It’s a cultural trope to “want what you can’t have,” but it’s also a principle based in decades of psychological research. That principle, scarcity, is incredibly powerful in marketing, persuasion, and conversion optimization—when done right especially in a free market with limited resources.
It’s summer in the UK. Two cigarette disposal bins are erected on a littered street. One bin is marked Ronaldo, the other, Messi.
The bins encouraged smokers to vote for the best football player with their cigarette butts. After twelve weeks, cigarette litter dropped by 46%. In the United States, a similar experiment reduced cigarette litter by 74% in six months.
Instead of yelling at smokers to “clean up your butts,” the bins implied the desired behavior in an easy and fun way.
That’s a nudge.
Perception isn’t always the same thing as reality, even when it comes to something as “objective” as your product’s value.
In fact, the perceived value of your product is fairly malleable. There are countless studies, as well as anecdotes, that support the notion that you can tweak small things to increase your product’s value perception.
You put tons of time into creating your product, experimenting with acquisition channels, and honing your messaging.
Yet here I am, about to tell you that consumers are often swayed by such subtle nudges as the order in which you present your products, or the “serial position effect.”
Persuading completely rational people to make a rational decision or take a rational action would be easy. Unfortunately, you’re stuck dealing with irrational thinking, fueled by cognitive biases and emotions.
So, how do you persuade effectively when people are so heavily influenced by subjective (and contextual) factors?
You’d like to think that you’re a completely rational person making completely rational decisions, right? It’s nice to believe that you haven’t made major life decisions based on how you were feeling.
Well, you have. Many times.
More choice equals freedom, right?
Well, yes, but there’s a good body of evidence that the more choices presented to us, the less happy we are with the one we make.
What does that mean for conversions? Or retention? Or revenue?
If you want to get people to buy your stuff, you need to understand how consumers make purchasing decisions.
Designing your website requires a studied understanding of human behavior if you want to increase your conversions. Using psychological tactics in your design to appeal to potential customers can help do this, but you must first know how users’ decisions are made.
Daniel Kahneman presents two thought systems that can give marketers a framework for how to target their ideal clients through site design and get a major uplift in conversions.
According to research by Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman, up to 95% of our purchase decisions are directed by subconscious mental processes.
As digital marketers, we know this intuitively. How many articles have you read that advised you to appeal to the emotional, irrational, subconscious part of the brain?
Despite this evidence, a majority of marketing efforts still focus on making logical appeals to a rational mind.