e-Commerce Value Proposition – How to Stand Out

e-Commerce Value Proposition

e-Commerce value proposition is more or less the same as any value proposition. I guarantee that you’ve seen and read far more value propositions than you’re aware of – because they’re everywhere. They’re on home pages and landing pages. They’re on Facebook ads and sales pages. They’re on freeway billboards and curbside restaurant menus.

“Eat at Joe’s – Home of the Foot-long Corndog”

And they pop up in the most unexpected places.

When the voluptuous Italian movie star Sophia Loren said the Hotel Ritz Paris was “the most romantic hotel in the world,” that was a value proposition.

But, for how prolific value propositions are, confusion surrounds them. You’ll find a number of variations on this 4-point list of what a value proposition does.

A value proposition:

  1. Defines who your customer is
  2. States what your product does
  3. Establishes why you’re unique
  4. Shows the end benefit
What is a Value Proposition
What is a Value Proposition

Sophia Loren’s “The most romantic hotel in the world” statement does all of these things. The Hotel Ritz Paris is for lovers; they will find romance there; more romance than anywhere else in the world. Place that sentence next to a photo featuring Sophia’s generous endowments – and you have your benefits. *Photos are used in value propositions a lot, either as supporting players or integral parts.

Value propositions look deceptively simple, don’t they? But they are one of the most important statements you’ll ever make for your e-commerce products. They require thought, consideration, substantial research, and ongoing testing. Furthermore, they’re worth the effort.

When they work, value propositions make the difference between getting the sale – and boosting your bounce rate.

What is a value proposition?

A value proposition expresses what is unique and desirable about your product – but they aren’t a list of features. It answers the question: What differentiates your product from the competition? And the answer must be grounded in something your target audience desperately wants.

However, this approach presupposes that the product is already designed, already built, and just needs the right words to tell people why they want it (because you know they will want it if you just explain it correctly).

And that isn’t a safe assumption to make. In fact, the authors of the book Value Proposition Design take the opposite approach.

e-Commerce value proposition before product?

Value Proposition Design authors Alex Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur, Greg Bernarda and Alan Smith contend that a value proposition is one of the first steps to creating a product customers want.

For e-commerce stores just starting out, this may be an especially useful way to think about value propositions – as not separate from, but integral to product design. It’s certainly a way to differentiate from Amazon and other e-commerce giants and build something uniquely suited to your ideal clients.

This approach actually has much in common with the Lean Startup methodology. It begins with identifying your ideal customer and mapping what they value, then seeing if and how your idea fits.

In fact, problem-solution fit takes up much of the book, beginning with a multi-page, step-by-step exploration of the ideal customer – their desired outcomes and benefits they seek, the pains they experience, and their “jobs” (what they’re trying to get done). Using that list as a foundation, you can then describe how our product/service can create those desired outcomes and how it can alleviate pains.

From there, you would not only be able to build your value proposition, but have the information required to build the product prototype itself (or a minimum viable product, if you’re Lean).

But let’s be real here: most businesses, and certainly most copywriters, only think about creating a value proposition once the product is in motion.

You’re asked to assume that problem-solution fit has been found, and maybe it has.

I would argue that it’s in your best interest to check – because without that core problem-solution fit, your value proposition won’t work.

Check your fit (and find the raw materials for your value prop)

To check your problem-solution fit, you don’t have to interview a hundred ideal customers – thank goodness. There are a number of methods you can use to gather qualitative and quantitative data, like using NPS scores to identify your brand advocates and selecting a few to interview about why they use your product, what their pain points were before the product, and how, specifically, your product/service helps them achieve their ideal outcomes.

That’s a really good way to check your fit, while also gathering first-hand information and quotes you can use later when constructing your value proposition.

Once you have a few options for value propositions, you’ll want to ensure fit by testing them, as Jamie W did for ZapFlash (as shared on CopyHackers). Jamie found that the wording in Option B resonated with the college student segment of her audience:

Value Propositions Can Be Tested
Value Propositions Can Be Tested

Copywriter Lauren Van Mullem uses qualitative data to inform her value proposition copy in a slightly different way that is also very effective, and a little faster and easier. She uses testimonials.

“When I need to very quickly understand a product or service’s value, I ask my client to send me all the testimonials they’ve received from their ideal clients – and only their ideal clients. The ones who pay the most and are happiest with what they receive. Then I read through all of the testimonials and categorize them based on the benefits and pain points they state. Patterns emerge very quickly, so sorting them into just a few categories is easy. These categories very clearly show the value people get from the product or service, and the core needs that drove them to buy. Out of that foundation, I can write every other piece of marketing, including a value proposition.”

She also has another hack – taking excerpts of the actual words and phrases used within the testimonials.

“Using the exact same words and phrases as the ideal client is a psychological trigger that makes you sound familiar to other similar people. Cialdini, in a nutshell, tells us that people buy from people they like – and people like what’s familiar. What is more familiar than reading the same language you would use? The way we speak and write marks us culturally, socioeconomically and geographically, and as marketers, we can use that to create a feeling of kinship.”

So, compile your testimonials. Sort them into themes and categories, and highlight words and phrases that perfectly encapsulate common pain points and benefits. From that pool of material, you’ll find where your solution fits, and how to sell it. Then, as always, test.

How to write your value proposition

Writing a value proposition is a little like making pumpkin pie – everyone has their own favorite recipe. And, if you want a great recipe, you’d do well to ask the best pie bakers you know. Here’s how three of the savviest copywriters and marketers approach value propositions.

Joanna Wiebe, Conversion Copywriter, Founder of Copy Hackers

A value prop expresses what your prospect strongly desires 1) that only you offer or 2) that you offer best / most interestingly / most beautifully / most affordably / etc. A quick formula for your value prop is this:

Our customers are loyal to us because they want {highly desired X}, and we offer them that {in Y way}.

Amazon can say, “Our customers are loyal to us because they want a huge selection of brands they love at prices they love, and we offer them that with fast, free shipping.” Even Walmart can’t say that. Alibaba may be able to say the same, though, which is perhaps where the convo shifts from value prop to brand – is it a coincidence that Amazon is now running highly emotional ads, like the dog-and-baby or man-walking-dog commercials, to make us feel something for their brand?

Brand is the ultimate differentiator.  

And that brings us to the real question: What do your customers really care about? Yes, the whole world wants the best stuff for zero dollars delivered instantly. But what do YOUR customers care about? And does what they actually care about highlight a chink in the giant’s armour? For example, might your customers really want to know the people behind the business? They can’t get that from Amazon. Do they love a great personality? Amazon doesn’t have that. Do they go batsh*t crazy for killer design? Amazon definitely doesn’t have that.

Punjammies couldn’t be more different than Amazon, and their value proposition works exceptionally well for their audience, making these pajamas unlike any other sleepwear online.

PUNJAMMIES Value Proposition
PUNJAMMIES Value Proposition

Their homepage reads:

PUNJAMMIES(R) are loungepants made with hope by women in India who have escaped human trafficking. Whenever you purchase PUNJAMMIES(R), you invest in the freedom and dignity of these women and girls who are working to forge a new life for themselves and their children.

Now that is a powerful differentatior.

Angie Schottmuller, Growth Marketing Advisor & Keynote Speaker

Ask a client for their value proposition, and you’ll likely hear their latest sales promotion (e.g. 2-for-1) or get a deer-in-the-headlights reaction. It’s a misunderstood, outdated, fluff phrase. Just referencing the word “proposition” misdirects our desired thought process. (We’re targeting simple, meaningful facts — not opinions, schemes, or sexual suggestions.)

Instead, ask clients to describe their DIFFERENTIATOR.

  • How does your product/service differ from status quo? (i.e. Describe the contrast of current and future state.)
  • How does your product/service differ from the competition?

Descriptive responses to these questions identify key features from which we can derive benefits/value. If you’re stuck on features, ask, “Which means?” Repeat this process until you reveal the feature’s meaningful benefit, impact, or usefulness for the customer.  

Example Product: HP Spectre Laptop.

Differentiator: Solid-State Drive (SSD) [feature] >> No moving parts [feature] >> Runs silently and loads faster [benefit]

We have no idea what makes us unique unless we compare ourselves to others. Identify your differentiator to discover your value.

Differentiator is the new value proposition.  – @aschottmuller

The Purple Mattress company cleverly places their value proposition in the blurb you see on the search engine results page. In fact, not only do they declare themselves to be “the world’s first” and “the biggest mattress-tech advancement” – they even made up their own differentiating test, essentially creating a value proposition out of thin air.

Purple Mattress Value Proposition
Purple Mattress Value Proposition

The “Raw Egg Test”? No other mattress company has ever claimed that.

Talia Wolf, Conversion Optimization Consultant & Trainer

When asked “What is your value proposition?”, most companies reply with a long list of features, pricing and benefits that makes them different. However, there are many brands in the world targeting the same customer as your own; and some have better products, better features and better pricing than your own.

So, how do you really stand out? By emphasizing the customer’s value.  

This isn’t to do with the amount of features you have or how many years you’ve been in business; it’s to do with the customer’s emotional value.

Marketers tend to forget that there are people behind those screens, not just devices and geographical locations. People buy on emotion. They face different challenges and are searching for the one to solve it for them. In order for you to stand out, you will need to highlight what’s in it for your customer – how does your solution make them smarter, safer, happier or even loved?

Once you identify those key emotions and values your customers are looking for, you will be able to translate them into your design using color psychology, persuasive copy, the right images, fonts and many more.

So next time you’re crafting your value proposition, remember: what customers really care about isn’t the what, it’s the why.

Purple Carrot, an ingredient + recipe delivery service (like Blue Apron, only vegan), perfectly leverages the key emotions of their target audience in their value proposition.

