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You’ll be joining the 130,000 Smart Insights members from 80 countries who trust our advice to Plan, Manage and Optimize their marketing. Having started my career as a web analyst and working with data on a day-to-day basis, I see massive opportunity in what we can learn and how we can improve online performance by using data effectively.
The common saying goes that analytics can tell you ‘what’ is happening, but cannot tell you ‘why’. In this post I want to share five tried and tested psychological principles that have worked countless times in different verticals and contexts. In general we are pretty poor at placing a value on something without context or a reference point. When making decisions between similar products with different features and prices we like to think that we are making sensible and rational decisions based on our carefully thought-out requirements. Social proof is the idea that we are likely to follow the patterns and behaviour of similar people in new or unfamiliar situations. This has the effect of reassuring us that 14.5 million people are unlikely to be wrong and the AA must be a company that we can trust or other people would have moved on. Loss aversion is a cognitive bias first described by Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, that refers to people’s tendency to strongly prefer avoiding losses than acquiring gains. For example, current TV advertising for supermarkets in the UK seems to be almost exclusively focused on demonstrating the relative high cost of shopping compared to competitors.
For online services or software, free trials can be a great way to mitigate the apprehension created by our aversion to loss. When we get close to deciding on a product and we’re considering moving through to checkout we may be concerned about paying over the odds for a product when it could be available at a lower cost elsewhere. Introduce messaging to address users concerns when they are on the verge of spending their money with you. It sounds very basic, but focusing on the benefit to the user of the product or service and not just features can elevate the decision from a clinical, cold one to a more emotive decision that they can identify with. The persuasion principle of Authority states that we want to follow the lead and advice of a legitimate authority. Collaborate with authoritative individuals or organisations and shout about it on your website.
As well as the common ones above, I have selected five more that are less common, that you are less likely to be using already and that can be used to great effect. Limited access is a cognitive bias that dictates that we naturally desire things that are perceived as exclusive or belonging to a select few. We know all about the chaos that descends on crash sales like Black Friday, when consumers can get whipped up in a frenzy to buy highly discounted products for a fixed time period or until they are sold out. Certain functionality and information requires absolute clarity (such as pricing and additional charges for example) but in other areas of the websites, piquing interest and leading them down a path to find out more can lead to a more engaging experience.
Are there scenarios when you can tease someone to take the next step and create an intriguing experience? Test headlines and copy that create intrigue giving hints and making users want to explore, e.g.
Collecting simply means that where there is interest, people like to amass units that add to or complete a set. As well as thinking of all the strange and bizarre things that people collect, this could just as easily equate to visiting the top 10 restaurants in your city to buying every album by your favourite artist. While not strictly something that we collect, Victoria Plum make it easy for you to shop within a range from a single product page. If you have in-depth consumer data about previous purchase behaviour you could personalise their experience to promote products that would build their sets.
Positive Mimicry can be used as a persuasive technique, or can be effective in aiding comprehension.
In one test that we ran on a forum site (where the main objective was to increasing posting) we ran experiments to guide users through their first post in order to familiarise them with the website.
Equally, on sites like Vimeo and Apple, the ‘staff picks’ indicate that their staff are using, reviewing and selecting their favourite products. This might be the most off-the-wall suggestion, but it could easily be used in an effective way.
Hopefully, you can take some of these principles away and start using them on your site to move beyond simple usability and functionality improvements and to building a persuasive and engaging experience that benefits your users and helps you to achieve your online goals. When planning your honeymoon, you want a trip that is full of one in a lifetime luxury, but the budget might not stretch that far. With so many choices of escapes including active adventure, relaxing spa or romantic seclusion, it can get a little overwhelming when making a decision on where to book. For an easy wedding present from your wedding guests and one which makes a huge difference to your honeymoon fund: ask your family and friends for vouchers to put towards your honeymoon as wedding gifts!


