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Let me be upfront with you.
I’m not a web designer.
I work with some amazing web designers. I know a few things about web design. But when it comes right down to it, I’m not a designer.
What am I? I’m a marketer.
Why am I talking about designing a web page, specifically a pricing page?
Here’s why. Web design and marketing overlap. A lot.
When you get into a discussion about web design, you can’t help but talk about psychology. And when the page being designed is a pricing page, psychology plays a huge role.
What kind of psychology? Customer psychology.
Customer psychology is the study of the way people think, act, decide, and make purchases.
It has everything to do with motivation, mind tricks, color, placement, filtering, eye tracking studies, and, yes, web design.
That’s why I’m confident in my ability to design a great pricing page.
I constantly A/B-test my pages to make sure I’m choosing the most optimal design, and most of the design choices you see throughout my web properties is based on simple psychological principles.
Psychology is common in marketing and design, regardless of the industry. Look at a casino, for example.
Every inch of that building, from the carpet and floor designs to the signs and turns was designed to psychologically keep people in the building spending money, not focusing on time and outside responsibilities.
Web design is the same way. And when it comes to the pricing page, these psychological principles are extremely important.
Here are a few of the tactics I use when designing pricing pages-one of the most important steps in your conversion funnel.
1. Devalue money in the viewer’s eyes
Since we’re on the subject of Las Vegas… Another trick casino owners use is the idea of mentally devaluing money.
When you step up to a table, they exchange your money for chips.
Why? There are several reasons. One is that it makes it easier for dealers to count, but it also detaches people from the value of their money. It’s easier to gamble away two chips than $2,000.
A lot of people are in debt, and, while it’s great that you run a business, you need to get people to stop thinking about their bills.
The average user who looks at your pricing page might have in the back of their mind their consumer credit card debt.
Maybe you’re not running a casino. How do you get people to stop thinking about their debt problems and instead focus on the value of your product, regardless of the price?
Let me give you an example.
Cornell researchers recently partnered with the Culinary Institute of America to research this concept of devaluing money on restaurant menus. Two different study groups were given two different menus, one with a dollar sign next to the pricing and one without.
The group given the menus without the dollar sign spent more money. Why? Because they weren’t put off by the high $ price.
One example I’ve shown elsewhere is this pricing page. Notice the small dollar signs?
That’s not a mistake.
The same thing is happening here:
The dollar sign serves as a trigger to remind people of the value of money. What they should be thinking about is the value of your product.
A simple removal or minimization of the dollar sign will make your pricing page more compelling, more powerful, and more psychologically potent.
2. Color-coordinate everything
Research from the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health indicates colors are perceived in different ways by different people based on experiences, genetics, context, and other factors.
Still, there are brands of every kind that use specific colors within their logos.
If you’re at the beginning stage of building your company, choose a color scheme that matches the emotion you’re trying to evoke.
There was a time when Geocities ruled the web and websites commonly looked as though they were drawn by crayons. Thankfully, we’ve progressed, so basic black text on a white background is considered standard for text (with a few exceptions).
Headers and buttons, however, can vary greatly. Amazon uses a yellow color for the “Add to Cart” button on its pricing pages.
Walmart uses a red-orange.
Best Buy utilizes bright blue and yellow for different options.
Whatever you choose, make sure it speaks to your brand and is consistent all the way through to avoid confusing customers at a crucial step.
3. Size matters
Size does matter when designing a pricing page.
Here’s the simple truth. You want people to see the important parts first because that’s what needs to stick with them the longest.
Let me go back to this pricing page to show what I mean:
What’s the first thing you look at when you see this page?
Probably the center column, focusing on the “Growth” package at $400 a month.
Why? Because it pops with a vivid blue against a very light gray backdrop.
Plus, it’s bigger than the others. Size is important. It’s also centrally located.
All of these are key differentiating features that psychologically emphasize the importance and superiority of that plan.
Where exactly does size matter?
