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We all love that warm and fuzzy feeling we get after buying something on sale online because we got what we wanted and saved some money in the process. It’s a win-win situation, right?
Many times, discounts are real and the Internet is a great place to save money. However, online stores also use clever psychological sales tricks to persuade you to buy something, even though you don’t need it and it’s not that great of an offer either. Behind every popular e-commerce business there is an entire marketing team who knows how to appeal to human psychology, and knowing what some of their tricks are can help you make wiser decisions.
Because what’s better than an online deal if not knowing if the deal was actually worth it?
Color psychology plays an important role in how e-commerce owners design their websites. Apart from a carefully chosen layout that lets the products shine, designers also use colors that incite action to persuade visitors to shop, especially around the sales season.
You’ve probably noticed that whenever online stores have promotions running, they don’t just stick to a subtle “Sales” category, but also add large colorful, flashing banners on the homepage. Bold fonts, combined with colors that incite action, such as red, yellow, or orange, create a feeling of urgency, making you click and shop although you didn’t need anything.
This trick plays on our need of making a wise purchase and paying less for more. Let’s take the following scenario: you hit pan on your favorite eyeshadow palette and you go online to reorder it. While you’re on the product page, getting ready to add it to the cart, you see a suggested product below: a “Value Pack” containing your palette, plus a blusher and mascara. Compared to buying one single product for $35, buying three for $60 sounds better, right? Well, it does, if you also wanted to buy those other two. But if you don’t need a new mascara and blusher, then that website just tricked you into spending $25 more.
Best value packs can be great ways to save money by buying in bulk, but only if you need every item in there. Otherwise, it’s yet another way of overspending.
In the modern world, running out of something isn’t a real problem, except for just a few categories of products. Whether we’re talking about food, clothes, or electronics, you can easily find what you need because the supply is just incredible. However, our subconscious is still hardwired to fear scarcity. As we see a product running off (virtual) shelves, this activates the same area of the brain that told our ancestors to stock up quickly, otherwise, they’ll have fewer chances of survival.
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Sellers take advantage of this fear of scarcity, which is why you’ll often see warnings like:
Only 5 Left in Stock!
Limited Time Offer!
Realistically speaking, even if you don’t claim the offer now, the product will be back in stock or you’ll be able to buy something similar from another seller. However, because the store appealed to FOMO and the fear of scarcity, you’re tempted to make the purchase right then and there, without checking out other sites first.
Online stores work with experienced marketers and professional writers who know how to adapt their message based on online personas. One of the ways they do this is by sending personalized emails to reduce shopping cart abandonment.
For example, online users often add many products to the cart, but when it’s time to proceed to the check-out page, they change their minds and leave the site. There are several reasons why this happens:
The total adds up to more than they imagined
They realized they don’t want those products that much
They need more time to think/compare offers
Under normal circumstances, those shopping carts end up abandoned and clients don’t come back to make a purchase. However, if the shop sends a follow-up email to remind them of their products, things change. One study carried out by SaleCycle showed that:
Almost 50% of users open email reminders about abandoned carts
13% of users click on the link in the email
35% of those who click end up completing the purchase
If you’re not sure you want to buy something, this email can persuade you to place the order – especially if the subject line is personalized to display your name.
However, this trick can work in your favor. Some online stores also send you a discount code if you complete the purchase, so you can try to close the tab and then check your inbox.
No one likes paying for shipping and sometimes it makes sense to add an extra $5 product on a $45 order. But online stores can use a sneaky free shipping strategy to trick you into buying much more than you wanted just to get free shipping.
For example, if the minimum amount for free shipping is higher, let’s say $99, and you only want something worth $30, you may get a pop-up saying: Spend $69 and get free shipping!
In this case, the seller is trying to increase your order amount, and spending $69 more just to avoid paying $5 for shipping isn’t financially responsible.
So, there you have it. Next time you go shopping online, watch out for these psychological sales tricks, stick to your shopping list, and the chances of falling for a subtle marketing strategy will be much lower.