12 Psychological Tricks to Increase Your Conversion Rate

Lisa Ross

Lisa Ross

Reading Time: 11 minutes

A pretty website and a catchy slogan don’t cut it anymore. 

You need to understand how your customers think, what makes them tick, and how to gently (or not gently) nudge them towards that precious “buy” button.

To increase your conversion rates, you need to understand the psychology of conversion—exploring the subconscious biases and mental shortcuts that shape our decisions.

In this tell-all guide, we discuss the 12 psychological tricks for increasing conversion rates and tips for incorporating them into your marketing efforts. 

1. Social Proof

Social proof is a psychological and social phenomenon in which people copy the actions of others in an attempt to emulate their behavior in a given situation. The idea is that if others like something, it must be credible and reliable. 

The concept of social proof isn’t new. 

Historically, humans have relied on the group’s behavior to determine their own. 

In the past, if a tribe member found a particular fruit safe to eat, others would follow suit. Today, if people see many positive reviews on a product, they are more likely to believe it is worthwhile. It’s like a survival mechanism—seeing others’ approval helps us make decisions quickly and confidently.

Before booking a hotel, don’t we aggressively do our due diligence through YouTube videos, online reviews, and TripAdvisor forums? 

We’re wired to look specifically for negative reviews. Statistics suggest that 96% of customers seek negative reviews to stay alert, up from 85% in 2018.

So, what type of social proof can you use to compel your audience to purchase and increase your conversion rates? 

Here are some options: 

  • Customer Reviews and Testimonials: They’re the backbone of social proof in an ecommerce site or an online store. For instance, Amazon and Yelp thrive on user reviews. 
  • User Numbers: Displaying impressive user statistics (“Join 2 million users”) can significantly bolster credibility. Spotify often highlights its user numbers to attract new subscribers.
  • Celebrity Endorsements: This might take a massive budget, but having a product endorsed by a celebrity can skyrocket trust and desirability. An example is Michael Jordan’s partnership with Nike, which transformed the brand’s image and sales. 
  • Media Mentions: Being mentioned by a significant media outlet enhances brand prestige. For example, if your startup gets featured on a popular site like TechCrunch, it boosts your visibility and legitimacy.
  • Best Sellers: People gravitate towards items that are popular with others. Books marked as “Best Sellers” on Barnes & Noble’s website tend to attract more readers.

Take this email newsletter as an example. The company taps into media mentions and customer reviews—utilizing social proof from multiple angles.

Social Proof
social proof

Social proof example (Source)

This combination builds trust and encourages potential customers to see what others are saying, effectively using social proof to boost conversions.

2. Scarcity and Urgency

Think about the Beanie Babies craze in the 1990s. The toys were marketed as limited editions, increasing demand through perceived scarcity. People rushed to stores, fearing they might miss out on the next big collectible.

This principle is rooted in the basic human instinct to acquire limited-supply resources, a survival trait that dates back to hunter-gatherer times.

The fear of missing out (FOMO) plays a huge role here. People want to experience something good, especially when it’s almost gone. This is why you’ll see people lining up for hours for a limited-edition release or a Black Friday sale. It’s not just about the product; it’s about acquiring something exclusive.

How will you implement it in your marketing and increase conversion rates? Here’s how: 

  • Limited-Time Offers: Sales that last for a short period naturally create urgency. For example, Amazon’s “Lightning Deals” are time-sensitive discounts that encourage buyers to act fast.
  • Limited Quantity: Showing that only a few items remain in stock can significantly push the user to purchase. Booking.com uses this technique effectively by showing messages like “Only two rooms left at this price” on hotel listings.
scarcity and urgency

Booking.com using the ‘limited quantity“ scarcity technique to entice customers.

  • Limited Edition: Products available only in limited amounts or for a specific duration. Apple often releases a limited edition of products in a particular color, enhancing desirability and prompting quick purchases.
  • Countdown Timers: Adding a countdown timer for deal expiration dates or the end of a sale period can increase conversions. Many holiday sales use this tactic to boost year-end revenue figures.

3. Reciprocity

Reciprocity is a social norm involving responding to positive emotions or actions with another. It creates a sense of obligation, which can be a powerful tool in marketing. 

For example, if a company offers something of value for free, customers are more likely to feel compelled to reciprocate. This could be making a purchase or spreading the word about the company.

How can you, as a company, leverage the psychological concept of reciprocity? Here are some options: 

  • Offer free trials: Many SaaS companies offer free trials, allowing users to experience their software before committing financially. 
  • Free Resources: Resources like eBooks, whitepapers, or informative webinars can also trigger reciprocity. HubSpot, for instance, offers many free resources, such as demos, ebooks, templates, etc., showcasing its expertise and encouraging users to engage with its services.
reciprocity examples

HubSpot free demo (Source)

  • Gifts or Samples: Physical businesses, like cosmetics companies, often provide free samples to customers. Sephora is known for its generous samples, which usually lead customers to purchase full-sized products after trying them.