Purple Carrot e-Commerce Value Proposition
Purple Carrot e-Commerce Value Proposition

Who wouldn’t want a mouth-watering vegan meal that makes them feel great?

Value proposition design

Successful value propositions aren’t just about the words – they’re about effectively conveying an idea. And ideas are communicated as much through images, psychology, color choice and design decisions as by the text on the page.

Shanelle Mullin, Content & Growth at ConversionXL, shares a recent study the ConversionXL Institute conducted of how value propositions are displayed.

ConversionXL Institute recently studied (via eye-tracking and a questionnaire) a few common ways sites display value propositions: 3 simple bullets, 3 bullets with descriptions, 5 bullets, and a short paragraph.

We found that you should limit other elements on the site or, at least, other elements near the value proposition. All elements on the page should be super relevant to the value proposition.

Ambiguous imagery was found to be a major source of confusion and misunderstanding.

In our study, the headline was “Get A Complete View Of Your Personal Finances” and the imagery was three different devices displaying the same financial dashboard. We found that an overwhelming amount of participants then focused on just one element of the value proposition, “connecting all devices.” For some, the imagery even made them think about “selling computers.” Yikes!

Frilly wording wasn’t found to influence perceived understanding, but it was found to influence recall. Test explicit descriptions of features and benefits for yourself.

Lastly, don’t worry about your value proposition being too long. We found that users noticed the value proposition more quickly when it included more text (i.e. took up more real estate) and they spent longer on it when there was more to read. Instead, worry about communicating clearly.

Of course, value propositions aren’t relegated to the “Hero” or header section – you can also put them on Facebook ads that lead to landing pages, like Vinley Market.

Vinley Market’s Value Proposition
Vinley Market’s Value Proposition

Vinley Market’s value proposition is consistent between their Facebook ad and their landing page, but not identical (due to character count constraints, no doubt):

Ad copy: “We are obsessed with uncovering the best boutique wines at amazing prices.”

Landing page copy: “We are obsessed with uncovering the best boutique wines that majorly over deliver for the price.”

Notice that the copy on the landing page sounds much more like a value proposition because of the “the best X” “that [differentiator]” construction. Design-wise, their landing page is clear, with minimal distractions, and they have a rather lengthy value proposition statement that covers what they do, what a primary fear of their target audience is (avoid the trap of pretty labels), and a promise that they’ll make it easy.

They also do one very important thing: They offer social proof that the wines will, in fact, be good (another psychological trigger from Robert Cialdini) by promising to send only “the bottles our buyers are most excited about.”

It’s great e-commerce copywriting because it makes the value you can expect so very clear, while covering common objections and addressing common fears.

So you’ve got your value proposition – now what?

Hurray! You’ve written your value proposition, your designers have crafted a simple, yet powerful image to go with it, and you’ve got your call-to-action button primed and ready.

Now what?

Pop the bubbly and relax?

Hah! No.

The most important part of the value proposition process is the one that’s talked about least – testing. Even if you think you did everything right, even if you consulted your customers, triple checked fit, used their language, and honed your benefits – the only way to ensure your message resonates with your audience enough to measurably increase conversions and sales is… to measure. You have to track what happens.

You’ll need to measure and understand the traffic reaching your page, including what they’re reading most (or least), how long they’re on the page, and how many click your CTA button and convert into customers.

Then, you can begin to A/B test variations on your value proposition wording and delivery to optimize it and win more conversions.

Then you can pop the bubbly.

Has an e-commerce value proposition recently caught your eye (or earned your dollar)? Share it with us on Twitter @Objeqt.

e-Commerce Value Proposition

A value proposition expresses what is unique and desirable about your product – but they aren’t a list of features. It answers the question: What differentiates your product from the competition? And the answer must be grounded in something your target audience desperately wants.

30 Psychological CRO Tests to Run on Your e-Commerce Site

30 Psychological Conversion Tactics You Can Test

Conversion rate optimization is all about psychology. But where psychologists are trying to figure out why people do what they do, the Conversion Rate Optimizer’s challenge is to know what stimuli will get people to take the action you want them to take. In this post we list 30 psychological CRO tests to run on your e-commerce site.

It’s not about being manipulative. That’s the dark side.

Dark Side - Psychological CRO Tests
Dark Side – Psychological CRO Tests

Noooo! I won’t! Even though that cookie is a really good incentive that preys upon my desire for immediate gratification (we’ll get to that later).

On the side of good: This is about showing people what they want and giving them every reason and every chance to get it. You might say it’s about helping people to achieve their goals – as much as it is about achieving yours.

The CRO also has tools and tests to know, beyond a Rorschach ink blot of a doubt, whether the psychological trigger s/he’s employed works… or doesn’t.

This is where we bring psychology and testing together, so you can try these already-proven, scientifically based psychological action triggers and see how they work on your very own e-commerce website.

For each trigger, we’ll include ideas for how to use it on your website – in your product pages, landing pages, or CTA buttons. From there, it’s up to you to A/B test these suggestions against what you currently have.

Not sure how to run an A/B test? Check this out.

Types of Psychological Triggers – and How to Test Them

Button Psychology

Get Noticed with Contrasting Colors (CTA buttons)

Signal Detection Theory + Visual Salience and Attention + Processing Fluency basically say that we’ve evolved to detect contrasting colors in our environment (signal detection theory) and picking out which items are important (salience). This comes in handy for identifying tigers in the grass and brightly colored fruits and vegetables – also for finding CTA buttons on product pages.

The idea behind Processing Fluency is that the easier the button is to find and identify its function, the more inclined the visitor will be to click it. We like things that are easy and simple to figure out.

Test it on your CTAs: Unless your CTA buttons already are in bright, contrasting colors (red and orange are popular choices, but not the only good ones), A/B test your current button color against a color that is in direct contrast with the majority of your website. Skipped art class the day they brought out the color wheel? Here you go; aim for opposites.

Test it another way: Contrasting colors aren’t the only way to make CTA buttons stand out (to capitalize on processing fluency). Increasing the amount of white space around the CTA, and placing it prominently, also ease the load on the overworked mind. A/B test increased white space to see if it boosts your conversion rates.

Use the Representativeness Heuristic: Don’t get too fancy with your buttons – they still need to look like buttons. Basically, we’re wired to recognize similarities in actual, tangible things, and things that are made to represent them. It’s the psychological foundation of why emoticons work (or why written language works, for that matter). It’s also why we recognize CTAs as buttons when they look like buttons.

Test it on your CTA: Try adding a 3-dimensional component to your CTAs, like a bevel or shadow, so they look more like actual buttons you can press with a finger.

Color Palette - Psychological CRO Tests
Color Palette – Psychological CRO Tests

Test it another way: The representativeness heuristic is also why we take → to mean forward movement. Try putting an arrow, or >> on your CTA button to let your visitor know they’ll be moving to another page.

Leverage Gaze Following: If you see someone stop and look to the right, you look to the right too – because you naturally assume there’s something worth looking at. This is called “gaze following” and it’s something we primates do as a shortcut to finding food, alerting to danger, and spotting celebrities on the street. You can use it too.

Test it on your home page: Have an image of person (any creature with eyes, really – it can even be a stick figure) staring directly at the form, CTA, or other action you want people to take. And remember: You can easily flip images. You could even A/B test one image looking at your CTA, and one looking away from it – just for fun (but believe me, the one looking towards your CTA will perform better!).

Looking at CTA Usually Converts Better
Looking at CTA Usually Converts Better

Conceptual Fluency: The psychological underpinning of “if she can see it, she can be it.” Human beings are more likely to do what they can envision themselves doing. One incredibly easy way to use this is to switch your copy from second person (you, your) to first person (I, me, my).

Test it on your CTA button: Try changing “Start your free trial” to “Start my free trial” and see what happens. When Michael Aagard tested these two variants, he increased conversions by 90% by switching to first person.

Test it in your product pictures: Instead of just showing the product, show the product in use – held in someone’s hand, worn on a real person’s body, etc. Zappos uses videos of people walking in their footwear. All of this helps the consumer envision what it’s like to use your product themselves, which has been shown to increase conversions.

Use Processing Fluency: When we consider doing something, we predict how easy or hard it will be to do. If we believe it will be hard, we’re less likely to try. Here’s the interesting part for CRO: Lengthy or difficult instructions will hinder conversions, but so will hard-to-read fonts.

Test it on your CTA buttons or on a form: As you’re A/B variant, make your font size slightly larger and choose an easy to read font like Verdana or Georgia (both of which were designed for Microsoft by type designer Matthew Carter, specifically to be easy to read on screens).

Test it on your home page copy: Simple, clear, and brief should be the goal of copy across your website, but many websites verge on verbosity. Invoke your inner Hemingway and cut your verbiage for this A/B trial.

Make’m Nervous with Choice Rejection – When you force people to actively reject an option (like, say, to subscribe to your newsletter), they start to consider the benefits they’re giving up, which triggers Loss Aversion (we’ll get to that later), and are more likely to accept the offer. In practice, this is how it works.
You design a pop-up ad asking if the viewer would like to sign up for your newsletter. Variant A would be a simple “Yes” or “No.”

Variant B would go like this:

“Yes, I’d love to get weekly coupons, news, and a roundup of deals.”

“No, I like paying full price for everything.”

Test it in your pop-up copy: Be explicit about the benefits of saying “yes” to your offer, and the downside of saying “no.” Joanna Wiebe used this technique and increased her conversion rate by 400-500%.

Emotional Color Theory

The idea here is that color is tied to emotion – and emotion leads to action. Therefore, color can affect conversion. This isn’t just for CTA buttons (though red tends to spur faster reaction times and just might push impulse buyers over the edge); it’s for your entire website. Conversioner’s Talia Wolf introduced a pink hue across this prom dress website, contributing to the emotional experience of mothers and daughters shopping together. That pinkification raised revenues by 86%.

