As business owners we assume that everyone who visits our website knows what they want… but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
My guest today is Rishi Rawat, conversion copywriter and optimization strategist. He’s run thousands of A/B tests, dedicated his career to understanding consumer behavior and helping eCommerce businesses maximize their sales. Rishi shares with us the 3 things we MUST DO everyday to grow our eCommerce sales and the 9 points of buyer psychology that when focused on have proven to increase website conversion.
What You’ll Learn:
- Why first time buyers hold the key to your future success
- The 9 points of buyer psychology that maximize website conversions
- A simple trick for crafting your brand story and selling more powerfully
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Read the Full Episode Transcript
If you’ve been with me for a while you know I talk a lot about repeat customers because it’s easier to convert a repeat customer than it is to get that first sale. But that doesn’t mean we can ignore trying to get new customers. If you’ve been wondering how to convert more new customers, then you’re going to want to hear from today’s guest, Rishi Rawat — he’s obsessed with buyer psychology and shopper behavior. As the founder of Frictionless Commerce, he spent the last 13 years dialing in his technique to get first time visitors to convert and has narrowed down the three things every entrepreneur should do to maximize their sales.
1. Focus on your story
Embrace, fall in love with and nurture your story like a loving parent. You need to be proud of it and talk about it every single day.
Practice telling your story because testing and experimentation has shown that those who emphasize an aspect of their story or their entire story, have the biggest lifts in conversion rates.
Buyers are craving authentic stories but they will not say that in a survey. They won’t tell you specifically that they want to hear more about your story if you ask them, however, it’s deeply embedded in our psychology. Therefore when we see or hear your story, we instinctively respond to it.
Incorporate your story into the day to day marketing of your business
This is something we all struggle with — myself included. When it’s your own story you feel like you’re repeating yourself over and over again and it’s easy to assume nobody cares. Sometimes it feels like your story is insignificant and like it doesn’t matter but the rest have us want to know more about it.
Try this exercise to help bring your authentic story to the surface:
Imagine you’re sitting in a bar, enjoying your favourite cocktail after a long day and the person beside you strikes up a conversation. And it turns out that the exact thing you’re selling online is the exact same thing that this person has been struggling to fix in their life — what are the odds!
The person leans into you with great interest because after all of the Google searches they’ve done and in all the ads they’ve seen, they still haven’t found a solution for their problem.
So they ask you what makes your product compelling? Think about what your reply to that person would be in the moment because that is your story. When you frame it this way, your amazing story becomes so much clearer, and so much more accessible to you because you’re not pressuring yourself to write something for a website. It’s just a casual conversation that allows you to open up and really bring out the excitement you feel about your business, which we tend to temper when we’re actually talking to customers face to face, or when we’re talking to people on the web.
Keep on working on your story
The way to work on it is to keep on asking why. Dig deeper into that question every single day. Don’t just think of your story as, okay, here’s my story — the exercise is done. Instead, ask yourself why every day. It’ll take you to very interesting places.
2. Focus on first time buyers
One of the reasons why people don’t focus on their story is because they think they’ve already told their story.
You’ve told your story to people who’ve bought from you 50 times and you’ve told your story to your spouse but those are not the people you’re selling to. You’re selling to people that are coming to a website they’ve never heard of before — they have no idea where they are and they’re essentially lost in a dark alley. They need to hear a comforting voice that tells them they’re in the right place — this is where you share your story.
Focus on first time buyers because the statistics are pretty damn scary:
- 96% of people that are on your website today are not going to buy unless you give them a compelling reason to buy
- 68% of people that are on your website are never going to come back to your website.
These statistics are telling you that a first time buyer is either going to not purchase today, or not purchase ever. That accelerates the importance of first time buyers.
Why you should focus on first time buyers
The reason I focus on first time buyers is that I feel it’s not emphasized enough. Don’t just invest 10% of your effort on first time buyers. Think about spending an hour every day going to your website — especially your mobile website because most people are on their mobile devices — and ask yourself why should I hang around here longer? Why would I buy if this was not my business? Why would I care? Those questions will lead you down interesting insights about things that you should keep in mind.
The other thing to keep in mind is that all of your other metrics like your upsells, cross-sells, your lifetime value of customers, word of mouth marketing, all the other things that businesses depend on, are all based on first time buyers. If you can improve your first time buyer conversion rate by 5% everything else improves by 5% too, because now you have 5% more people doing word of mouth for you. That, again, brings our attention to the fact that first time buyers are critically important.
