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Understanding the Psychology Behind Why Buyers Make Purchases

Frank Jackson, 05/09/2018,

Now that you’ve done all the hard work getting your customers to your site, it’s time to close the deal. We know the standard tricks of the trade in brick and mortar retail, put the popular products towards the back of the store so your customers have to wander through the store, but what about online? Believe it or not, there are a lot of psychological and design strategies that will help you turn website traffic into customers.

How Do Your Customers Decide What to Buy?

Buying decisions are often as emotional as they are logical, so you need to set up your store to appeal to both a consumer’s heart and mind. Here are a few ways to accomplish this:

Build A Consistent Brand

Many purchase decisions are driven by perceptions. Consumers think about how their purchases will be perceived by others. By unifying your brand across your site, social media platforms, and advertisements you can build a brand that your customers want to be associated with and support.

Take Action: Post on your social media platforms, but limit it to once per day. HubSpot found that pages under 10,000 fans experienced a 50% drop in engagement per post if they posted more than once per day.

Fulfill One of the Four Basic Needs

We define the four basic needs as health, wealth, relationships, and happiness. Does your product fit into one of these categories? Or maybe even two of them? Highlight this! According to Jennifer Kem, a Strategic Brand Advisor, “anything that teaches or provides an upside to one of these 4 areas of our life…will have an advantage over others who just speak to benefits of any particular product or service.”

Take Action: Make sure your product listings highlight not only the features of your items but also the problems they solve.

Get Commitment From Your Customers

Just like publicly verbalizing goals makes you more likely to achieve them, getting a small commitment from a customer (like signing up for a newsletter) makes them much more likely to eventually purchase from you. Bonus points if you can get your products in your customer’s hands, like Warby Parker’s Home Try-On Program. Once a customer has the product in front of them, they’ve already made a commitment and you’ll see a dramatic increase in sales.

Take Action: Add a newsletter collection box to your website – and actually send a newsletter! This a great way to increase awareness of your site on a budget.

Be Likable

The principle of liking says that we are more likely to say yes to a request if we feel a connection to the person making it. The same goes for ecommerce. Make sure your website is accessible, easy to use, and be cognizant of your tone. If you have models in your pictures, make sure they’re relatable. Your customers want to feel a connection to your brand and how you present your website is not only important to converting sales (see below!) but critical to your branding.

Take Action: Ask a friend to review your website. What are their thoughts?

Inspire Curiosity

George Lowenstein, a professor at Carnegie Mellon, discovered that when there is a gap between what we know and what we want to know, we will take action to fill that gap. This is known as the Information Gap Theory and can be used on your site to make your next sale. Don’t be afraid to have pages with headlines like “Deals for What You Actually Need” or emails with subject lines like “DO NOT open this email” to inspire the curiousity.

Take Action: Send out a newsletter to your customers with a curiosity-inspiring headline.

How Website Design Can Influence Buyers

Now that we know some of the psychological ways to encourage a purchase from your customers, let’s look at how the design of your site can influence buyers. We could write an entire book on the psychology of design so, for the purpose of this post, we’ll look a few principles that you can change and implement right away to make a big difference on your site.

Pay Attention to Colors

What are your colors saying about your site? Studies have shown that humans associate red with passionate, strong, or aggressive feelings while purple has long been associated with royalty and wealth. Are you looking to promote happiness? Try yellow as it symbolizes sunlight, joy, and warmth. Orange encourages the feeling of excitement. Paying attention to all the details means your site will always be conveying the message you want it to.

Hick’s Law

This law states that the more options are exposed to, the longer it takes them to make a decision. Because you want to make buying your products the easiest decisions, simplify your website. Remove any unnecessary choices and make the option to buy your products, the only one.

Know Your Scanning Patterns

Before customers start reading a web page, they generally scan it to get a sense of whether or not they are interested in what it has to offer. There are several popular scanning patterns for webpages, however, two of the most common are “F” and “Z” patterns. The F-pattern is typically used on pages with a lot of content. The reader will scan the entire top section of the page, skip down a few lines and read a little more, then scan the entire left side of the page. The Z-pattern starts in the top left and then creates a “Z” as the reader scans the top, briefly the body, and the body of the page. If you’re cognizant of these patterns you can ensure your pages encourage your customers to stick around.

Now that you’ve got your customers to your website and are excited to buy your products, you just need to add items to your store. And Gooten can help! You manage your website and get your sale, we’ll do everything else.

Happy selling!

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