Design for Conversion - Cialdini’s 6 Weapons of Influence

Marketing is manipulation.

I truly hate to think about business in these terms, but the sad truth is that if I don’t, then I risk becoming one of the victims to this form of manipulation.

Worse still, I’d miss out on some golden opportunities to attract people to my services and products.

That same motivation is what led Robert Cialdini to study and codify the psychological principles behind “compliance” - in other words, he wanted to figure out how people could be influenced into taking specific actions.

If you haven’t read it yet, I can confidently say his book, Influence - The Psychology of Pursuasion, is a MUST READ if you intend to start a business.

Cialdini’s “6 Weapons of Influence" are the psychological principles you must master if you hope to make money in a marketplace.  Salesmen, copywriters and marketers have relied on this text for over two decades to super charge their sales and marketing efforts.

Designing the Weapons of Influence

What I hope to do over the next 6 weeks is walk you through each one of the 6 psychological principles Cialdini outlines in his book and show you how they can literally be “designed" into one of your landing pages.  I’ll use examples from some of the more successful and well recognized landing pages on the web today.

Here’s a brief outline of Cialdini’s 6 Weapons of Influence:

1.  Reciprocity - The basic thesis behind this principle is that we’re culturally conditioned to return favors done for us.  So if someone were to give us a free book, we might be inclined to donate to their religious organization (you all know how the Hare Krishnas roll).  This same principle can be applied to landing page design.  

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2.  Commitment and Consistency - This principle basically states that once someone has verbally committed to taking an action, they’ll likely follow through with it regardless of the hurdles that appear.  The trick in marketing is to get someone to commit to making a buying decision before you ever ask them to pull out their credit card.  By committing to the purchase up front, they’ll be less likely to abandon the process.

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3.  Social Proof - This is an obvious one: people are more likely to follow the crowd.  It’s a trait we’ve all evolved over thousands of years.  Cavemen had to follow the crowd in order to survive and the way to utilize this in marketing is by showing your prospect how many other people (ideally, people who are similar to your prospect) are purchasing your product or service.

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4.  Liking - In a nutshell: we tend to be influenced (or purchase from) by people we like.  This is a little more difficult to incorporate right into a landing page, but there are a few tactics that make it possible.

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5.  Authority - Which cook book would you rather buy:  the one that “Mario Batali swears by” or the one “Joe Shmo thinks is the best cook book ever written”?  If you’re like most folks, you’ll tend to go with the Batali bible.  Reason being, he’s an authority figure in the world of food and all else being equal, we tend to give more weight to those in the position of authority.

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6.  Scarcity - The scarcity principle is an extremely effective tool.  This can influence both “the angle” of your sales pitch and the price your able to charge for a service or product.  The more scarce it is the more you can charge (basic supply and demand) but it also gives the impression of exclusivity.  And who doesn’t want to have access to something others don’t?

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BONUS:  Contrast - This isn’t one of Cialdini’s principles but it’s used in many of the most successful sales pitches and marketing campaigns.  This principle states that it’s difficult for people to determine “the value” of a product by simply looking at its price tag — for the most part, if you’re operating in the tech space, your potential customers have never seen your product or service before. 

With the absence of a point of reference, they won’t know if the price tag you put on your product is low, high or fair.  The way around that is to give them a point of reference for comparison, so that you can demonstrate the value in quantifiable terms. It’s critical that you incorporate this concept into your sales and landing page designs.

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So for the next 7 weeks, I’ll write one post per week on each principle along with a few examples.

If used properly, I can personally attest to the fact that these concepts will help increase conversions, sales and profits - guaranteed!