Maximise Sales With 4 Cognitive Biases

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Rob Berry outlines four “cognitive biases” that influence user behaviour, and how we can align them to e-commerce.

Think you’re a rational individual who makes rational decisions? Think again.

Dig a little deeper and you’ll realise there are numerous decoys and signposts that affect our decision-making processes. In the world of conversion rate optimisation, these are not uncommon – in fact, they are proven ways to influence user behaviour.

But what are they?

  1. The Decoy


Give somebody two options and they’ll pick the one they prefer most. For example, taking out a new phone contract.

Option 1 is the Samsung Galaxy S7, with 500MB of data for £28.00 per month.

Option 2 is the same phone, but with 4GB of data for £29.00 per month. This also has an upfront cost of £29.99.

Depending on the amount of data they want, and how much money they want to spend, people’s preferences will differ.

And cue the decoy. Option 3.

Option 3 is the same phone, but with 3GB of data for £35.00 per month, with no upfront cost.

Option 3 costs more per month than options 1 and 2, and it has slightly less data available than option 2. Chances are, people won’t choose option 3, but its presence causes option 2 to be chosen more regularly than if option 3 wasn’t in the picture.

But how can we use this in e-commerce marketing?

Simply add a third option, or bundle depending on your product and marketing vertical. Plan it carefully, and test how it makes the other options perform.

If you want to discuss this in further detail, get in touch with our conversion rate optimisation experts.

  1. Time-Sensitive Delivery


If you’re offering a discount on your products or services, make sure you create time-sensitive delivery options.

People are more inclined to grab a lesser discount that arrives sooner than a better discount with a longer waiting time for delivery.

Your customers will unknowingly have a short-term preference for smaller rewards over larger ones, which isn’t logical at all, really. This just reiterates why the power of cognitive bias is so important!

But how can we use this in e-commerce marketing?

If you make your shipping options faster than the regular delivery times, it won’t matter if they are slightly more expensive.

Give your customers a reason to buy now – if they don’t, they won’t get their item for another few days. For example – FREE NEXT DAY DELIVERY IF ORDERED BEFORE 4PM.

Or, you could even offer free next day delivery for orders over a certain amount. Spending £10 or £20 more seems like a better deal than waiting three days…

  1. Humour


If you can make your customers laugh with your products, you’re onto a winner.

People are more likely to remember products that make them laugh, which is down to cognitive reaction time in processing WHY a product is funny.

And what’s more, people are more likely to share the product with others, in a bid to see if they too find it amusing.

But how can we use this in e-commerce marketing?

Remember – humour distracts the brain from recognising a sales pitch.

If it’s on brand, inject a bit of humour into your e-commerce business. By adding comical value to your products, in a way that comes across authentic and not forced, people will be more likely to remain engaged with your brand and (hopefully) make repeat purchases.

  1. Purchase Justification

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When making a purchase, people like to justify it to themselves by means of assigning positive attributes to the product they’ve added to their basket.

If someone is stuck between two options and can’t buy both, they automatically highlight the pros of one against the other to help make a cognitive decision, and vice versa.

But how can we use this in e-commerce marketing?

In order to alleviate the slight regret of parting with money, people automatically go through the justification stage.

They reassure themselves that they really did make the right decision. And you know what helps them do this? A small message of congratulations after they’ve paid at the checkout.

“You’ve bought a vacuum cleaner, congratulations! Now your house will be cleaner than ever.”

Logical? No – as a human being, getting congratulated by a computer for entering your payment details does not seem logical – but the way these messages make people feel all comes down to the importance of cognitive bias.

You can read more about conversion rate optimisation top tips on our blog. We post monthly CRO roundups, so make sure you check it out.

If you’d like to talk cognitive biases in more detail, just give us a call and speak with our conversion rate optimisation experts.

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