In sales, psychology is everything.
You need to understand how people are wired, and — critically — what makes them take action.
Because if you don’t…
You’re groping around in the dark.
And at best, it’ll take you a long time to split-test your way to success.
Well, let’s not go there…
What’s more, you don’t want to irreparably damage your brand with sleazy, pushy sales tactics.
Ain’t nobody got time for that.
So, what makes people tick?
And how can you tap into the proven psychological biases that every human has?
How can you sell more without appearing sleazy?
Today, you’ll learn nine time-tested persuasion techniques that you can use to boost your dropshipping sales.
So, pay close attention.
This is powerful stuff.
Persuasion Technique #1: Anchor Your Prices
“The anchoring effect is a cognitive bias that influences you to rely too heavily on the first piece of information you receive,” writes Linda Sapadin, Ph.D.
And, once the ‘anchor’ is set, there’s a bias toward that value.
The first price presented plays a huge role in the decision-making process.
For example, say you’re buying a car and the listed retail price is $21,990 — this is the ‘anchor.’ Then, you manage to negotiate the price down to $18,500.
Now, you feel great because you got a bargain!
But, after taking the car home, you learn that the average selling price of your new car is actually $18,000.
And now, you feel cheated out of $500…
So, how can you use anchoring to boost sales?
Well, when anchoring your prices, always list a higher price first.
Minaal uses anchoring to make buyers feel like they’re getting a steal:
The first price shown is crossed out and becomes the anchor that makes the actual price more appealing.
On their page of bundles, Kylie Cosmetics shows the most expensive package first. This anchors the price and makes the others feel inexpensive in comparison.
Use this persuasive device to set expectations, and then when you provide a cheaper price, people will feel like they’re getting a bargain.
Persuasion Technique #2: Create Scarcity
In 1973, America had all of the toilet paper it needed.
But, after reading about a potential toilet paper shortage, talk show host Johnny Carson made a joke about the supposed upcoming shortage on The Tonight Show.
The entire country rushed out to stock up on toilet paper, creating an actual nationwide toilet paper shortage.
Simply, the rule of scarcity states that when something is limited, people assign more value to it.
And in ecommerce, you can use this persuasive device to increase urgency in your buyers.
They have an entire page on their website dedicated to items that are ‘Almost Gone!’
What’s more, they clearly show how much stock is left for each item.
Similarly, Pet Pro Supply has a page dedicated to ‘Flash Sales.’
And not only do they limit the time of the sale, they also offer free U.S. shipping for a limited time and a limited free gift.
Taylor Stitch crowdfunds new products, and they use the opportunity to offer cheaper prices if you pre-order.
They even include a live countdown to increase urgency and compel visitors to buy before the price goes up.
When used strategically, scarcity is a powerful persuasive device that you can use to increase sales.
Just don’t overdo it, and make sure the scarcity is genuine.
Authenticity is vital to your long-term success.
Persuasion Technique #3: Beware Loss Aversion
Loss aversion states that people strongly prefer to avoid losses than to acquire equivalent gains.
And, according to psychologist and Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman, we typically fear loss twice as much as we enjoy success.
This persuasive device is vital to understand.
It means that your visitors fear buying your product twice as much as they anticipate the pleasure they’ll get from it.
So, what do they fear? All sorts of things…
- Is it a quality product?
- Is this the final price or will the seller add huge shipping fees at the end of the checkout process?
- Are my payment details safe with this business?
- Am I getting the best price with this seller?
- Is the price too good to be true?
- Will I like this product?
- Do I really need this product?
- What if I don’t like it? Is the return process a nightmare?
The list goes on.
This is why it’s so important to address all possible objections in your website copy.
Also, this persuasive device is closely related to scarcity.
Because you can frame your offers in a way that make the visitor feel like they will lose out if they don’t act on your offer.
Take this simple example from KKW Beauty:
Yellow Leaf Hammocks go one step further by highlighting what the visitor stands to gain by signing up — and therefore, stands to lose if they don’t.
