Here I give you findings from psychological research and how you can apply them to E-commerce.


Country of Origin-effect


We prefer products from stereotypical countries. For example – Germany is typically known for building good cars, whereas the French produce the best wine, the Swiss the best watches, and the Japanese are known for good TV sets. 


To use this, you first need to know if the country of origin of your product complies with the stereotype or not.

If it does comply with the stereotype, you can (subtly) remind customers of this fact or show other stereotypical items of that country.

If the product doesn’t comply with the stereotype, you might consider not mentioning it (or less prominent) or try to counteract the stereotype by showing other quality products from this country.

Further reading: ‘Branding’ on the Wheel of Persuasion



Video: Online Persuasion @ Meet Magento Germany

Here’s the video from me at Meet Magento in Leipzig, Germany last June. I presented my Online Persuasion session and the video was published this week at

In addition to all the fancy persuasion techniques I also added some additional thoughts about how to optimize your website…

A) Prioritize and get a decent basis, or you’ll waste money with persuasion. Improve your website in the following order:

  1. Technology: it should work. No errors.
  2. Functionality: it should offer the functionality your customer wants. The most screen estate should go to the most important tasks for the customer.
  3. Usability: If it works and does whát the customer wants, make it as easy as you can. Remove the bumps in the road.
  4. Persuasion: Now that it’s technically and functionally possible and easy to do, motivate your customers to act.

Now I don’t say that step 1 to 3 should be perfect in order to start with persuasion. But there is no use in persuading customers to do something that has technical, functional or usability issues, that only leads to frustration.

B) Your gut feeling sucks. So does your HIPPO. We have customers that either test a lot or really everything they change on their site. Their optimization teams are really skilled and experienced in A/B testing and are awesome ‘customer intelligence teams’ that are invaluable to their business. This is because they fail as much as they possibly can. And even with all that experience, predicting the success of an A/B test is just above chance. But they don’t need to predict, after a few weeks testing, they KNOW what works best. So guess how good the gut feeling of your marketer or the HIPPO (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion) at your department is…

C) The ‘golden egg’ of persuasion exists. But it’s not what you think it is. People often look for a ‘golden egg’: something that will solve all their problems and sell their services like a madman. It does exist, but it’s different for every customer, every product, every brand and a plethora of external factors you have no control over. So the key is not to find one golden egg for every customer in every situation, they key is finding out what influences your customers behavior and adapt your communication accordingly. This means you should be testing what you do to see what works best for which customer segment and don’t forget to include external factors like weather conditions, competitor pricing or marketing actions or just the difference between a working day or the weekend.

In the end, you’ll end up with a basket full of eggs. The color depends on your team and testing processes ;) .

If you want to see my session live and/or talk to me about it: my next events are at TeCOMM in Romania (October 24th) and Meet Magento Poland (November 4/5th).


Availability cascade

When something is being repeated over and over again, it must be true. Right?

When you need to convince customers of something, repeating your point (possibly from different angles and different media) will help you make the customer believe it’s true. What will be even more powerful is having multiple sources confirming or repeating you claims. Of course it also helps if the claims are… you know, actually true :).



How Color Persuasion Works

Color persuasion involves the philosophy behind colors and how consumers (knowingly or not) interact with those colors. Certain colors, for example, may subconsciously make a person feel safe. If your website influences the users with color, you may be able to set a tone or mood that is necessary to make your ecommerce business successful.

Color is not an exact science. Different cultures focus on the same color in different ways. For example, yellow can represent courage in Japan, while yellow in the Western culture can be referring to cowardice. Because colors have different meanings for different people, it is important to relate your website with the colors suitable for the target audience.

Does look a bit… Well… Colorless…

For the Western civilization, colors represent a variety of moods and feelings when they’re viewed:

