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3 Principles of Behavioral Economics That Will Increase Your Web Sales

Erin Everhart
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More and more, it isn't what we can do to drive traffic; it's what we can do to increase sales. The lines are blurred and every search marketer has to be focused on conversions and sales. It's easy for budgets to be cut if traffic is the only thing you have to show; it's much harder when sales and dollar amounts are on the line.

That's where behavioral economics comes in. If our ultimate goal is to get people to buy (or fill out a form), we have to understand what drives them to make that decision. Different things will matter to different people, but there are three key things that you can take advantage of that factor into people's buying habits.

1. Don't Give Them Too Many Choices

Have you ever taken a kid to an ice cream shop? You can almost see the crippling fear in them of having to decide which flavor to get because there are just so many to choose from.

We'd like to think that as adults, we've progressed from that: "I want to know all of the choices so I can make the best informed decision." Sadly, it isn't true. We may say we want to see anything, but in reality, we just want to see the best possible options.

The more choices you give someone, the more likely it is they won't choose anything at all.

The easiest application of this is for e-commerce sites: When they first land on a category page, don't throw them everything at once. Give them small pieces at a time so they can self select and move through the buying process by being more specific in what they need.

Amazon does a good job at this with their Recommendations for You sections by only showing four items that you may like.

Amazon Behavioral Economics

This can be applied to lead gen forms, too. Instead of asking them to fill out every possible form field imaginable, only ask for what you need. People will be more applicable to choosing to fill it out if there isn't a lot of steps you have to go through.

For more background, check out Sheena Iyengar's TED talk on The Art of Choosing.

2. People Fear Missing Out on Anything

People hate feeling excluded, and social media has done a number on us by having other people's lives and choices on public display, so you can see exactly what you may be missing out on.

Whether it's an event, sale, promotion, website build, or just a regular Friday night dinner conversation, we don't want to be left out, and that anxiety can be the best bait for a marketer.

The best way to elicit FOMO when people are making a purchasing decision is using words like:

  • Limited time only
  • 2 left in stock
  • One-day sale/offer
  • Don't miss out

Firefly Passes Will Sell Out Soon

The beauty is that you actually don't have to be running the sale for a limited or only have two items left in stock: The user will never know.

3. We Don't Understand Something's True Value

Subconsciously, we expect things with a cheaper price tag to be inferior. That's easily indicated by wine: If the bottle is cheaper, we expect it to be worse than a more expensive version, and there have been a number of studies proving people chose the more expensive bottle even if it's the same wine.

Now, I don't recommend raising your prices on everything, but it's worth A/B testing a 10 percent increase in price on one of your products to see what happens with the number of sales you get.

Additionally, you can alter how much someone would pay for something just by presenting it differently so they perceive the value of what they're purchasing to be more than the price they're paying.

Consider adding a higher a price point than your order value. For example: "Picture frames less than $20" or "Consulting less than $130/hour." That price will stick with them, so by offering something less, people think they're getting a good value.

These are just best practices and theories, but they can go a long way in your overall digital marketing strategy. As with anything, don't make drastic changes to your site to adhere to these, but things may be altered slightly based on your audience. Test them in small increments first to see what works for you.


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