating a human on their purchase actually goes a long way to removing the ‘buyer’s guilt’ some feel after completing the transaction. The importance of cognitive bias is key at this point in the process.
4 – Humour
Last but by no means least, making your customers laugh can be a fantastic way to break the ice and encourage more sales.
Consumers generally remember things that make them laugh, primarily down to a cognitive reaction that is triggered when they think why a product is funny. In simple terms, it’s easier to remember a product that made you laugh.
Comical value that comes across in an authentic manner, without forcing things too much, can relax your customers and encourage them to engage with a brand.Tweet this now
So how can an eCommerce website transfer this memorability across to sales? Well, adding a sprinkling of humour across the store can help to distract the brain from recognising a sales pitch. The comical value that comes across in an authentic manner, without forcing things too much, can relax your customers and encourage them to engage with a brand.
Some of the most popular viral marketing pitches have included an element of humour, for example, the ‘Lemon on a Pear’ advert from Aldi. Whilst this isn’t specifically eCommerce related, the overall tone of the advert is perfect for creating that feel-good moment people tend to remember – and this is something that could be replicated online.