  • The color red is often associated with things like Valentine’s Day or Christmas. The context of the color is important. For Valentine’s Day, you’d likely see red paired with white and pink, while a Christmas red is generally paired with green, silver, and gold. However, without context, red also has other connotations. It can be used to represent anger, danger, or anxiety. Red is used for stop signs and stop lights, which also refers to danger. Red also can physically cause the heart rate to increase, as well as the metabolism and respiration.
  • Orange can be used to represent a call to action, changes, joy, or aggression. It is between a red and yellow, so it does share some aspects of both colors. Orange is generally associated with autumn.
  • Yellow, on the other hand, is a positive color. It represents optimism, sunshine, and hope. It is a great way to add a burst of energy and cheerful color to a website. In the Western cultures, yellow might be associated with cowardice, so it should not be overused on a site.
  • If you’d like to give a trustworthy or friendly vibe off on your site, try using the color blue. Blue is often used by banks or social networking sites. However, a bank might use blue with green, the color of money, to make you feel that the money is secure in its location.
  • Green, while a symbol of wealth, can also be representative of the environment, jealousy, and envy. Green is the easiest color to look at, so the context and alternate colors used are an important factor when being used in combination.
  • Purple can be used to represent creativity or royalty, as well as wisdom. Love and romance can sometimes be represented by light shades of purple, like lavender or periwinkle. Combined with pink, which represents calm, friendship, love, and romance, purple could be used to represent a loving and romantic site.
  • White is a color most often used in combination. This color can represent emptiness when left alone, as it is a stark color. It generally is associated with positive connotations. This could be used with black, for instance, which represents power, elegance, and a feeling of classiness.
  • Gold is often used to represent wealth or prestige. This color is not usually used as the main color on a webpage, but may be used as a secondary color scheme. Gold is very similar to yellow, so if it were to be used as the main color it would take on the same meanings as yellow.
  • Silver is also used to represent prestige; however, it is colder in nature. This means it is not going to evoke as happy an emotion as gold might in the same circumstance.

The psychology of colors used on a website can help improve the visibility and memorability of a site. Logos often use a color scheme that makes them memorable. For one example, yellow and blue is used for the Build-A-Bear logo. This evokes a happy, cheerful, and friendly feeling. Other logos might use red and black to represent aggressive, but classy, activities, such as cards or gambling. The way you represent your site can be changed to influence your consumers very simply by changing the colors and theme of the page. Color has been shown to influence brand recognition by up to 85 percent.

Agressive, but classy: the colors in a card deck

In other research about the philosophy behind color persuasion, 93 percent of respondents stated that color was important to their purchase. A total of 85 percent stated that color was the reason for a purchase. Then, 80 percent agreed that the color of a brand represents consumer quality. For an example of how these statistics can be applied, take the color red. You’d normally see this near a clearance section. This increases the heart rate of consumers, creates urgency, and gets their attention. Green may be in areas of expensive pieces. Green is used to associate the items with wealth and is used to help the consumer relax.

A nice infographic from Kissmetrics: “How do colors affect purchases?

Keeping these color associations and the cultural deviations in mind while designing your webshop is a great way to use color persuasion in a way that benefits your business. How do you make use of the colors on your webshop? What emotions are you trying to evoke?


Make it fun!

We respond well to small delighters.

Can you create some small and unexpected pleasurable things to delight your visitors? It can be a small game, a video or maybe you can trigger the gatherer in your visitors and let the collect points or badges or other stuff on your website. Don’t go overboard though, it’s all about the small things. You don’t want to distract people from actually buying stuff on your website.

An example of a fun delighter in the Mailchimp interface:

Mailchimp delighter


Need for Assurance

We need to be assured we’re making te right decision.

What can you do to provide certainty in your webshop? Let people know their making the right decision by taking away doubt and ambiguity which might cause inaction. Provide clear benefits of your products and provide social proof of other customers who’re happy they’ve made the decision (of buying your products).



Hyperbolic discounting

We discount the value of the later reward, by a factor that increases with the length of the delay. In other words: We prefer a small reward now over a large reward later on.

Rewards later, are worth less then rewards right now. People rather have €50 right now then €60 in a month. But that is inconsistent if you change the timeframe: people prefer having €60 in 13 months, rather then €50 in twelve months, although the wait for the extra €10 is still one month.

When you give discounts in your shop you need to take notice of this, or you can even play with it. If you have a points system in your shop you can offer small discounts right now and big discounts in the future, but people are most likely to go for the small discount, unless the reward for waiting is REALLY big.

Dan Gilbert explains this phenomenon in his TED Talk ‘Exploring the frontiers of happiness‘ (video). He starts talking about Hyperbolic discounting at 18:13, but I recommend you see the whole video as it is a great presentation.

Further reading: Hyperbolic discounting on Wikipedia