- Call-to-action buttons
- Price boxes (as pictured above)
As explained in Psychology in Action, larger fonts make messages enter our brains faster as we don’t have to struggle to see them.
This split-second difference of time and attention puts the page into a logical and cohesive, Feng Shui-like, order for browsers.
4. Limited time offers
If someone thinks their time to act is limited, they’re more likely to take action quickly rather than delay it.
Several studies have looked at how limited time offers affect our brains. Sites such as eBay and Groupon have practically built empires on the concept.
Essentially, it boils down to supply and demand.
When you create scarcity, the perceived value of an item goes up. It’s called a theory of psychological reactance, which explains why we hate to miss out on a golden opportunity when presented with it.
You’ve probably heard of fear of missing out, or FOMO, right? Same idea, different angle.
Amazon uses this technique to great effect with constant inventory reminders on every item: “Only 10 left in stock – order soon.”
It’s a great call to action.
Even though we know one of the world’s largest fulfillment centers will definitely replenish its supplies of literally everything, will it happen soon enough? Can we wait and will it be more expensive next time?
Dr. Eldar Shafir, from Princeton, and Dr. Sendhil Mullainathan, from Harvard, explored how people’s minds work when they feel they’re lacking something. The perception of scarcity leads them to make mistakes or bad financial decisions, spending more money than they should.
Scarcity orients the mind automatically and powerfully toward unfulfilled needs.
It also motivates us to prioritize our choices, e.g., we’re more frugal with toothpaste when the tube is close to empty, and we rush to purchase a product or service to obtain a deal.
5. Discounts and VIP membership
People love feeling like they belong. Costco, Sam’s Club, and AAA are just a few of the memberships you can get these days to feel like you’re part of a country club.
Everyone wants to be a VIP, so offering VIP membership bonuses and discounts encourages customers to keep spending money at your business. Instead of buying just one roll of paper towels, you can subscribe and save.
Or buy 10 and get one free.
These promotions increase clicks because, as Ian Newby-Clark explains in Psychology Today,
We are social creatures who yearn to be included. We want to be a part of the group and strive for goals set for us.
It’s like a drug: belonging to something bigger than yourself provides a sense of purpose and meaning to our lives.
Marketing Profs has a great article describing how the inclusion of fans into a community motivates them to support a brand both as customers and ambassadors. I suggest you take a look at it as it’s a great read.
The NFL, along with all other major sports organization in America, uses this psychological principle to its advantage.
Fans show up sporting their team’s colors and mascot costumes because it makes them feel like they belong.
Above: Seattle Seahawks fans surround a Cleveland Browns fan Sunday, Nov. 30, 2003, at Seahawks Stadium in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
6. Offer tiered pricing
Tiered pricing opens the door to all sorts of psychological techniques.
Hyperbolic discounting occurs when different pricing models provide different benefits, allowing us to personalize our shopping experience. Dropbox employs this technique:
Choice-supportive pricing, anchoring effect, and the decoy effect can also be employed to your advantage. With tiered pricing, anything is possible.
Amazon has about a dozen varieties of Prime combined with rewards cards, affiliate bounties, and subscription services to give you payment options beyond just “cash or credit.”
Tiered pricing is becoming even more popular these days with the growth of the software-as-a-service (SaaS) business model.
By subscribing for longer terms, people know they can often save money and thus seek out these types of deals.
Rational choice theory is a framework to model social and economic behavior. It states individual actors choose the option that maximizes their interests and provides the greatest benefit.
A tiered pricing model provides customers with purchasing options that are all, ultimately, with you.
7. Doorbusters work
Retail has long utilized doorbusters to get people in the doors. These savings are responsible for Black Friday leaking further into Thanksgiving every year. Once you have people in the door to buy a low-priced item, you can upsell them better, more expensive products.
Any pricing page should also have a “recommended” and “similar” section. These personalized offers help lead consumers to buy the right item for them, increasing trust in your e-commerce brand along with the ROI.
