Your product page copy is already considering psychology, insofar as it’s focused on your prospects’ pain points and problems, and on the benefits they’ll experience once they have your product. You’re already zeroing in on your value proposition—that statement that describes how you deliver better than your competition. You’re helping your prospects envision end results—and possibly even life changes.
But there are other ways you can leverage psychology in your product copy to influence consumer behavior and boost your online sales. And they’re tried-and-true strategies you probably see on a daily basis in your own experience as an online consumer: language (and imagery) that invokes feelings of urgency, excitement, desire, trust, or the fear of missing out that causes you to hit that “Add to Cart” CTA… sometimes without even rationalizing it.
Urgency and scarcity principles
Two strategies to increase conversions are to create the sense that your product may not be available to prospects at a later time (scarcity), or that a special deal will soon end or the price may soon increase (urgency). These strategies will put pressure on site visitors and compel them to purchase before it’s “too late.” Amazon makes use of the scarcity principle often:
Product reviews—which we discussed in the previous section—are one form of social proof. Other forms of social proof leverage psychology by making visitors feel as though they’re missing out on something if they don’t purchase your product. They also make customers feel as though they’re part of an exclusive community once they do purchase your product.
One way of accomplishing this is to add user-generated content such as Instagram pictures to your product page. The clothing company BlackMilk has its customers add a hashtag for the specific item they’re wearing in their Instagram posts, which is one way of demonstrating product popularity:
Other forms of social proof include social media share buttons, “heart” or “like” buttons, lists of how many customers have bought a particular item, and (as we discuss in our section on online shop homepages) “Most Popular” or “Best-Selling” categories.
Cross-selling and up-selling
By the time your prospect gets to your product page, they’re clearly inside your purchasing funnel—so you may as well make the most of it.
Cross-selling is showing your prospect related products. Think accessories for technical products, or the “look book” style approach that retailers often take: You simply couldn’t buy that skirt without also buying those shoes and that top.
Up-selling, on the other hand, is selling those related products as a package. It can also mean encouraging prospects to buy a higher-end version of the product they’re already interested in.
Amazon employs both of these strategies—and with remarkable success. If you’ve ever searched for anything on their site, you’ve probably noticed their cross-selling efforts look something like this:
Of course, there’s no savings in the “opportunity” Amazon has offered us of buying three books together; but buyers tend to overlook this fact when they feel Amazon has done the “hard” work of curating products they might be interested in.
Note that Amazon doesn’t display these other options so high up on the page that they become distractions. You don’t want to divert your prospect from the purchase at hand by sending them down a rabbit hole in which they forget what their original intent was.
The Tea Collection also cross-sells well. On the product page for this shirt, prospects are offered recommendations to complete the look (“Looks good with”):
Dollar Shave Club, on the other hand, has the up-selling game down. Prospects who opt to try their “Daily Essentials Starter Set” click the $5 CTA, and are then taken to a page of “Add-Ons.” (So much for that $5 price tag… and yet, the product imagery on that second page is so appealing, and the reviews are so good, that we bet Dollar Shave Club sees a lot of add-ons):
If your CMS or eCommerce platform doesn’t support up-selling and cross-selling, you can always suggest complementary products in your product descriptions. Both of these strategies are valuable because they alert your visitors to products they may not otherwise know exist in your shop, and reveal the rich variety you have to offer.
On the other hand, a variety of plugins and apps (such as Personalized Recommendations for Shopify) let you offer product suggestions to your prospects and customers based on their browsing and purchasing histories. These recommendations are so valuable because they’re based on your visitors’ previous behaviors.
You probably know Dollar Shave Club as a popular subscription-based business that offers a product that needs to be regularly replenished. In a subscription-based model, customers sign up to purchase your product on an ongoing basis—generally with a monthly renewal. But whatever the time frame, the product is faithfully delivered on that date.
As you can imagine, this model works particularly well for products that have to be reprovisioned often, such as beauty products or food.
