Oh, man. I can almost picture your eyes rolling in the back of your head as you’ve read the title. You must be weirded out by all the persuasion this, psychology that buzz going on in your community.

And, hey, if there’s no buzz around, you need to find better spots to hang out with because the mates you currently have might not be paying enough attention to what’s going on in the world  – and it could be costing YOU money!

Getting website visitors to read a whole damn sentence is hard with all the push notifications, alerts, pings, pokes, emails, social media feeds, and constant chatting happening all the time. Attention is scarce. As Dr Robert Cialdini says, we have to “re-route attention” because everybody is so distracted all the time.

When human attention is so scarce, it’s difficult to keep visitors on your website or sales page, so selling them products and services becomes an almost miraculous feat. Relying on divine intervention to get people on your email list and into your sale funnels isn’t practical. You need something that could hook people, get them to pay attention, and then open their wallets day in, day out. That’s where science comes in, more exactly the psychology of persuasion. 

The Science of Persuasion or… “How to Make Things Go Your Way

First of all, you need to understand that persuasion as a science isn’t something new, researchers studied what gets people to say “yes” to others for almost 70 years. We agree to things and perform various tasks for others not because we’ve invested a lot of time to weight in the pro’s and con’s but because our brain took a shortcut to make a decision and that’s where it took us. What persuasion techniques do is to get the shortcut to take us in a place that’s favourable to those doing the persuading – getting that “yes”, making that sale, signing that new client.

What Dr Robert Cialdini figured out based on his research is that:

  1. He can point to just 6 major shortcuts guiding human behaviour;
  2. You can make people agree with your message before presenting it.

Besides the shortcuts identified by Dr Cialdini, there are also numerous biases and persuasion techniques you can take into account when creating your content or designing your sales pages or even products, and we’ll talk about quite a few of them.

The 6 Principles of Influencing Others

In the book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”, (in my opinion, THE main book you should grab if you want to learn more about sales psychology) Dr Cialdini goes into the psychology of why people say “yes” and offers 6 principles to use to become a skilled persuader:

#1 Scarcity

People want the scarce resources, the products and services that are unique in some way. Making people realise that there isn’t enough of something for everybody who wants it is a guaranteed way to hike its price and desirability.

That’s why most sales pages use a timer, making it clear to potential buyers that they need to act fast, otherwise the deal will be gone forever. That’s why life coaches only offer 3-4 spots in their programmes when they have audiences of thousands of people. 

#2 Reciprocity

People feel they have to return the type of behaviour others have shown them. When somebody does something nice for you, you feel you have to do something nice for them. If you’d like, you can think of it as restoring the balance. For some reason, people don’t feel comfortable being the ones to receive something without being able to return the favour.

That means you can offer people who land on your blog something they really need for free, so they’d feel OK with giving you their email address in return. Or you can throw in a big discount when they order something and then ask them to share your sales page on their Twitter account.

While they’ll want to reciprocate the advantage they received, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll do it right away or that it will involve money, so be careful how you plan to use this.

#3 Consistency

People like to be consistent in their behaviours. That means that if you get them to make a small commitment, they’re more likely to agree to a bigger commitment.

In an interview, Dr Cialdini mentions something quite spectacular. Before an election, people were called and asked if they planned to vote. Just like it happens in this type of situations, most people said they’ll vote. After election day, those running the survey discovered that the area they surveyed had a better participation rate than a very similar one where no calls were received. Because people said they’ll vote, on election day they actually went to vote to be consistent.

One way to leverage this is by getting people into a Yes Mode. If you’re running a webinar, ask the participants questions that will most probably be answered with “yes”. People who say “yes” two times are more likely to say “yes” a third time and that third time can be when you make the sale.

#4 Liking

People interact with and say “yes” to people they like. Luckily, it’s not just chemistry. We like someone if they appear to be similar to us, they make us feel good by offering us compliments and taking an interest in us, and they’re willing to cooperate with us for a common goal.

That’s why it makes sense to show that you’re also a human being, that you’re kind and interested in what others and doing and thinking, and that you want to help others succeed.

If you’re using your blog to build a community around a specific niche, do all you can to help people realise that you are part of that community, that you like the same things they like, that you dress and talk and act like most of them do.

#5 Authority

People will look up to experts for guidance. That’s why you follow your doctor’s indications regarding your diet and not those of your mechanic, just as you don’t buy a new brand of engine oil for your car at your doctor’s recommendation.

A great way to get people to pay attention to what you’re selling is by getting an authority figure, someone well respected in your field, to recommend your product or service.

Another thing you could do is to present yourself as the expert. You can increase the level of trust people have in you by simply displaying your diplomas in the background when you do a Skype call or when taking a photo to use on your websites.

#6 Consensus

You can call this one the herd effect. People want to do what they think the majority of people are doing. If they’re unsure what to do next, they’ll look right and left to see what others are doing and they’ll copy their behaviour.

It’s no wonder people are using plugins to show visitors what others have just bought on their website. That is a behaviour new visitors could copy.

