Find out how to sell more online – inside Click.ology

Cover of Click.ology - Works in Online Shopping and How Your Business Can Use Consumer Psychology to Succeed

Packed with tips, guidance and real-world case studies – from online niche stores Bellabox and Facetache to the universal appeal of Groupon, and from offline discount stores Dollar Tree and Poundland to the luxury Selfridges – my latest book reveals:

  • Why most online shopping carts are abandoned before a purchase is ever made
  • Why having a centrally positioned “search box” aids navigation and increases sales
  • Why offering free shipping online pays off
  • Why it makes sense to be sociable

Plus the book reveals the easy-to-use, five-step CLICK System to online sales success.

Buy Click.ology Now
Categories: Online Business, Retail

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Online is good, face-to-face is better

Study shows preference for real world encounters

Two 3d businessmen shake hands in an office

Businesses and organisations the world over have for the past couple of decades been looking forward to the day when they can deliver almost all their services online. The theory is that this will cut costs, reduce staffing levels, improve productivity and increase efficiency. That is all nice theory. But mostly it is an assumption.

True, you can cut some costs. Email has dramatically reduced postage and distribution costs. But it has significantly reduced overall productivity and increased day-to-day administration costs due to the time it now takes to manage daily emails. The costs of email could well have outweighed the savings it can make.

There are other examples of cost savings from using the Internet which don’t actually turn out to be cost savings. A website may replace a printed brochure more cheaply, but a printed brochure doesn’t need a member of staff or an agency or an entire team to constantly update it and keep it fresh.

The potential savings which the Internet bring us are often mythical. Sometimes, using the Internet costs us more.

Customer research is more difficult

In the world of face-to-face business you conduct customer research constantly – you do it “live” using body language assessment, asking questions, having conversations and so on. To do that online you need complex analytics and someone to analyse the data and then someone else to reprogram your website to take into account what the data suggests.

In face-to-face, real world encounters, both parties can adjust their views, they can seek answers to specific queries and they can gauge the responses from tone of voice, body language and so on. Try doing that online; the web is nowhere near as efficient as a human being.

However, the Internet clearly does give us several efficiencies and possibilities. One of those is in education.

Self service courses online

There are plenty of ways we can learn things online, from self-service courses from a provider such as Udemy, to complete degrees from academic institutions such as The Open University. Educational organisations are rushing headlong to the Internet in a bid to sign up students from across the globe. But is it worth it?

There are very few studies of online education, but a new piece of research from the North Dakota State University shows that students prefer face-to-face. They found online courses more challenging and lacking in interaction.

Whenever areas of our life that involve interaction are studied, the preference always seems to be for face-to-face. That should come as no surprise.

Rather than organisations clamouring for cost reductions and efficiency improvements by going online, perhaps they ought to think about how they can cost-effectively do as much face-to-face as possible. The Internet clearly has a lot going for it, but when it comes to human activity, it is pretty weak. That means you could well be better off by coming up with more ways to meet your clients and prospects face-to-face.

Categories: Internet Psychology


Should you start collecting more online friends?

Quantity – not quality – could be more important for social networking

The debate about the number of social networking contacts you should have has raged on for years. Indeed, even before the era of online social networking business leaders argued over whether you should cultivate a small group of contacts who you know well, or a large collection of people who you don’t have such deep relationships with. Is it the quality of your business network that matters, or the quantity?

This is a fairly polarised debate. Networking strategist Andy Lopata, for instance, argued that quality is more important than quantity in his blog post “Stop Playing the Numbers“. Yet another networking expert, Thomas Power, the founder of the world’s first business social network, Ecademy, argues that quantity is more important than quality, which he did in a recent edition of “The Global Networking Show“.

Online social networking has faced the same issue. Should you collect thousands of friends and followers or should you just focus on a small group. Professor Robin Dunbar has argued that we only have 149 people in our social groups on average anyway, something which has become known as “the Dunbar Number“. So how come there are people on Facebook with thousands of friends, or on Twitter with millions of followers? Do they know something we don’t? Have they realised that quantity is better than quality in some way?

As ever, research and testing can help provide the answer. Thankfully, research from social psychologists at North Carolina State University has found the answer:

Quantity beats quality.