It should be noted, however, you should avoid the classic bait-and-switch scam that will get you in trouble with the FTC and ruin the reputation of both you and your brand.
It’s also worth mentioning that many analysts think Black Friday is about more than just the doorbusters.
It’s more of a tradition than anything else. People ritualistically line up at brick-and-mortar stores the Friday after Thanksgiving while a growing number wait for Cyber Monday the following week online.
There’s also a psychological difference in the way we perceive prices such as $13.99 vs $14.00. The item priced at $13.99 is more likely to sell because even though it’s only a penny short, it’s $13 and change instead of $14.
Although consumers initially hit a website looking for a cheap deal on SEO services, soon they realize they’re also missing social media, video, CRO, PPC, and many other aspects of marketing.
They want more.
That’s the value of the doorbuster.
The initial doorbuster brings them to you for a killer deal. You get them in and then convert them to buy more stuff.
8. Get smaller yeses first
Much like with the doorbuster sale, you want to lead people by convincing them to agree to smaller things before hitting them with the big ask.
Zendesk does a great job of leading customers through smaller yeses first:
While the option is there to buy, Zendesk wants you to try the free version first because they’re confident you’ll come back as a paying subscriber once you’ve experienced the platform.
Who doesn’t like free stuff?
By convincing customers to say yes to the smaller ask first, you make saying yes to the bigger ask much easier.
It’s all part of the psychology of negotiation,
Making the pie bigger for everyone increases the maximally efficient outcome 79% of the time.
You don’t have to necessarily give out anything for free either. As explained above, even month-to-month subscriptions are a smaller ask than a year-long contract, so providing different levels of the same offer will do the trick.
9. Provide choices
As explained above, offering both payment and product choices is a great way to improve revenue on pricing pages.
A customer is buying a TV, do they need a warranty? Cables? A stand or mount? A DVD Player, home stereo system, or Chromecast?
Give people options for bundles, add-ons, and other available sizes, colors, and brands. But don’t give them so many options that they get overloaded.
In 2000, researchers S.S. Inyengar and M.R. Leper conducted a study allowing supermarket shoppers to sample the different flavors of jam available for purchase. The test compared the impact of having 24 jam flavors to choose from versus having only 6.
Only 3% of those who sampled the 24 flavors went on to purchase the jam, compared to 30% who sampled only 6 flavors.
Too many options will inhibit your customers’ ability to make a clear decision.
Psychology is important in web design and marketing. How people perceive a brand is directly impacted by the appearance of every landing page, including the pricing, checkout, and confirmation pages.
By A/B-testing different versions of those pages, while implementing the psychological principles discussed above, you’ll be able to optimize conversions and revenue streams from your online marketing.
What psychological techniques help you design your web properties?
As I was analyzing the online audience of a recent brand, I discovered that its Twitter audience and Facebook audience were incredibly different. Any good community manager could have called it, but the rest of brand team could not. They weren’t in the trenches having the conversations with the fans on both platforms every day.
The gap between the day-to-day social media staff members and the brand management team reminded me how important it is to have internal feedback loops built into your marketing effort so that no stone is left unturned in analyzing and optimizing your marketing.
A brand manager, VP for marketing and event a C-level executive should know how a brand’s audiences vary from network to network. Better yet, when there is a vast difference between who your audience is online and what audience you’re targeting, some deeper internal discussions need to happen.
I’ve encountered brand managers in the past who were insistent that they know their target. They refuse to acknowledge any data that refutes their understanding of who buys, who uses or who talks about their brand. Sometimes they’re right. I’ve met a few, however, who were wrong. They weren’t managing their respective brand much longer.
Your Targeting May Not Be Off
But when a demographic profile of one’s Twitter or Facebook audience doesn’t match step-for-step with your primary target, it doesn’t necessarily mean your targeting is off. Here’s why:
The people talking about your brand may not be the people who buy your brand. Or, the people who talk about your brand online may not be the audience of influencers who persuade others to buy your brand offline.
