Although estimates vary, it seems that every minute of every day around 99 new websites are created. That’s one million new websites each week – all of them competing for attention, taking people away from your site and making it even tougher to be ranked well in search engines. Not only that, every two days the amount of data added to the Internet is equivalent to all data ever produced from the dawn of civilization up until about 2003. Quite apart from new websites competing against you online, the existing competition is shouting louder and louder every day. So just how can you generate more business online amidst this cacophony?
Here are five psychological techniques that will help you stand out and gain that business, in spite of the growth in competition online in your sector.
1. Make your pages individual
With everyone producing websites in “niches” or targeting tiny groups, doing the same no longer helps. You look just like the noisy competition, even by focusing your web pages on tight audiences. Now, you need to produce web pages for each individual customer – a page that is theirs, alone. This targets our deep psychological desire to be recognised and loved. A website that is exclusive to us as an individual panders to that desire. You can do this using clever technology to provide people with accounts, then the pages you serve up to them are so personalised they do not want to even consider the competition. An alternative, for many businesses, where they are doing big deals with a small number of clients is to produce web pages in advance of meeting those potential customers, which are focused precisely on their specific needs. Then when you give them your website address, you give them the special page they should go to. They will love you for it.
2. Enrol your key customers into an exclusive club
Providing a free and exclusive “club” for certain customers can make them feel wanted and adored. This is another way to tap into that psychological desire to be loved. However, it also adds another factor, what psychologists call “in-group out-group” behaviour. When people see themselves as in a particular group they start behaving in ways that reinforces their membership of that group at the exclusion of people outside that group. By creating your own special group of customers they will start behaving in ways that help them maintain their membership of that group – such as buying more from you.
3. Stop selling certain products or services
Announcing that you are going to stop selling a popular item only makes people want to buy it more. This is part of our basic instincts for survival. When something looks like it is going to be scarce, we want to get it and hoard it. Even if we don’t need it now, our brain suggests we might need it in the future and that we ought to get it before it disappears. This goes way back in human development to the times when we had to hunt and gather food, or die. That deep-rooted instinct gets expressed in all kinds of behaviours today, especially when we are buying things. When we think something is in short supply we instinctively want it. Announcing you are ending the sale of a particular product or service can trigger a flurry of sales.
4. Use humour more often
People buy more readily when their body is relaxed and when endorphins – happy hormones – are circulating. Online, the most shared items by far are humorous ones. By tapping into humour you help people feel more relaxed and more open to your messages about your products or services. You don’t need to be telling jokes or doing anything wacky, just being light and witty is all that is needed to change the state that people are in. Essentially, you need to be far less boring in your web pages and much more light and conversational, adding in witty lines every now and then. Doing that will make people feel warmer towards you and more likely to buy.
5. Prime people to buy
On your web pages use language which implies that the visitor has already bought the item on sale. For instance, rather than saying “if” you buy this, talk about how the individual is actually using it. Write your copy as though the person already owns the item. That way you load their working memory with signals that they have the item in their possession or that they already use the service. In psychology this is known as “priming” – people think they are in one kind of situation when they are not. It prepares the brain for when the actual situation arises. So, if you make people think they already own the item, when they come to consider buying it, the decision is much easier because when they press the “buy now” button their brain is a step ahead of that action. Hence it is a much easier decision for people to make.
So, there you have it. Five ways you can tap into psychological factors to sell more on your website.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+