In many ways, running a business online is no different than operating out of a brick-and-mortar store. The same basic principles of business apply, especially marketing psychology. You could pick up any classic marketing book written before the internet and apply the advice to your e-commerce business. Psychology doesn’t change.
What makes e-commerce different is the digital environment where the exchange of information and communication takes place. In a brick-and-mortar store, some people will make a purchase even if you didn’t acknowledge them when they walked in the door. The rules of engagement in a digital environment are different: building rapport from the first moment is not optional.
On the technical side, you’ve probably implemented essential strategies like load balancing, automated backups, and SSL encryption. Think of the following tips not as strategies, but marketing tactics. Every tactic is rooted in marketing psychology and understanding that psychology is the key to executing it correctly.
Master the psychology of digital delivery
As an e-commerce business owner, you need to master the art of digital distribution. That includes more than just supplying links to digital downloads. Everything you deliver to the customer, including your email communications and your sales pitch, takes place in a digital environment where people don’t want to be bothered. You have to deliver your message in a way that doesn’t feel intrusive.
For example, when greeting a customer in person, you have the luxury of using body language – like a smile – to initiate contact from a distance. Customers expect to be greeted by staff and aren’t usually bothered by it.
In a digital environment, it’s not so easy. Visitors want to be left alone, and unless you can capture their attention with something they’re interested in, delivering your message could be received as a disruption.
Depending on the message you want to deliver, you can’t be too pushy to get someone’s attention. For instance, many visitors are tired of popups and consider them an intrusion. Instead of capturing attention, a popup might cost you a sale.
That doesn’t mean you can’t use popups. It means you need to intentionally design your popups. It’s all about psychology.
Engineer your popups intentionally
An article written by Derek from social triggers addresses the popup issue in a video describing why you should be using popups, even though most people find them annoying. Popups work when done correctly, and the article itself is a good example of a correctly engineered popup.
While viewing the article, move your mouse to the top of your browser window to trigger the popup. Notice several aspects of the design differ from the traditional “give me your email” popups. First, the headline isn’t a graphic, it’s bold, readable, plain text. Next, the description is brief and contained within two short lines. Last, the popup doesn’t immediately ask you for your email address. It asks you to accept or reject the free eBook.
Clicking on the “GIMME THE FREE EBOOK” button brings up the familiar email signup form. Why the extra click? Psychologically, when a visitor makes that first click, they’re committing to the download. That simple step makes them more likely to actually read the download.
Mitigate the biggest obstacle to delivering your message: lack of attention
Attempting to deliver a message in a digital environment presents a handful of obstacles you need to mitigate before you’ll be able to capture attention.
EyeQuant points out that the internet “presents its users with an unquantifiable measure of content for potential browsing behavior.” The problem, they say, is that attempting to multi-task to absorb this information has resulted in the rewiring of our neural nets. This rewiring causes us to read faster and less thoroughly the moment we go online.
Essentially, we’ve hard-wired ourselves to have short attention spans when we browse the internet. This short attention span makes us easily distracted.
Your visitors are distracted at every turn by advertisements, buy buttons, share buttons, hyperlinks, and other cues directing them to read content or click. This is in addition to their browser tabs with open chats, social media accounts, and email notification. If you want a visitor’s attention, a simple and clear message written by an expert copywriter will do it.
Eliminate all barriers to the sale or conversion
Webmasters and business owners create barriers to conversions all the time without realizing it. Requiring people to sign up for an account before they can complete their purchase is a barrier. Requiring someone to turn off their ad blocker before they can view your content is a barrier. Requiring a visitor to give you their email address to access your videos is a barrier.
Even when a visitor willingly complies with these barriers, it still makes the visitor’s process arduous. The more barriers you put up, the less likely they are to return.
This goes along with the previous tip about mitigating all obstacles, with one difference. Barriers are often invisible and can be mistaken as part of the sales process. For instance, your web form might ask several questions that seem vital but are actually barriers because they aren’t necessary. For example, most businesses don’t need a visitor’s birthdate or age. Your web form also shouldn’t ask visitors how they found you. That information should be tracked invisibly.
Keep it simple and smooth
The simpler your checkout process, the better. Users should be able to click their way through with ease. A smooth checkout process will help you retain more of your customers.
You should also be upselling your customers, but not too much. One suggestion is enough during the checkout process. Don’t ask your customers to consider a string of products right before they’re ready to pay. On the other hand, not upselling at all is leaving money on the table.
As Neil Patel writes, “We shouldn’t view upselling as a dirty word, or some underhanded technique to filch extra cash from gullible customers. Upselling is a win-win. Customers get better stuff. You get more cash. And here’s the kicker: The customer is going to stay around longer.”
In the end, running a successful e-commerce business relies on your ability to implement marketing psychology in a digital environment. If you haven’t picked up any good marketing books lately, check out the best sellers list on Amazon’s marketing section and start studying.