ROARlocal Ecommerce Agency

17 Reasons People Buy Things Online

why do people buy onlineWhy do people do what they do?

I’ve studied human behaviour for 14 years now. Ever since my Psychology degree back in 1999 I’ve been fascinated by why people buy or not.

If you’ve ever found yourself people watching then I bet you’re fascinated by social psychology too!

Here’s our 17 point checklist we use for our digital agency clients here at ROARlocal. We put all the online marketing we create for our clients through this to make sure we’re getting it right.

1) The Fear Factor – Selling the Scare. Fear sells. It drives them to spend money. Fear causes stress. Stress causes action. Tap existing fears.

Four Ingredient Recipe for Using Fear:

  1. It scares the hell out of people.
  2. It offers a specific recommendation for overcoming the fear-aroused threat.
  3. The recommended action is perceived as effective for reducing the threat.
  4. The message recipient believes that he or she can perform the recommended action.

(Fear can also paralyse. Use specific, believable recommendations. Use fears that are specific and widely recognized.)

2) Ego Morphing – Instant Identification. “By purchasing the ‘right stuff’ we enhance our own egos and rationalise away.” AKA, Retail therapy.

3) Transfer – Credibility by Osmosis. Symbols, images, or ideas. Cues. Institutions, celebrities, authorities. Experts i.e. “White lab coats.”

4) The Bandwagon Effect – Give Them Something To Jump On. “Consensus-Implies-Correctness” heuristic. People want to belong.

  1. Aspirational group – to which you’d LIKE to belong.
  2. Associative group – to which you SHARE ideals and values.
  3. Dissociative group – to which you DO NOT WANT to belong.

5) The Means-End Chain – The Critical Core. “Don’t buy for what it does today – but for what it will do tomorrow!” Future objective.

6) The Transtheoretical Model – Persuasion Step by Step.zombies

Stage 1 – Pre-contemplation: ignorant of your product’s existence.
Stage 2 – Contemplation: aware and thought about using it.
Stage 3 – Preparation: thinking about buying from you, but need information about benefits.
Stage 4 – Action: “Here’s my credit card.”
Stage 5 – Maintenance: continue to buy again and again. part of their daily lives.

  1. Create ads that address all five stages.
  2. Create a series of ads that progress over a period of time from stage one to stage five.

7) The Inoculation Theory – Make Them Prefer You for Life. Give them arguments against competitors. “Our competitors will tell you…”

8) Belief Re-Ranking – Change Their Reality. Appeal to either emotions like fear, humour, or guilt – or factual evidence and examples.

9) The Elaboration Likelihood Model – Adjust Their Attitude. Cues feel good, but Central Processing makes them PREFER you.

Two Routes to Change:

  1. Central Route – persuading using logic, reasoning, and deep thinking. AKA, creating Preference
  2. Peripheral Route – persuading using the association of pleasant thoughts and positive images. AKA, Cues

Central Route Processing: pour on the facts, stats, evidence, testimonials, studies, reports, and case histories. Weave an argument.

Peripheral Route Processing: load your ads full of colourful, pleasant images, humorous or popular subject matter, or celebrities. Visual anchors.

10) The 6 Weapons of Influence – Shortcuts to Persuasion.

  1. ComparisonThe power of your peers. Bandwagon effect. Social proof. Need to belong. Everybody is doing it.
  2. LikingThe Balance Theory. “I like you… take my money!” Attractive people have greater influence. Considered trustworthy and likeable.
  3. AuthorityCracking the code of credibility. Mental shortcut. Man in the “white lab coat”.
  4. ReciprocationWhat goes around comes around… profitably! Free samples and giving stuff away creates goodwill and obligation.
  5. Commitment/consistencyThe “Four Walls” technique. Box them in. Elicit small actions and “yes” responses that cultivate to a larger request.
  6. ScarcityGet ‘em while they last! One day sale, limited offer, one while supplies last, first come first served, etc.

11) Message Organisation – Attaining Critical Clarity. Ads must be organised and well-structured. Confusing ads and creatives won’t sell anything.

12) Examples vs. Statistics – And the Winner is… Examples by far. Emotion is the key to sales. Testimonials and endorsements are more engaging.

13) Message Sideness – Dual Role Persuasion. Talk about both you and your competitors.

14) Repetition and Redundancy – The Familiarity Factor. People don’t start seeing your ad until you run it seven times.

15) Rhetorical Questions – Interesting, Aren’t They? “Aren’t you glad you used Dial?” “How do you spell relief?” “What would you do for a Klondike?”

16) Evidence – Quick! Sell Me The Facts! Evidence can be facts, figures, testimonials, endorsements, research, charts, videos. As long as it’s real.

17) Heuristics – Serving Billions of Lazy Brains Daily. “Length implies strength.” Long copy pages, lots of media, testimonials, etc. Long = good.

There you go!

Next time you’re creating something to sell something else (marketing) then use this handy checklist to make sure you cover the persuasion essentials!

Or, why not get us to look after this for you 🙂

If you’d rather focus on building your business and let the experts look after the online marketing for you then get in touch


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