Increase your online conversions through liking

Does it matter to you whether you like a company or website? Let me ask you in another way; would you ever purchase a product off of a company or website that you had a dislike towards? Chances are you would at least think twice about the purchase, and by thinking twice, you’re more likely to not convert.

A couple of years ago I wrote my master’s thesis, specializing in Conversion Rate Optimization. In the thesis, I presented to frameworks representing different approaches to Conversion Rate Optimization. I will dive deeper into the findings and conclusion of the thesis in another blog post. However, in this thesis, and why it’s relevant to include at the start of this blog post, I used Robert Cialdini’s 6 principles of persuasion. Cialdini’s 6 principles of persuasion are liking, reciprocity, social proof, consistency, authority, and scarcity.

This blog post is the first of a series of blog posts, focusing on the 6 persuasion principles. As you have probably guessed by the title, we will be focusing on the liking principle this time around. Do not worry – the remaining 5 principles will feature in future posts. Before diving into the liking principle, let’s set the scene with some background information highlighting the importance of persuasion in online communication.

Why persuade users?

Persuasion is a key component when working on increasing conversion rates. In a paper from 2006’s International Conference on Persuasive Technology it is written that…

“[…] persuasive efforts abound in a continuous attempt to influence our attitudes and behaviours, convincing us to spend money on one product rather than another […]”.

If you do not do your best to attract and persuade users into preferring you and your product, they will look elsewhere. If you, however, succeed in convincing the users, they will be your customers. In a 2001 issue of Harvard Business Review, Cialdini wrote that persuasion is strongest when…

“[…] the persuasion itself were a favor they couldn’t wait to repay.”

Just think, even if your strive for persuasion is obvious to users, if it is well executed, the users will furthermore want to purchase from you and your persuasion.

This brings us to the main dish of this post, introduction to the liking principle.

Use liking to go from visits to conversions

To get people to like you and your brand, the same goes for online communication as well as real-world relationships. You are more likely to like and be attracted to a person if you see similarities between the two of you, and even more so if said person praises and complements these similar traits you share.

The same can be said for the online relationship between user and website. First off; if the user has affection towards your brand from going to a physical store, then they are more inclined to enter your website with an open mind. They’re already attracted to the brand, so their experience of the website is colored by this. If you do not have physical stores nor a brand that users know of, then the website has a harder role to play. It is important in either case that at the first possible encounter that users have with your brand, that a relationship starts to be built. As Cialdini wrote in the previously referred paper from the 2001 issue of Harvard Business Review, a good first interaction:

“[…] creates a presumption of goodwill and trustworthiness in every subsequent encounter”

Should I blast my users with lead forms to get the relationship going?

Say you have a webshop and want to begin a meaningful relationship with a user. An often utilized way of establishing a relationship with a user is through lead generation.

Do not begin the relationship with a generic and hasty lead generation form. As powerful a well-executed lead generation form can be, as damaging a poorly executed lead form can be to your relationship to a user, and essentially your brand.

Alter the lead generation form to be meaningful. Say a user is looking at a product page where the product is out of stock, is this not a perfect opportunity to get a good relationship with the user, offering to contact them when said product is in stock again? I would be much more inclined to input my email for this user-centered service.

Don’t be a stranger – people don’t like strangers!

Do your best to share your brand’s and possibly employees’ values and vision. Chances are the user visiting your site emphasize these values and the vision, creating the foundation for similarities to appear between you and the people visiting your website.

By achieving similarities with your customers, you are likely to build a relationship that can take a few hits. Say you have a strong and positive relationship with a specific user, that has previously had good experiences with your brand and product. You are launching a new website, that the same user finds hard to navigate through. This user will be more persistent in getting to know the new website and structure, than a user with whom you don’t have the same relationship.

Seduce users visually

Having the right strategy for building a relationship, and communicating values to potentially share similarities with users is critical. However, one of the strongest factors in terms of getting a user to like your website is through attraction. As you are well aware, visual attraction is important in many cases, countless studies has proved this. The same goes for websites. It is of utmost importance than your users find your website appealing in terms of aesthetics as well as structure and navigation. The more appealing your website seems to a user, the more likely they are to spend their time browsing and using your website, instead of your competition’s. As Cialdini and Goldstein say in a paper from 2002:

“[…] we tend to view attractive individuals as possessing numerous other positive qualities that would be considered relevant to our liking them”

If we, as users, deem a website attractive and visually appealing, we are more likely to think of the website in more positive ways; easy to navigate, efficiency in purchase flow, etc.

Do you show your users that you like them and are your users liking you?

You should start reviewing whether your website and its structure is letting your users and customers know how much you value them. It’s not the hardest thing to do; praising the people spending time, effort and money on your brand and website, and when it is even increasing conversion rates. What is holding you back? Open up and optimize that conversion rate.

I look forward to continuing this series of blog posts focusing on Cialdini’s 6 principles of persuasion next time with reciprocity, a principle on how people are more inclined to repay someone that has given them something beforehand. Make sure you won’t be missing out by signing up to the right.

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