They also hammer it home with the text that the visitor has to click to navigate away from the offer: “No thanks, I don’t want the total package.”
- Alleviate your visitor’s fears by showcasing what they stand to gain when they act on your offer.
- Or, emphasize what your visitors have to lose by not acting on your offer.
Whichever way you frame your offers, be sure to use this persuasion technique to boost your conversions.
Persuasion Technique #4: Use Reciprocity
The principle of reciprocity means that people tend to feel obligated to return favors.
For example, if your friend invites you to a party, there’s an obligation for you to invite them to a future party.
You’ve heard it before: Give before you get.
A study in an upscale New York restaurant showed that the more generosity the waiter showed, the higher the customers would tip.
First, the waiter gave a piece of chocolate to every customer.
This resulted in an 18% higher tip!
Next, after giving customers a piece of candy, the waiter would start to walk away, and then turn around and offer another piece of candy of the customer’s choice.
This method increased the tip to 21%.
The two values don’t even need to be equal.
For example, if you bought me a coffee, I’d be far more likely to buy you lunch in return.
And, regardless of whether someone likes the favor, they’ll still feel inclined to give something back.
So, how can you use this persuasive device to boost sales?
In this example, Helm Boots offers a compelling free discount for your first pair of boots if you sign up:
Similarly, Bootea offers a free gift with purchases.
But there’s a caveat…
Reciprocity has an expiration date. And the more time that passes, the weaker the obligation to reciprocate becomes.
So, don’t wait too long to present your request after you’ve given your gift!
Persuasion Technique #5: Beware The Paradox of Choice
If you’re offered just one option, you have a choice to buy or not to buy.
But, if you’re offered two options, your brain will focus on choosing between the two. And suddenly, the option of not buying at all fades into the background.
But that’s not all.
The paradox of choice states that the more options we have to choose from, the less likely we are to make a decision.
Because it becomes too difficult to decide, so we just opt-out and say “no.”
This is called analysis paralysis.
Simply, more choices gives us positive emotions due to the increase in autonomy.
But, more choices also gives us negative emotions since we ‘miss out’ on the other options.
So, don’t offer too many choices, but always offer more than one.
This way, the visitor is prompted to choose between “Buy Now,” or “Add to Wishlist.”
Best Made Company offers their Burma Cloth Button Down in three colors:
This is enough to give visitors some autonomy, without analysis paralysis kicking in.
So, to use this persuasion technique, always offer more than one option, but beware the paradox of choice.
This is especially important to bear in mind when it’s so easy to add tons of products to your dropshipping store!
Persuasion Technique #6: Use The IKEA Effect
The IKEA Effect states that the more we invest in something, the more we value it.
It’s named after the Swedish furniture retailer IKEA, which sells many products that require assembly.
“Imagine that, you know, you built a table. Maybe it came out a little bit crooked. Probably your wife or your neighbor would see it for what it is, you know? A shoddy piece of workmanship.
“But to you, that table might seem really great, because you’re the one who created it. It’s the fruit of your labor. And that is really the idea behind the IKEA Effect.”
The more effort visitors put into your buying process, the more they’ll value your product.
So, how do you capitalize on this cognitive bias?
One way is to offer product customization.
Brompton does a great job putting the IKEA effect to use with their online bike builder tool:
But, what if you’re not in a position to offer customized products?
True & Co provide visitors with a free quiz to help them find their perfect bra:
So, what’s the key to the IKEA Effect?
Simply, involve your customers in the process as much as possible.
So, how could you use this persuasive device to boost sales?
Persuasion Technique #7: Display Social Proof
Social proof refers to the fact that people are heavily influenced by others.
There’s comfort and security in following the crowd.
Social proof reassures visitors that they’re making the right decision in buying from you.
Don’t underestimate its power.
Nearly 63% of consumers indicate that they’re more likely to purchase from a site if it has product ratings and reviews.
Plus, there are tons of ways that you can use social proof.
Quad Lock Case highlight their review ratings next to each of their products.
And Bushwick Kitchens includes all product reviews underneath each product listing.