Note: If your products follow trends, then the colors on your site should too. This tells your customers that you are on-trend and will keep them on-trend too. What colors are in? Pantone’s color of the year for 2017 is Greenery (it’s always a good place to start).

Pantone's Color for 2017
Pantone’s Color for 2017

Test it across your website: Use this color cheat sheet to create a variant of your website that capitalizes on these color-emotion connections. Choose the color family you believe will work best with your product and audience.

  • Red – For impulse purchases, sale signs, promotions and CTA buttons.
  • Orange – May increase a sense of urgency, happiness and optimism. Try it as the dominant color of your website, or your CTA buttons.
  • Yellow – If you’re selling food products, yellow stimulates appetite (and green denotes freshness).
  • Green – Use to create a fresh, natural, relaxed ambience on your site – great for eco-friendly products.
  • Blue – Authority, most often used for banking, medicine, and other serious products where trust is of paramount importance.
  • Pink – The color of calm, joy, femininity and romance. It’s a natural choice for businesses catering to women.
  • Purple – Creativity, spirituality, and luxury for women of a certain age. Most often used in brands that target older women.
  • Black – Power and luxury, can be used to increase perceived value.
  • White – Clean, modern, simple, sophisticated.
  • Gray – Practical, neutral, contemporary, classy. But can be boring, depending on how you use it.
  • Gold – The color of money, exclusivity and luxury (works well with black or white to increase perceived value of the product).
Gold = Success ?
Gold = Success ?

Pain Spurs Action

Whether it’s emotional pain or physical pain (there actually isn’t much difference, neurologically speaking), focusing attention on pain actually makes that pain feel worse, and we’re more driven to alleviate it as a result.

Test it on your product page or landing page: Take the pain point that aggravates your target audience the most, and use a sentence or two (or five) to dwell on it. Add an image showing someone suffering from it. Then, show how your product fixes the problem – and most importantly, tell or show the “after” to your gruesome before.

The Power of Placement

Anchoring Heuristic: The tendency to place more importance on the first piece of information you see is called the “anchoring heuristic.” It’s the impulse that makes us walk out of a store with the first thing we saw, and the instinct that tells us Zappos is the best online shoe store because it’s the first shoe ad we saw on Facebook.

Test it on your home page: Take a best-selling product and feature it prominently on your home page, so it’s the first thing people see when they come to you. Then see if your conversions for that product increase.

Test it on your product page: When listing your product price, display the high “regular” price first, then show the discounted price under it. This will increase the viewer’s perceived value of the product and make them feel like they’re getting a great deal. Compare this variation against its opposite: Placing the lower price more prominently, and the higher price less.

Eye-Catching Placement: A 2014 eye-tracking study showed that the eye is drawn to the upper left corner and the center of any given page. Eyes are also attracted to larger things before smaller things, and raised graphics before sunken ones. See what happens if you:

  1. Place your CTA button in the middle of the page
  2. Create a pop-up opt-in CTA that appears in the middle of the page
  3. Make your CTA button larger than your logo (but not so big that it stops looking like a button)
  4. Visually raise your CTA above the rest of the page (see example below from DailyMile)
Eye-Catching Placement
Eye-Catching Placement

Cialdini’s Six Conversion Hacks

1. Reciprocity

Humans are hardwired to pay back favors. Give away something of value, and people will be naturally moved to give back.

Test it: Try doing a “free sample” promotion. Maybe where you throw something in for free with an order – like when you get makeup samples free with purchase. It’s something very few e-commerce stores are doing, so it can also be a way to set yours apart. For best results, make the freebie something your ideal client would actually buy. Remember to track conversions from before and after you implement your promo.

2. Consistency

Nobody wants to be a hypocrite; we have a deep desire to match our actions with what we say we’ll do. And, we also like to keep doing what we’ve been doing – as long as we’re rewarded for it. Which brings us to conversion. Studies have shown that the more we say “yes,” the more we will continue to say “yes.” And you want your customers saying “yes.”

Test it on your home page: Try a “commitment checkbox” popup on your home page that says “Yes! I am ready for [your biggest benefit] today!” You’ll have to figure out (and test) what benefit your target audience wants most to use in this copy – it might take a few tries. But, when ConversionVoodoo did this, that checkbox resulted in 11% more conversions.

3. Social Proof

When we see that other people have liked something or have done something, we feel like it’s a safer bet. Social Proof reduces purchase anxiety – the fear that a product won’t live up to expectations, or that the purchaser is going to be cheated in some way.

Test it on your product pages: Put user reviews on your best-selling product pages (for starters), like Modcloth and Zappos do, for six months as a test run. See if your conversions increase or decrease, and by how much.

4. Authority

People follow the lead of credible, knowledgeable experts. You can be one, or you can buy one (er, hire).

Test it on social media & your home page: Find an expert in your industry or public figure that resonates with your audience, and ask them to endorse/mention/publicly use your product. Many Youtube video-makers and bloggers are happy to do this, when appropriately compensated. Consider this a line item in your marketing budget. You can set up tracking from those links to your site so you know exactly what revenue to attribute to this experiment.

Test it on your unsubscribe page: Huckleberry’s “unsubscribe from emails” page leverages the authority of no other than Bruce Lee. It’s charming and funny, and they get far fewer unsubscribers as a result.

Huckleberry’s “unsubscribe from emails” Page
Huckleberry’s “unsubscribe from emails” Page

5. Liking

We buy from people we like – which makes your challenge to become more likeable. People tend to like people who are like them, and they base those judgements primarily on visual cues from your website and social media and personality cues in your copy.

Test it: Achieving likeability is heavily involved with brand strategy and buyer personas – and if you haven’t done the groundwork there, you aren’t ready to test anything. What is your target audience pinning on Pinterest right now? Look at the topics, colors, and style for inspiration on what changes to make and test on your website.

6. Scarcity… deserves its own section.

Scarcity / Loss Aversion / Urgency – AKA FOMO

Cialdini’s Principle of Scarcity is that people perceive limited quantities as more precious and valuable. And, embedded in this principle of persuasion are the related psychological triggers of Loss Aversion and Urgency.

Loss Aversion: The idea that losing something hurts more than gaining something, so we will go farther out of our way to avoid losing something than we would to get something. In practice, this means if the deal is for a limited time, we’ll jump on it so we don’t lose the opportunity (which would hurt).

Urgency: Same thing as loss aversion – we don’t want to miss out.

Then there’s the related commodity theory: The idea that scarcity increases perceived value because possessing hard-to-get items makes people feel unique and special.

And there are so many ways to use these.

Test it on your product pages: Items in limited supply are very appealing – so on your product pages, let visitors know when there are “9 items left!” with low stock notices. Show your limited supply and track your conversion rates – they’ll very likely increase, because people believe supply is limited because demand for these items is higher.

Test it on your product pages another way: Another urgency instigator is the limited-time offer. One retailer tested a limited next-day shipping offer on their product page and boosted sales by 226%.

Test it with your products themselves: Consider introducing a limited edition line or ‘small batch’ specialty products to leverage the desire for exclusivity.

Test it on product & sales pages: Try installing a sale price countdown on product and/or sales pages to remind viewers how much time is left before the discount goes away. (See how Huckleberry does this below) You can also try this with free shipping or next-day shipping offers.

Huckleberry Sales Price Countdown
Huckleberry Sales Price Countdown

Test it seasonally – Starbucks only offers Pumpkin Spice lattes in the fall; McDonald’s McRib is so hard to find, they made an app to locate it when it appears. Consider testing what happens when you only make seasonally-tied popular items available for short, specific periods of time.

Test it with a VIP area: Scarcity + commodity theory = exclusivity, another way of raising perceived value. Consider testing a VIP area of your site for your best buyers, where they can see (and buy) new items first, and get some customer appreciation perks. Nurture your best buyers – they’re the ones most likely to buy more and bring their friends.

Each of these ideas is a hypothesis in the making…

Every A/B test you conduct will be based on a hypothesis – a statement of what change you plan to make, and what you *think* will be the result. That change is your variant, which you’ll compare against what you already have (the A to your B).

Each of these ideas for how to test psychological conversion triggers is the raw material out of which you can create hypotheses for your e-commerce website. For more on hypothesis creation, see this article.

Why test when each of these ideas is founded in multiple scientific psychology studies?

Because all of these ideas are part of a larger context of what your target audience wants, thinks and feels. You’ll have to test to know, for sure, what works best with your specific customers.

So, decide what to change, form a theory of how that will affect conversions, and set up an A/B test to see how you do.

30 Psychological Conversion Tactics You Can Test

Conversion rate optimization is all about psychology. But where psychologists are trying to figure out why people do what they do, the Conversion Rate Optimizer’s challenge is to know what stimuli will get people to take the action you want them to take.

Colors & Conversions in e-Commerce Design

Colors and Conversions in e-Commerce Design

The psychology of color is a subject of strong disagreement in marketing. We know we need it, and we’d like there to be a list of rules to follow that remain the same in all instances – but there isn’t. Color preference, associations, and color cause and effect, vary widely between individuals and cultures.

So, what we’re left with is what we’ve always been left with…

We have to design based on close research of our target audience – and that goes for colors too.

That’s not to say that there aren’t valuable guidelines for color selection that are grounded in science – there are (and they’re outlined below).

Here is what we know, what we think, and what has been proven to work when it comes to color and conversion in e-commerce design.

Psychological Underpinnings: Why are colors so important to conversion?

Studies show that humans understand visuals faster because they affect us both cognitively and emotionally.

According to visual communication consultant, Mike Parkinson:

“Cognitively, graphics expedite and increase our level of communication. They increase comprehension, recollection, and retention. Visual clues help us decode text and attract attention to information or direct attention increasing the likelihood that the audience will remember.”

