Using Behavioral Psychology To Influence Website Visitors

September 23, 2014 11:13 am Published by

One way to improve your conversion rates is to use psychological principals for optimization. The age old marketing tool of applying psychology theory to campaign tactics has been used by greats like Albert Lasker and Edward Bernays, who manipulated Freud’s theories in famous campaigns for Marlboro and Ivory Soap during the 1930s and 1940s. While Internet users may be savvier than the 1950’s silver bullet consumer. Here are some newer theories that can be applied to your website conversion optimization.


Law of Prägnanz, or the Law of Simplicity

This principal states that we believe that simpler things hold less unpleasant surprises. When looking to redesign a website it is easy to get caught up in over designing. However the human eye doesn’t notice minor details at first- they notice the overall impression as it comes together in a full concept. Therefore, don’t forget that simple, clear and orderly layouts can go a long way to improving conversions. One hint is to just focus on the most important value propositions or features. Consider shorter page length.


Law of Past Experience This principal describes our current interpretation as being based upon our past experiences. Considerations of this law are that experiences are extremely unique to individuals and therefore could be very different for each other. Here are a couple of ways to apply the law of past experience. Consider seals of approval to increase trust and credibility. Test the most main stream social buttons opposed to branded to your colors. Review and consider similar layouts of competitors who are on page one for your target keywords.


Cost Benefit Analysis Principal

When considering an action to take, a person’s perceived benefit relative to the perceived cost can strongly influence one’s behavior. Consider what you are asking from visitors compared to what they get from you. Are you asking for 20 pieces of personal information from people prior to giving them information on a product? Do you think you are asking for too much information? Consider how you can reduce friction in the conversion process. Discounts are another tactic to consider. This is a way to reduce the risk (cost) for conversion. Optional fields that aren’t required can be considered friction as well. Think about removing all non-required fields to improve conversions.


Fitts’ Law

This principal focused on the concept of how long it takes to complete a desired action such as registering for information. This also considers the distance to the target and size of the desired target action. Ways to leverage this concept are to make your conversion area larger, more accessible and have a brighter or contrasting color for the call to action button. For email marketing, consider making your unsubscribe button smaller and replacing anchor text of ‘unsubscribe’ to ‘here’. This was a tactic that helped the 2012 Obama campaign raise over $500 million in donations . This concept is further supported by the law of past experience since people are use to looking for the unsubscribe hyper-link not a ‘here’ link.


The Take Away

Just because these are “laws”, it doesn’t mean they work in every situation. In other cases, they may work very well when combined. What’s most important is testing and following your conversion and conversion rates. What we do know is that these laws at least set up your test for potentially higher performance.

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