January 23, 2019

How To Beat The Slump: Behavioural Psychology In Ecommerce

By Stephen Hill, Senior Ecommerce Strategist, at Vaimo

This is a condensed version of the report, How To Beat The Slump: Behavioural Psychology In Ecommerce, by Stephen Hill, Senior Ecommerce Strategist at Vaimo. Download the full report here.

In the past, we’ve been led to invest in aesthetic theories of customer experience – especially when it comes to ecommerce design! However, insight from the discipline of cognitive psychology reveals that this should not be the case.

A recent meta-analysis of 6700 online experiments, undertaken by Qubit Digital, found that altering design elements has a far smaller effect on revenue than aligning your campaigns with behavioural psychology best practices.

But a deeper dive into the motivations behind our everyday behaviour can give marketers greater control over the way their websites are received by customers. Aligning your efforts with best practice in behavioural psychology could give your strategy the edge it needs to win the battle of ecommerce.

This paper focuses on five principles of persuasion that you can use to drive better conversion from your ecommerce marketing efforts.

1. Endowed Progress

The principle of endowed progress can best be examined by imagining the last time you stood at the back of a queue. Being at the end of the line is frustrating, and the longer you’re left at the back, the more appealing it becomes to give up.

But somehow that feeling quickly dissolves when a few more people join behind you. This is down to the endowed progress principle: people who feel that they’ve achieved some progress towards a certain goal become more committed to seeing things through to completion; those who feel they’ve made little or no progress are more likely to abandon their efforts.

2. Appointment Dynamic

A key factor of gamification mechanics, the appointment dynamic is the principle of success that occurs when a customer returns at a predefined time to take a predetermined action. As consumers, we’re more likely to convert when we’re given a set appointment to do so. The effect is one of urgency and regularity; a repeated appointment becomes part of a customer’s routine.

When you consider the popularity of happy hours in bars and restaurants, it’s easy to see this technique’s success as part of a long-term loyalty strategy. Using marketing to invoke the appointment
dynamic gives customers both a reason to act and a sense of immediacy to their actions. This is perfect for driving both new and returning customers to convert in the way you’d like them to.

3. Cognitive Load

Cognitive load describes the total amount of mental effort required to complete an activity, and can be easily summarised by the well-known user-experience (UX) principle: the less effort an activity feels, the more likely it is that we’ll see it through to completion.

Digital interactions requiring extreme cognitive load are fraught with ‘danger’ – that is, the likelihood of errors and/or interferences with the task at hand increases drastically. In contrast, interactions that induce a low level of cognitive load run much more smoothly. These are most often described as “seamless” or “frictionless” and are the holy grail for designers.

4. Collective Opinion

Otherwise known as ‘social proof’, collective opinion refers to the psychological circumstance in which we all reference the behaviours of others to guide our own decision-making. When it comes to making purchases, we feel far more comfortable knowing that other customers have had positive experiences with products and services.

Many ecommerce businesses have already begun to leverage the collective opinion principle in the form of user-generated content (UGC). The opportunities for consumers to both create and access UGC have exploded in the digital age and the authentic nature of UGC is reassuring to consumers.

5. Scarcity And Urgency

A key contributor to the fear-of-missing out (FOMO) factor, the scarcity principle acknowledges that humans will inherently value and desire objects that are scarce in supply, and place a lower value on those that are plentiful.

It’s not difficult to think of situations in ecommerce that tap into this instinct: flash sales and limited clothing runs.

Conclusion: A Consideration Of Ethics

Responsible marketers use psychology legally, ethically, and respectfully to provide customers with exceptional brand experiences.

There’s no question that manipulating consumer behaviour to the customer’s disadvantage is unethical, but it’s not hard to envisage where the line lies.

Georgia Barry, an eCommerce Strategist at Vaimo, will be speaking about content and commerce at our Digital Marketing Summit on Thursday 31 January. For more information regarding the event you can view the full agenda here.

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By Stephen Hill, Senior Ecommerce Strategist, at Vaimo