A recent article in Entrepreneur by Scot Chrisman – 3 Psychological Biases That Affect Whether Someone Buys Your Product or Not – has some really important thoughts and insights for e-commerce merchants. This week, we’d like dive into each of these biases and discuss how you might change or modify your e-commerce experience in order to capitalize on them.

Let’s take a look and hopefully you can learn and gain from our suggestions:

1. Confirmation Bias

Chrisman defines confirmation bias in his article very clearly:

“Consumers love to feel right. They love to feel as though, they knew what was coming next. Like they’re ahead of the curve because they picked up on subtle clues. Confirmation bias is an important factor in crafting copy, content, and creative marketing strategies.”

Here are some methods for utilizing confirmation bias in your e-commerce experience design:

Pre-purchase thoughts: include ratings and reviews. If that’s not possible, include testimonials from a customer or two and highlight those testimonials as key content in your product description. If the product is not yours (you’re reselling it) include any information about positive news, pr, or awards that the product has won. You want to convince your customer that they are not only getting a good deal they can feel confident about but also how smart they are for choosing the best product. Confirmation bias can be utilized throughout the purchase product but keep it in mind as you craft not only your merchandising but your product detail and checkout experiences.

The following e-commerce features will also help to support confirmation bias and can be leveraged to help conversion rates:

  • Abandoned Cart Messaging
  • Abandoned browse messaging
  • Testimonials
  • Expert Reviews or Statements of support
  • Product description copy that can utilize truthful, honest superlatives
  • Use of Graphic-supporting content like award icons, badges etc
    (Remember “as seen in TV?”)

2.Social Bias (The Bandwagon’ Effect)

Chrisman describes the bandwagon effect this way:

“Since we all want to feel a part of the community, there are many things psychologically that we’ll do to test the waters and ensure we’re not going to do something against social norms. This is built into our psychological evolution in order to keep us safe, kind of like most of our psychological biases.”

Translating this to your e-commerce site may sound easy – appropriate and eye-catching integration with social channels, as well as the purchasing tools to support it – will help provide a sense of social bias in your purchasing experience. But it goes a step further than just promoting and selling your products on Facebook, Instagram, etc.

In a world so dominated by social media, where so many products are constantly visible to consumers, the real key to creating social bias is in ensuring prospective customers see your products being used by their peers or social groups that they identify with, in an apparently more ‘organic’ way. Some opportunities for ensuring this could be:

  • Create hashtag campaigns to ensure average customers are incentivised to promote your product (who know’s, maybe your brand will be ‘trending’ if you do it well)
  • Leverage the growing population of social influencers, this can cost more depending on the influencer (not every brand needs to hire a Kardashian and spend millions, there are many effective social influencer programs to tap into).
  • Build brand ambassador programs into your operating model

Often the key to creating a successful social media marketing program lies in creating a robust social media publishing calendar. The reality is that a one-off post from a high-cost social influencer will probably only be effective as part of a broader, long-term integrated social media marketing strategy.

Merchants should also consider content and merchandising adjustments that can help formulate social bias such as testimonials from VIPs or industry leaders, placement with complimentary products or bundles (if you sell ski racks better to show those racks on a nice new SUV not an old beater).

Creating a bandwagon effect in the mind of your customers – a social bias that can be leveraged to help conversion rates. If you need proof of brands/products that have succeeded in using social bias, think about brands like Casper Mattress, AllBirds and perhaps the greatest ‘bandwagon’ brand of all…Apple.

3. Zero Risk Bias

Chrisman describes Zero Risk bias this way:

“When your business has momentum, it’s important to keep it. Your product or service works. You know this without the shadow of a doubt. That’s why you sell it. Since psychologically we are always moving away from fear and uncertainty. Since we want to limit our discomfort and risk, businesses can leverage this with the zero-risk bias.”

In e-commerce (as with retail) reducing risk can be accomplished through promotions and discounts, but the real core of zero risk approaches relate to the product(s) your customers are buying on your site(s).

The following techniques help to introduce zero risk bias that can help to convert your customers while also helping to achieve longer term loyalty

  • Liberal return policies and enabling RMA (return merchandise authorization) functionality on your site
  • Money back guarantees (e.g. Casper Mattress 100 night trial period)
  • Paying for return shipping (Think, Amazon Prime membership)
  • Post-purchase review requests and related offer
  • 2 for 1 / BOGO promotions
  • Subscription programs
  • Try-before-you-buy programs (e.g. Warby Parker’s ‘Home Try-On’)
  • Reward programs

The Bottom Line

Learning how to connect features with emotional triggers in new and existing customers is a great way to gain customers and ultimately increase revenue. Leverage these biases and the features that trigger them in order to improve conversion rates and grow your e-commerce business.

Accorin’s expert e-commerce marketing team have experience pulling these levers for a diverse range of clients. Get in touch if you’d like to talk more.