Consumers of the online era have more options than ever before. Shopping at an online store simplifies almost every spending opportunity; the range of choices and varieties in each and every product category continues to expand; and the information flow that enables comparisons and research fosters competent and clever consumer behavior.
These are all positive developments that are ultimately beneficial to both shoppers and business owners, but they do create a highly competitive environment in which online stores must take all the right steps to keep those sales coming. One of these crucial steps is optimizing your pricing and selling techniques to convince your clients that buying your products is truly an awesome decision.
Using the following psychological tricks, you can assure clients that they are getting the deal of a lifetime. Let’s be clear – this is not an invitation to scam and cheat. If you really believe in the value of your products, then you are doing nothing wrong in applying marketing tactics to your benefit.
Remember: While you are well familiar with your products’ many benefits, your clients may need some extra persuasion before they click the Purchase button. The psychology hacks that we detail here simply help them to choose your business over your competitors.
When presented with two similar products that are priced differently, many customers intuitively opt for the cheaper one. If you add a third option to the mix the decision becomes more complicated, leading more customers to choose a more expensive product that offers a better deal. In sales, this is called the Decoy Effect.
We can see how this effect works by examining a famous journal’s subscription plans:
Plan 1 offers web-only subscription for $59 Plan 2 offers print-only for $125 Plan 3 offers both print and web subscriptions for $125 If we ignore plan 3 for a second, plan 1 does seem like a solid option while plan 2, more than double in price, seems both less affordable and less practical. Once plan 3 is on the table, though, the option of getting more value appears more tempting. In this case, plan 2 is the decoy. It’s only there to make plan 3 seem like a bargain by offering less for the same price.
For most people, giving money away is not an enjoyable thing. Getting something in return, however, could be satisfying and pleasing. In your store and throughout your marketing efforts, you want to direct your clients’ thoughts towards the latter while minimizing the former. In other words, help them focus on the benefit rather than the cost.
You want to avoid using words like “spend”, “money” or “affordable”, etc., even when the message is positive. For instance, a line like “spend less now” inevitably highlights the transaction and the money that will be gone. If you instead phrase your call to action like this: “get more now” you show them what they gain, not what they lose.
Studies consistently show that $3.99 sells better than $4, $29 better than $30 and $299 better than $300. The impact on your profit after taking down that one dollar or cent is negligible, but for a significant portion of your clients, this small reduction makes a quite a difference. After all, $29 is still within the $20s price range, while $30 just isn’t.
If you do decide to apply this method, you may want to take a look at this consumer study that found that number-9-endings really are effective in increasing sales, but they become immediately less successful if combined with a “Sale” note, or if all prices on the store also have a number-9-ending. Something to think about.
Remember that when your customers are visiting your store, they can’t actually only look at one product or one price. Your website provides them with important context that plays a role in their decisions to purchase or move on. Keeping that in mind, you can leverage your website’s content to help focus your clients towards a specific item. This technique is known as “anchoring.”
You can anchor clients to a particular item in several ways: place it near products that are more expensive, making it the more economic choice; highlight it with a note that marks it as “deal of the day” or “popular item”; position that item between two extremes – one limited but very cheap, the other extensive but pricey – to appeal to the reason-oriented and averse shopper.
One of the most effective ways to catalyze sales is cultivating the impression that the product may not be available much longer. Anyone who shops for flight tickets online has encountered the “Only 3 seats left!” notification, urging you not to delay any further. The eBay method of depicting the number of people who simultaneously are watching the same product is also useful in making people reach for their credit cards.
These marketing tricks work for several reasons:
Sales and promotions are wonderful marketing tools that always impact sales to some extent, but with strategic thinking you can maximize the profits that they deliver. First of all, it’s important to link promotions with specific events – holidays, anniversaries, new launches, redesigns, etc.
You don’t want to spread the impression that no matter what, clients can always get a discount for your products. It doesn’t only cheapen your brand’s reputation, it also creates the exact opposite effect than what you actually want from a promotion. Instead of people thinking that you are offering a unique bargain that they are lucky to enjoy, shoppers will consider your sales a matter of routine, something that is always available to them whenever they choose to take it.
Secondly, you want to limit your sales’ availability by defining a deadline and making it well known. You never want the sale to last too long. One weekend is probably the longest you should consider, and 24-48 hours are even better. The idea is to encourage immediate action. If you give shoppers more than two or three days, you increase the chances that they will decide against you, or simply forget about your sales.
The order you set for your products can’t be entirely random. If your prices appear in the form of a list – like a restaurant menu or a beautician’s services index – start with your highest option and then continue to the lower ones. This way, clients will more likely be attracted to the middle range than if you begin with the low figures and gradually increase.
By starting with higher prices, you present your clients with the expensive option first, making the mid-range offers seem like bargains that nevertheless provide a better reward than those items at the bottom of the list.
Here’s a technical piece of advice: Make the checkout process fast and simple. Once your clients have decided to seal the deal with you (sweet!), you don’t want to give them too many opportunities to change their mind.
If they need to click their way through a number of pages to get to the final button; if they are asked to enter all sorts of information that doesn’t actually have any significance; if they can’t figure out how to find their shopping cart once products have been added, they have plenty of time to reconsider this purchase.
*And one last, super-important, tip: If you want your clients to think your products are a great deal, offer them that deal. Believe in your product and respect your customers – these are the prerequisites for implementing the psychology hacks we introduced in this post with success.
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