This is why social analytics alone cannot fuel major swings in brand strategy. These assertions need to be confirmed with other, more traditional research. Focus groups, buying data, trends among your target consumers, influencer analysis (on- and off-line), all add up to the pool of knowledge you need to make these types of decisions.
“social analytics alone cannot fuel
major swings in brand strategy”
But social conversations are a great place to start. If you’re performing conversational research on your brand, you have the opportunity to gut-check who you’re communicating with, whether or not you’re successful in that communication and understand what other audiences or influencers are also paying attention.
The brand in my earlier analysis had about a 50-50 gender split on Twitter, but two-thirds of its Facebook audience were women. It happens that this brand’s core target is male. While the Facebook data on who’s talking about them isn’t alone enough to force a switch in brand targeting, it certainly is enough to warrant further investigation, validation and analysis.
Maybe – just maybe – the brand is focused on the wrong target. But maybe they’re just fine because the men they target fuel conversations from and with the women who happen to talk more about brands and products in that category.
My recommendation is to use conversation research as a starting point for your curiosity, then let the data guide you. Confirm, validate, refute or adjust based on more analysis of online conversations, adding in some focus groups or survey instruments and perhaps reviewing industry data for the product category.
Social media conversations may be the only place your targeting seems awry. But if they are, it’s at least worth considering perhaps there’s more to it than what you might think.
Email marketing has become so widespread it’s probably starting to lose some of its punch, right?
Think again. Email consistently offers the best payback for digital marketers, producing a 122 percent return on every dollar spent. On top of that, email is getting a big boost as mobile use skyrockets. With people now checking their email on cell phones and tablets at least once a day, 91 percent of marketers, suppliers and agencies achieve the same or higher click-through rates on mobile devices as on desktop.
Email marketing is also thriving because it integrates easily with other digital mediums, it’s a powerful lead-nurturing tool, it’s relatively simple to implement, and it’s 40 times more effective than social media at generating conversions. Most importantly, though, email appeals to customers – people prefer to communicate with companies through email, and they embrace messaging that educates, engages, and/or features money-saving deals.
“With the use of data to drive efficient targeting and placement, and increased data science skills across the marketing ecosystem, these numbers will only continue to grow, saving marketers money on their marketing spend and driving efficiencies in the marketplace,” predicts Neil O’Keefe of the Direct Marketing Association.
That said, even the best intentions for effective emailing are wasted if the messages aren’t able to shine through the rubble. Recent statistics show the average person now gets 121 emails a day. Humanity as a whole gets 193.3 billion – and 108.7 billion of those are business emails.
The decision to “go pro” – that is, to seek professional assistance for your email campaign or to take the helm yourself – depends entirely on your goals, available time, money, and expertise, and whether you’re planning a basic or expansive campaign. Here are few facts to consider as you make your choice:
What benefits does DIFM (“do it for me”) full service bring?
When you contract for full-service Pro+ Email Marketing Service through VerticalResponse, we take everything off your plate including the design, launch, tracking, reporting, and social media promotion. Some specific advantages include:
- Your campaign will be created and implemented by a dedicated marketing expert who understands email strategy.
- All you need to bring to the table is your logo, your ideas for offers and/or messages, and your list of email subscribers. We consult with you about how to incorporate your overall marketing goals into your strategy.
- After that, we do all the work. That includes copywriting, selection of imagery, layout design, and the actual emailing in accordance with your address list. Of course, you review and approve each email before it goes out.
- Our standard package includes two strategically designed email campaigns per month and eight social media posts per month.
- We ensure your emails are mobile-friendly and maximized for any smartphone, tablet, or PC screen.
- We offer some of the highest delivery rates in the industry.
- We schedule and implement your social media posts, adding in curated posts from around the web targeted specifically toward your followers.
- We provide comprehensive reporting and analysis on your campaign.
