How Websites “Nudge” You Into Certain Purchase Decisions

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Chances are, you chose the direction of your e-commerce site’s design by aligning the website design with your brand, your brand’s colors, and the aesthetics that your audiences responds to. While incorporating your brand’s aesthetic is a must for any e-commerce site, using basic behavioral psychology principles can improve your conversions more than any carefully-chosen font or well-placed banner.

How Websites “Nudge” You Into Certain Purchase Decisions

For example, “anchoring” is a behavioral principle that states that when humans don’t know how much money they should spend on a product, they look for context clues to help make their decision. How much a product costs might depend on things like quality and features, but shoppers decide how much to pay by looking at that product in comparison to other similar models. If you currently present your products as a choice of a few options, try adding an “extreme” at the top end of your options. Most consumers will gravitate towards the middle ground.

Social herding can also dictate how consumers behave. While many of us believe that we’re individuals who make our own individual decisions, it’s actually much more typical for humans to go along with the crowd when they believe that the crowd has similar beliefs and values to them. You can incorporate this on your site on areas such as newsletter sign-ups by adding a line that says “Join 5,000 others and subscribe to our newsletter today!”

We also traditionally believe that having more options is better than having less options. In fact, consumers might be paralyzed by having too many choices and end up not making a purchase at all. Your e-commerce site might be better off having less options, or at least simplifying the options that you offer your visitors so that it’s easy for them to choose a product without feeling overwhelmed.

Finally, use defaults to guide your audience towards the action you want them to take. Our brains appreciate default choices because that means we don’t have to waste time or energy on small decisions. You can use this principle in your e-commerce site by making the preferred action the default choice. For example, have the subscribe box to your newsletter pre-checked, or have your customers “opt-out” of adding an extra purchase to their cart in order to qualify for free shipping rather than “opt-in” to that.

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