Well, at least in terms of one measure – money. It turns out that the people who networked the most, who contacted the most people and who took every opportunity to build the number of people they were connected with were the ones who had the greatest increase in income. The people who focused on a smaller group of contacts, did not have the same degree of financial success.

So, at first sight, it seems that the psychologists have answered that age-old conundrum and pointed us in the direction of quantity over quality.

It seems sure, therefore, that if you build up your connections in your network you will make more money as a result.

Except all is not as it seems. Even though the research found that people with big networks made more money than those with small networks, it was the behaviour and attitudes of the people that were more important. The people with the big networks that made the most money were motivated by growth and advancement. In other words, they probably were making more money due to this characteristic of their personality rather than the size of their network. The network size is probably a reflection of their behaviour – they attract more people to want to connect to them because they are go-ahead people. They make more money because they are go-ahead, not necessarily through the size of their network.

It is not quality OR quantity

What the research really suggests is that you shouldn’t focus on quantity nor should you concentrate on quality. Instead, you should focus on your motivation. Concentrate on growth, on building your business and on reaching your goals. In doing so, your social network numbers will take care of themselves. You will inevitably increase the number of friends and followers as a result of your go-getting behaviour. But it will not be those numbers, on their own, that make the difference. It is your behaviour that will do that.


Categories: Social

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Amazon demonstrates it misunderstands pricing

Amazon launches massive campaign against Hachette amidst dispute about prices

ebook reader on bookshelfAmazon has emailed all its Kindle publishers and set up a website in the midst of its dispute with the American publishing company Hachette. The publishers do not wish to lower the prices of ebooks, but Amazon wants them to.  Meanwhile 900 leading authors have set up a website appealing for the dispute to end, criticising Amazon.

At the heart of the dispute is the pricing of ebooks. Amazon wants to lower prices, arguing that this leads to more purchases, increased profits and better royalties for authors. Leaving aside the fact that the company has used emotional tactics, linking their latest round of the dispute to the First World War, Amazon does have some impressive statistics available.

According to Amazon, if you decrease the price of an ebook by a third, you can increase the sales by almost 75%. Amazon uses this data to say that lowering prices will make more people read more books. They suggest that, in the world of multiple media, books have to compete effectively and that price is crucial.

Amazon’s basic error

Amazon, however, is making the basic mistake made by schoolchildren when they first start studying statistics. They are linking two sets of data and assuming there is a connection. The fact that more books are sold does not mean that more books are read. Indeed, there is plenty of research that even books which are valued by people get low readership. Many business books, for instance, are not read after purchase and if they are, usually it is only the first chapter, with readers dipping in and out occasionally. An interesting fun study, known as the Hawking Index, suggests that a wide variety of books get very low readership. Amazon has made the basic mistake of assuming that the purchase of something means greater use of those items. The evidence actually points the other way.

Amazon’s second mistake

The next problem with Amazon’s argument about the need to lower prices is that it assumes that people are driven by price. Decades of consumer research shows that this is emphatically not the case. Only when the seller starts to focus the mind of the buyer on price does the amount of money become the issue.

This is about psychological “framing”. The design of the Amazon website, for instance, frames the mind of the visitor into “cheap”. Therefore they expect lower prices. Once you have made them expect lower prices you have to start delivering. This is a downward slope, the ultimate direction of which is in ever lower prices, driving the need to sell more and more in order to stand still in terms of profit.

Price is about perception

Once you start lowering prices your customers start to devalue what you sell. If you price something highly, people value it much more greatly and with higher value you generally get greater usage. If Amazon is really as keen on getting more people to read, as its emotionally-charged letter suggests, then they need to RAISE prices to increase engagement. Lowering prices reduces the perception of the value of the book and with that goes lower usage, reducing readership.

Whilst it is admirable that Amazon wants to increase the number of books read, they have gone about this in completely the wrong way, revealing they misunderstand the psychology of price.

If your business wants greater usage of what it sells, lowering prices is precisely what not to do.

Categories: Online Business

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People decide to trust your website in an instant

Trustworthiness appears to be a subconscious process taking place before we are consciously aware of something

The words Trust Us surrounded by arrows in a cirle diagram pattern each with a word - reliable, experienced, knowledgeableIn business you clearly want people to trust your website. You don’t want people to think you are dodgy in any way. But what do you need to do in order to get people to trust you and therefore increase their likelihood of buying from you?

