10 ways to convert more customers using psychology

Great article written by Anita Loomba at Leaderswest on January 12, 2013

1. Help Customers Break through “Action Paralysis” by Setting Minimums

Research by professor Robert Ciadini showcased how adding a minimum to a request increased donations for the American Cancer Society by 78%.  Remind your customers about how easy it is to get started (“no payments for the first month!”) to help them break through action paralysis.

2. Embrace the Power of Labels

In a behavioral study examing voting patterns, researchers found that people who they randomly labeled as “politically active” were 15% more likely to vote. Despite the fact that they were randomly chosen, the label ended up affecting their actions. Label your customers as a part of a superior group and their actions will reflect those characteristics.

3. Understand the 3 Types of Buyers

Neureconomics experts have labeled human spending patterns as (literally) a process of “spending ’til it hurts.”  According to the research, there are largely 3 types of buyers: tightwads, average buyers and spendthrifts.  To sell to tightwads, be sure to focus on bundling products, re-framing product value ($100/month vs. $1200/year) and reducing the amount of small fees associated with your product.

4. Highlight Strengths by Admitting Shortcomings

According to data from social psychologist Fiona Lee, customers were more trustworthy of companies who admitted to “strategic feelings” over those who blamed external sources for company problems (even if they were true!) She concluded that buyers are okay with companies admitting to faults from time to time, as they show that the company is actively looking to fix the problem, rather than passing blame to an outside source.

5. Use Urgency the Smart Way

Urgency and scarcity are known to drive up sales, but according to research from Howard Leventhal, people are prone to block out urgent messages if they aren’t given information on how to follow-up. Leventhal proved this hypothesis with a test involving tetanus shots, and found that those subjects who received follow-up information were 25% more likely to go get vaccinated.

6. Make Their Brain Light Up ‘Instantly’

Several Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) studies have shown that our frontal cortex is highly active when we think about waiting for something (that’s a no-no for more sales). To better appeal to customers, remind them that your product (or service) can solve their pain points fast. Focusing on quick arrivals, fast shipping and “instant gratification” can be just the incentive customers need to buy. 

7. Make an Enemy

According to some starting research from social psychologist Henri Tajifel, people can be divided (and more loyal to their in-group) from the most menial of distinctions. Companies like Apple leverage this through tactics like their Mac vs. PC commercials. Making enemies is less about being harsh to people or competitors and more about labeling (see #2) your customers. Examples include how some apparel companies are “only for athletes” or how certain beverage companies don’t make “wimpy light beer”.

8. Stand for Something

Of customers who have a strong relationship with a single brand, over 64% said it was because they had shared values with the company in question. A great example is the community that has formed around companies like Tom’s Shoes, a company that donates a pair of shoes to those in need for every pair of shoes sold.

9. Devil’s Advocate

Marketers can learn an important lesson from this ancient Catholic tradition: research shows that when groups of people have their ideas questioned by a “devil’s advocate”, they actually increase their confidence in their original stance. Your business can utilize this information by playing the devil’s advocate yourself, increasing the confidence of already interested customers (who are the ones most likely to buy your products). Address their concerns and dismiss them with well researched information and examples.

10. Keep ’em on Their Toes

While customers value consistency, they also like surprises: in a classic study by psychologist Norbert Schwartz, he found that as little as 10 cents was enough to change the outloook of participants who found the money by surprise. Utilize this process of “surprise reciprocity” by creating small WOWs that customers don’t expect. Remember, it doesn’t have to be a costly endeavor, it really is the thought that counts.


Do you have any effective marketing tips this Christmas? How do you use the season to effectively reach out to your customers?

ShawN shawN • Good question Robert. For Christmas, at our gallery we tend to encourage the artists to produce small works under $100. This is the price range you can easily sell to up to Christmas. Of course, you should have some large work as well for that ultra wealthy client that price is no object.

After Christmas, you can then paint much larger for the $1000-2000 range. Why is this? The tax returns come back from January to April and people like to spend that great tax refund.

For Christmas, I did not paint smaller, but instead printed up metal prints via http://www.fineartamerica.com, which allowed me to hit this seasonal shopper audience. Hopefully, we will get a lot of sales.