Five Persuasive Psychology Techniques for eCommerce Success

Five Persuasive Psychology Techniques for eCommerce Success

You already have a great product or service to sell on your eCommerce site. And you’re probably already investing as much as you can into marketing. Is there anything more you can do to convert a few more shoppers each day into buyers?

Yes, there is, according to Shanelle Mullin’s article published on the blog. You can apply the persuasive techniques she describes with a little site re-design and text revision. The changes can activate the psychological triggers we all hold to one degree or another, making it that much easier for visitors to submit their order. Mullin links to several good resources in her article, and the content matches up well with material from established authorities like Robert Cialdini, the author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. Here’s a summary of the top five techniques she explains.


When your friend buys you lunch, you want return the favor. When you receive a holiday greeting card, you feel bad if you haven’t sent one to that person as well. Likewise, when the car dealership gives you a free inspection, it can make you feel more inclined to work with them on fixing any troubles.

This psychological impulse to return a positive action for a positive action or to keep things ‘balanced’ between receiving and giving has been recognized and reinforced since ancient times. More recently social psychologists have analyzed it and marketing mavens have taken it up. The Nielsen Norman Group cite Robert Cialdini in their thorough explanation of how giving something to your leads can help the conversion process.

In her article, Mullin suggests a few ways you can make this happen on your eCommerce site, from letting customers decide how much they’ll reciprocate for the gift of a product to providing samples, free shipping, or unexpected discounts.


There’s so much in life that changes and varies and is unreliable. We typically want our own character to be reliable and solid. This technique is actually a shortened reference to “behavioral consistency,” as the NNGroup points out. The impulse is basically a way we make things easier on ourselves. Instead of re-evaluating every single decision in our day, we often fall back on doing what we did before. In fact, we’ll start justifying why we made that previous decision or commitment.

You can work this into your eCommerce site by creating elements that invite people to commit themselves to purchasing. Mullin points out that this might be a statement of your company values that people will want to support. Or it could be options to subscribe, download free resources (double-barrel with Reciprocity), or share their positive experience with your company on social media. Leveraging the Consistency principle might even be as simple as revising the text on your shopping cart button to accent the commitment to purchase.

Social Proof

Another way that people simplify their decision-making is to put extra weight on what other people are doing, using that as a guide. This helps explain why we so often look to customer reviews when we’re researching a purchase — if other people gave the product a 5-star rating, it’s probably something worthwhile. Testimonials and celebrity endorsements also connect to this psychological impulse.

To get Social Proof working for your eCommerce site, Mullin suggests finding ways to show how other shoppers are glad they did business with you. Another method is simply display the number of people who have purchased a product; as that number gradually increases, it becomes more and more of a influence on new customers.


“Liking” is another way to phrase this trait in our behavior, as the NNGroup show in their recommendations for user-interface design. These simple labels include a lot of meaning. Liking obviously has an impact on our decisions, and it increases when we see things that are similar to us, things that we’re familiar with, as well as people who are interested in helping us, who we associate with the things we value, and who give us praise.

Mullin points out that one way you can take advantage of this is to invest some effort in good copywriting. When you use the words your customers use and you talk about the aspects that they’re interested in, your site will feel both similar and familiar. Other easy text upgrades could be to emphasize how you interest in helping potential clients with their needs and to be complimentary in talking about it. And it goes without saying that a cluttered page layout won’t strengthen liking as well as a clean, attractive format.


In our complex society, we often trust experts for information and expertise that we don’t have ourselves. This translates into a strong willingness to accept statements and guidance from authority figures.

Mullin references what may be the most infamous example of this human willingness to follow authority: Dr. Stanley Milgram’s experiment with (fake) electrocution memory assistance. The experiment, of course, wasn’t about memory at all, but rather about obeying directions from a person in charge.

For something so drastically different from your eCommerce sales, can there be a way to humanely use authority-based persuasion? Mullin mentions a few, such as highlighting job titles, product awards, and other credentials that establish your expertise. Also, you can tag-team with Social Proof by getting endorsements from other recognized experts in your field (even if it’s just simple logo from a reputable organization that you’ve worked with). Also be sure that the images which present your company show your staff looking the part of knowledgeable, trustworthy advisors.


Mullin’s post includes several other persuasive tactics that you can deploy on your site at little or no cost. Of course, none of these strategies is magical, but if you apply the guidelines well on your eCommerce site, it could make the difference and tip the balance.


While the front-end of your eCommerce site is vital for your business growth, the back-end is also crucial. As your sales begin to accelerate, having software that supports inventory tracking and order forecasting can make a huge difference in keeping customers satisfied. aACE integrates with WooCommerce, Shopify, Magento, and Amazon, so orders placed online are downloaded to aACE ERP tools automatically and updated online when the order ships. With this teamwork, you always know where things stand and where they’re headed.

“aACE is a stable program and thoroughly accurate. Our numbers are always correct, from the yardage on our shelf to the money in the bank. This, in itself, makes the program incredible and invaluable.” ~ Claire Wade, Director of Operations, Skip Gambert & Associates

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