Marketing Psychology … How to Influence and Convert Consumers

We’ve all wished we could have more customer conversions at one point or another. But getting people who visit your site or your premises actually to buy from you is tough. Let’s discuss how to influence and convert consumers with marketing psychology.

Most of the advice out there you could quite easily call “stylistic.” It’s all about how you present yourself and how to put your best foot forward.

Check out our thoughts on team leverage.

influence and convert consumers
Influence and convert consumers.

It’s vaguely psychological in the sense that it accepts that enticing people to buy your product are important. But it’s naive in its approach. It doesn’t seek to exploit the psychological triggers that cause people to buy from you.

Your brand’s message isn’t limited to the word choices that you make. The environment under which you present your message is equally (perhaps even more) important.

Subtle aspects, such as color, line, shape, and font, matter. People respond to visual stimuli subconsciously. For starters, you need to ditch the notion that your website has to be elegant. Beautiful websites that don’t function well have high bounce rates. And, they don’t convert well.

You just need a functional website that’s easy to use and loads fast. But, learning a few psychology principles will help you to improve the usability of your website and thereby increase the engagement that you receive.

Here, we’re going to investigate the various psychological forces that trigger the buying decision. How can you better influence and convert them? Let’s take a look.



Human beings might have very different personalities, but they’re all wired on a basic level in a very similar way. This is particularly the case when it comes to pleasure and pain. People like pleasure and they avoid pain.

This basic fact is important for companies. Companies that provide their customers with pleasure are in a better position to do business than those that don’t. Why? Because companies that provide pleasure will become associated with pleasure in the consumer’s mind.

The theory seems straightforward, but how to make it actionable? Today, many of the world’s top companies are using the A to Z process. The idea here is to take customers from their first interaction – point A – and get them as close to point Z as possible, before asking for money.

You see this sort of thing all the time from top tech startups. Almost all tech startups won’t charge for their software upfront. Instead, they’ll offer customers a free trial that lasts perhaps a couple of weeks.

In that time, customers will use the product and learn all the many ways that it can help them. And, ultimately, they’ll begin to associate pleasure with that product. When that happens, tech companies will look to close the sale. It’s an effective strategy and one that exploits a key human drive.


Marketing psychology … Hick’s Law

Psychologists William Edmund Hick and Ray Hyman conducted choice reaction experiments to assess cognitive information capacity. They found that increasing the number of choices increased the time that it took to make a decision logarithmically.

A common application of this law is the jam study that you might have read. When the number of choices at a grocery store was decreased by 18, the sales shot up from 3% to 30%.

So, how does this law apply to your website design?

Instead of providing ten choices to your visitors and overwhelming them…

You need to cut down the options that you provide to the absolute, bare minimum.

A consumer is bombarded with a lot of information, every day. So, when they visit your website, value their time and present your most compelling and relevant offer to them.

Here are the specific design elements that you need to consider:

Keep the number of form fields to a minimum. Here’s an estimate of the conversions that you might lose, upon increasing the number of form fields.

Every additional social media share button on your website contributes to increasing the loading time. So, find the social platforms where your audience hangs out. Only show those sharing buttons on your blog, not ten other options.

Whirlpool increased the CTR in their email campaign by 42%, after they eliminated 3 secondary CTA buttons and resorted to a single, focused CTA.


consumer behavior examples
Consumer behavior examples.


We have known for a while that people strongly respond to both precedence and novelty. In the consumer world, the same is true. Take novelty, for instance. Neuroscience has shown that our brains react to novelty in a very interesting way.

When we see something new, our brains immediately release dopamine, making us feel good. We then start to associate new stuff with feeling good and become, in a sense, hooked.

Take the iPhone, for instance. Everybody knows that the difference between the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 6 is small. And yet people were quite happy to throw away their iPhone 5 and blow money on the new version, just because it was new.

So what can marketers do with this information? The key here is to tweak your product continuously. Add a couple of new features, change the styling, or even do a simple rebrand. These can all be effective in driving new sales and giving customers what they want.

If you do go down the novelty route, however, you’ve got to be careful. Customers will call your bluff if you don’t add meaningful new features or change your business model.


Influence and convert consumers … visceral reaction

I didn’t share complete information when I said that beautiful websites don’t get good conversions.

Occasionally, you can win over people and get them to love you by directly triggering their central nervous systems. People just feel that your website is great and can’t get enough of it.

What am I talking about?

Visceral reaction.

We all react, subconsciously, to certain things. 

How we are subconsciously affected is relatively consistent, across genders and demographics, because these reactions are rooted in our old brain.

So, how can you evoke a visceral reaction on your website and make people want to experience it again?

One simple way is by leveraging colorful pictures. Airbnb uses beautiful images to please its visitors and make a great first impression.