“Emotionally, pictures enhance or affect emotions and attitudes. Graphics engage our imagination and heighten our creative thinking by stimulating other areas of our brain (which in turn leads to a more profound and accurate understanding of the presented material).”

When your purpose is to persuade, your best bet is to leverage emotion. And nothing, not words or entire images, appeals faster, or more powerfully, to people’s emotions than color.

According to Kissmetrics, 85% of shoppers place color as the primary reason for why they buy a product and color increases brand recognition by 80%. People are also said to make subconscious decisions in under 90 seconds, and color is a great way to trigger action. – Conversioner

Colors and Conversions in e-Commerce Design
Colors and Conversions in e-Commerce Design

If you’re in doubt that color has any real bearing on human emotion and ensuing behavior, consider this:

When the University of Iowa painted the opponent’s locker room at their football stadium Pepto Bismal pink (also known as “drunk tank pink”, or Pantone Baker-Miller Pink), they did so because research had shown that particular hue caused muscles to weaken and moods to calm in people who were exposed to it for a long time.

And, in the 1970s, Alexander Schauss noted that starting at Pepto Bismal pink made his heart rate slow, which prompted him to suggest that Naval correctional prison cells be painted pink from floor to ceiling. It sounds like the result of losing a bet, but the Navy did it, with these results:

“Since the initiation of this procedure on 1 March 1979, there have been no incidents of erratic or hostile behavior during the initial phase of confinement.”

Pink isn’t the only effective color for influencing emotion and behavior. Traditionally, certain colors are associated with certain emotions.

Emotional Color Chart
Emotional Color Chart

Research into human emotion has come a long way since the 1970s. In fact, a 2014 study from Glasgow University suggested that human beings really only have four emotions:

  1. Happy
  2. Sad
  3. Fear/Surprise
  4. Anger/disgust

Those four basic emotions can be blended to create the variations we all feel, like bittersweet or “happy tears.”

Furthermore, emotions are hard-wired to generate actions.

Happiness, for example, makes us want to share. Just look at the “mirroring” behavior that happens when you smile at someone – they’ll most likely smile back. Even newborn babies do this. It’s called “social smiling.” In social media, positive articles are more likely to be shared than sad ones (but articles that provoke anger and anxiety are also shared at a higher rate).

Fractl published a list of “The Emotions of Highly Viral Content,” and all of them – ALL of them – are related to happiness.

  1. Amusement
  2. Interest
  3. Surprise
  4. Happiness
  5. Delight
  6. Pleasure
  7. Joy
  8. Hope
  9. Affection
  10. Excitement

Interestingly, the image they chose to display each emotion in their study was a color chart based on Robert Plutchik’s “wheel of emotions.

Wheel of Emotions
Wheel of Emotions

Don’t be fooled into using this chart as your guide to marketing magic, however. Green does not inspire terror and purple does not disgust the populace.

Colors by Target Customer

Colors affect emotion and emotion spurs us to action. But the question remains: How can we find the right color for our target audience that will produce a conversion?

We’re not limiting the discussion here to CTA button colors (though we’ll get to those). But rather the overall color story of an e-commerce website.

And which colors you use depends on your target customer.

What Women Want

According to research from Sherwin-Williams, colors that appeal most to women are blue, purple and green; while orange, brown, and gray are least appealing. But, once again, don’t be fooled by this generalization, because choosing paint colors for your home is a lot different than selecting a car, your wardrobe, or your next laptop.

If the Sherwin-Williams research was the absolute last word, why would women’s clothing designer Dorothee Schumacher have her website professionally designed in black and neutrals (with just a pop of green)?

Dorothee Schumacher Website Color Scheme
Dorothee Schumacher Website Color Scheme

The Dorothee Schumacher website color scheme is a user-focused design decision that deliberately attracts customers who prefer high-end fashion to cheaper fast-fashion. The color story here is one of high cost, high quality, luxury and sophistication – all attributes associated with black.

If you look at the websites of high-end cars, this theory bears out.

Website Colors High-end Cars
Website Colors High-end Cars

In another user-focused design decision, Conversioner made a prom dress site pink “to project calm, hopeful and positive feelings.” Pink was very much part of the emotional story they wanted to tell.

The color pink was introduced to more than just the banner or background; the images on the page were given a pink hue and were all directing to a certain type of experience – our goal was to help women (mothers and daughters) experience the delight of shopping online in a world of calm and positive emotions. These changes and others increased revenues by 86%.

Black, pink, blue, green? Women want them all. But not all the women at the same time, for the same products. And this is true for any demographic. You can’t say “men like earth tones, so my website will be brown” and expect that to work. The effect color has on emotion and action is more contextual than that.

The “right” color is the one that brings your target customer closer to their desired outcome, whether that’s to feel connected to their prom-going daughters, or be delighted by the heady luxury of high-end clothing or the purchase of James Bond’s favorite car.

Color by Desire

Ever wonder why so many BUY buttons are red? Because impulse shoppers, the quickest wins in e-commerce, gravitate towards orangey-red. Their desire for immediate gratification seems to get a boost from action-oriented red. In fact, research from the University of Rochester in 2011 showed that people who were exposed to the color red had faster reaction times in general.

Just look at fast food logos if you’re in any doubt of red’s ability to tip people over the edge into impulse-purchasing (yellow, incidentally, also makes people feel hungrier). Can red create desire? Probably not. But it can enhance a desire that’s already there, and possibly provide the tipping point from desire to action.

Fast Food Logos Colors
Fast Food Logos Colors

Environmentally-conscious buyers, who want to feel like their purchase decisions make a positive impact on the natural world, go for earth tones (greens and blues especially), and health-conscious purchasers will always go for a fresh-looking green.

Environmentally-conscious Buyers Prefer Green
Environmentally-conscious Buyers Prefer Green

A lot of this is common sense.

Some of it isn’t though.

Color associations vary depending on culture. In Chinese culture, white is the color of mourning; in Brazil, purple is the color of death; and Hindus hold the color yellow as sacred, while yellow makes Greeks feel sad and means jealousy in France.

So, when I tell you that the color you choose should be tailored to your audience – I’m very serious. Every audience is different, even if they share the same cultural background.

Color Association 101 for U.S. Audiences

Color Associations
Color Associations

RED – Stop. Danger. Hot. Urgency. Physical dominance. Errors (like your teacher’s red pen). Use for sales, promotions, and, of course, CTA buttons. Dmix wrote about one of their projects in which they tested green and red button colors. In their testing with 600 subjects they found that conversions increased by 34% when they used red button.

ORANGE – Urgency. Happiness. Energy. Optimism. Use for logos and CTA buttons. Unbounce says the color of the future for call-to-action buttons is orange.

YELLOW – Sun. Happiness. Optimism. Money. Encourages appetite (it’s a food color) and is often used by brick-and-mortar stores to grab attention from window shoppers.

GREEN – Go. Nature. Freshness. Progress. Relaxation. Use to set the overall tone of your eco-friendly or health-conscious website and landing pages (you can also use nature imagery – you’re not limited to flat colors!).

BLUE – Relaxation. Trust. Authority. Cleanliness. Cold. Fact: Blue is the #1 favorite color of all people and it’s the most commonly used color for corporate brands.

PINK – Calm. Joy. Femininity. Love. Romance. Use to foster feelings of sisterhood and connection.

PURPLE – Creativity. Spirituality. Calm. Classic. Often used in brands that cater to older women.

BLACK – Power. Luxury. Quality. Used most often to market luxury products.

WHITE – Clean. Modern. Simplicity. Order. Think Apple.

GRAY – Practicality. Neutrality. Contemporary. Always classy.

GOLD – The color of money. Use it as an accent to luxurious black.

Lamborghini Colors
Lamborghini Colors

5 Tips for Using Colors that Convert

  1. Keep it simple – don’t use more than 4 colors. Ever notice the color schemes of logos? They’re really simple. One, two, maybe three colors. Try to pile too many colors into a color scheme, and it will look amateur rather than elegant. And don’t forget about white. White always looks clean and modern, and it makes other colors pop.
  2. Match your colors to your target customer’s psychological needs. Do they need to trust you? Do they need to feel safe, secure and happy? Do they need warm fuzzy nurturing feelings about your product, or are they buying your product because they want to feel on the cutting edge of modernity (just look at Sony Vaio’s U.S. website for that color scheme: Black and white with a metallic accent).
Sony Vaio Website - Exemplify Success
Sony Vaio Website – Exemplify Success
  1. If your products follow trends, your colors should too – think in terms of Pantone’s color of the year and seasonal colors. In fact, just read Pantone’s color descriptions in their color report articles. They’re all about emotions.

    PANTONE 19-4045 Lapis Blue

    Conveying even more energy is Lapis Blue. Strong and confident, this intense blue shade is imbued with an inner radiance.

  1. Class up anything with gray. Grayscale photos, gray text (instead of black) – gray can be charmingly nostalgic or bracingly modern, but it’s always classy.
  2. Don’t just pick a color because it’s your favorite. Do you know how many amateur websites I’ve seen done in red, black and white? Because the owner liked the look? When it didn’t fit the brand, the product, or the customer – at all? Too many. Don’t do that. And, don’t choose a color scheme because it’s on a website you like. If the website is from a different industry, chances are their customers are entirely different from yours (so what works for them likely won’t work for you). And if the website is in the same industry, it’ll look like you’re copying.

Essentially, base your color choice only on what your target customers are looking to feel. Anything else won’t produce the conversions you want.

In the words of Peep Laja:

Serious gains in conversions don’t come from psychological trickery, but from analyzing what your customers really need, the language that resonates with them and how they want to buy it. It’s about relevancy and perceived value of the total offer.