The amount of customers on your website doesn’t matter if they’re not converting
It’s not necessarily about how to get more new customers to your website, it’s how to convert them when they get there. You have to nail that down because you can send as much traffic to your website as you want, but if it doesn’t convert it’s just going to be money down the toilet.
You can’t convert every person on your website
The idea that you can convert every person that comes to your website is ludicrous. Be practical about it.
Data from over 150 different online retailers shows that around 15% of your audience is on your website. How engaged someone is on your website is calculated by the amount of time spent and the pages viewed. An engaged member of your audience might spend more than four minutes on your website and see more than three pages — around 12% to 15% of people on your website fall in this category.
If your website is converting at 2% that really means that 10% of people who are engaged on your website and are looking to solve their problem are choosing not to buy from you. That means you’re losing 10% of potential sales every single day because you’re not doing a good enough job convincing and converting first time buyers.
All the work you’re doing talking to business owners, spending money advertising and creating word of mouth marketing is being wasted. And there’s nothing like lost money to motivate an entrepreneur.
3. Focus on buyer psychology
Businesses are usually born because someone has experienced a problem and they’ve figured out a solution for it. Then they figure out that there are more people like them who have the same problem — and that’s how their business is born.
We assume that everyone who visits our website, or everyone who’s our customer, has not only understood that they have a problem but has understood that they need a very specific solution for their problem. That solution is our website and what we sell. However, this is not how shoppers behave at all. You may have spent years thinking about the problem that you’re solving, but the shopper has spent those same years struggling with it under the surface.
We assume people know exactly what they want but they don’t.
When we assume shoppers know exactly what they want, we focus on features and benefits — that is the wrong thing to focus on. Focus on their subconscious desires, needs, fantasies and fears because that is what essentially propels us to make progress in our life. At a fundamental level shoppers hide that information when you survey them — they would never confess the emotional drivers for why they’re doing what they’re doing.
More importantly — this is the more bizarre part — shoppers themselves don’t know what those emotional drivers are. There’s lots of research to back this up. In the 80s, MIT Professor Eric von Hipple coined the term unarticulated needs. He suggested that there is a whole set of consumer needs that we don’t even have the language to express. So often shoppers know what they want, but they can’t articulate what that is until they see it. Your shoppers are experiencing the same anxieties when they’re navigating your website.
The nine aspects of buyer psychology
Buyer psychology is a universe of its own. But through 11 years of testing, we found that these nine aspects had the highest conversion rates.
1. People are skeptical of “too good to be true”
When you’re trying to make a transaction online with someone who has never heard of or seen you before, you’re asking them to hand over their credit card information in exchange for an item that will be shipped to them — this is a huge leap of faith.
Re-read your story or your sales pitch and pay close attention to things that might seem too good to be true or that the user might skeptically look at and say, how are you backing up your claims? Because if you’re claiming that you’ve created the world’s most comfortable sports bra, how can you prove that?
2. People find expertise sexy
We are living in a hyper-specialized world. When people have a medical condition, they don’t just go to a general doctor, they go to the best specialist they can find and that they can afford in their local area.
People expect the same expertise online. The way to converse, convince and convert them is by assuring them that you are an expert. From a copywriting perspective, it’s important that you articulately illustrate your expertise through your product’s design and ingredients, etc.
3. People root for people who beat the odds
At a fundamental level, the human spirit cheers on people who’ve overcome difficult moments. If there are aspects of your story that show you overcoming something — which is everyone, by the way — focus on talking about it. You’ll be amazed at how much it humanizes you to your potential audience.
4. People are fascinated by surprising details
You know so much more about your products and services than anyone else does so make sure you include that information along with interesting stats or interesting articles in your sales copy.
For example, if you’re selling an exfoliator, pull up some stats about allergens or skin cells — something surprising — you’d be amazed at how much more interesting it makes your story.
5. People are visual animals
Visualize your words with a graphic or some kind of visual mechanism. This gives them an increased understanding of their problem and helps you demonstrate your solution more clearly.
6. People need motivation to break habits
We assume that the biggest competition we face in the eCommerce space is other people or companies, but in reality, it’s the buyers’ old habits. It is on you to give them the most motivation as possible to break their habits
7. People love personalized experiences
Anytime you have a chance to personalize an experience, do it. It could be a simple personalization or it could be more complicated. The more you can make the reader feel you’ve hacked into their brain and read their mind, the more the experience and the product will feel like it’s targeted directly to them.
