This is part 4 of me series on things Ecommerce can learn from Retail. The first one was on educating your customer. The second on about building customer value. The third blog was on removing obstacles.
Say that we have done all that, the next step is to close the transaction. The final decision is really a difficult step. Most customers are hesitant. Even when you have done everything right, your customer might still fear the moment of decision. Any distraction might make him slip away, so in retail the sales assistant works closely with the customer and puts the right pressure to help the customer to take his decision. Mind you, we only mean ethical methods. Quoting from Jay Abraham:
Presuming you’re convinced that your product solves the problem of your customer or fulfills his dream, you have the moral obligation to help him decide.
Robert Cialdini is one of the great researchers and publishers about persuasion. We selected 7 of the strategies he described in the book he wrote together with Noah Goldstein and Steve Martin: “Yes – 50 Secrets from the science of persuasion”. You will see that these are common practice in retail, but hardly used in Ecommerce.
1. Personal message
Research shows that a personal message will generate more response than the same message, but communicated anonymously. Cialdini’s research shows in increase in response from 34% to 69%, just by adding a personal message.
Most likely the message on your website is that you are a great vendor, offering great service and selling a awesome product. Still 98 % of visitors leave your site without a purchase. Looking at those people who put products in their shopping basket, still 70 % abandons your site. Is it a coincidence that this fraction seems to correspond with Cialdini’s 34% that acts on an anonymous request?
It is important to realize that the this game is not easily won. Research shows that real and intentional interaction will be effective. Cialdini presents research that shows that fake smiling might even deliver negative results.
Ted Rubin stresses in his marketing methodology that REAL creates TRUST. And because of that REAL wins over PERFECT. Stimulate your employees to invest their personal brand and effort in your company. Yes, that means that you will have to trust them. In this social media era you will not be able to be successful without a trusted customer support team. Please watch this video to listen how Ted Rubin positions your employees as key assets. I want to thank Econsultancy for the production the video.
2. Small gift
A small gift has a great effect on people’s willingness to act. Cialdini’s research shows how a small gift of two peppermints in a restaurant did increase tips by 14 %. Do the same thing in a more personal style and tips will increase even 23%.
The gift must is most effective when given unconditional. You’ll run the risk that a customer will take the gift (for free) without buying a product. But don’t worry. Research shows that an unconditional gift achieves 45% more response. Why worry about the small gifts when you can increase sales with 45%.
3. Small Request
You want your customers to choose for you, and for your product. This is a big request. Research shows that people say yes to a large request more easily when you ask a small request first. Cialdini shows in an experiment that the number of people saying yes to a particular large request rises from 22% to 53% by asking people a small related request first.
This is in line with knowledge build up in the science of User Interaction Design. It is advised to get people to click on something in your site. Once they have clicked, they are more likely to buy. To make this effective, the click has to be an answer to a request from you, not a pure navigation click.
You are a intelligent and innovative marketer. You take up new developments fast, to stay the leader in your market. That is why you will start implementing this policy today. By attaching a label to a person, he is more likely to show behavior corresponding to the label. Use labels as ‘decisive’ and ‘fast’ when addressing customers in the shopping cart pages and you can expect them to be more likely to show decisive behavior.
5. Active commitment
You want customers to return to your webshop. Returning customers are much more likely to buy than new customers. But how can you get people to return? Cialdini describes how people tend to act as they predicted to act. And that predicted behaviour is more likely to be social desirable. This leads to the proven conclusion that when you ask people to return to your shop they will be likely to say yes (the social desirable answer) and then act accordingly. In retail this is common practice. In Ecommerce we just say thank you, without asking for the confirmation.
6. Relative pricing
When confronted with a price, a customer will first not really know what to think of it. He will use relative pricing to build up to a decision. Not surprisingly the Forrester research shows that uncertainty about the price is an important reason to abandon the shopping cart.
Cialdini shows that a price is more acceptable when a customer is first confronted with a more expensive product. He describes how Williams-Sonoma doubled the sales of a product by introducing a more expensive version of it. Suddenly the product became the sensible priced product. This is very helpful when the customer is hesitant. Buying the most expensive version is not easily done. Buying the second in line suddenly is a very good compromise between desire and sense.
7. Avoid loss
People will react much stronger when faced with potential loss, than when faced with a potential gain. Whether the customer will perceive potential gain or loss is a matter of how you present the message. “Try our product at a discount” is proven to be a lot less effective than “Don’t let this bargain slip”. The unique offer and the short duration put some pressure on the customers to prevent the loss of the discount. It’ll be just the little stimulus that your customer needs.
What do you think?
With courtesy to Seyyah Hatun and Flickre.com for the photo