New research suggests you have to gain people’s trust far more quickly than you might think. The study showed that people can rate the trustworthiness of faces even without “seeing” them. A part of the brain known as the amygdala is involved in emotions and decision-making and it is this area that fires up when we have to establish trustworthiness.

Earlier studies had asked people to rate faces as trustworthy, untrustworthy or neutral. That research had already established the role of the amygdala in making such decisions.

The new study took an interesting twist. It recorded the activity in the amygdala when these three categories of images were shown to people so fast that they were not consciously aware of the face.

Interestingly, the research found that the same parts of the amygdala kicked in as was the case when people were consciously aware of the images.

This suggests that establishing trust is such an important part of our survival instinct that we are able to weigh up people and their likely threat to us within milliseconds.

Online signals of trust

Although this new research was on faces, it emphasises the importance we place on trust and getting it established quickly. The fact that the process is taking place at the unconscious level suggests that people will have made up their mind about your website before they are even aware it has loaded onto their screens.

So what do you need to do in order to establish trust in this unconscious analysis?

More than anything else your website needs to do what people are expecting. If they are expecting to see a news-style website which is effectively saying “read me” then that is what it must scream to the subconscious. Equally, if the website is attempting to make people think they have the chance of a bargain, then the design must convey “cheap stuff on sale here” in an instant. In other words, your web design has an important impact in establishing trust.

Rather than focus on the nitty gritty of design, focus more on the overall message impact.

Far too much time is spent worrying about colour, about fonts, column widths and so on. Much more time is needed on the subconscious message the design conveys. Focus on that, get that right and you will make your site more trusted because you will match subconscious expectations much more.

It is the subconscious impact of your website which is much more important than all the feature-rich components which most business owners focus on. Those are icing on the cake – but you need to get the cake right first…!

Categories: Internet Psychology

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Facebook is down….call the emergency services…!

Panic sets in when our favourite services break down

Strange, but true. Last week Facebook suffered an “outage” of some kind meaning that it disappeared from the web for a short time. Most of us would not have noticed. But the Los Angeles Sheriff Department had so many calls to its 911 service (the equivalent of 999 in the UK) that they had to resort to Twitter to tell people to stop calling them.

Tweet from Los Angeles Sheriff

This might not be as extreme as you think. People call the emergency services for all kinds of things. I remember speaking to a family doctor several years ago who was awakened at 3am with a call from one of his patients. “I am writing an urgent letter and I have run out of postage stamps; can you bring one round,” said the caller. “I am not the post office,” said the angry doctor. “I know,” said the patient, “I called you because it is a letter to the hospital.” A true story, I kid you not.

Although the doctor was angry at being woken up for something so trivial, it showed one thing. The patient was so well-connected to the doctor emotionally that she thought he was the answer to her problem. That is the same situation in Los Angeles. The people of LA were so emotionally connected to Facebook that they perceived its failing as a true emergency, something which the police clearly had to deal with.

How emotionally connected are your customers?

It begs the question whether your website visitors would call the police if your site went down for a while? Would anyone miss it? Would your customers start to complain or resort to Twitter, for instance, to see what is going on?

I am not suggesting for one moment that you should recommend the calling of 999 or 911 should a website go down. Rather, I am asking how emotionally connected are your visitors to your website? If they just ignore it when your site is down, it means they can live without it. You haven’t made enough of a connection with your visitors for them to be concerned.

You want, at the very least, for people to Tweet about it, to phone your business or to send you an email asking what is going on. You need your website visitors and your customers to be concerned. If they are not, it suggests you are not making enough of a connection with them.

Be brave – switch off your website

You could try a test. Switch off your website for an hour and see what happens. If people Tweet, email or call, you know you are doing OK. But if no-one notices or mentions it to you, it is time to take a look at the emotional value of your website. Are you truly connecting with your audience. Clearly Facebook is – so much so that people call the police when it is not available. If that happens to you when you website breaks down, then you have “made it”. Until that time, concentrate on emotionally connecting with readers – make your website about them, not you.

Categories: Internet Psychology