- The cost for full-service Pro+ Email Marketing Service is a fraction of the expense commonly associated with hiring your own email specialist or marketing agency.
What if I decide to create my own campaign?
If you opt to DIY (“do it yourself”), VerticalResponse provides free online resources to help with your email strategy. If you prefer, we also offer campaign consulting services on an a la carte basis.
Some businesses invest in specialized email software that walks them through the creation process. However, an email campaign involves more than just crafting content and graphics. To maximize your campaign, someone on your staff will likely need familiarity with HTML coding, data administration, analysis of performance metrics, and A/B testing.
Your strategy depends on your goals, time, and resources, but here are some general suggestions for proceeding:
- When possible, segment your audiences for an up to 40 percent improvement in open rates.
- Decide what range of content you’ll offer. Study what competitors are doing, then strive for original content that’s hard for your readers to find elsewhere. Consider promotions, tutorials, recommendations, reports on industry trends or research, explanations of company functions, comments on current events, FAQs, profiles of clients or employees, surveys, contests, previews of upcoming events, descriptions/photos of new products, inspiring quotes, blogs, polls, news articles, or humor. Besides copy, you can include anything from photos to illustrations, infographics, or videos.
- Consider starting a monthly newsletter and soliciting audiences for subscriptions.
- Develop a consistent voice, adjusting your level of formality to your readership. In general, readers prefer a likable, conversational tone.
- Think in terms of “sticky” content – useful, fun, or humorous information in bite-sized pieces to capture readers’ attention and keep them coming back for more.
- When appropriate, tie your content into holidays, current events, and pop culture happenings.
- If you lack time or resources to create content yourself, source it from social media, business partners, trusted websites, or companies that produce it for you.
- Include links that send readers to your website, blogs, or YouTube videos.
- Install widgets allowing readers to instantly share your key content on their social media sites.
- Compelling subject lines have a high impact on your open rate. Think fun, punchy, and short. Subject lines should be no more than 50 characters long. When in doubt, subjectline.com scores subject lines for viability.
- Incorporate clear calls to action throughout the email with links or buttons through which readers can “Watch the Video,” “Learn More,” “Get More Info,” etc.
- The human brain processes visuals in about one-tenth of a second, so be sure the imagery you’ve chosen makes sense, is high-quality, and is easy to download. GIFs and videos can be especially powerful.
- Ensure all your content is mobile-friendly, since two-thirds of emails are now read via mobile devices.
- Incorporating an easy-to-find “unsubscribe” link can save you from accusations of spam, add to your credibility, and improve your open and click-through rates by eliminating the uninterested.
- Consider adding email opt-in forms to your social media sites.
Pro+ full-service email marketing
See what the package includes and how the service saves you time, money, and gets you the right results.
© 2016, Tori Tsu. All rights reserved.
The post What Does “Going Pro” Mean for Your Email Marketing? appeared first on Vertical Response Blog.
Editor’s Note: For anyone new to this blog, Adam Lapp has been MarketingExperiments’ head of optimization for around three years. He’s been optimizing web paths for much longer, though – somewhere in the ballpark of 10 years. I’ve personally worked with Adam for five years now, and he has, hands down, the most brilliant optimization mind I’ve ever seen.
So naturally, I was thrilled when he sent me a draft of this post for the blog. It’s been a while since Adam took some time out of his busy schedule to write for our blog, but his posts are full of real-world optimization wisdom that many of our readers have found invaluable in the past.
The casual tone of this post may be a little different from what you might be used to on this blog. That’s because I’ve left Adam’s personal writing style, for the most part, intact. This post is written by a true expert and I wanted it to be as directly from the source as possible.
I hope you enjoy. Here’s Adam…
I remember I once I designed and ran four tests in a row – two product page tests and two homepage tests – for a Fortune 500 industrial supply company, and lost every time. The designs were solid – better navigation, easier to find buttons, improved copy and value proposition – but they all lost.
