Shoppers are in different states of mind depending upon which activity they are engaged in. Imagine, for instance, that you are in a store browsing for something; you are not looking for anything in particular, but you might buy if you see something interesting. Would you respond to an in-store announcement saying you had to “buy now” before the doors closed? You would probably leave the shop – you weren’t that bothered anyway.

But what if you had to buy something, you were looking for anything that might be suitable for a friend’s birthday and you needed to get it today. The in store announcement suggesting you needed to buy now because the shop is closing would have an altogether different effect on you. Doubtless you would grab something and head to the checkouts.

It’s the same online. People respond differently to sales signals such as “buy now” buttons or time-limited offers and so on. Their response depends upon the mental frame of mind they are in at the time they see the signals you are providing.

An interesting study by Dymo proves the point. At first sight, the research might suggest that you should change the colours of your “buy now” buttons, that you should alter the phrase “add to cart” to “proceed to cart” or that you should change the size of the shopping cart buttons. Indeed, the Dymo study shows that if you do these things you could get a hefty increase in sales in your online shop.

However, the details of the study show that it wasn’t as simple as this. The colour of the “buy now” button, for instance, had varying effects depending on where it was in the sales process. For instance, early on a red button led to an increase in sales, but later in the process, as people neared checking out, a blue button had better results.

The effect of colours on our state of mind is well known, but what this research shows more than anything is that the right colour to choose for your web site’s buttons is not straightforward as it clearly depends upon the pre-existing state of mind of your customers. And your online shoppers will be in different states of mind to each other and at certain points in your sales cycle.

So, if anyone tells you there are any “rules” about shopping cart buttons and words, just tell them it’s nonsense. There are no “rules” unless you know the psychological state of your individual web site visitor at each particular point in your sales process.

All you can do is get close by testing colours, sizes and words on your particular clients. The people who buy from Dymo are not the same people who will shop with your site. Hence, the only way you ever know whether the size of your buttons are right, or whether or not you are using the right shopping cart labels, is to test them with your specific audience. You might want a short-cut to helping improve your sales, but rarely do they work better than testing in your specific marketplace.

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