The CRO’s Persuasion Guidebook, Part 2

by Vinay Koshy

Last updated on December 29th, 2017

Yesterday, I shared Part 1 of the CRO’s Persuasion Guidebook. If you missed it, I highly recommend that you read it.

Today, we dig into more advanced persuasion tactics, namely, ways to adapt your Web content and copy to drive conversions. These are the tactics relied on most by highly profitable brands. Use them to drive your profits as well.

We’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s get started…

magnetically attract placeit 800Source: Placeit.net

How to create compelling Website content

10. Forget about leads – solve problems

Generic Web content doesn’t solve problems. To stand out as a serious problem solver, you need to concentrate your efforts by writing epic content that stands out.

Down and Feather, for example, reworked their home page around their value proposition, resulting in a 145% increase in conversion rates.

before and after

To do this, your content needs to describe the client’s issues in the opening paragraph and promise to solve it.

Explain with specific details how a client can solve a problem. Remind your Web visitors how much more productive, happier and better off they will be when they follow your advice.

In solving problems consistently, you win clients.

11. Use anchoring

A cognitive bias that influences people is the tendency to rely too heavily or anchor on the first piece of information when making a decision.

Consider ways in which you can reference an anchor that influences your prospects.

monthly plans

For example, iContact makes use of anchoring by having one price that’s higher than other price points. Now this may be because it is an option for some clients, but it may also be an smart strategy for making their mid-range price points seem more affordable.

Anchoring experiments and studies have found that introducing one higher price point can lead to people spending more in total even if nobody chooses that option. Once visitors see the higher price point, all other options appear more affordable.

12. Increase likability

Dr Cialdini, Regents’ professor emeritus of psychology and marketing at Arizona State University and author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, conducted a study in which pairs of participants conducted negotiations via email.

He found a third of the negotiations failed as the parties involved couldn’t reach agreement. However when the participants first exchanged a few personal details by email prior to the negotiation, the failure rate dropped to 6%.

According to Cialdini, liking is based on sharing something similar with people you like and also on how attractive a person looks.

One of the easiest ways to implement this is to create a great “About Us” page like Wistia does with their team. (Be sure to roll over the images when you look at that page.)

Avon too uses the likability principle on their website. Avon’s business is essentially based on women selling Avon products to their friends and family. After all, family and friends are likely to buy from their friends and neighbors.

avon get together

13. Use seductive words

Use words that have the power to persuade. The following words tend to be more persuasive than others.

You – It adds a degree to personalization, and research shows that such personal references make people trust a message more.

NewResearch suggests this word is a trigger for the reward sensation and gives the perception of a new product. This, however, does not quite work for brands, as people tend to trust familiar brands that they have known for a while.

BecauseResearch shows that people are more likely to accept a request when this word is used.

Free and similar words – A free offer triggers a human response that just feels better according to psychology. Another study also shows that using similar words, like adding a “small” detail, does better for conversions. (Who doesn’t like to get something for free?)

InstantlyStudies show that a sense of quick rewards result when people read this word, and this often drives action.

13. Leverage bullet points

Bullet points make text easy to read and tend to engage skimmers (as opposed to readers). Cook American Express Travel company saw a 48% increase in phone calls with a new layout that outlined benefits as bullet points.

american express

Bullet points help break up an idea or concept into digestible chunks. Consider adding some of these tips from Robert Bruce to add greater attraction and persuasiveness to your bullets.

External Fascinations: These types of fascinating bullet points are usually found in sales copy. They create curiosity and work like headlines to prompt a purchase or other action.

Internal Fascinations: Internal fascinations are pretty much identical to external, except they’re designed to persuade people to continue reading the post they’re already reading.

Bullet Chunking: Extracting bullets out of compound sentences helps you drive home a point while also increasing the usability of your content.

Authority Bullets: Authority bullets are used to recite the data and proof that support your argument. As with all persuasive writing, turn dry factual information into interesting reading any time you can.

Cliffhanger Bullets: Cliffhanger bullets tease and foreshadow what’s coming up next or in the near future. You can also use cliffhanger bullets to lay the groundwork for an upcoming promotion, launch, or special content event.

Give-Away Bullets: These are sort of like the lady who hands out cheese cubes at the grocery store. She gives people a little “taste” of food that keeps them alert and shopping—and many times they end up with the thing they tasted in the shopping cart.

Expansion Bullets: These bullets break up the “sameness” of the page (when you have several pages of bullets), and they add more tease, demonstration and curiosity. Plus, they give a nice little “loop” effect to your ad that keeps sucking the reader back in.

 “Can’t Be Done” Bullets: Basically, this is where you say something that is almost unbelievable. Something 100% true, but that is so wacky and “out there” it makes you say, “How in the heck can you do that?”