The UX Magazine shares a few more ways to design for the gut, in this article.


Leverage symmetry 

If you’re like most people, you don’t like disorder. So, you perceive all objects with a symmetry around their center.

So, how you can you leverage this principle in design?

Your audience will quickly comprehend information when you convey it in a symmetrical and orderly manner. On the other hand, when your composition provides a sense of imbalance, then the user might find it difficult to concentrate.

But, you can leverage asymmetry to draw attention towards important elements on your website – like the CTA buttons.


Marketing psychology … ease of use

The famous psychologist Daniel Kahneman said that the law of least effort applies to cognitive as well as physical effort. He says that if people have some options to achieve the same goal, they will choose the easiest.

His argument, therefore, is that people like stuff that is easy and dislike stuff that is hard. Evolution, he says, has made us lazy. It was a survival benefit for us to expend as little energy as possible because we never quite knew when our next meal would arrive.

Because laziness is so deeply built into our psychology, it’s something that is paramount for businesses. Firms need to make the customer experiences as painless and as easy as they possibly can.

Take making payments, for instance. Customers want to be able to make payments as quickly and as easily as possible. But often businesses don’t offer solutions that cater to their needs. Nobody wants to spend ages filling out a direct debit order form every time they make a big purchase.

What’s the key message to convey to your customers? It’s that your business is the easiest and simplest way for your clients to get hold of the service that they want.


psychological triggers
Psychological triggers.

Influence and convert consumers … personal connections

Ultimately, it’s all about connecting with your audience emotionally. If you can’t communicate a relevant offer for the user at the moment when he visits your website….then you’ve failed.

Here are a couple of ways to ensure that you take care of your prospects.

Conduct user experience tests While data about your users from analytics is a good way to make decisions, it isn’t the best. Because it doesn’t tell you ‘the why.’

Yelp leveraged a series of five tests, to analyze user behavior and derived valuable insights on the specific elements of their website.

For example, the search bar was one of their major features, and it was easy to use. They also found some elements, like the ‘Events’ tab, which weren’t particularly noticeable.

 Storytelling A classic and powerful technique to make an emotional connection with people is by telling stories. Your design tells a story, but is it a compelling and memorable one?

I would recommend starting with my article on brand storytelling,to assess your visual story.

Don’t underestimate the power of storytelling. Ecommerce brand Raven + Lily was able to ramp up their sales by 150%, by incorporating product storytelling and doing a site redesign.


Share a common enemy

Steve Jobs wasn’t the best manager or the best engineer. But what he could do better than anybody else in the world was sell. He understood that they way to sell to people was to create an alliance with them to solve a problem.

Creating a common enemy helps to unite businesses and consumers in a fundamental way. It makes it seem as if they are on the same team and have to work together to face down a common foe.

In the 1980s, Apple saw that Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard were running away with the desktop market. Jobs immediately saw an opportunity to cast Apple and its consumers as the underdog, and the PC firms as the corporate giants.

It didn’t matter that Apple itself was a big company. All that mattered was that Apple was uniting its customers under one banner against the PC.

The advice for small businesses is to find a common enemy. Remember, you don’t have to unite with people against a particular company. Having “colds and flu” as an enemy or “boring education” can be just as effective.


The bottom line


To be effective in this new era, we as marketers need to see our jobs differently. No more just focusing on metrics like clicks, video views or social media shares. We must successfully integrate our function with other business functions to create entire brand experiences that serve the customer all the way through their experiences throughout the business.


We can do better. Much better. But first, we need to stop seeing ourselves as crafters of clever brand messages and become creators of positive brand experiences.




Need some help in building better customer trust from your customer engagement? Creative ideas to help grow your customer relationships?


Call today for a FREE consultation or a FREE quote. Learn about some options to scope your job and pay for results.

Call Mike at 607-725-8240.


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Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+Twitter, and LinkedIn.  


Digital Spark Marketing will stretch your thinking and your ability to adapt to change.  We also provide some fun and inspiration along the way. Call us for a free quote today. You will be amazed how reasonable we will be.


More reading on customer engagement from our library:

Whole Foods Customer Engagement Using Social Media

Is Employee Engagement the Backbone of the Publix Culture?

13 Employee Engagement Lessons From Best Employee Brands

Positive Attitude Is Everything for Customer Engagement


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Marketing Psychology … How to Influence and Convert Consumers

One thought on “Marketing Psychology … How to Influence and Convert Consumers

  • June 14, 2017 at 2:30 am

    Woah! I’m really loving the template/theme of this blog.
    It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s very difficult to get that “perfect balance” between usability and appearance.
    I must say that you’ve done a great job with this.
    Also, the blog loads extremely quick for me on Firefox.
    Exceptional Blog!

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