And that goes for color choice too.

Colors and Conversions in e-Commerce Design

The psychology of color is a subject of strong disagreement in marketing. We know we need it, and we’d like there to be a list of rules to follow that remain the same in all instances – but there isn’t. Color preference, associations, and color cause and effect, vary widely between individuals and cultures.

Defining Your Ideal Customer in e-Commerce

Defining Your Ideal Customer in e-Commerce

There is a lot of information on defining your ideal customer, but most of it isn’t written for you. It’s written for software-as-a-service companies, or startups, or both. And while e-commerce can benefit from many of the same best-practices, some of the information written in those articles just doesn’t apply.

This article is written just for you, and it’s all about how to define, find, and attract your ideal e-commerce customer.

First, my definition of an ideal customer:

An ideal customer is someone who has a problem you are uniquely equipped to solve, who is willing, able and happy to pay for that solution, and who is delighted to have found you.

And they shouldn’t drive you nuts (nobody says this, but it’s important – ideal customers are not the ones who take up all of your customer service agents’ time, return more products than they buy, and complain about you on social media). Nobody needs that.

This is why I included the “delighted” clause; people who are delighted to find you genuinely appreciate what you have to offer. They’ll be more inclined to become loyal customers, make repeat purchases, and recommend you to their friends, which are vital elements to any growth strategy.

How do you find these ideal clients?

First, you need to admit a hard truth

Your product isn’t for everyone. I repeat: Your product, unless it is toilet paper, is not for everyone. This is usually the hardest hurdle for business owners to leap, because you want everyone to buy your product (naturally). You think everyone could use it!

But not everyone will want to use it, become addicted to using it, and talk their friends into using it too – that’s the customer you need.
Limiting your scope to an ideal customer isn’t a liability, it’s an opportunity.

Businesses that are able to become leaders in their niches do very, very well.

Then, you need to ask yourself (and your current best customers) some questions

I might begin a conversation about ideal customers with questions about basic demographics (gender, age, education, career, geographic location), role in the company or role in the family, needs, wants, fears, and favorite hobbies – but that’s just a warm-up.

What I really need to know to begin understanding a client’s ideal customer is this:

  • The most important goals this person wants to accomplish (what is really important – in and outside of work?)
  • What is at stake if this person fails to accomplish those goals?
  • What drives them CRAZY on a regular basis (and I mean, pulling-their-hair-out nuts)
  • What are the greatest benefits your ideal customer stands to gain from your product?

These questions lead us into the real meat of the issue: Ideal outcomes, worst fears, greatest pain points, and biggest benefits.

The ideal outcome is what the customer wants most from your product. If I’m buying a sweater, my ideal outcome would to be warm (but not too warm), and feel deliciously cozy – reserve me a place by the fire and bring me a cup of hot cocoa. If you try to sell me a sweater, I may or may not buy it. If you sell me that cozy place by the fire, I’ll buy it every time. You’ve spoken to a deeper desire.

Worst fears are incredibly valuable to know for marketing purposes – they always get a response. What is the worst thing that could happen if your customer doesn’t have your product? What do they stand to lose?

Greatest pain points are key to understanding how much your ideal client really needs your product (and how effective of a solution you’re actually offering – you can use this to develop products as well). The amount of pain is directly proportional to how much time/money/resources your ideal client will spend to fix it.

The benefits question not only tells you what people love about your product, but also gives you deeper insight into your customers’ ideal outcomes – especially the ideal outcomes they’re really achieving. These insights are golden for your marketing and content strategies.

How to get these answers

You’re going to have to do some intensive customer research. A good place to start is by identifying your current favorite customers (or a segment of customers that outperforms all of the others). These are the people you made your products for, who support your business loudly, and who you genuinely enjoy (because they genuinely enjoy you). They also have to be the ones willing to pay full price, unless your ideal customer is a bargain hunter (hey, that could be your demographic, in which case, run with it!).

Then, send them a survey with questions that get at those four essential truths, along with any other pertinent questions you’d like to ask, like how they found you, what they were looking for, what industry they work in (if applicable), and why they ultimately chose to buy from you. You might also want to ask if they have, or would, recommend you (Why? Why not?).

Use this as a launching point to begin fleshing out your ideal customer profile – a list of characteristics common to your ideal customers. Then, use that list to identify potential ideal customers and target them in your marketing.

A targeted Facebook ad, for example, should drive increased traffic to your site. Then you’ll want to observe your conversion rate to see if you are, in fact, hitting your target market accurately.

Shanelle Mullin, Content & Growth at Shanelle Mullin offers a variation on my method for constructing an ideal customer profile.

Looking at your recent, happy customers can give you an idea of who your ideal customer is. There are two ways to go about this: customer surveys and customer interviews.

A lot goes into an ideal customer profile, so you want to use customer surveys to understand four key things:

  1. Who they are.
  2. The problem they came to you to solve.
  3. Their shopping process.
  4. Their buying process.

Note that the answers you’ll receive for questions related to the last two will be skewed by time. They won’t accurately remember the shopping or buying process months later. Only ask those types of questions if you have a large group of recent, happy customers.

Typically, you’ll want to ask 7-8 questions per survey. It’ll give you a good amount of data, but it won’t scare people away.

Make sure every question you ask is actionable. What will you add to your ideal customer profile based on the answer? If your answer is nothing, don’t ask the question.

Also, in this case, you’ll want to avoid yes/no or multiple choice questions. That way, you truly hear from the customer and go beyond quantitative analysis.

Aim to collect 200-250 responses total. If you go through fewer than that, you won’t be able to identify patterns and trends.

For more information on conducting a productive customer interview, check out her in-depth article on the subject.

Be careful of the customer you wish for

Having worked with dozens of marketing, growth-hacking, and conversion companies with their clients, I can attest to this truth: Sometimes, you think you’ve identified your ideal customer, and you change your site and SEO to attract them, and you end up attracting entirely the wrong audience.

I was working with a package tracking company once that was having this trouble. They wanted to rank for the keywords “package tracking,” and succeeded. The problem was, grandmothers who’d sent gifts through Amazon were trying to track their packages through them, when their actual product was an internal package tracking system that would ensure a package got from a corporate basement to its appointed desk, six floors above. The package tracking company wanted people searching for “package tracking” to find them – and that’s what they got.

To fix that problem, they had to adjust their messaging for clarification and refine their SEO strategy.

Refining your ideal client

If, after you’ve identified your ideal client and adjusted your marketing accordingly, website traffic is down, or conversions are the same or down, you may be missing something. The issue could be in your messaging, it could be that your marketing is slightly off-target, or it could be something entirely different – you can begin to form a picture using Google Analytics, but you won’t really know unless you ask.

You might want to try an exit survey – a pop-up survey that appears once someone clicks off your page – that asks what the user expected/hoped to find but didn’t. You might discover that your best efforts only succeeded in attracting Amazon Grannies!

Other perspectives on identifying ideal customers

I asked Tiffany daSilva, Growth Hacker and Digital Marketing Consultant, to weigh in on how she starts off her e-commerce clients in identifying their ideal customers.

With an e-commerce site, we are inclined to believe you can just turn it on and target everyone, and you’ll get rich. But whether you’re selling garden furniture or t-shirts, there’s always an ideal customer that you should be refining your website for.

If the company doesn’t know who this is, they need to do their homework.
They need to look at industry data, even as a starting point just to understand who is looking for their products. The next step is to go to Google Analytics and see who is actually visiting their website.

Hopefully, they should see some synergy. However, sometimes we think that our ideal customer is a particular gender or age, yet the visitors to our site (and those who are the most engaged) are outside of this target. This may mean you need to you need to speak to these people directly and figure out why they are interested in your site, and whether they have an intent to buy, and what you can do on your website to help them.

If they have no intent to buy and your website is clearly targeting the wrong audience, I would then look at the ideal customer profile you have articulated so far, and use that when choosing testers for UX or user testing. This will help you understand what your ideal customers are saying about your website and how best to target them.

This work is what a CRO can provide for you, but it is so much more important to go through the process yourself. Without an ideal customer profile and clear goals, CRO will just be a moving target with little return.

While Tiffany daSilva and I both look at existing customers as our foundation, she looks at all of the existing customers and asks how many of them are “ideal,” whereas I only look at the customers we can already identify as being “ideal.” That difference comes from my background in Lean methodology and customer success – but really, both roads will take you where you need to go: Researching your customers.

What happens when you ID your ideal customer?

As your ideal customers begin to come in, you’ll want track how they find you, who they are, what their lifetime value (LTV) is to your business, and which characteristics correlate with greater or lesser LTV. With advanced tracking in place, you’ll be able to see which customer segments are the most profitable, who are the loudest advocates, and which ones are so engaged with your brand that they become integral parts of your social media communities.

With this information, you can optimize your marketing strategies to catch the attention of even more specific types of customers.

But it all begins with defining your ideal client. Because once you have that clear definition, you’ll be able to find the most effective ways to reach them, and the most effective ways to position your products and brand to attract, retain, and delight them. It’s the key to your marketing strategy, conversion rates and growth.

Defining Your Ideal Customer in e-Commerce

There is a lot of information on defining your “ideal customer,” but most of it isn’t written for you. It’s written for software-as-a-service companies, or startups, or both. And while e-commerce can benefit from many of the same best-practices, some of the information written in those articles just doesn’t apply. This article is written just for you, and it’s all about how to define, find, and attract your ideal e-commerce customer.

Pricing CRO Style: Matching Price to Audience

Pricing CRO Style: Matching Price to Audience

Pricing has so many roles to play in e-commerce. It has to cover product costs, personnel costs, and marketing costs to keep the business running (and profitable!), and it can act as a marketing tool, differentiating you from higher priced competitors. It’s a fine line to walk if you try to do it all – and most companies think they have to do it all.

