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Ecommerce Entrepreneurs: Use This Psychological Trick to Sell More

It's called social proof -- looking to others when you are unsure what to do.
Ecommerce Entrepreneurs: Use This Psychological Trick to Sell More
Image credit: Hero Images | Getty Images

I recently started training in jiu-jitsu, a martial art focused on ground fighting. On my first day of class, I walked onto the mats and was greeted by a dozen experienced trainees. The instructor joined us shortly thereafter, and we began our warm-up before practicing technique.

Unlike the others trainees, my movements were awkward. I was fumbling and tripping over myself. At several points, I would freeze up mid-movement just to observe the other trainees and see how they executed a technique.

This phenomenon is called social proof, and it’s something we all do without even realizing it. We look to others in an attempt to determine what the best course of action is in unfamiliar places or situations. From opting to eat at the restaurant in town with the longest line to buying something with the most reviews online, we look to others for guidance when unsure.

Related: 5 Reasons Ecommerce Brands Should Leverage User-Generated Content

As an ecommerce entrepreneur, this psychological “trick” should be put to use everywhere on your ecommerce site. Let’s take a look at few places you can put this tactic to work to generate more subscribers, customers and cash.

Display subscriber counts.

Nowadays, it’s not enough to have a compelling offer, like an exciting contest or free informative guide, to get your prospect to hand over their email. If you really want to curb resistance and skepticism, try displaying a current subscriber count to entice new visitors to join the crowd. Savvy bloggers do this all the time -- “Join the 5,321 others who’ve subscribed to our email newsletter!”     

Use “credibility multipliers.”

Product pages are the lifeline of your ecommerce business. If your product pages aren’t convincing, nobody will buy from you. The solution is to use what I call “credibility multipliers.” These multipliers give you tremendous social proof and include everything from third-party seals -- like B.B.B. and press logos -- to security seals and even credit card logos. They promote trust and demonstrate you’ve been vetted, or at the least checked out, by outside sources. If you're unsure how to get credibility multipliers, I walk through exactly how to do in my new ecommerce guide.

Related: 3 Ridiculously Easy Hacks to Get People to Sign Up to Your Email List

Display product purchase counts.

Groupon is perhaps most famous for this. Put how many units you’ve sold next to your product -- unless it’s a really small amount, then this tip will backfire. If a potential customer who’s on the fence about buying sees that 100, 1000 or 5000+ other people bought your product, that’ll ease a lot of their concerns. This is the digital equivalent of seeing a long line outside a restaurant. It's the "its gotta be good if that many people are waiting for it” therory. This worked wonders for my former hip-hop jewelry brand, proof that Groupon isn’t the only major player that employs this tactic with great results.  

Use visual testimonials.

We all know the power of testimonials. The problem is, people are becoming skeptical of plain text testimonials because everyone from infomercial pitchmen to NYT-bestselling authors uses them. But just because everyone uses them doesn’t make them any less effective. You should just use them differently.

As an ecommerce entrepreneur, your website and social media pages should be flush with images of your customers using your products. Encourage them to send or tag you in any images that feature your merchandise, because it’s a powerful form of social proof. Visual testimonials -- versus plain text ones that anyone can type up -- can remove a lot of the trust issues prospects face when deciding to purchase your product or not. That’s because they don’t have to take your word for it. They can see in plain site that other people use it.

Related: How to Get and Use Testimonials, Referrals and Reviews

If you’re still stuck or want to learn more, I cover several other ways to use this psychological trick to sell more in my ecommerce guide. But even if you just implement these four strategies on your site, I can guarantee you’ll increase your subscribers, customers and conversions.