Have you ever argued with yourself over buying something?
These are typically the moments when the real human nature shines through, as we’re scrambling to find compelling facts to justify purchases that are driven entirely by an emotional need to feel good.
Appealing to the logical mind is essential to make a compelling case and convince your customers you’ve got the best solution, but when it comes to actually making them pull out a credit card, nothing beats a strong emotional pull.
People often think they make decisions based on rational thinking and analysis when, in reality, most of our decisions are highly influenced, if not entirely determined, by emotions.
According to research, positive emotions towards a brand lead to higher consumer loyalty than trust or any other sentiment. And more importantly, fMRI neuro-imagery shows that when evaluating brands, consumers tend to use their emotions – feelings and experiences – rather than information, such as facts, features, and brand attributes, to drive their decisions.
So it seems that we get incredibly emotional all the time.
Learning how to invoke consumer emotions and influence their behavior can have a direct impact on your bottom line. Businesses of all caliber are successfully optimizing their marketing campaigns to activate emotional triggers and increase their sales by acting on solid research.
Here are 9 emotional triggers that can help you boost your sales.
Loss aversion is one of the strongest emotional triggers. People would much rather avoid a loss than enjoy an equivalent gain. Or to put it bluntly, it’s better to avoid a $5 charge than to get a $5 discount.
A simple change in how you frame an offer or situation can have a huge impact on consumer decision-making. Instead of highlighting to your customers what they would gain by buying your product, focus on escalating the loss, they’ll suffer if they don’t. Another interesting twist that is a result of people’s tendency to avoid losses is our inability to easily let go of something that we already have, which, in turn, increases its value even further. If you can make your prospects feel as if they already own your product, they will be more likely to buy it because not buying it will mean losing it.
Here are a few ideas on how you can implement loss aversion in your marketing messages:
- Encourage people to imagine what it would be like to have or use your product by peppering your page copy with words like imagining, visualize, and imagine.
- Frame your copy to emphasize losses rather than benefits; e.g., “You will lose $75 a month in surcharge fees if you don’t switch to our Pro account.”
- Let your prospects use your product for free for a limited period of time to increase the sense of loss.
- Use video content to demonstrate how your product works – watching somebody else use your product will make prospects feel as if they’re the ones doing it.
The biggest challenge when applying this tip to marketing communications is to learn to focus on potential losses rather than gains offered by your product.
The law of reciprocity is pretty straightforward: if you do something nice for someone, they’ll feel indebted to you and will try to return the kindness.
For example, when you enjoy some free food samples at a supermarket, don’t you feel a nagging obligation to buy some just because you tried it? Obviously, online retailers need to find different ways how to utilize reciprocity in their messaging and marketing campaigns. Adding a free gift, offering a lot of free high-quality content, and offering a free trial are some of the most common tactics of making prospects feel like they ‘owe’ you.
A budgeting software Ynab has geared its marketing towards invoking reciprocity by offering a 34-day trial and publishing a huge amount of educational content that would be difficult to find somewhere else.
Image source: Ynab
The key to making this principle work is to gently remind your prospects about what you’ve done for them. For example, when someone downloads your free lead magnet, it’s perfectly okay to send a follow-up email at some point saying: ”Since I’ve given you this guide for free, I’d like to ask for a favor — click this link to…”.
Newness and novelty
Researchers have found that new experiences and new facts in learning significantly improve memory. Our brain is particularly attracted to new information and the promise of a new experience. By tapping into this trend, businesses can quite easily boost their revenue.
The entire fashion industry would collapse if the novelty factor lost its influence on consumers. Just think about it — we’ve been ‘trained’ to spruce up our wardrobes every season to keep up with the new fashion trends and looks. Failing to do that can have serious implications on our lives, as we know that the brain needs less than 30 seconds to form an impression of someone. A poor first impression can be the leading cause of a failed job interview, an unsuccessful sale, and lots of new customers. The appeal of trends and the promise of new exciting experiences make the wheel of sales spin every day.
Look at Apple and its consistent strategy to release new, updated products every year. It is one of the best examples of a company that has recognized and successfully used the novelty factor to drive sales. Everyone knows that the difference between iPhone 6 and iPhone 7 is too insignificant to convince anyone to upgrade and still, hundreds of thousands of people eagerly toss their ‘old’ phones away to get their hands on the new model.
By constantly upgrading, updating, and improving your products or service, you’ll keep your prospects on their toes and wishing to spend their money. Depending on the industry you’re in, you can also experiment with creating new products and taking advantage of the scarcity trigger to further fuel consumers’ desire.
“No hidden fees” and “money-back guarantee” are some of the oldest tactics applied by online businesses. Building trust and credibility in the eyes of your customers directly translates into higher sales volume and stronger relationships. Interestingly, keeping your sales promise is no longer enough to achieve business success, as millennials hold companies to account for their values, policies and brand promises. Being completely honest and transparent with your prospects will help you tackle the most common objections and instill a sense of trust in your brand. Not only will your prospects spend their money with you, but they’ll also become your greatest advocates, too.