But when it comes to conversion rate optimization (CRO), the lowest possible price isn’t always the right price – in fact price doesn’t necessarily depend on what the other guys are doing. The price you can charge for optimal conversions is based on a whole other criterion: Your audience.

Playing The Price is Right

Let’s play a game: True or False

If you lower your prices, your conversions will improve.


False – it depends on your audience and your unique value proposition (why they’re buying from you, rather than anyone else).

It’s counter-intuitive, but people don’t buy based on lowest price. They buy based on:

  • Trust
  • Brand (which is tied to trust)
  • Ease of purchasing
  • How well you communicate your value proposition
  • Proof your product will deliver the buyer’s desired outcome (also tied to trust)
  • Reduction or removal of risk (read: Trust)
  • Immediate action incentives

Basically, your sale depends on building trust, delivering desired outcomes, and tipping the scales of decision by gently prodding your buyer to act. When you have that combo in place, you’re no longer a price-based decision, you’re a value-based decision.

But – if your value proposition is, in fact, that you guarantee the cheapest price around, and that’s working well for you, then you’re already appealing to your target audience of bargain hunters. You don’t necessarily need to attract those who seek value to run a profitable business. Just look at Wal-Mart. You do still have to understand your audience and gain their trust though, because cheap prices won’t overcome those deficiencies. So read on.

Trust Issues

The biggest conversion killers have to do with trust. We want to know that we’re not going to be victims of a scam or unscrupulous business people, so we look for indications that the businesses we purchase from are on the level.

Your buyers, every one of them, will feel better about buying from you when:

1. Your site looks professional and updated

Both of the stores below are reputable, but which one would you prefer to buy from based on web design alone?

Store Visual Appearance
Store Visual Appearance


Store Visual Appearance
Store Visual Appearance

The funny thing is – the first web page actually has more trust indicators. They show their physical address and telephone number, they have a brick-and-mortar store, they’ve been in business for over 36 years, and below the fold, they have a quality guarantee AND a video of the store owner dancing the Cha Cha.

But the second website has a more updated design, the modern “Need Help?” chat window, and a top bar that is clean and simple with a search feature, “my account” and cart. I feel more comfortable here, and when I take the time to scroll below the fold, I see that they’re the “world’s largest online dancewear store” (clearly many people shop here – and that’s social proof). The only thing that troubles me is that they have this floating quote with zero attribution.

Social Proof
Social Proof

This site would convert much better if they had real, attributed quotes from happy customers, or even better, user reviews on their product pages.

2. You show user reviews

Even if your user reviews aren’t 100% good, just having them on your site has been proven to boost conversions. Think of bad reviews as a chance to publicly show your excellent customer service skills. And good reviews? Those are golden.

  • Consumer reviews are significantly more trusted (nearly 12 times more) than descriptions that come from manufacturers. – eMarketer
  • 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations and 72% of consumers say positive reviews make them trust businesses more. – BrightLocal
  • 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site which has user reviews –  iPerceptions

3. More social proof

For B2B e-commerce businesses especially, a great way to show social proof is to display the logos of companies that buy from you. B2C companies can get in on this action too by showing pictures of people who use their products (bonus points if they’re celebrities).

4. Product images are big, professional and varied

The simple act of making your product images larger has been shown to increase sales by 9%. But it’s not only size that counts, you also need good resolution (no grainy photos!) and alternate views of every product. ConversionXL recommends alternate views, detailed close-up shots, and pictures of people using the product.

5. You state your return policy and privacy policy

Buyers want to know what they can expect from you if the product doesn’t work out – and what they can expect from you when they trust you with their personal information.

6. Trust badges are prominently displayed

Trust badges include security seals, Better Business Bureau badges, McAfee, Norton, SiteLock and Google – but perhaps the most trusted badge is Paypal. ConversionXL research showed that Paypal garners more trust than all of the above. It’s also a handy way to pay.

The bottom line is: People will pay a premium to buy from businesses they trust.

Desired Outcomes

This is where understanding your audience really comes into play, because what buyers want most is the outcome. There’s an old saying that nobody who buys a hammer wants a hammer – they want a hole in the wall. What is the end result your buyers hope to achieve when they have your product in-hand? If you prove you can deliver that, they won’t care about the price. Here are a few ways to do just that.

1. Don’t pick desired outcomes out of thin air – do your research

It’s an all-too-common mistake for business owners to think they know what their customers want, without actually having asked them! Just like there’s “no crying in baseball,” there’s no guessing in business. Ground your assumptions in actual, qualitative and quantitative research (ie. words and numbers both).

2. Don’t settle for the easy answers

What people really want most isn’t faster shipping or lower prices, it’s to feel a certain way. As Talia Wolf wrote in Emotional Targeting 101:

When we buy something, we don’t purchase a ‘product’, a special price or features; we purchase an experience and a better version of ourselves.

When analyzing buyer responses to your qualitative data surveys, be on the lookout for hints of what their aspirations are, as well as the practical considerations they appreciate most.

3. Clearly state your value proposition

Your target audience’s desired outcome is closely tied with your value proposition – in fact, your value proposition had better include your audience’s desired outcome, or you haven’t achieved product-market fit.

Joanna Wiebe, Conversion Copywriter and Founder of Copy Hackers defines value propositions like this:

A value prop expresses what your prospect strongly desires 1) that only you offer or 2) that you offer best / most interestingly / most beautifully / most affordably / etc. A quick formula for your value prop is this:

Our customers are loyal to us because they want {highly desired X}, and we offer them that {in Y way}.

4. Show that you’re delivering on your promises with user-generated content

Yes, this trust exercise is also important for proving you can deliver on your audience’s desired outcomes. User-generated content can include product reviews, testimonials, links to third party review sites, and best of all – user photos. Check out Modcloth of outfit photos.

5. Price based on perceived value

“Perceived value” is what consumers think the product is worth to them, rather than a monetary value based on material quality and cost. In the 2010 book Money Makers by David Snider and Dr. Chris Howard assert that “When the benefits outweigh perceived costs, your prospect will take action.” Once you’ve changed your content to sell the desired outcome, the benefits of buying your product will become more apparent, and have a better chance of outweighing the perceived costs in the buyer’s mind.

Essentially, when your customer believes they can get exactly what they want from your product, you can justify charging more for it.

Action Incentives

Even when you’ve targeted the correct desired outcome for your audience and made your website as trustworthy as possible, you can raise your conversion rate even further by providing a little extra incentive. Something that spurs them on to “Buy Now!”

Usually that means putting something on sale, but not always.

1. Show your stock numbers

When stock numbers are low on a certain item, or on certain sizes, show it. Anyone who is on the fence of purchasing or not will move, because of Loss Aversion.

Loss Aversion
Loss Aversion

Loss Aversion is the idea that humans will do more to avoid a negative consequence than to make a positive outcome happen (because negative consequences hurt worse than positive results reward). It’s closely related as Scarcity, one of Cialdini’s 6 Principles of Influence.

Basically, it hurts (and hurts bad!) to lose something you want, even if you don’t want it very much. In fact, when you face the prospect of losing something, you want it even more. It’s why “Now for a Limited Time Only!” and “Only 5 left!” work so well to boost conversions, even when the product is full price.

And, of course, this tactic works really well for limited time sales.

2. Buy Now for [Incentive]!

“Buy Now for free shipping,” or buy more for free shipping – basically, act now to get a lower price or faster delivery, or even a free extra item, like a mystery gift bag. Having an order minimum for Free Shipping is one of the best ways e-commerce stores can increase sales they wouldn’t otherwise get.

In a study conducted by eConsultancy, Free shipping was the most popular motivation for 82% of UK and 80% of US consumers.

What’s easy for you to offer that has value to your customer? Make that your incentive and watch conversions rise! (But your incentive had better be good, because otherwise you’re undermining their trust in you, which will cost you in the long run).

3. Limit options

Sometimes, the sheer number of options you have on your site undermine your conversion rates – people can’t decide. In The Paradox of Choice, author Barry Schwartz says the more choice customers are given, the easier it is for them to choose nothing. If you have lots of products, invest in really good search and filter features so people can narrow down their options based on – yep! – their desired outcomes.

What’s Your Price?

The right price for any item depends more on how well you prove it will deliver the buyer’s desired outcome than any other factor. Your buyer wants to feel secure in their purchase, which is why trust is of paramount importance; your buyer wants to feel good about the purchase (all decisions are emotional); and your buyer might need an additional incentive to make his or her move.

You don’t need to have the lowest price to convert. You just have to give your customers the best set of reasons to convert with you.


Pricing CRO Style: Matching Price to Audience

Pricing has so many roles to play in e-commerce. It has to cover product costs, personnel costs, and marketing costs to keep the business running (and profitable!), and it can act as a marketing tool, differentiating you from higher priced competitors. It’s a fine line to walk if you try to do it all – and most companies think they have to do it all.

But when it comes to conversion rate optimization (CRO), the lowest possible price isn’t always the right price – in fact price doesn’t necessarily depend on what the other guys are doing. The price you can charge for optimal conversions is based on a whole other criterion: Your audience.

e-Commerce Differentiation: Stand out, sell more

e-Commerce Differentiation Stand Out Sell More

Differentiation is, literally, what separates you from your competition. It’s why your customers will only buy from you, no matter what the other guys are offering. When you hit just the right differentiator for your target audience, you’ll convince them that they can only get their desired outcome from you.

What is differentiation?

Differentiation is what makes your product unique and valuable for your target audience. It’s what sets you apart. Grabs attention. Says to the world “I’m the only place you’ll find THIS!”