14. Leverage scarcity

Jeff Paro says:

“Scarcity is a limitation placed on a service or product with the goal of increasing sales through pressure placed on the consumer. The fear of missing out causes people to make the decision to buy. The limitation can be a time based deadline or a limited quantity, often mixed with some kind of perceived benefit for acting quickly, like a reduced price, a bonus item, or an increase in status (you got in, where others missed out).”

The best part is that both these principles can be applied to websites via copy, images, buttons, etc. Case studies prove that urgency and scarcity can improve conversions by 27%.

Here’s how Zappos does it. Just above the “Add to Cart” button, they let customers know there are limited stock quantities. This gives customers the feeling that they need to act quickly to avoid missing out. See the image below.

zappos

Scarcity can make someone take action even if they don’t have a strong desire for the product or feel they aren’t quite ready to purchase yet. It tends to compel people to make a purchase.

You can achieve this with deadlines and product counts. Here are a few ways to use it:

  • Countdown timers help reinforce when a product becomes available online and when it goes offline.
  • Let your audience know that the special price at which they can purchase your product will end at the designated time or that the discounted price for pre-orders ends at a certain time.
  • Use a value added deadline like: “buy product X and get A and B for free” or “buy product X and get another X for free.”
  • Real-time stock counts involve selling a limited quantity of a product and once it’s all sold, it’s gone for good.

15. Include a decoy

Dr. Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational, says most people don’t know what they want unless they see it in context.

This is where the asymmetric dominance effect or the decoy effect can come into play. Essentially, it entails adding a less desirable choice to serve as a benchmark against which to compare the real product or service you wish to promote and sell.

For example, let’s say you had 2 treadmills, a basic model that sells for $499 and another with features like heart monitors and other accessories that sells for $997. The price difference between the models is quite large, so to minimize the shock of the price difference, you could add a third model that has features very similar to the $997 treadmill but sells for $1299.

Regardless of the visitors’ initial preferences, they will be more inclined to consider the benefits of buying the $997 model by comparing it with the decoy model.

16. Make them feel indebted to you

According to Cialdini, human beings are wired to want to return favors and pay back our debts. The principle of reciprocity says that people by nature feel obliged to provide either discounts or concessions to others if they themselves have received favors from those people.

You can use this impulse to spur your Web visitors to action. By giving away something of value to them, with no expectation of anything in return, you can begin to harness the power of this principle.

quicksprout 30 days

QuickSprout, Neil Patel’s website, is centered around the blog, which provides its readers tips, advice, how-tos and suggestions on how they can be better marketers.

Neil does also sell his website traffic consulting services and the QuickSprout Traffic System Pro, which is designed to drive more traffic to websites. His free offer is perfect for attracting the people who might want his services. And given the amount of information he provides, they are quite likely to do whatever it takes to become customers.

Consider leveraging this principle by giving useful information to help people solve problems related to your paid products or services. The free information may be in a blog post, webinar, infographics, or something else. They key is that you offer it without pushing your products and or services.

17. Create unexpected offers

It may seem odd to sell products that you don’t expect people to buy, but in using the door-in-the-face psychological technique, this strategy will help sell lower-priced products.

For example you could offer a VIP conference pass with back stage access and exclusive networking for $1500. When the Web visitor indicates their disinterest through leaving the page or clicking on the no thanks link, they are then presented with another offer at a lower price which could be a regular attendance ticket for $500.

The second offer seems quite reasonable in comparison to the first offer and the Web visitor is likely to buy.

18. Say why

People need to know why they should do something, so be sure to give them a reason. Believe it or not, it could increase conversions by 31.54%.

Betting Expert wanted to increase the conversions of their email sign up form. In its former state, it didn’t communicate any value to their Web visitors. By changing the copy on the form, they answered the question, “Why should I fill out the form?”

control treatment

Review your content, especially your headlines and titles, to ensure you tell people why they should heed your call to action.

19. Leverage the hurt-and-rescue principle

This principle first informs prospects that they have a problem, then offers a way to fix that problem. A common way to do this online is through a quiz. For example this health website offers a quiz entitled, “Test your healthy choices—and upgrade your health.”

fitness kindle

By asking questions about diet, family history and level of physical activity, you can determine readers’ areas of risk. This, in turn, opens the opportunity to sell a diet program or fitness program to suit their needs.

This principle is really about emotion-based selling. Show your audience that you understand their pain points and you’ll be more effective in persuading them to consider your offer.

20. Use action-oriented language

Your copy needs to do two things: follow your Web visitor’s thoughts and drive action. Do this, and you can positively impact conversion rates. L’Axelle changed the tone of its copy from being comfort-oriented to action-oriented and received a 93% improvement in their conversion rate.

l'axelle

21. Highlight the benefits for your audience

To establish credibility in the eyes of your Web visitors without singing your own praises, focus on their best interest by highlighting the benefits of your product or service.

