The real skill in digital marketing is persuasion. It doesn’t matter how much retargeting you do or how many lightbox popups you make, if you don’t persuade customers, then you won’t make sales.
Persuasion is a powerful skill. Once you learn some of the advanced techniques of persuasion, you will become an unstoppable force.
I’ve assembled a list of some of my favorite advanced persuasion techniques. I’ve discovered that these principles work extremely well at persuading even the most stubborn and skeptical.
Try them. I think you’ll enjoy your newfound power.
1. “There are only two choices”
Advanced persuasion technique: Choice paralysis.
Making choices is hard on the mind. The fewer choices you give someone, the more likely they are to make a selection. If you give them too many choices, they’ll experience paralysis.
Barry Schwartz popularized this theory in his book The Paradox of Choice. His viral TedTalk video has helped marketers learn how to sell, and consumers learn how to choose.
Too many choices paralyze consumers. Let’s say you walk into the store determined to buy salad dressing. You make it to aisle three, and find 175 choices. It’s going to take you a while to choose. But if you walked in and discovered only one choice, the decision wouldn’t take you long at all. You might even be happier with your choice, because there was no possibility of making the wrong choice. There was only once choice, which is to say not much of a choice at all.
We tend to think that lots of choices is good. But when it comes to conversion optimization, it backfires. Too many choices will reduce your chance for conversions.
Landing page takeaway: Give people two choices, maximum.
2. “You’re going to lose out”
Advanced persuasion technique: Loss aversion.
Loss aversion, according to a New York Times article on the subject, is when “we feel the pain of loss more acutely than we feel the pleasure of gain. In other words, we may like to win, but we hate to lose.”
Put into starker terms, “People care more about losing a dollar than gaining a dollar,” which is how NPR stated it in a 2013 story on the subject.
Typically, when we try to sell something, we point out what people will gain. According to the theory of loss aversion, though, people are more interested in what they might lose in relationship to the purchase.
Your sales pitch might be more effective if you spend less time talking about your benefits, and more time talking about what the customer might lose out on if they don’t buy your product or service.
Landing page takeaway: Tell users what they will lose by not purchasing your product or service.
3. “It’s expensive”
Advanced persuasion technique: Perceived value
Every marketer wants to improve the perceived value of their product. So they pour tons of effort into crafting a value proposition, making the pictures look just right, and pitching it in the perfect way.
All that is great stuff, but there’s a really easy way to make a product seem very valuable: Raise the price.
When a product costs a lot, people intuitively think that it is more valuable. Once they purchase the product, they import that value belief into the way that they treat the product or service. If you sell an online course for one dollar, people may or may not attend. But if you sell that online course for $1,000, you can be pretty sure that attendance will be much higher.
Raise your prices. Raise your value.
This isn’t about overcharging. This is about your increasing the value of your product by increasing its worth in the minds of customers.
Landing page takeaway: Raise your price.
4. “This is @*%$ing insane”
Advanced persuasion technique: Intensity.
Strong language gets people’s attention, and it helps persuade, too. Peep Laja wrote, “Mild swearing is just a persuasion technique that is really effective.” He offers a necessary caveat — if you let loose with too much swearing, you’ll destroy your credibility.
But what if swearing isn’t your thing? Or more importantly, what if you’ve discovered that salty language turns your customers away? You can still use this technique by using strong-sounding language.
The persuasion method at play here is intensity. If you’re passionate enough about your product to swear about it, yell about it, or go crazy about it, then people might be persuaded to try it for themselves.
You’ve probably seen this technique put into practice in used car sales. The salespeople lose all personal dignity, shouting themselves into a frenzy while extolling the praises of a five-year old Toyota. They’ve caught onto the idea that intensity translates into influence.
And it does, to a certain degree. But you don’t have to look like an idiot to be intense. Steve Jobs, despite his restrained presentation style, used the word “insane” a lot. This single word communicated intensity. He was passionate about the awesomeness of his products, and people really bought into it.
People love intensity. They love to feel intense. They love to watch intense. And they are more likely to buy intense.
Landing page takeaway: Be confidently intense, with or without a four-letter word.
5. “There aren’t many left”
Advanced persuasion technique: Scarcity
If people think that there isn’t much left, they’re more likely to buy what is left.
