eCommerce Insiders

8 Psychological Marketing Tricks You’re Not Using

When it comes to building relationships with your customers and essentially getting them to purchase goods from you, the battle doesn’t necessarily happen in-store or even on your eCommerce website.

The real battle happens inside your customer’s heads.

Selling, at least for the most part, is all about psychology – the little triggers that spark desire, trust and most importantly, the willingness to part with cash.

But you don’t need a PhD to get inside your customer’s minds. By learning a few simple tricks you can gently usher customers into the palm of your hand. Take a look at these psychological marketing tricks you’re not using.

Colour Theory

The psychology of colour is interesting because it relates to persuasion. It also has many elements that can complicate its effectiveness, such as personal preference, experiences, cultural differences and context. However, in relation to purchases, research from the study, Impact of Color in Marketing found that up to 90% of snap judgements made about products can be based on colour alone.

This being said, it’s not accurate to say that certain colours will make your customers buy your product. But it can make a difference as to how your customers perceive the product, and also your brand’s personality. Apple’s use of white, for example, portrays the brands love of clean, simple design. When choosing colour, think of the customers you want to attract and how you want your brand to be perceived.

“Limited” Deals

This one might not be new to you. We see it all the time (especially with certain, well-known sofa companies) but it works. Some sites, such as Wowcher, take it even further, and include a timer that shows how much time is left before the deal ends, or how few products are remaining.

The idea behind this trick is ‘Reactance theory’. People hate missing out and losing opportunities and reactance theory predicts that when the threat of missing out is imminent, people act accordingly. Offering limited deals like this raises the value of the deal in their eyes, making consumers more likely to make the purchase.


Research suggests that people are wired to respond to those who appear authoritative. If you take the famous Miligram experiments – volunteers gave electric shocks to subjects just because a man wearing a lab coat told them to, even though the subjects were screaming in pain.

This transfers over and can be implemented into your marketing techniques. If you’re associated with any professionals, whether you have a secret scientific ingredient or you’ve been endorsed by health professionals – place the information prominently on your site and marketing material.

The same goes for any awards you may have received. Consumers are more likely to choose a company with big names and awards attached to it, as they’ll associate it with quality.


People like to feel special. They want to be treated differently to everyone else and to feel like their individual needs are being met. A tailored experience caters perfectly to this. If it’s more relevant to the consumer, they are more likely to engage.

According to a study from the university of Texas, this is due to human’s “desire for control” and to prevent information overload. By getting a personalized experience, there is a perceived sense of control over content that is manageable, which reduces the perception of “information overload.”

“Buying Pain” Minimization

Research from Scott Rick, Cynthia Cryder, and George Lowenstein suggests that there are three types of shoppers based on the buying pain they go through when purchasing. They are ‘Tightwads’, who have a low buying pain threshold; ‘Spendthrifts’, who have a higher buying pain threshold (they can spend more without feeling pain); and ‘unconflicted’ – these are your average spenders.

Ideally, businesses would have a million Spendthrifts, but in reality Tightwads make up almost a quarter of your audience. To convert these buyers, the key is to minimize buying pain – do this by changing little things like wording, and reframing perceived value. For example, saying that something costs £1 per day is better than saying it’s £30 per month.

Another way to reduce pain is to bundle your products or services, so that customers (tightwads in particular) can purchase in one simple transaction rather than several painful ones.

Clever Copy

Professional copywriter, Sally Ormond says that “for many people, buying is an emotional action rather than a rational one”, and that by utilising psychological triggers you can persuade consumers to buy your product or service.

To convert consumers into customers through copy, you need to include certain “buzz” words that touch consumer’s hearts rather than their heads. Surprise them with ‘free and ‘bonus’; make them feel good by complimenting them; make instructions easy for them; use words like ‘secret’ and ‘confidential’ to entice them; use shiny words like ‘new’ and ‘just released’; and tell them how your service or product can solve their problem by using emotive words and emphatic language.

Free bonus: Using rhyming words helps readers to remember and believe.

Making Enemies

You may think it’s wise to become everyone’s friend in business, but not only is this difficult to do (because you’re obviously competing for customers) it doesn’t make you stand out. To really generate brand loyalty, you need to make some enemies and stand up for what you believe in.

Just look at Apple and PC – both do the same thing but have very different ideologies. And both of these have cult-like followers who pledge their eternal loyalty to the brand and have a distinct dislike for the other. In some cases, fans also verbally demonstrate this to friends and acquaintances in order to persuade their opinion.

According to the study entitled ”Social Categorization and Inter-group Behavior,” by social psychologist Henri Tajifel, group dynamics and competition is hard wired into our psyches, so if you don’t have an enemy, finding one and using them to your advantage could prove fruitful.

Surprise Reciprocity

The one thing that creates loyalty, according to helpscout, is reciprocity. Giving and taking is a huge part of human life and is what keeps things fair. That’s why we often feel obligated to return favours. But how can we use it in business?

Well, there’s a few obvious ways, but one that is particularly effective is ‘surprise reciprocity’. Surprise gifts or pleasures are always better than those we are expecting. Zappos knows this too well, and surprise customers frequently by delivering purchases the very next day, even though on the site it says 3-4 day delivery.

If ‘Next-day Delivery’ was written on the page, then it would become the norm and there’s something about small surprises that feel like they were “just for you” that creates an incredible sense of likeability and loyalty, even if it’s just an offer or free sample.

Kathryn Kearns is the editor of Customer Service Guru, a consumer based website covering everything customer service,  and a regular writer and researcher for various other sites. She enjoys writing on a variety of topics including advice for consumers and businesses, marketing, social media, tech trends and on occasion, pop culture.

Aside from writing, she enjoys travelling, seeking new experiences and drinking lots of tea.

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