8. People like knowing they’ve stumbled onto something rare
Imagine that feeling of excitement you feel when you discover new music. We all like discovering music that our friends don’t know about because it feels a little bit rare and unique. There’s an aspect of serendipity that we need to communicate with someone who is on our website so that they feel like they’ve stumbled up something new, rare and unique.
9. We must resolve their negative thoughts
All negative thoughts must be resolved before the sale can ever actually take place. If there is even one lingering negative thought floating through the mind of the shopper they will defer judgment because they feel like they don’t have all the information they need to make the purchase. Instead, they will tell themselves they’ll make that difficult decision next week, and then they just never return to your website.
How to implement the nine aspects of buyer psychology
Don’t think of yourself as a seller, think of yourself as a buyer sitting on the other side of the screen. Put yourself in their shoes and consider what they might be going through. Buying something new is a very important physiological event that has taken place in their life and a big emotional hurdle to overcome. They’ve gone from non-consumption to consumption and they’ve decided to change something in their life by buying a product, even if it is only $20.
Email the people that have recently bought from you and ask them questions about what was happening in their life that caused them to buy your product. Getting into their mind by prompting them to talk about these things will give you amazing insights into buyer psychology. If one person has felt this way chances are other potential buyers have felt these things.
If you have time for it, identify two people every month that have bought from you and send them an email directly as the CEO without automation, and just start having conversations with them. This can be a really good way to get even more in depth insight into their psychology prior to buying your product.
Is there something you’ve done or tried that just did not work?
I can tell you for a fact that almost most things that I work on don’t work out. It’s very easy to talk about something that originally didn’t work out but you overcame later on because that’s a kind of a fancy way of saying I made it work out.
There is one thing that I still haven’t figured out, which is how to actually effectively monetize Facebook advertising for my customers.
Now, this is not an area that I’m involved in personally but because we do conversion optimization, oftentimes clients will ask if we can apply the same buyer psychology copy that we do on their websites to the advertising side of the equation.
Through Facebook advertising, I’ve tried to get to large clients in completely different industries and we have just simply not been able to make it work out for us. We work with technical teams that are very good at targeting. So I’m not involved in that part. But I’m focused on writing persuasive copy to get people to click on our ads, and then come to a landing page and convert and I have never been able to make it work. That is a massive failure that I am confronted with on a regular basis.
As entrepreneurs, we’re trying to do all the things, especially when we’re starting out and haven’t hired a team yet. Even when we do have a team, we’re still the CEO and it’s easy to beat ourselves up over things that we can’t get to work, but sometimes we really just don’t get the results we want and that’s okay.
Is there something you’ve done where the results just blew you away?
We were working with a client that sells a highly technical product that costs upwards of $900. It has lots of bells and whistles and is definitely not an impulse buy.
We focused on one of our tactics which is people like personalized experiences
In this instance, we personalized for the user type and divided them into two categories — someone who needs to buy the product, but I don’t have 10 minutes to read the story or the description versus a methodical shopper who reads all the reviews and wants to know all the technical details.
How do we differentiate between these two groups? On the product page, we added two buttons which simply said, How much time do you have today? The two options were “two minutes” and “I have time” and the idea was that we et the user put their hand up and say who they are, what their mental state is, and what they’re ready for.
For the person who had time, we showed them the long-form copy with the intricate details, and for the person who had two minutes, we gave them the elevator pitch of this incredibly technical product. The client freaked out because he thought there was no way that two minutes was enough time to convert on such a complex product.
But we actually registered a 30% improvement in sales for that product and the client was blown away by it and we didn’t expect it to be so good.
Final take away
Every single morning when you wake up, you are presented with a brand new day and a new opportunity to work on your business. Everything we’ve talked about will make sense if you start looking at your world from that perspective.
We tend to cram so much into our days and you might read this and think you’re going to apply all nine buyer psychology techniques to your website right now. The problem with that is, you’ll go crazy for the first two or three days then you’ll get totally burned out and you’ll never revisit those concepts again.
A much better approach is to reset every morning and recognize that days end and new days begin and you have a new opportunity to refocus your energy. Tackle each one of the nine aspects gradually so that you’re not burning yourself out attempting to implement them all at once.
Everything that I’ve said plays a secondary role to the principle of being forgiving to yourself. Conquer the world every single day but also recognize that you’re going to fall off and make mistakes and face setbacks on a regular basis and that’s okay too.