4. Commitment and Consistency

Psychologist Robert Cialdini describes commitment and consistency as key principles of influence in the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.

It alludes to the idea that once people commit to something, they might follow through with it to maintain their self-image. 

Asking for small commitments initially—like signing up for a newsletter—can lead to more substantial commitments later, such as making a purchase. Each step builds a customer’s investment in your product or service, making it harder for them to back out.

5. Creating Relatable and Likable Brand Personas

Your customers have a dozen (and more) options these days. 

Connecting with them emotionally can only turn regular one-off customers into returning loyal customers and brand advocates. 

One way to do this is to identify what your target audiences like and the problems they face to create a brand persona that resonates with them. 

For example, Dove effectively promotes a persona that supports natural beauty and self-esteem, making it relatable and respected by its target audience.

Brand personas

Dove’s relatable brand persona (Source

Dove ditches airbrushed models and features real women of all shapes and sizes. Their campaigns challenge narrow beauty standards and promote self-confidence. This relatable persona resonates with their audience, making them feel seen and empowered.

Just like Dove, how will you bring your brand persona to life? Here are some tips: 

  • Identify Your Audience: Understand your customers. Use market research to gather insights about their preferences, lifestyles, and challenges.
  • Define Personality Traits: Based on your audience research, define traits that appeal to your audience. For instance, a dynamic and innovative persona might be compelling if your target audience is young professionals.
  • Consistent Voice and Tone: Whether it’s friendly and informal or professional and reassuring, ensure that the voice and tone are consistent across all platforms and communications.
  • Visual Identity: Align your visual style with the persona. This includes a logo, color scheme, typography, and imagery that reflects the brand’s personality.

6. Authority

Authority is a powerful psychological trigger that plays on our tendency to comply with the advice or directives of perceived experts.

In real life, we often look up to authority figures like celebrities, athletes, teachers, police officers, and others and are influenced by their thoughts. 

It’s not too different in marketing. Showcasing authority can make your product or service more appealing because it comes with a stamp of expert approval.

One of the best ways to appear as an authority figure in your industry is by consistently creating valuable content for your target audience. 

For example, Blogs, videos, or articles created by experts can attract more visitors. 

Think of it: How do you know about HubSpot? Or Neil Patel? 

Most likely thanks to their viral and helpful blogs and landing pages. 

Another way to tap into this psychological phenomenon and increase your conversion rate is to get a respected figure in your field to endorse your product. 

For example, when Dr. Dre co-founded Beats by Dre, his authority in the music industry helped position the headphones as high-quality professional gear.

Psychological tricks

Dr. Dre endorsing Beats headphones (Source)

7. Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)

FOMO—the fear of missing out—is that feeling that everyone else is having a blast while you’re stuck on the sidelines. 

Remember when everyone was glued to their phones catching those elusive Pokémon during the “Pokémon Go” craze? It’s classic FOMO! 

Marketers are well aware of this powerful emotion and use it to nudge us towards making decisions.

How can you induce FOMO in your target audience and get them to purchase from you? Here are some tips: 

  • Limited-Time Offers: Companies like Amazon use limited-time offers during events like Prime Day, showing countdowns that urge users to buy before deals expire.
  • Exclusive Memberships: Offer exclusive products or early access to sales for your member base to encourage them to sign up and not miss out on exclusive benefits.
  • Social Proof in Real-Time: Showing real-time purchases or sign-ups on your site can trigger FOMO. For example, travel sites like Booking.com often display messages like “12 people booked this hotel today,” making you worry that you might miss out if you don’t act fast.
  • Social Media Influence: Using influencers to showcase people enjoying a product or event can magnify FOMO. Influencers’ use of Snapchat and Instagram Stories to highlight real-time events or offers plays directly into this fear.

8. Loss Aversion

Have you ever agonized over a decision because the thought of losing something felt worse than the potential gain? That’s loss aversion in action!

Imagine losing your phone – that sinking feeling is worse than the joy of finding a $10 bill on the sidewalk, right? 

Marketers who understand this bias can use it to nudge their target audience toward making decisions that avoid potential losses.

Marketers can tap into loss aversion to make their offerings more appealing:

  • Highlight What You’ll Lose: Instead of focusing on your product’s benefits, frame it in terms of what someone might miss out on without it. For example, a security software company might emphasize the potential financial loss from a cyberattack.
  • Free Trials with Paid Upgrades: Offer a free trial of your service, then showcase the features and benefits users will lose if they don’t upgrade to the paid plan.
  • Limited-Time Offers (with a Twist): Combine scarcity with loss aversion by highlighting what someone might miss out on if they don’t act before the limited-time offer expires.

9. Anchoring

Anchoring is a cognitive bias where people rely too heavily on the first piece of information they receive (the “anchor”) when making decisions. 

Ever walk into a fancy store and feel like everything costs an arm and a leg, only to be relieved by the “moderately priced” item you weren’t even considering? 

