Girl with tabletIn 1984, psychologist, Dr. Robert Cialdini detailed six principles of persuasion that influence consumers to buy. They are reciprocity, social proof, liking, consistency, authority, and scarcity.

Over the past three decades, these six principles have become a cornerstone of marketing. The same principles can also be used in online marketing to boost conversion rates.

Give and take

Cialdini’s first principle, reciprocity, explains how it is human nature to return favours when somebody feels indebted. Most people are not comfortable being offered a favour and feel compelled to give something back in return.

Online marketers have a prime opportunity to induce this feeling in prospects by offering something for nothing – such as information or a trial period to experience your product.

In doing so, people are more inclined to purchase from you over your rivals. You can achieve reciprocity by providing tips and advice on a blog, replying to questions left on forums or offering advice through social media networks.

Let your customers decide

Social stigma causes people to mimic what others are doing or thinking in order to fit in – hence the expression Sheeple. The psychology of shoppers gives marketers a leverage when canvassing popular opinion.

To do this, hand power over to consumers and invite them to select an option you have chosen for them. This gives you the popular choice which you can then promote.

The next step is to highlight the most popular choice by explaining your product was the choice of the people. Not only will customers who voted for the winning option buy the product, but others will follow suit because that’s what everybody else is doing.

Oh, to be popular

People are more likely to buy merchandise or services from company’s they like. So you have to become likeable. If you have a good sense of wit, use it to your advantage by posting witty remarks on social networks.

However, the key to being liked is through your About Us page. This is your opportunity to tell your story and allow visitors to get to know you. The About Us page should therefore be compelling, inspirational and reflect you as a likeable company customers feel assured by.

Don’t break promises

It’s human nature to go through with something once they have made a commitment in public. Backing out of a promise will cause people to turn their back on you.

You can use this principle as a publicity stunt by announcing an event you are either holding or getting involved with – perhaps a fun run or a charity football match.

By generating interest, people want to see the outcome of your achievements and by doing so will help raise your brand awareness – providing you follow through on your commitment.

Position yourself as an expert

By nature, people look up to authority. If they feel they can trust somebody it makes them secure. Keeping a blog, answering questions on forums and writing for a third party sites enables you to position yourself as an expert in your field.

The keep to writing top quality content is providing information people want to know. Consumers no longer hold sway when it comes to trusting a particular brand, but if they appreciate the advice you give they are more inclined to buy from you.

Propagate demand

When a product is in short supply, consumers are more inclined to buy for fear they are missing out on something. This tactic only works if the product is genuinely scarce and people need or want it.

However, you can still propagate the idea of scarcity by offering a special discount “for a limited time only.” Everyone loves a bargain and will be more inclined to purchase an product that is being offered at cut price for a restricted period.

The psychology of consumers is something every marketer should have knowledge about in order to tap into the minds and buying habits of your audience. If this is an area you feel can be improved, we recommend reading Dr Cialdini’s book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.