You can use this principle to make the CTAs on your website more effective. For example, saying that “56% of the people who visited this website subscribed to my newsletter” will have better results than “please subscribe to my email”.


Make People Ready to Say Yes Before Asking the Question

The second thing I said we’ll go into is what Dr Cialdini calls pre-suasion. He even published a book on the topic – “Pre-Suation: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade”. What research has shown is that you can actually make people more empathetic to your message even before revealing what that message is.

The way Dr Cialdini explains this is simple. Your brain knows that if you pay attention to something, that something is important. Our brains are hard-wired to only pay attention to things that our survival depends on. What pre-suation techniques do is to hack our brain’s radar, getting it ready to pay attention to something that doesn’t have anything to do with survival (like that new info product you’re promoting).

Researchers ran A/B testing for a furniture website, but they weren’t interested in the conversions, but rather in the effect the design of the landing page had on the visitors. They used the image of clouds and compared the results to those from when they used the image of coins. When visitors saw the clouds, they looked for furniture that was comfortable. When they saw the coins, they entered a money-saving mode, looking for things that would be cheaper and thus spending less money.

The messages designed to get visitors to order furniture were the same. What made a difference was the image used on the landing page. While the clouds told a visitor’s brain to pay attention to comfort, the coins told them to be aware of how much they should spend.

Always be mindful of what subconscious messages your articles, thumbnails, sales pages, online videos are sending. You might, unintentionally, get people in a state of mind that would be counterproductive to what you want to achieve.

Cognitive Biases You Should Be Aware of When Promoting Digital and Info Products

For many affiliate marketers, the key to envy-generating revenue is a mix of great sales pages and impeccable product reviews. With Facebook announcing changes that would decrease the amount of ad space available in our potential buyers’ newsfeeds, it’s easy to imagine that our advertising costs will go up. That means that we’re forced to have even more effective sales pages, and using every little advantage psychology can give us is what we’ll have to do. 

Take advantage of the endowment effect.

This is something some marketers took advantage of since before the world knew about behavioural economics. People get attached to the objects they use, and they’re willing to ask for more money to give them up than they’d be willing to pay to get them in the first place. That’s why some door to door salesmen would leave porcelain dishes at potential buyers’ homes for weeks. When they’d come to get them back (in case the customer wasn’t satisfied) they’d usually leave with money, not with plates, even if the buyers wasn’t the biggest fan of their new dishes – they just got used to them.

You can use this in your favour by offering free trials and deactivating the accounts if the customer doesn’t pay to continue using the product or service.

The same cognitive bias is responsible for low adoption rates for new products, people are just too accustomed to their old products to switch to the new ones if they’re not at least 10x better.

Improve your sales copy by leveraging the Barnum effect.

Do you know why people read the daily horoscope and think it applies to them? Well, this is why. If descriptions are vague and general enough to apply to many people, those reading them will most likely rate them as highly accurate.

You can make potential customers recognize themselves in case studies and product reviews if your descriptions of them are vague enough. You’ll make them feel better about choosing the product. 

Light swearing makes your message more persuasive.

A few light swear words used at the beginning or end of the sales pitch are perceived by the audience as signs of a passionate speaker, so they’re rating the sold product or service more favourable. If you’re in a niche where a few light swear words aren’t raising any eyebrows, sprinkle them in your sales page copy or video pitch.  (LIGHT words…. the ‘c’ word is too far, even for you Aussies… )

Use storytelling to persuade people.

It’s no secret that storytelling is great for brand building and selling products and services. According to a study, the most effective stories are those capable of transporting us in them. If we’re truly captivated by the story, we’ll ignore the fact that some things don’t add up or that the storyteller is trying to sell us something.

Ugly fonts help people remember information.

I know you won’t be thrilled to read this after forcing your designer to use the sleekest and the most stylish fonts available on your newest sales page, but ugly fonts have their benefits. The biggest one of them is that they help people better recall the information they’ve read.

If you’re ending your articles with a little summary, maybe use Comic Sans for it. That way, more people will remember what they’ve read.

Show how much work goes into what you’re selling.

Dan Ariely found that deciding how much to pay someone for their work is trickier than it sounds. You’d imagine that the value of the labour is strictly correlated to the value you’re getting from that labour. Well, it’s not that simple. Consumers want to feel that what you’re getting paid is fair, so they related the value to the exerted effort. So, if you think some people imagine the product you’re selling materialised from thin air, you should provide some hints about the amount of effort that went into it, just as a safety precaution.

Know that rhymes sound more truthful.

This is known as the Rhyme as Reason effect. Yeah, our brains perceive rhyming statements as more truthful. So, if a deal you’re presenting sounds too good to be true, make it rhyme and people will know it’s 100% for real.

Phew, that was a fun ride through persuasion, pre-suasion, cognitive biases, and old-school salesmanship. Hopefully, knowing about all of these will help you create more engaging content, more effective sales pages, and more appreciated product reviews, all important for an affiliate marketer’s success in this day and age when attention is increasingly scarce.