Boost Your Ecommerce Sales: Psychology-Backed Copywriting Hacks

It’s midday. You’re sat on your desk, eyes lost in space, fingers tapping, wondering where you’re missing a trick.

“Hello,” asked your sales. “Is it me you’re looking for?”

It’s been a quiet few months and you’re eager to get the orders rolling. You’ve been sending out newsletters. You’ve been offering discounts. You’ve invested on ads.

Still, things are moving slow.

“How can I make it better,” you ask, voice trailing off in the vacuum of your thoughts.

Improve your argument.

At a 2004 Johannesburg speech, Desmond Tutu shared his father’s counsel: “Don’t raise your voice. Improve your argument”. This would become a universal piece of advice.

As businesses tussle over thinning audience attention, persuasion becomes tonic to the survival of retail. Copy is a huge part of that. 

Here’s a couple of testaments to this:

  • A 2016 case study published on GrowthLab explains how an Etsy entrepreneur increased her business leads by writing evocative headlines.

  • In 2017, HubSpot decided to make their copy more consumer-driven, focusing on their customers’ pain points, among other things. The marketing intel company reported to have improved their conversion “by nearly 100%” as a result.

To write copy that’s enticing enough to convert, we need to understand human motivations.

Enter psychology.

1. Brain-Heart Connection

The Cognitive-Experiential Self-Theory suggests that our individual personalities are attached to two parallel perceptions: analytical-rational and intuitive-experiential.

Soko Glam, online retailer of curated South Korean skincare products, uses clever copy that touches on the analytical-rational and intuitive-experiential facets of their audience.

Founder Charlotte Cho set it up in 2012, having “received so many messages from women and men from all ages and cultures who decided to try the Korean skincare routine”.

How do you sell an idea to an international customer base with diverse needs?

Soko Glam taps on the analytical-rational offer: “Skin Tea Party: A Tea Blend For Every Skin Concern” and “The Skin Balancing Act: Perfect For Oily and Combination Skin” — presenting two different products that seemingly solve a number of skin issues.

But they didn’t stop there.

They also tapped on the intuitive-experiential offer: “New to K-beauty?”

To reinforce their intuitive-experiential offer they’ve included a “Get Started” option on the header menu.

Under this section is a Skin Quiz that enables them to…

(1) analyse their customers’ profiles
(2) understand their customers’ needs

It’s essentially a built-in survey that doubles as a bespoke service.

I meander around their shop and find Botanic Farm’s Rice Ferment First Essence.

What the hail is THAT, I thought. That is one vague-ass product name.

Soko G. turns it around with a seductive product description that tells me it’s “fermented rice water, a secret that Korean women have been using for centuries”.

This copy does both analytical-rational (It’s been used for centuries, girlfriend.) and intuitive-experiential (It’s a secret but we’re sharing it with you. Sshh…)

2. Scarcity and Choice Architecture

Humans are driven by scarcity.

A 1975 study on the effects of supply and demand in relation to object value suggests that we are motivated to have what we could potentially lose to others.

Remember Groupon? The deals company survives and their scarcity model thrives. Statista reported Groupon to have a $2.84 billion annual global revenue in 2017, with close to 50 million active customers in Q4 of 2017.

How do you fuel desire without sounding pushy?

Groupon pits their audience against each other: “Last Chance Deals” … “Go Before They’re Gone”.

They strategically positioned this offer where it easily catches attention — on the top right; a focal reading point described in the Gutenberg Diagram.

All around the site, Groupon has a menu of tempting deals served on a cunning interface.

They tells visitors…

(1)  the hourly countdown of when a specific product sale ends
(2)  the date when the sale ends
(3)  how many others viewed the product on offer
(4)  how many rated the product on offer
(5)  the discounted price vs the original price

By framing offers they are creating cognitive bias. They’re telling us, “Hey, it’s your call — buy the deal now or wait later…but we can’t promise you it will still be there“.

3. Belief Mapping and Cultural Influences

Evidence-based researchers suggest that “cultural logic is of particular value in identifying culturally sensitive arguments that attempt to influence a target population’s behaviour”.

British fashion label House of Holland integrated their web shop with Instagram. The social app that fast became a staple in popular culture is continuously evolving as a reference point for social economics.

How do you connect with an audience on a socio-cultural level?

House of Holland’s “Shop The Gram” page is an artsy editorial version of their standard shop page. They use this section to lightly touch on hot issues like inclusivity, female empowerment, and freedom of expression.

Above, the copy reads: “Championing inclusivity with more than just words…”

Details appear on the product page, expounding on the promise, and appealing to a trendy, non-conformist audience —

Product description: “The colour of the passionate. Add fuel to the fire. Let loose your inner colour.”

“25% of the revenue generated will be donated to the Albert Kennedy Trust, LGBT Youth Homelessness charity focused on supporting young people living in hostile environments after coming out, to continue supporting their amazing work within the LGBT Youth community.”

* * *

Referencing cultural issues can be a powerful but risky strategy in brand messaging.

The researchers noted that “because people’s beliefs differ, arguments likely to be persuasive in one culture may be irrelevant or even counterproductive in another culture”.

Reducing the probability of splitting audience opinion can be done by addressing the beliefs that cause the behaviours. Marketers call this belief mapping. Feel free to get in touch if you’d like to learn how to apply this to your branding.


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