You spend your waking hours thinking about your pitch, writing the proposition, and finally, you put it up on the website and wait for the magic to happen. And then wait some more. Only to not see the conversions that you expected. Then you lose sleep wondering how to boost your conversion rate.
Trust me, we’ve all been there. It happens to the best of us.
One person dug deeper to find out why this happens and what are the magic words that tap into the human psychology that persuade to complete an action. His name is Robert Cialdini, author of the book “Influence”. This book is regarded as the seminal literature in conversion marketing.
If you are a marketer, you’ve probably heard of Cialdini by now. If not, he might sound like an Italian chef, but let me assure you that he’s not. His book is fantastic, and you should get it.
Cialdini’s 7 principles to write high converting copy
… a.k.a “give me something and you get something in return.”
Have you observed: you look at someone, they look at you, the other person smiles, and you smile. Rather, you’re forced to smile. This is reciprocation at work in a social setting.
B2B (or B2C) companies usually ask for customers’ email or phone number in return for a free trial, sign up discounts, relevant resources such as an ebook, etc.
When it comes to using this principle, it is very important to define your target market. Is it SMBs? Is it enterprises? Then it becomes easier to set a reciprocation strategy that is appealing to your target market.
It doesn’t always have to be a free trial. But if it is, and the customer is in two minds thinking “gah, I forget to turn off my subscription and lose money all the time,” then consider not asking for a credit card at all. Add a “credit card not required” caveat. It reduces friction and helps the reader proceed with the intended action.
It’s 2019, but brands still use ‘free’ in their copy without discretion. The word ‘free’ has been exploited so much, and now it is spontaneously associated with ‘spam,’ ‘junk’ and ‘less worthy’ in customers minds.
How to use Reciprocity to boost your conversion rate
Reciprocity is at the core of inbound marketing.
It is imperative that you give without expecting anything from the person on the other side of the screen. If not, it renders itself as sleazy copy that repels users instead of converting them.
Businesses such as consulting cannot offer a free trial for their service. What they can do instead is create gated high quality, actionable resources like ebook or white papers; or simply turn them into website traffic.
Commitment & Consistency
Humans want to be seen as consistent beings who are committed. Which is why being capricious, fickle, etc. have a negative connotation and take the rap.
Consistency is the core value that makes people defend their lifestyle choices- meat/ no meat, political affiliations, etc.
Once you commit to something, your actions are tuned in ways that are consistent with the commitment.
Anne Hathaway, who won an Oscar for Les Miserables, confessed she was miserable preparing for the role. But because she was committed to the role, she made it a point to be consistent with her diet of lettuce and oatmeal paste to play a miserable Fantine.
In the business landscape, you get your leads to make a commitment for something inconsequential, say, getting a free ebook. This triggers the Rule of Consistency, which then helps evoke the coveted “yes” for much larger requests like buying your product at full-price, thereby improving conversions.
When you can get them to commit, you are creating an easy path for your customers to consistently come back to your business, share your content, follow your CTAs, and increase conversions.
How to use this principle to boost your conversion rate
“Create an account to read more” is a commitment to your brand. Thereafter, engage with them consistently.
We want to be liked. Is there anything that says validation than subscribing to the thoughts and actions of well-liked/ influential people? Or even from people just like them, who’ve seen success from using your product.
This is why testimonials work so well, especially in the SaaS business.
When people are hovering over that opt-in wondering if they need yet another email in their inbox, a powerful sentence with company numbers or a testimonial pushes readers to sign up. (Check out how Ken harnesses testimonials in their opt-in).
How you can use Social Proof in your copy to boost your conversion rate
Basecamp nails social proof and how! The number of businesses signed up is not 3500 or 4000. It is an exact figure (3849) that is up-to-date (until the previous week). They have also listed testimonials from companies below this, making it a fully approved social proof package.
We listen when it comes from authority. Period.
Many brands have established authority with their content, design, service, etc. It takes years to prove expertise and authority in a niche.
Recently, I took a “what kind of a copywriter are you” quiz which had Ann Handley from MarketingProfs listed as one of the options. That’s her authority in marketing copywriting.
The Authority principle is also the rationale behind the influencer trend on social media. What was the last item you bought because a famous Instagram influencer recommended it?
(I’ve bought a lot of junk jewelry and sarees, even though I rarely wear them.)
How to use the principle Authority to boost your conversion rate
Words that hint at authority like subject matter expert, seasoned, expertise, help in establishing your dominance over a topic. State your experience and don’t be afraid to mention your influential mentors.
This principle ties into the commitment principle- the more you like someone, the more you’ll be persuaded to buy what they sell.
Which is why your ‘About Us’ page is important. It portrays your core values, dislikes, etc. Readers assign themselves to your values.
Write about how you started on this journey, your failures, and your struggles. It makes you more human and likeable. Choose the right words for your page and not be overly cheesy or extremely curt. Find a balance.
Ensure your copy always speaks to the reader… when there’s more of ‘you’ than ‘we’ or ‘I’, readers feel an instant likeability to your brand.
How can you use Likeability in your copy to boost conversion rate?
One way to be universally likeable is by being transparent and honest. Buffer has ‘transparency’ not just listed in their core values, but also walks the talk. Their salaries and platform downtimes are all public.
Use cheerful images and positive words. After all, you want them to associate your brand with, not chase them away.
We really, really, really want things that we can have less of.
This principle is a B2C forte, and many brands have mastered the FOMO (fear of missing out) factor.
Takeaway selling is a less direct and more impactful method of creating scarcity, but it’s also a double-edged sword. A familiar way of this playing out is making readers feel like they’re accepting mediocrity and are okay with heading towards failure if they don’t take up on your offers.
Some say it is a turn off. Personally, I find it off-putting too.
How can you use this in your copy to improve the conversion rate
Use the loss aversion technique to create pain. Example: “your webinar seat is reserved. Do not miss a chance to learn from the experts.” Your audience can sense fake and false from a mile, so be genuine when you are using this principle.
A potential customer feels connected with the brand based on shared values and beliefs, like we already learned from the Liking principle. A brand is more likeable when the reader feels a connection with the brand. Unity is crucial to selling your brand because it’s about a hundred times more enjoyable to build a business around people whose values resonate with yours.
Brands should focus on creating solidarity with potential customers. Remote working, documented mental health policy, flexible vacations are deeply resonant with the value of family, which in turn builds a camaraderie.
How you can use this in your copy to boost sales conversions
Use language that implies family and belonging that pleases the “we”. It can also be a collective identity- the city you’re from, your football team, religion and so on.
Persuasion vs Empathy: What works best to boost your conversion rate?
It is not an either/or between persuasion and empathy. Empathy is the ultimate persuader. In the madness of getting your page ranked on Google, it is important not to lose focus of the fact that at the end of the day, you’re writing for humans. It is another human reading your copy. As easy as it is to apply these persuasion principles and convert your readers to customers, a little bit of empathy in your copy goes a long way to boost sales conversions.
- Use conversational vocabulary.
- Pleasant and positive language.
- No judgemental words.
- Tell character-driven stories.
- Use story activators (have you been in a situation where…)
Stories with all of the above elements release Oxytocin- a fuzzy hormone that is released when people bond socially. It is a happy hormone associated with well-being, which is how you’d want people to feel after reading your copy.
Why use these principles?
Cialdini wrote the book a long time ago in 1984, but all of the principles hold true in 2019, because Influence deals with the science and psychology behind persuasion. You can directly apply this to your copy on your landing pages, sales pages and other marketing collateral. You’ll notice an evident boost in your conversions over time.