Watch Outfitters have a little pop-up on the bottom-left of their site telling you about other people who are buying their products.
They also include the copy, “Frequently Bought Together,” which alludes to the fact that plenty of people buy more than one watch at a time.
And in this example, Incognito goes all out with social proof on their homepage:
They display the many awards they’ve won, followed by logos of the well-known, trusted stores that sell their products.
And then, they bring it home with plenty of customer testimonials.
You could also display social shares, trust badges for payment gateways, or the logos of publications you’ve been featured in.
All of these are great ways to build trust and alleviate fears.
So however you do it, make sure you display as much social proof as possible!
Persuasion Technique #8: Use The Principle of Liking
The principle of liking states that people are more likely to comply with requests made by people they like.
Professor Robert Cialdini, wrote about this principle in his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.
Common sense? Maybe.
Powerful persuasive device? Definitely.
So, how can you put the principle of liking to use in your dropshipping business?
Let’s start with the obvious.
Studies have shown again and again that people who are physically attractive are more persuasive.
This is why brands like Triangl use attractive models for their products.
Also, people are more likely to be persuaded by people they feel similar to.
This is why Chubbies Shorts uses models that look similar to their target customers, making the brand more relatable.
Another way to capitalize on this persuasion technique is to support the same causes as your target customers.
Yellow Leaf Hammocks highlight their dedication to creating a positive impact with their business.
And it’s hard not to like and respect a company doing so much good in the world.
Also, don’t be afraid to get personal.
Certainly, try to avoid coming across as a faceless corporation.
Yellow Leaf Hammocks also make sure to relate to their visitor personally in their copy, by describing their love of travel, naps, and long talks.
Similarly, Harper Wilde shares the story of how the founders met, and include a personal photo of them together.
Also, write in the way in which your audience speaks.
Check out how Sweaty Betty relate to their customers in their website copy:
In another example, Think Geek write hilarious product descriptions bound to resonate with Harry Potter fans.
So, get personal and find ways to relate to your customers on a personal level.
Persuasion Technique #9: Use Commitment and Consistency
The principle of commitment and consistency states that once people commit to something, they’re more likely to follow-through or stay consistent with that stance.
Well, once people make a commitment, they begin to engage in self-persuasion in order to justify their actions to themselves and others.
We all want to believe we’ve made a good choice, right?
One study reduced missed appointments at health centers by a massive 18%.
Simply by asking the patients — rather than the staff — to write down their appointment details on the future appointment card.
Once they made the small commitment of writing down their appointment themselves, their future actions were more likely to be consistent with that initial act.
So, how do you tap into this persuasive device to boost your sales?
One simple way is to encourage visitors to subscribe to your email list like WP Standard.
This alone acts as a small initial commitment.
Also, you can encourage social sharing — this has the added benefit of being a public commitment.
And as Robert Cialdini shares, “We are truest to our decisions if we have bound ourselves to them publicly.”
Or, you can go all out like Warby Parker.
They know that if they can get you to try their glasses, they’re probably halfway to making a sale.
Which is why they’ll send you 5 frames to test for 5 days — for free.
They make the process of trying their glasses as frictionless as possible.
And although there’s no formal commitment, Warby Parker knows there’s an emotional bias at play.
So, as soon as the customer receives their trial glasses, they’re far more likely to follow-through with a purchase.
They’re already committed.
So, there you have it: nine persuasive techniques to boost your dropshipping sales!
- Anchor your prices high, to begin with, and then offer a lower price.
- Create scarcity to increase urgency.
- Address fears and concerns upfront, and inject FOMO into your sign-up process!
- Give first to receive later.
- Don’t offer too many options, but always provide at least two.
- Involve your visitors in the buying process as much as possible.
- Display social proof everywhere you can.
- Relate to visitors on a personal level.
- Get visitors to commit to something small before asking for something big.
There’s a lot of cognitive biases to take into account.
So, just pick one persuasion technique to begin with, and implement it!
Do you have any questions about persuasion techniques? Let us know in the comment section below – we read all of them!
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