It can take many forms. Price can be a differentiator (“best value!”, “Cheapest rates!”). Quality can be a differentiator. Brand names and social cachet (aka. “perceived value”) can be differentiators. The fact that your product is on Oprah’s “Favorite Things” list is a differentiator. Features can be differentiators, but features can also be easily copied by competitors (which means if people love a feature, it won’t be a differentiator for long). Longevity, even, can be a differentiator (“Dine at London’s oldest restaurant”). It can be your company ethics, your founder, your driving philosophy, even your personality.

Most importantly, the differentiator you choose to highlight in your value proposition and marketing should be something no one can take away from you.

How to differentiate yourself in a crowded market

The first step towards finding your differentiators is to make a list of what sets you apart.

Do not – DO NOT – settle for the lazy answer: “My product really isn’t that different from anyone else’s.”

I’m appalled by the number of times I’ve heard that from entrepreneurs and business owners. It’s never true. So if that’s your gut response, tell your gut to “shush!” It doesn’t know what it’s talking about.

Because even if you’re selling ubiquitous, mass-produced jewelry, you can still be “America’s diamond store since 1924.”

If your shortlist of what sets you apart is a little too short, here are a few ideas on how some of the most successful e-commerce companies are differentiating themselves.

Take a Stand

Take a Stand Patagonia
Take a Stand Patagonia

One of my favorite stores that differentiates itself so powerfully is Patagonia. I don’t own a single Patagonia item – I’m not its target audience. But I love their company and have written about it many, many times because of the way they differentiate themselves by taking a stand on issues I care about. They’re unabashed environmentalists, even nicknaming themselves “The Activist Company.” There are thousands of hiking and outdoor recreation equipment brands that sell backpacks and windbreakers, but this is the only retailer who makes you feel part of something larger when you buy from them.

Pick a Fight with the Big Guys

Pick a Fight with the Big Guys
Pick a Fight with the Big Guys

If you want to stand out from the competition, try comparing yourself against them. Blatantly. In a big way. Think of it this way – if they were doing everything you do better, you wouldn’t be in business. That means you have an edge. It’s time to tell people what it is.

This landing page is particularly clever because it differentiates itself from other app stores, while pointing out what makes those app stores so frustrating. Then it provides a solution.

What are your customers wishing they could “break free” from?

Try this: How would you improve the copy on Lyft’s home page?

Lyft Homepage
Lyft Homepage

What this does well is that it makes a time-bound promise (very effective) and addresses a primary concern of its target audience: Safety. It also adds a dash of “social proof” with “see why 9 out of 10 rides end with five stars,” which tells people that they can reasonably expect to be happy with the service. But I think they could do better, don’t you? Here are a few of my suggestions; see if they match up with yours.

Wouldn’t you be more likely to convert if that page said:

  • Catch a Ride in Less Time than Other Services (we timed it!)
  • We’re the Safest Ride Service Around (see why)
  • Our Drivers are Happier – Our Customers are too (Hear from our drivers about why they love Lyft)

I included that last one because Uber, Lyft’s main competitor, has been having an image problem with how they treat drivers. It’s always fun when you can jab a competitor’s weak point, without naming names of course. Stay classy.

Say Who You’re For

Often, the issue with declaring a differentiator stems from an unwillingness to define your audience. Who is your product for?

“My product is for everyone!”

WRONG! Please, please, unless you are the world’s largest online retailer of toilet paper, never say this. Because it’s almost never true. It might not even be true of toilet paper, now that I think about it.

Googling… ah, there it is. That is some well differentiated toilet paper.

Well Differentiated Toilet Paper
Well Differentiated Toilet Paper

So if toilet paper – a product that really is for everybody – can find a way to differentiate itself in a crowded, established market, you can too.

So what’s stopping you?

It’s probably fear.

Business owners tend to stick to their guns on niche-resistance because they’re afraid that by saying who they’re for, they’ll be reducing the number of people who will buy their product. But the reality is that you’ll attract more people, not less, when you identify your niche and own it. You’re declaring a specialty, and I don’t know about you, but when I have a problem to solve, I’d rather see a specialist in that problem than a general practitioner. Right?

Here’s an outstanding value proposition that clearly states who the product is for and why you want it. Notice its sub-headline: “FreshBooks is the only accounting software…” that. That is their value proposition, right smack dab in the middle of their home page.

Freshbooks Homepage
Freshbooks Homepage

FreshBooks’ new home page tightens up the verbiage a bit. Both are good, but I really love the “designed for you, the non-accountant.”

Freshbooks Updated Homepage
Freshbooks Updated Homepage

My only criticism: I wish “Powerful Features” was more specific, and that “Organized in the Cloud” stated a benefit, like “Secure Access Anywhere.” They should test this.

Own Your Size

Own Your Size
Own Your Size

Small e-commerce businesses have big advantages over their larger competitors. They’re able to offer more personalized service (see next point), but more importantly, they’re uniquely able to create personal connections. Take Stewart & Claire for example – it’s a small company owned by a married couple who began with one goal in mind: To create a better lip balm than they ones they were using. Their small-batch lip balms are made from natural ingredients, like pure essential oils, and come in fun flavors like “Old Fashioned” and “Autumn with Ginger.”

Cocktail-flavored lip balm is a brilliant idea in itself, but what hooked me into signing up for their emails is the whole story behind this super-cute couple, and the ongoing story they share on their super-cute blog. I feel like I know these people. Like we could be friends. Big companies can’t manage that, try though they might.

Being small also means that you become your customer’s one-of-a-kind discovery. If your ideal customer is a connoisseur of the finer things in life, that is exactly what they’re looking for.

Bring Service to a Whole New Level

Everyone says they have great customer service. Many people claim to have “the best.” But don’t be afraid to kick this promise up a notch. What if you had “Fanatical customer service”?

This idea might be found more in software-as-a-service right now, but those trends tend to toddle over to e-commerce.

How is “fanatical” customer service any different than the vanilla kind? I like this definition from the 2006 Forbes article by Wiley Cotton: Get Fanatical About Customer Service.

“Flummoxed but determined, Spada asked himself: How can I get more out of my existing customer base? His answer: fanatical customer service. That meant doing whatever it took to get the job right. The idea is not exactly profound–until you realize all the ways you could be providing great service but you’re not.”

It’s not a new idea, but I believe it was the ancestor of a more recent philosophy of providing an exceptional customer experience: Customer Success. Customer Success is about taking a proactive approach to finding out what your customers need to be successful with your product, and helping them get it.

Notice the call to action at the very top of this home page: “Want to grow your best beard? We’ve developed the ultimate guide.” That is a fantastic example of customer success in e-commerce – after all, you can’t use a beard comb if you don’t have a thick, manly beard to comb through.

Beardbrand Differentiation
Beardbrand Differentiation

Maybe you’ve got your eye on becoming the next Amazon and your products are more varied than, say, beard products. Maybe you sell everything from firewood to popsicles. You can still have a pop-up chat box with live help available to answer questions and help your customers understand how to use your product and what other products they might need to get the best results.

Do Business a Bit Differently

Some e-commerce companies are finding great success by going with a subscription-based model. Yes, e-commerce meets SaaS, for the best of both worlds.

Different Business Model
Different Business Model

Companies like The Dollar Shave Club, Birchbox, and Barkbox all offer collections of related, niche-targeted items that customers subscribe to receive every month. This model must work, or Amazon wouldn’t be getting on the bandwagon (and it is). You don’t have to switch to subscription-only to differentiate yourself; but what if you added a subscription service for frequently bought items bundled together?

Now that you have some ideas – a few more words of advice

Value propositions and differentiators are living, constantly evolving things. Don’t be afraid to switch things up and test variations to find the very best differentiator for you and your audience.

And keep in mind, the best differentiator isn’t a unique product or a new gimmick – it’s the ability to deliver an emotionally compelling experience.

So go wild. Get crazy. Be creative. List out everything you can think of that might make your product and business different from the other guys.

e-Commerce Differentiation Stand Out Sell More

Differentiation is, literally, what separates you from your competition. It’s why your customers will only buy from you, no matter what the other guys are offering. When you hit just the right differentiator for your target audience, you’ll convince them that they can only get their desired outcome from you.

6 Ways to Alter Perceived Value to Improve Your CRO

6 Ways to Alter Perceived Value to Improve your CRO

What is it about that blue box – the iconic Tiffany’s box.

 The Iconic Tiffany’s Box
The Iconic Tiffany’s Box

What’s inside isn’t, typically, very exciting in purely objective terms. A relatively plain diamond engagement ring (okay, the engagement itself is exciting), a charm bracelet, heart necklace or pair of generic earrings the like of which you could easily find at Zales? Half the magic of Tiffany’s is knowing it came from Tiffany’s – the iconic mecca for diamond and Audrey Hepburn fans. There’s romance in that box that is only tangentially related to the jewelry.

There’s also social cachet.

I don’t mean to sound jaded. I wouldn’t turn a down a blue box or its contents. But I do want to point out that its value isn’t intrinsic: it’s perceptual.

Perception is a very individual thing, influenced by life experience, personality, past interactions with your brand and your competitors (and with certain classic movies). Perception is the voice that whispers “Yes, you should buy the Poinsettia Flower Pot Cake for $165 because Oprah said so,” or “Hey, maybe I’ll give AirBnB a chance – Kim looks really comfy.”

Just checked into our NYC penthouse. Thanks @airbnb for the gift of our home away from home.

A photo posted by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on

Perception is so subtle, many of us don’t pay it much attention. But marketers do. CROs do. And you should, too.

Even the words you use in your value proposition, marketing, and product pages will mean slightly different things to different people. The words quality, premium, economy, value, guarantee might mean “an intelligent purchase decision” to some buyers, or just mean “cheap” to others.

It’s because perception is so varied, and I would argue malleable, that it can be influenced to generate higher conversions – without increasing your own costs.

