#18 Four Formidable Psychological Hooks for Conversion Rate Optimization
January 12, 2021
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In this week’s episode, we are going to talk about insights from the study of human behavior that can help you craft more persuasive marketing communication. To paraphrase Sir Isaac Newton, we can see far when we stand on the shoulders of giants. Psychologists like Robert Cialdini and behavioral economists like Daniel Kahneman along with many others have observed human behavior carefully, developing and testing theories that can guide marketing strategists. Let’s dive in and find out how you can use four psychological hooks for conversion rate optimization. 


Daniel Kahneman – Maintaining Cognitive Ease To Slide Into The Subconscious

Daniel Kahneman is not a psychologist, but as a behavioral economist, he has come up with some excellent insight into consumer behavior. In his book “Thinking, Fast and Slow”, Kaheman posits that we have two modes of thinking: quickly and automatically, with no effort and little awareness or control, and more slowly, paying careful attention to the information presented. Most people spend a lot of time in the fast automatic thinking mode. When our brains have to work hard to process something, we shift into the careful mode. In the careful mode, we are more suspicious and less easy to convince. Generally speaking, people are more receptive when they are in familiar and easily understandable situations. 

We can apply this insight to optimize our conversion rate both in our copywriting and our visual design. Keep the page layout simple and leave white space, so the reader is not overwhelmed. Use clear info-graphics and an easy-to-read font. Break up complex concepts into simpler parts. 


Robert Cialdini – Use Reciprocity And Get By Giving

Robert B. Cialdini offers six principles of persuasion for marketing in his 1984 book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.” Reciprocity is the first. Evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers observed that reciprocal behavior is an adaptive instinct that can be seen in many animals, including humans. When someone does us a favor, if we are predisposed to return that favor, we can continue in a virtuous cycle of helping each other. We can even begin one from scratch, giving something away with no particular conditions, knowing that people have an innate tendency to be grateful and give back when they receive something.

In marketing, you can use the principle of reciprocity by offering things to your potential customers with no strings attached. If your product is software as a service, you could offer a free version with limited features. If your product is an ebook, you could offer a free sample chapter. If you have a physical product that doesn’t lend itself to free samples, for instance pet tigers, you could instead offer free useful information, like a list of jurisdictions that allow that sort of foolishness and recommendations for how to get rid of troublesome business partners. 

Viral Octopus offers modular marketing services suitable for CMOs who are looking to outsource, agencies who want to scale with a drop service model, and small and medium businesses doing their own marketing. To build relationships with potential customers, VO offers free information like this podcast and some pretty sophisticated free tools, like our budget estimate, our business model creator, and our storyboard making tools. 


Kahneman’s Anchoring Bias

Kahneman and his colleague Amos Tversky laid out the concept of anchoring bias In a 1974 paper called “Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases.” The concept is pretty simple. When we are confronted with a question or uncertainty, we start with a first guess based on the information we have. Then, as we get more information, we revise our guess. So far that is quite straightforward. Khaneman and Tversky’s big insight was that we don’t revise our guess enough; we get stuck on the anchor of our original guess. You can apply this insight many ways. One of the simplest is to introduce a high price early in your sales copy. Your readers will begin to accept this as the value of your product. Later, you can present a lower offer. The anchored initial value will make the lower offer seem like a good deal. 


The Hick-Hyman Law – More Options Means Slower Decisions

Psychologists William Edmund Hick and Ray Hyman set about to prove the obvious in 1951 and then did. Using a set of flashing lights and timers, Hick and Hyman not only showed that having more options slows down a decision-making process, they precisely quantified the logarithmic relationship between number of options and time. I would read it for you, but it’s Greek to me. 

Regardless of the deltas and sigmas in the Hick Hyman Law, the takeaway is straightforward. Keep users’ options simple. That does not necessarily mean you have to limit their choices. Just don’t ask them to choose between a lot of options at once. As an example of doing it absolutely wrong, consider a list of all combinations of size and color for a clothing product. That is going to slow your user way down and they may just give up. Instead, ask a simpler question: small, medium, or large? Then proceed to offering color options. Think of ways you can apply this same principle to choices users make about your product and break it up into steps with the fewest possible options. 


These digital marketing tips only work if you use them

We hope you find this insight on digital marketing excellence useful. This knowledge can improve your results, but you have to put it into action. So find a way to apply it and test it. Take a baseline measurement and compare your new improved outcome. Join the Viral Octopus collective and share and discuss your results with others who are striving for excellence. And come back and join us next week for more powerful new marketing tips and tricks. Don’t get left behind: Mind The Gap.