An article on Neuromind put it this way: “It is because of this scarcity that goods have value – the more scarce something is, the more we want it.”
There are plenty of ways to introduce the scarcity principle into digital marketing:
- There are only 15 spots available for one-on-one consulting.
- Webinar attendance will be capped at 400.
- There are only 25 cars left.
- Class will be closed for enrollment on July 30.
- This sale ends at midnight on Friday.
- This is a limited time offer.
- Get ‘em while they’re hot!
- Available while supplies last.
The secret to perceived scarcity is simply putting a number on it — a date, a limit, an expiration.
Landing page takeaway: Make your product seem scarce.
6. “Leave if you’re not happy”
Advanced persuasion technique: Audience selection.
To get the right people on board with you, you may have to tell the wrong people to leave. Jim Collins explained this principle in the book Good to Great when he explained how a company should hire and fire employees. Using the analogy of a bus riders, Collins explained that the right people need to get on the bus, and the wrong people need to get off of the bus.
In marketing, the principle is the same. If you want to sell your product, you need to be pitching it to the right crowd. The term “focused matrix factorization” is how a team of Google, Yahoo!, and Twitter researchers described it.
I prefer to call it “leave if you’re not happy.”
This works very well for email campaigns, especially if you have low clickthrough rates, or a large percentage of emails unopened/deleted. You may just want to tell people to unsubscribe.
This can work in other mediums, too. If you’re explicit about who you don’t want as customers, you’ll increase the zeal of those who are your fans and customers while streamlining your audience. It’s a win-win. On the one hand, you’re getting rid of the cruft of unconverting users, and you’re increasing the value of your existing customers.
Landing page takeaway: Be explicit about who you don’t want as your customers.
7. “I can’t tell you about that”
Advanced persuasion technique: Mystery
Mystery is a powerful form of persuasion. Humans are wired to love suspense. The suspense of a movie or novel is what keeps us watching for hours or reading for days. TV series invariably end each episode at a suspenseful moment.
We’re fascinated by secretive countries, by secretive companies, and by secretive people. We want to know their secrets.
You can use the mystery technique to your advantage. It will help if you build curiosity, excitement, and free marketing through rumor mills.
Did you know that there are entire websites and networks devoted to uncovering Apple’s secrets? Did you know that Kentucky Fried Chicken has a recipe that is secured in a state-of-the art safety vault, surrounded by thick concrete slabs, and monitored 24/7 by full-time guards?
It’s all part of a powerful persuasion technique — a mystique that fuels interest, wonder, and excitement.
Landing page takeaway: Slip a sense of mystery into your landing page: “Never-before revealed secrets,” “Undisclosed guest,” “Highly classified information,” “Legally prevented from releasing”
8. “You’re a good person”
Advanced persuasion technique: Philanthropy
This isn’t flattery. This is more advanced, more intuitive, and way more persuasive.
Most people want to do good. Research shows that giving to other people makes the giver happy. Since that is the case, why don’t more people give to charity, help their neighbors, or volunteer their time? Because they feel like they can’t. Whether it’s lack of time or lack of funds, most people of average means feel limited in their ability to be philanthropic.
What if you help people do this automatically? TOMS shoes is one example of a company that has successfully turned consumers into donors. For every pair of shoes purchased, one pair of shoes is given to an underprivileged child.
Making it easy to give to charity makes it more likely that people will purchase your product or service. By doing so, you are affirming the buyer’s positive self-perception and inner worth.
Landing page takeaway: Provide a philanthropic upside to a purchase. E.g., “For every new subscription, we’ll donate $10 to The National Wildlife Federation.” “Part of your purchase will support the construction of a new children’s home.”
It’s not hard to become persuasive. You don’t have to possess some hidden charm or magnetic personality. You just need to know the right techniques.
To recap, here are the advanced persuasion techniques that you can implement on your landing page:
- Limit choices.
- Tell people what they’re going to lose out on.
- Raise your prices.
- Be intense.
- Create scarcity.
- Tell people to leave.
- Generate mystery.
- Affirm people’s desire to do good.
If you put just one of these techniques into action on your landing page, I think you’ll see an uptick in sales and conversions. Give it a try, and let me know how it works out.
What persuasion technique will you use, and how will you use it?
Read other Crazy Egg articles by Neil Patel.