And you don’t need Oprah or Kim to do it.

Hey now – this isn’t entirely self-serving. Customers want to feel good about their purchases, that they’ve made the best possible decision on a product that meets their practical and emotional needs. And, when they do feel that way, they tend to be more loyal. Everybody wins.

How Perceived Value Works

“Real” value is very specific and non-negotiable: It’s the relationship between the actual manufacturing cost and the price the product is sold for.

“Perceived” value is what consumers think the product is worth to them.

For example, the 2013 Aston Martin Cygnet was made by Toyota – a near copy of the Scion iQ – but branded Aston Martin, retailed for more than $45,000. The Toyota Scion iQ retailed for just $17,000. This specific switcheroo didn’t fly with consumers (Aston Martin stopped making the Cygnet shortly therafter), but many more do.

It’s common practice in the car industry, called “badge engineering:” taking the same model car, and often the same makers in the same factories, and selling it under a different brand with minor cosmetic changes.

“Rebadged cars are identical in all respects, except perhaps for some tiny cosmetic distinctions such as the placing of the headlamps or the shape of the trunk. They not only come from the same factories but are in many cases made by the same workers on the same production lines. Yet their prices can vary significantly depending on which maker’s badge is on the grill.” – Forbes

Essentially, the cars are priced based on their perceived value (their actual value is about the same). And it works more often than not.

Sound crooked? Well, that depends (once again) on your perspective.

In the TED Talk Life Lessons from an Ad Man, Rory Sutherland builds a case for perceived value being just as satisfying as what we consider “real” value. In fact, many luxury goods are based on perception rather than actual cost to produce, and studies even support the idea that we get more pleasure from higher-priced goods, based on price alone.


“Researchers at Stanford GSB and the California Institute of Technology found that if a person is told they are tasting two different wines — one costs $5 and the other $45 (but they’re actually the same wine) — the part of the brain that experiences pleasure will become more active when the drinker thinks they are having the expensive wine.” (Freakonomics radio & ConversionXL)

Clearly, the intangible importance we place on things does have value.

The question becomes, how can you add intangible value to your products when you’re not Tiffany, Aston Martin, or Mouton Rothschild?

Leveraging the Power of Perception

The object of the game is to increase the intangible/perceived value of your product without actually doing anything substantial to the product itself.

The key to winning this game lies in the definition of perceived value itself:

“A customer’s opinion of a product’s value to him or her. It may have little or nothing to do with the product’s market price, and depends on the product’s ability to satisfy his or her needs or requirements.”

It depends on the product’s ability to satisfy his or her needs – and those needs are, quite often, more emotional than practical.

If the Power is in Perception – How do we Alter Perception?

In the 2010 book Money Makers: Inside the New World of Finance and Business by David Snider and Dr. Chris Howard, they simplify the question like this: When the benefits outweigh perceived costs, your prospect will take action. Customers’ perceptions of how much value there is in your value proposition, compared with the costs, will make or break your sale. And, of course, those benefits aren’t just tangible, they’re emotional as well.

Perceived value is linked to costs and benefits. Decrease the costs, increase the perceived benefits, and you’ve got it.

Method 1: Decrease Perceived Costs

When people perceive value to be greater than the price, they tend to buy (who doesn’t love getting a deal?). Which means, you have two options: Lower the price of the product so it’s below your customer’s perceived value, or raise their perception of that value.

Essentially, you can put the product on sale, or you can alter perception. The first is easy; the second requires finesse.

People make assumptions about value. They assume, for example, that higher priced items are of better quality. They assume that larger packages contain greater value. They assume that Oprah Winfrey and Kim Kardashian only promote the very best. You can use these assumptions to present your product in a way that increases its perceived value. Don’t have Oprah and Kim on-hand? You can get some of those “social proof” points by adding customer testimonials to your website and product pages.

Another technique to decrease perceived costs is called “cost re-framing.”

Cost re-framing works like this: When people are told the price in a smaller unit, their routine thought process is disrupted, and the price seems like more of a bargain than it actually is. In the study, the researchers went door to door selling note cards for charity. In the first pitch, they sold it as “$3 for 8 cards.” That worked 40% of the time. Their second pitch was “300 pennies for 8 cards,” which worked 80% of the time.

Another example we’ve all seen runs something like this: “For the cost of just one coffee a day, you can save a child.” That sounds much more doable than asking people to give $1277 a year as a charitable donation (which is the cost of my favorite local latte, if I were to indulge daily).

Car dealerships do this every day with lease deals, “Just $199 per month!” (for the next ten years).

Method 2: Increase Perceived Benefits

Here’s one way to increase perceived benefits:

Ad Demonstrating Increased Perceived Benefits
Ad Demonstrating Increased Perceived Benefits

I don’t think this ad would work on someone in the market to buy a Lamborghini (very different customer profile!), but it would work on someone trying to talk themselves into the dowdier, more practical van.

But what if your challenge is to differentiate your product from a very similar one? You can increase your perceived value by doing something your competitor doesn’t – letting customers “peek behind the curtain” to see how your product is made (and how much care and attention is put into its design and construction). Check out this video Hyundai produced specifically to differentiate its Elantra from the Honda Civic.

Honda Elantra Differentiation VS Civic
Honda Elantra Differentiation VS Civic

Method 1 & 2: Combine Cost Reframing with Perceived Value

In copywriting especially – all of the words in your marketing and website – you can combine the cost re-frame with the perceived-benefits-boost. We see this all the time.

“Expensive” becomes “Exclusive”

“Cheap” becomes “Great Value!”

“Lemons” become “Deconstructed Limoncello: Just Add Vodka”

You get the idea.

Another example of how you could combine a re-frame with added value is the ‘ending-in-9’ phenomena. Ever wonder why every deal offered on television is Something.99? Researchers at MIT and the University of Chicago found that prices ending in 9 increase customer demand for product. People (at least in the West) read from left to right, and are biased towards the first number they see – so by the time they reach the .99, their perception is that the value is closer to the first number which, in a convoluted say, makes them feel like they’re getting a better deal.

Method 3: Introduce scarcity

Did you know that diamonds aren’t really scarce? There’s actually no real reason for their expense – except for the perceived value placed on it by De Beers’ iconic slogan “A diamond is forever.” They made the diamond into a symbol of successful marriage, and who wouldn’t pay for that?

De Beers Diamonds Scarcity
De Beers Diamonds Scarcity

The difference between a reasonably priced rock and 3-month’s salary really is De Beers.

But it wasn’t just great marketing that drove up the price of diamonds – De Beers also carefully restricts the supply of diamonds, artificially creating scarcity. And scarcity deeply affects perceived value.

Scarcity enhances perceptions of expensiveness and desirability, and it’s also one of Cialdini’s 6 Principles of Influence. No matter what the price, people are more likely to purchase the very last available product, or jump on the soon-to-expire deal. Call it “scarcity” or call it FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) – it works.

Method 4: Altruism as Added Value

PeopleTree Altruism Example
PeopleTree Altruism Example

Feeling good about doing good is a core human trait, and that ‘feeling good’ has real monetary value, if you can leverage it. AmazonSmile promises to donate .5% of a shopper’s total purchase towards their designated nonprofit – which is brilliant/diabolical cost re-framing (it’s a whopping $5 out of every $1000, to put it in perspective). And, the non-profit organization needs to accumulate at least $5 worth of donations in a given quarter for a check to be cut – no easy task.

Few people really understand how AmazonSmile works – but it sounds like such a lovely idea. Shop like you would anyway, and your favorite nonprofit benefits! It’s priceless advertising, it’s an added incentive to shop at Amazon, it makes consumers feel good, and you can bet it boosts conversion rates (Amazon has not been forthcoming with its Smile stats).

I would strongly suggest not going the AmazonSmile route of taking advantage of peoples’ better natures. On the world-wide web truth always comes out. But, you can still institute a more conscientious charitable program in your e-commerce store that delivers positive results to everyone involved, and promote it as your new differentiator.

Giving a percentage to charity is the quick-and-easy route to appealing to philanthropic consumers. But an increasing number of companies are reinventing the way they do business to source sustainably and support the communities that make their products. These companies, like People Tree in the UK or Theo Chocolate in Seattle, charge a premium for their products, which people are genuinely happy to pay.

Method 5: “Valued at”

One of the simplest methods of increasing your perceived value is by just saying what it’s “valued at.” Who does this valuing?! Nobody knows. But just by placing the higher number next to your product that you’re selling for less, you’re building a perception in the consumer of getting more for his or her money.

Got a promotional giveaway, like Neil Patel’s Free Course? His is “Valued at $300.”

Method Valued at
Method Valued at

It’s simple, but it’s not necessarily easy. You can’t assume people are stupid – you have to provide real reasons for your self-evaluation (or it won’t ring true). Neil Patel can say his course is valued at $300 because he’s established himself as an expert in his field. Building brand recognition and a reputation for expertise, as well as accumulating testimonials, can all help legitimize your “Valued at” claims.

Method 6: Just Make Your Typeface Smaller

Saving the easiest and laziest for last, this actually works. According to marketing professors at Clark University and the University of Connecticut, consumers perceive a price to be a better value when the numbers are written in a small font.

Or, you know, you could just make your boxes blue.


6 Ways to Alter Perceived Value to Improve your CRO

Perception is so subtle, many of us don’t pay it much attention. But marketers do. CROs do. And you should, too.

Even the words you use in your value proposition, marketing, and product pages will mean slightly different things to different people. The words quality, premium, economy, value, guarantee might mean “an intelligent purchase decision” to some buyers, or just mean “cheap” to others.

It’s because perception is so varied, and I would argue malleable, that it can be influenced to generate higher conversions – without increasing your own costs.