For the company offering its product as a subscription, the biggest advantage is obvious: recurring—and thus predictable—revenue, and a measure of stability. The Baymard Institute calculates that the average cart abandonment rate is currently at 69.23%. Incorporating a subscription option into your online shop—and shouting it loudly on your product pages—means you’re not subjecting yourself to the risk of abandonment on the threshold of each new replenishment.
What’s more, it costs about 6 times more to acquire new customers than it does to retain the ones you’ve already got. Thus, the more recurring customers, the better—and this is precisely what subscription models ensure. They reduce your risk of losing customers to your competitors, since your customers will be so appreciative of the convenience you offer that it won’t occur to them to look elsewhere.
Bulletproof has recognized the value of the subscription service for their own products. (Freshly ground coffee shipped to our house every two weeks? Yes, please). On the product page, users have the option of making a one-time purchase or of subscribing: Bulletproof offers an incentive of 5% off for subscribers. When users click on the subscription option, they see the reduced price (more psychology!) and answer a few quick questions, including how often they’d like their shipments to arrive.
And then? They never have to worry about running out of coffee again:
Data breaches, identity theft, credit card fraud… we’ve all heard the horror stories. Prospects are understandably wary about giving out personal information online. So if you want potential customers to do so, you have to convince them that their information is safe with you.
You don’t need to inundate your visitor with trust badges—indeed, you don’t want them to think you’re offering a false sense of security. One or two recognized badges should do the job:
The watch retailer Express Watches ran an A/B test in which they changed their message on a Seiko watch product page from “Never Beaten on Price” to “Seiko Authorized Dealer Site.” This simple change—which essentially promised customers that they were getting the real deal rather than an imitation—resulted in a 107% increase in sales, and suggested that prospects prioritize authenticity to low prices.
Such quality trust signals should indeed be sprinkled throughout your site… but product pages are important places to display them.
We discuss this in our section on online shop homepages, so we won’t go into it again here. We’ll simply say this: It’s entirely worth it to you to offer free shipping (not to mention free returns and exchanges) to your customers.
And it’s certainly worth reminding your prospects—again and again, on individual product pages—that they won’t be paying anything more for the product than the number they’re currently looking at.
Because, of course, knowing this will make them all the more likely to buy.
Topshop wisely acknowledges their free shipping and returns on their homepage; but they also call it out on each individual product page:
Think outside of the “best practice” box
You may have noticed that just below the “Add to Shopping Bag” CTA on Topshop’s product page is a second CTA that lets prospects take Topshop’s quiz and get “Personalised edits tailored to [their] style.”
Here’s the thing: This is not a best practice. Indeed, anything that causes a prospect to pause (or in this case, take a complete detour) in the midst of a shopping or selection process generally means fewer conversions. When prospects click on Topshop’s secondary CTA, they’re taken to another page entirely… and the chances of them returning to the product page? We bet they aren’t 100%.
Then again, we also don’t know what kind of testing Topshop does. We tried to take the quiz ourselves, and after 17 questions (yeah; you read that correctly), we were officially annoyed. But then again, we’re not particularly keen on clothes shopping—and we feel pretty confident that we’re not one of Topshop’s buyer personas. When we finally finished the quiz, we were presented with a page of offerings that suited “our style”… ALL of which, incidentally, cost more than those $38 glasses we were about to buy:
What’s more, Topshop got our email address in the process (we had to give it to them before we saw this page), which means they’ve got another contact on their list for future email marketing campaigns.
In other words, it’s very possible that by eschewing one particular best practice (keep your visitor in the sales funnel!) and by paying more attention to their own prospects’ and customers’ psychology (the desire to have a relationship with a clothing company that “knows” what they like), Topshop has actually increased their conversions in the long run.
So remember that your prospects’ and customers’ particular psychologies will ultimately be the driving force in the product page elements you decide to use.
Thanks to your excellent product pages, prospects have added your products to their carts. Now what? While it may seem like it’s only there to display the items prospects are considering, the shopping cart is actually a complex site element worth carefully attending to. In the next section, we show you how to keep your cart accurate and flexible, how to position your shopping cart CTAs, and what other elements to include at this stage of the game.