Baremetrics’ Open startups initiative is a great example of a growing trend to be painstakingly open about the performance of your business. Companies of all types and sizes are embracing transparency and openness to build deeper connections with their customers, which in turn increase brand trust and boost sales. For example, Buffer chooses to disclose the most sensitive information about their business – everything from employee salaries to their revenue – to foster an open company culture.
Image source: Buffer
Marketers have been playing with the concept of total transparency for years, but the current online climate that is charged with a desire to learn and improve has pushed the envelope even further. By sharing the naked truth about their experiences, successes and failures, companies and entrepreneurs tap into the mindset of growth and development as well as utilize the unique content they have to increase engagement and capture people’s imagination. Blogger and entrepreneur Tomas Laurinavicius are publishing his lifestyle reports with data on his income, fitness, sleep, productivity, blog, and personal expenses to inspire others to follow their professional and personal passions.
Even the most loyal customers can sometimes fall into the traps of the analysis paralysis of decision-making. Psychologist Barry Schwartz has coined the phrase “The paradox of choice” to summarize his findings on how the increased choice “has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied”. It would seem that the unlimited access to a wealth of information online should empower us to make better decisions, and yet it often leads to greater fear of making the wrong choice, which in turn leaves us in the clutches of analysis paralysis (all the while making no progress on our most important projects).
Image source: TED
When customers are faced with too many options, they go into a state of overthinking and end up not making a choice at all (out of fear of making the wrong one). Too much information can be a serious conversion killer and businesses need to address this issue carefully. For example, if there are too many features on your landing page or the pricing page is littered with too many offers, it will drive your customers into over-analyzing their options and the majority will choose to delay the decision.
Be sure you’re displaying the most important information required to make a decision, but nothing more. When you want your users to take action, you need to give them a simple, clear-cut option to do that, guiding them through every step.
Injecting urgency into your marketing messages is a surefire way to trigger the emotional need for instant gratification. From on-demand food and movies to install polaroid cameras and Amazon Prime, the modern consumer is so used to instantly getting what they want that they choose not to have it at all if they can’t get it now. Instant gratification has become the norm.
Image source: Pexels
The two emotions believed to be the driving forces that compel human beings to take action are pain avoidance (or loss aversion) and pleasure. Instant gratification is a need to satisfy our needs, wants, and urges immediately and when we don’t get fulfillment, it causes us great anxiety and tension.
How can you implement instant gratification in your marketing efforts? Well, there are the obvious options like offering next day delivery or ‘click & collect service or peppering your copy with words like ‘today’, ‘within 24 hours’, ‘x hours left’ and so on to appeal to the emotional trigger, and slightly less obvious ways, like offering live chat support, implementing a loyalty program, or giving something away for free that they can use immediately (a voucher code or access to a video, etc.).
The concept of social proof is well-known to online marketers. Human beings are social creatures and so we tend to place great value on the opinions of people that are similar to us. And even more so if that person is a friend. The decision-making process is a complicated one, so providing your prospects with as much reassurance as possible will lead to higher conversions.
Testimonials are a foolproof way of showing that your product works. Turn to your loyal clients to get a review of your product or a brief testimonial to demonstrate the range of industries your product serves and the number of people that can testify to its effectiveness.
Another great way to generate new qualified leads is to implement a referral program. Getting a personal invitation from a friend is much more compelling and effective than being bombarded by marketing messages. Create incentives for your users to invite their friends and generate leads that are much more likely to convert.
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Safety and security
When people are trying to make a decision whether to spend their money with you or not, payment safety and security should be the least of their worries. But not only that — consumers are more and more often looking for reassurance that you will continue to provide excellent service long after they click the buy button.
It’s crucial to give customers a sense of security and there are several ways you can do it. You can take on policies like “money-back guarantee, no questions asked” to tackle their concerns about making a wrong choice and integrate with the most popular payment gateways to let your customers choose a payment option that they’re familiar with. To demonstrate your commitment to building a long-term relationship, you can also offer a free and convenient exchange & returns policy that will guarantee a hassle-free after-sale experience.
Image source: Pexels
Nothing makes you want it more than the possibility of not getting it. Marketers are well-versed with invoking the urgency trigger and it works every time. It can be done by using all kinds of tactics to suggest that a product is low in stock or that low prices are about to expire.
If you’re running a special promotion, adding a countdown timer is an excellent way to inject urgency and motivate people to act now or miss out. Adding out-of-stock announcements to products that are low in stock also highlights the product’s popularity invoking the social proof trigger (yes, people just want to have what everyone else has). Offering something exclusively to a chosen group of people makes them feel special and taps into the FOMO (fear of missing out) effect compelling them to buy. A special sale to registered members is a great example of this tactic in action. You can also try introducing seasonal products that are available for a limited time only. Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte is a success story of this tactic.
Over to you
Many make the mistake of confusing emotion-focused marketing with clear-daylight manipulation of consumers. That’s just wrong. Human beings are incredibly complex and often mysterious, so claiming there is a proven way how to coerce them into taking the desired action is silly.
However, by learning to activate the psychological cues and triggers, businesses have the opportunity to influence consumers’ behavior and aid their decision-making process. And to look at it another way, a lack of influence is also an influence. So take note of these incredibly powerful emotional triggers and implement them in your marketing tactics to achieve greater sales. It’s okay to get smart sometimes.