When I look back at it, these four tests lost because I was trying to optimize webpages.
So, what the heck am I talking about?
Well fortunately and unfortunately, the probability of a prospect converting begins increasing or decreasing long before they get your website.
At the beginning of the customer journey, when they are in the act of shopping, they likely have several tabs open, have a blurry vision in their head of what they want (that may or may not match what’s on your page), and could be anywhere from “super-urgent-peeing-their-pants” to fulfill their needs or just half-heartedly window shopping. At any time, these prospects potentially get a metaphorical puddle splashed on them by a metaphorical car driving down the metaphorical promenade.
The fact is, the problem you are trying to solve does not exist in on the page, it exists in the mind of the customer.
If you are focusing on the page, then you’ve already lost. You have to understand where prospects are in the process, what their values and pains are, and what mental conclusions they need to make prior to saying “yes” and buying.
You have to harness your customers’ motivation before you start changing page elements and writing new copy and putting that new design up on Adobe Target or Optimizely.
So how do you do this? Well let’s say you are staring at your ecommerce product page right now (well not now because you are reading this post) wondering why none of your recent changes have made an impact…
Step #1: Ask some questions to get inside the mind of the customer:
- Who am I optimizing for? Well, most people that come to my professional photography equipment site are small business owners who are concerned about price. I can’t compete with Amazon on that, so why would they buy from me? Well, one reason is that my staff knows everything about every camera and I doubt one out of 10,000 customer service reps at Amazon do. I’ll emphasize that on my product page.
- Where are they in the thought sequence? Well, everyone who lands on my iPhone 6 smartphone page probably knows most of the details already because they’ve been researching for months or have had an iPhone before. So I probably don’t need to use valuable space for phone details but rather why they should buy the phone from my company. Or better yet, maybe I shouldn’t have much content at all and just get out of their way.
- What conclusions do they need to make? So when a customer lands on my in-person corporate training page, they need to first conclude the product matches their need, then trust that my company can deliver the product, then conclude they want me to provide it to them, then know what the cost is, then conclude the value is worth the price, then feel comfortable filling out a form, then fill out the form. Okay, does my page currently help them make all these conclusions and in this order? No, okay, I need to make some changes.
Ultimately, you cannot optimize a webpage … only how your customer experiences a webpage. That’s why I said the act of converting on your site begins with birth. From age zero until now, your prospect has developed a unique way of looking at the world, and thus your webpage and copy. There’s a sequence of thoughts that has brought them to this page, and a sequence of thoughts occurring as they experience the page, that if you ignore, you will achieve minimal impact on conversion.
Step #2: Determine the where your customer is in the thought sequence
Where have they been and what is the next step in their thought sequence?
There are a few key things you can do to determine this:
- Find someone in that customer type. Let’s say you are marketing a website that provides articles, policies, and templates for IT professionals, you would be a fool not to get out of your marketer’s blind spot and your cube, and go over to the IT department at your own company. HINT, it’s usually the office or building with the lights out. Show them what you are working on, ask them questions, and figure out what would make them buy.
- Role play with a group. Let’s say most of your team leans toward the left. But your target audience leans toward the right. Would you send a donkey to sell to an elephant? No. So for an hour, become elephants. Feel their pain, where they are coming from, their values. Have people who participate do some up front preparation to get into character. Have fun with it. But more importantly, come out of that meeting with a new perspective on your target audience.
Step #3: Create a business-sensitive test plan
I’ll cover this in depth in part II of this blog post. Stay tuned next week and I’ll even provide a helpful infographic you can use as a cheat sheet for planning your tests.
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Chipotle employees, tweet your hearts out.
The National Labor Relations Board ruled that Chipotle can’t fire employees for airing their grievances with the company on Twitter or other social networks. More than that, the company can’t prohibit employees from posting about their jobs on social media at all.
Chipotle’s social media policy, which prevented employees from posting disparaging information about the company, violated federal labor laws, the board decided.