That’s the power of anchoring in action! It’s a sneaky trick our brains play on us, and marketers love to use it to nudge us toward specific choices.

Here’s how anchoring works in action: 

Anchoring e-commerce

The anchor bias in marketing (Source)

Here are some examples of anchoring in marketing: 

  • Price Highlighting: Showcase a premium, high-priced option alongside your mid-range product. This makes the mid-range option feel more affordable.
  • Free Trial with Paid Upgrade: Offer a free trial of your premium service, then introduce a paid plan that seems like a small price to keep the features you experienced for free.
  • Value-Added Bundles: Create a “deluxe” bundle with extra features at a higher price point. 
  • Set High Initial Prices: Start with a higher price point to anchor the customer’s value expectations. It will seem like a better deal even if they choose a cheaper option later. 
  • Use Precise Numbers: Odd, precise numbers often make more effective anchors. For example, listing a product as $397 instead of $400 can suggest greater pricing thoughtfulness and specificity.

10. Simplicity and Clarity

You don’t need self-aggrandizing jargon and over-the-top advertisements to wow your customers. 

Your customers are already dealing with “decision fatigue” in this new-age social media world. When they open their mobile phones, they are bombarded with influencers and podcasters selling them something or the other with over-the-top promises. 

By simplifying the choices and making the path to purchase clear, you’re more likely to keep potential customers engaged and moving toward a conversion.

Our brains instinctively prefer ease and efficiency. 

A Google study found that website visitors determine aesthetics within 1/50th to 1/20th of a second and often perceive cluttered or complex designs as less beautiful. 

One surefire way to wow your customers and optimize your conversion rates is to keep your website and its navigation simple and concise. Otherwise, each additional menu item or complicated navigation structure might increase the likelihood of a customer abandoning their journey on your site. 

Other tips for implementing simplicity and clarity include: 

  • Minimize Choices: Reduce the number of choices a customer has to make. A famous jam study showed that consumers with fewer choices were ten times more likely to purchase those with many options.
  • Clear Call to Action (CTAs): Your CTAs should be simple and tell customers exactly what to do next—whether it’s “Buy Now,” “Sign Up,” or “Learn More.” Use contrasting colors to make them stand out.
  • Concise Messaging: This one’s obvious—but still worth mentioning. The easier it is to read and understand your content, the more likely people will keep reading and taking action.

11. Personalization

Considering that nearly 90% of marketers claimed they saw positive ROI when they used personalization in their marketing campaigns—personalization is an integral psychological factor in marketing. 

It’s about showing your customers that you understand them and can provide what they’re looking for, almost as if you’ve read their minds. They’re not just another cog in the machine for you. 

For example, on its landing page, Netflix recommends shows and movies based on viewing history, significantly enhancing user engagement and retention.

website personalization

Netflix’s personalized recommendations example (Source)

Netflix’s personalized recommendations are an oft-repeated example, but it’s one of the best examples of personalization. 

How can you emulate this model? Use past purchase history and browsing behavior to suggest relevant products to your customers.

Another way is to segment your email list based on demographics, interests, consumer behavior, or past purchases. This allows you to send more relevant emails likely to be opened and acted upon.

12.  The Decoy Effect

Ever feel like you’re being subtly steered towards a particular option, even though you weren’t sure that’s what you wanted initially? That might be the decoy effect in action!

Imagine you’re at a movie theater and looking at the popcorn sizes. There’s a small size for $3, a large for $7, and a medium for $6.50. 

At first glance, the large seems crazy expensive, right? But then the medium looks pretty appealing—it’s not too big or small and only a little more costly than the small. 

That’s the decoy effect at work! The seemingly overpriced “medium” option suddenly makes the initially expensive large size seem more reasonable.

The decoy effect in action (Source)

In simpler terms, the third option (the decoy) helps make one of the other options look more attractive. This sales psychology nudges customers towards choosing the profitable option.

Leveraging Effective Psychological Principles for Better Conversions!

If you’re grappling with issues like shopping cart abandonment or don’t know where to start with your conversion rate optimization process, this guide is your friend. 

Implement these 12 psychological tricks to tap into the subtle undercurrents of human behavior. You’ll be able to convince users and enhance their decision-making processes, leading to increased engagement and conversions. 

Each tactic will resonate with innate human instincts and cognitive biases, from the trust-building power of social proof to the urgency of scarcity and the clever manipulation of choices through the decoy effect.

Want to see more website visitors become customers? Conversion rate optimization (CRO) experts can help. They understand how to use psychology to make your website more persuasive.

Are you curious about how CRO can benefit your business? Contact Invesp and see how they can help you turn visitors into loyal customers!

Share This Article

Join 25,000+ Marketing Professionals!

Subscribe to Invesp’s blog feed for future articles delivered to receive weekly updates by email.

Lisa Ross

Lisa Ross

Discover Similar Topics