5 Scientifically-Proven Tips to Drive More Conversions

October 2nd, 2014

badge-guest-post-FLATTERThanks to sites like Upworthy and Buffer, the content marketing industry is experiencing a sort of renaissance. Not that it wasn’t before, but copywriting is now extremely important.

Success is no longer about cramming SEO keywords into posts and littering your site with as much content as possible; it’s about delivering useful, entertaining, and quality content.

You wouldn’t make a very good content marketer if you didn’t already know that. What you really came here for are some tips on how to increase those conversion rates of yours. Today, I’ll look at some scientifically proven ways to drive up conversion rates.

Scientifically-Proven Tips to Drive Up Your Conversions (No, Really)

No doubt you may have heard a few of these tips before. This time, instead of taking them at face value, you’ll see them backed up with scientific evidence – actual studies that prove they are true.

The next time you read a blog post, article or marketing newsletter advocating these strategies, you’ll know for a fact they really do work.

1. ‘Telling a Story’ Will Resonate With Your Audience

You’ve probably heard several times by now that telling a story with your content or marketing tactic of choice is the best way to attract an audience.

According to Lifehacker and The New York Times, when someone is reading a story, the language center of their brain lights up, as expected. However, what’s even more interesting is that other parts of the brain also become active, including the areas that would light up if the reader were experiencing the event firsthand.

What this means is that whether someone is actually experiencing an event or reading a detailed account of it, their brain reacts in the same exact way. Storytelling really does work, because your audience is able to frame the content in their mind, creating a more personal and emotional experience.

University of Phoenix used this strategy while creating their short documentary, A Career Outside of Football. In it, they told the story of NFL wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald who speaks in first person about his life and career.

Fitzgerald shares personal experiences about his mom’s battle with cancer, his father’s encouragement to continue higher education and his current goals to work on a degree at the University of Phoenix while traveling and also taking care of his son. Through Fitzgerald’s storytelling, prospective students (aka your customers) are able to see that the University has set up an environment that is friendly to adult schedules – exactly the message the college wants to portray.

2. Show the Appeal of Conformity

People will often conform to a general pattern, especially if they’re not sure about the proper outcome or decision. You can use this desire to conform as a means to drive up your conversion rates.

A psychologist named Solomon Asch proved this during a 1935 study involving 50 students. For the study, students were shown a vision test.

To test conformity, the psychology team ran 18 trials total; 12 of which were rigged so that participants would purposely give the wrong answer. One uninformed person would be sent into a room with seven others, who would then give their answer.

This study has shown that 75% of the unwitting participants actually chose to conform and gave the incorrect answer at least one time, despite the real answer being obvious.

However, when that peer pressure was removed, the participants only gave the incorrect answer 1% of the time. That’s a stark difference, and it just goes to show what kind of pressure conformity puts on people. It also means that you can use it to persuade your audience.

Organizations of all kinds can use a conformity-based strategy to meet various conversions. One nonprofit fundraising organization, FirstGiving, uses a conformity strategy on their homepage, where they list several client nonprofits and the money raised for each.

The appeal of conformity has been a successful tactic for them, with the organization recently raising $522,000 for children coping with a family death.

3. Social Engagement, Customer Testimonials, and Reviews Offer Credibility

Nearly 63% of consumers indicate that they are more likely to make a purchase from a brand or website if it has product reviews and ratings clearly visible. In addition, 70% of Americans have said that they look at product reviews before making a purchase

This stat serves as proof that customer testimonials and reviews offer credibility to a brand, product, or service. They create a sense of trust, especially when the feedback is positive. That said, it’s important to note that even just the existence of this feedback is vital to a brand’s image. No feedback can look just as dodgy to customers as poor feedback.

Social engagement and blog interaction can also be used as customer testimonials and reviews. Simply encourage your customers to share their feedback and experiences on their platform of choice.

4. Loss Aversion Can Be Used to Your Advantage

Quite a few studies have shown that people have a loss aversion ratio between 1.5 and 2.5. Long story short, it means that people are more concerned with a loss in profits than an identical gain. People worry more and work harder to avoid losing something or missing out, than they do to gain something.

Marketers use this to their advantage all the time in advertising, but TV infomercials utilize it best. Make it clear to your audience and customers that they do not want to miss out on the excellent opportunity you’re offering.

“Do you really want to miss this opportunity?”

“This offer will only last until… Get it while you can!”

“Before you go, this is a one time offer…”

“Flash deal, it will be gone before you know it…”

These are all excellent ways to show your audience and customers they’ll be missing out on something special.

Daily deal sites used this strategy – and continue to use it – to pull in about $5 billion in 2011. Reps for sites like Groupon and LivingSocial have said that 20% to 30% of coupons purchased are never used. It means people are snatching up daily deals and offers because they’re so afraid to miss out on the opportunity. In the end, the coupons expire before they can be used most likely because customers purchased goods and services they would have otherwise avoided.

5. Exhibit Authority, Expertise, and Knowledge

If people believe that you’re an expert or an authority on a subject and can offer them a great deal of knowledge, they can be easily persuaded.

Robert Cialdini cited a study in his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, which offers a great example of this. During the study, an anonymous person gave incorrect medical instructions to experienced nurses over the phone. The catch was that the anonymous person pretended to be a doctor, implying they had more authority and knowledge than the nurses. This led to the nurses following the anonymous doctor’s orders 95% of the time, instead of making their own decision.

This tactic can be used in a number of ways for conversion optimization, the most obvious of which is through copywriting.

All writers must do is provide proof, examples, and specific details in order to generate trust with their audience. By incorporating these seemingly minor elements, it makes the author look assertive and knowledgeable about the topic and content at hand. In other words, people take your word when you exhibit authority, expertise, and knowledge.

If your conversion strategy has been returning some less-than-stellar results lately, consider implementing a few of these tactics to persuade your customers to make that final click.

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