This is exactly what MarketingProfs did and it earned them a 27.76% increase in leads.

If you have a list of features listed, revise them so the benefits of using your product or service are clear to your audience.

TaskRabbit highlights the benefits of using their service right on their homepage.

live smarter task rabbit

22. Anticipate and address objections

Understanding your audience, the way they think and their concerns can go a long way in getting people to buy. By anticipating and addressing objections, Moz was able to improve conversion rates to generate an additional 1 million dollars with changes to their landing page and offer.

AppSumo does a great job of combining design and long-form copy to address their audience’s questions, such as…

  • How can I add a Halloween themed offer?
  • Is adding this going to be difficult and time consuming?
  • Will it add to my traffic?
  • Will it add a difference or personality to the site?

trick or treat

23. Use video

The video on the Dropbox homepage has been played a few million times and has resulted in increased sign-ups.

According to this case study, the referral page that people come to when a friend sends them to Dropbox has a conversion rate of 30% when the video is not played; however, the conversion rate increases to 33.2% when the video is played.

Vidyard during its early days managed a 100% increase in their optin rate.

vidyard

To leverage video effectively, keep it the main focus of the page in order to ensure it gets played. Keep in mind, though, that testing is the only way to find out whether your audience appreciates this form of visual media.

24. Increase commitment

Cialdini says that the principles of commitment and consistency are based on the deep need of people to be seen as consistent. In other words, if people have publicly committed to something or someone, they are much more likely to carry through and deliver on the commitment.

Gaining a small commitment from your Web visitors can be as simple as getting them to sign up for a white paper, ebook or guide.

Perhaps we can learn from Copyblogger. Copyblogger sells software and training whilst also running a very popular blog. They use their free membership to exclusive content and marketing course to get people to sign up.

This sign-up is, in reality, a micro-commitment. They are getting people to make a small commitment that helps them see themselves as a customer of the company. It then becomes easier to sell these people one or more of their services.

online marketers

Takeaways that you can apply are:

  • Ask for small commitments from your audience
  • Ensure that each commitment step is backed by generous value for the potential customer
  • Look for ways in which the commitment can be publicized and a sense of community developed to reinforce the commitment.

Over to you

No matter how good your products or services or how brilliant you are at spreading your ideas, you need compelling, persuasive content on your website. Otherwise, no one will see it. There’s simply too much competing information.

To help, I’m offering 5 super simple tactics that you can apply to your content… 100% FREE! With these tips and some hard work, you can create content to woo your visitors and win them over.

Keep in mind, I’m not saying you can become a persuasion marketing sensation overnight.

No, in fact you need to really care about your visitors, be prepared to focus and practice every day. You also need to be prepared for setbacks and criticism.

But if you persevere, if you test your theories and make incremental improvements based on your results, you’ll make more money in the long run.

Set your goals. Keep improving. And let me know in the comments—which of these techniques has improved your conversion optimization rate the most? And which techniques are you going to try next?

6 Comments

DON’T MISS OUT

Get updates on new articles, webinars and other opportunities:

Vinay Koshy

Vinay Koshy (@vpkoshy) is founder of Sproutworth, a visual marketing and content marketing blog with a focus on conversions and building thriving yet profitable audiences.

6 COMMENTS

Comment Policy

Please join the conversation! We like long and thoughtful communication.
Abrupt comments and gibberish will not be approved. Please, only use your real name, not your business name or keywords. We rarely allow links in your comment.
Finally, please use your favorite personal social media profile for the website field.

SPEAK YOUR MIND

Your email address will not be published.

  1. Karina says:
    February 9, 2015 at 7:09 am

    Many thanks for the article! It was very interesting to read!

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      February 9, 2015 at 9:56 am

      Happy to hear it, Karina!

  2. Vinay Koshy says:
    February 1, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    Thanks Renzo, glad to hear it helped.

  3. Renzo Chim says:
    February 1, 2015 at 9:19 am

    Love the post as well as the explanation Vinay.. got definitely been a few sparks in my head for ideas for the future.

  4. Brian says:
    January 31, 2015 at 9:40 am

    Vinay: This was a very, very good article. I try to glance over and take mental notes. Nope. Took writte notes instead. My site just got started and now it’s time to advance forward. Many, many thanks!

    • Vinay Koshy says:
      January 31, 2015 at 3:02 pm

      Brian, thank you for your kind words. Very glad it is helping get your site started. Let me know how you go.

Show Me My Heatmap

Having trouble seeing your website performance? @CrazyEgg can solve that. It's amazing what you can learn from a heatmap #tech

Sean Higgins

@higg1921

What makes people leave your website?