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6 Consumer Psychology Tips to Improve Ecommerce Sales

It’s not all just adorable cat videos and irreverent memes. There’s a science behind what we do and why we do it. In fact, there are a few types of sciences--statistics, logic, mathematics, information theory, sociology, linguistics, ethics, communication studies and psychology, just to name a few. It’s the latter that I’d like to cover today, but more specifically, I’d like to discuss consumer psychology.

Consumer psychology is the study of how individuals and groups research, select, use and dispose of products or services, and the impact this has on the consumers themselves and society as a whole. In a nutshell, it seeks to explain why we buy the things we do. And it helps us marketers and business owners leverage that information to improve our products and services, and sell more of them.

As with any science, the research and ideas behind consumer psychology are complex. And even if you understand the ideas, it’s not always clear how to apply them to your business and marketing efforts. Lucky for us all, there’s a fantastic resource out there called Cognitive Lode. Cog Lode provides “brain gems for decision makers,” brief articles with helpful tips for applying the latest consumer psychology and behavioral economics research to your business and marketing efforts.

Cog Lode has a ton of fascinating gems that are useful for all types of businesses. Today, I wanted to highlight six ideas that can benefit any ecommerce business with their online store and digital marketing efforts.

Noble Edge

This one will give you the warm and fuzzies. New research has shown that philanthropy increases consumer’s perception of the quality of your products. If your business does good, people think your products are good. But only if it’s carried out in a genuine manner. So don’t forego the charitable programs to save a few bucks, because it could cost you a few more bucks in the end.

Learn more about the Noble Effect.

Category Size Bias

Consumers believe that outcomes fitting into larger categories are more likely than those found in smaller categories. Additionally, consumers are more likely to take action on items in a larger list than in a smaller one.

What does this mean for ecommerce brands? Don’t have product categories with just a handful of products listed in them. Make sure each separate category you create has enough products in it to feel worthwhile. Additionally, if you are releasing a new or upgraded version of a product, be sure to clearly state the increased number of features included in the newer version.

Learn more about Category Size Bias.

Cashless Effect

Consumers tend to pay more when they can’t actually see the money. This is why my mother still badgers me to carry cash instead paying for everything with plastic. Good luck, mom!

For ecommerce companies, this doesn’t mean a whole lot. They’re only accept cards or some form of digital payment. But it’s what is at the heart of the matter that’s important. The reason consumers pay more is not because they can see their cash pile dwindling. It’s because credit cards and digital payments are easier and require less conscious effort. By making your payment process even simpler and more automated, you can increase sales.

Learn more about the Cashless Effect.

Nostalgia Effect

When consumers are reminiscing about the past, they’re more likely to spend money in the present. Instead of thinking of selfishly saving money for the future, they’re thinking of building social connections and eliminating loneliness. The implications for this are many: use nostalgic imagery on your website, include sentimental posts on social media channels (#ThrowBackThursday is still going strong!), utilize longing messages in ad creative, produce emotional video campaigns.

Subaru’s First Car Story was a great example of using nostalgia to connect with their consumers and increase awareness.

Learn more about the Nostalgia Effect.

Social Default Bias

When faced with a decision between products that consumers know little about, they will typically choose based on what others have opted for. But only when those others aren’t looking. Sick of hearing people tell you to include reviews and social sharing buttons on your product pages? Too bad. It’s important, even Science says so.  

Learn more about Social Default Bias.

Center Stage Bias

When products are arranged horizontally or vertically, research has found that consumers prefer the one placed in the middle. One reason for this is the perception that items found center stage are more popular, and thus more desirable to consumers. This bias was found to be even stronger when purchasing gifts or items for other people.

Have a new product you’d like to promote? Place it front and center of similar products in a large hero image on your home page. Need to get rid of overstock inventory or product color variations? Put then in the middle on banner creative for display and social media campaigns.

Learn more about Center Stage Bias.

How do you use psychology or other sciences in your ecommerce digital marketing efforts? Share your ideas on Facebook or Twitter