If you’re getting married in peak holiday season, following in the footsteps of celebrities and book a mini-moon such as a city break to Venice. Check for weak currencies to help you get the best value for money while you’re away.
You would have thought it was a no-brainer but many couples leave honeymoon booking to the last minute with the wedding taking priorities. Remember to get the latest deals delivered straight to your mobile via the latest travel apps. Founded in 2010, Secret Escapes offers members (it’s free to join) exclusive rates for luxury hand-picked hotels and vacations globally at a claimed discount of up to 70 percent off the price users would pay by booking those vacations on other sites. The company said it would use the new round to fund an expansion into Asia, with Japan and Australia two countries that would likely target next. About Latest Posts Duncan RileyDuncan Riley is a senior writer at SiliconANGLE covering Startups, Bitcoin, and the Internet of Things.
SIGN UP FOR THE SiliconANGLE NEWSLETTER!Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team. However, “how” we use data to make decisions is a wide-ranging scale and it can be all too easy to go from traffic, to visitors, to clicks and transactions in your analytics platform and not pay the appropriate attention to what is actually happening in between.
User Research can give you fantastic insights into what motivates or influences decision-making, but it can’t ever tell you the whole story.
We won’t always get qualitative feedback on why something worked, but when we control other factors with a scientific approach and empirical learning, we can identify the impact of psychological and persuasion principles on user behaviour and conversion rates. Then I’ll introduce four less commonly used principles, which you may never have considered before or which might make you think differently about how you approach a problem. Anchoring is one technique that can be extremely successful in impacting how we evaluate the relative value of a range of products or services. However, we are influenced by factors such as the relative value of other products on offer or products on offer elsewhere. On their product pages they include a “typical high street” value, which immediately places some context around the actual price, making it seems very reasonable in comparison. Scarcity dictates that we infer value in something that has limited availability or is being promoted as being scarce. Features such as “X number of people are viewing this product” and “Most recent booking on this product was X minutes ago” and “Lock in a great price for you upcoming stay - Prices in Manchester have gone up since yesterday. This does not guarantee that we are getting the best deal by shopping with them, but gives us confidence that we are unlikely to be taking on unnecessary losses or paying an excessive price in comparison.
It can also work in combination with limited duration effect to create a fear of missing out on access to a good deal or limited product. When we are continually bombarded with marketing messages and proposition messaging which is prepared by the retailer, a more impartial perspective can be really valuable to consumers. You might even be able to arrange a trial period with your authority figure in order to test the impact first. This can be used in a wide range of ways to make your proposition more attractive or to change the perceived value of your product or service. The limited access to those prices is communicated widely and used to encourage consumers to buy within a fixed time period. This can be a compelling prospect for users, particularly if there are conditions presented that make people feel they have qualified and are part of a select group. Their unique value proposition [link to smart insight post on UVPs] reads “Hand-picked hotels, Members-only rates” immediately introduces the concept that you might be able to get a deal that is not available to others. Sometimes a puzzle or a fascinating concept that requires investment and effort to solving it can be an exciting prospect and lead to a rush when the puzzle is solved. These techniques need to be used with care and attention, but when done right they can build a more engaging experience. It creates excitement by introducing a puzzle to solve as well as a level of appreciation of the creative execution. Similarly Set Completion dictates that the closer a collection is to being complete, the more we desire collecting all of the pieces. When products are arranged in sets or collections it can be extremely compelling to see that you have acquired all of the items. They include a clear 'shop the range' call-to-action (see above) that takes you to a clearly laid out category page (below) that displays other products in the range. We also prepared moderators to engage with them and set an example of how to behave on the site, provide help and tips. For example, during the 2014 Black Friday promotions they had massive discounts on six specific products each hour, and hinted at the next products to be discounted with an outline graphic. Take your time and pick out what’s important to both of you to ensure you make the most out of your honeymoon.


It soon tots up and can make the difference between a great and a once-in-a-lifetime getaway. This gives you the opportunity to save your honeymoon for off-season dates to bag the best rates.
Try and avoid busy times of the year such as school holidays or festivals, where prices will be sky high and hotel rooms will be in high demand.
Duncan is a co-founder of VC funded media company B5Media and founder of news site The Inquisitr, and was a senior writer at TechCrunch in its earlier days.Tips? Not micro-conversions in this instance, but the psychological filters consumers employ as they interact with and process your website.
Psychological principles and persuasion can have a significant impact on users onsite behaviour and can be effective ways to improve conversion.
For each principle I have included some practical examples that you can apply and test on your website. Creating favourable comparisons for our products or services can be an extremely successful technique. This could simply be by increasing customer’s confidence in a product or service based on the fact that they are widely used. This can work brilliantly in combination with the Limited Duration effect, which says that given a choice between action and inaction, a limited time to respond increases the likelihood that people will participate.
And there’s more: “Secure your reservation today!” and use of red on messaging such as “Only 1 room, left upon our site!” and “there are 9 people looking at our site” which introduce or build urgency. In practical terms it means that users’ purchasing decisions are significantly more complicated when there is an exchange of the users hard-earned money for an item when the value of the product or the value to them is not completely clear. They are controlling the comparison in a favourable way and highlighting the potential risk of shopping elsewhere. Customer reviews are a part of this, but reviews from expert commentators or respected organisations can be extremely influential. Being part of an exclusive group can add a feeling of excitement and positive emotional response, despite the fact that in reality the barrier for entry to Secret Escapes is low and the deals are in fact widely available to those who seek them out. While it may seem trivial, it can warm users to engage further and take in the proposition far more than most of the default style landing pages with CTAs that you see elsewhere.
In the offline world, many of you will remember collecting a full set of free toys from McDonalds and how important it felt to get all of the characters or toys in the set. A simple case study could help users through a complex online journey or scenario where the steps and required actions are not overtly clear. In social contexts like this it can also work well to reward people who ‘model’ good behaviour. Rather than simply listing all of the sales items from the start, they used a combination of limited duration to create urgency, curiosity as to what the next product might be and variable rewards to create intrigue for consumers waiting to see what the next discount would be. Secret Escapes now offer a gift voucher service on their website which can be a great wedding gift. Plenty of destinations boast year-long tropical climates like the Caribbean islands and choosing off peak dates allows you to holiday in style with the extra spending money you have saved. All of these messages are carefully designed to reduce our tendency to shop around and put off decisions until later, which therefore can have a significant impact on conversion. Therefore when you highlight the product title they present a message to say they price match and present you with a number to call to guarantee the best price.
Some company’s products lend themselves very well to this type of behaviour such as Games Workshop where products are in clearly defined categories and ranges. We probably all suspect in these scenarios that we are more likely to get a 5% off voucher than 50% off, but somehow the potential of 50% off is more compelling that say a straight 10% off.
Head to online travel sites like Secret Escapes where you can book many breaks up to a year in advance. Are held in high regard and trusted by many consumers, so this lends credibility to Richer Sounds. Many retailers have features such as ‘complete the look’ which may appeal to some users who view the products as a set or value items that have been carefully selected to go together. They also have expert third part reviews on their lister and product pages from What Hi-Fi, which gives you an unbiased perspective on the quality of the products on offer.



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