5 behavioral strategies to test

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5 behavioral strategies to test

SEO and PPC professionals are all in the business of driving more traffic to websites.

But are you getting the most out of the visitors you already have?

This is a critical question. And, often, the answer is “no.” 

A solid search marketing strategy requires a customer experience plan as its core. Even if customer experience isn’t your direct responsibility, it should be on your radar. 

Traffic alone is a vanity metric. What truly matters is how that traffic navigates the marketing funnel and converts into valuable customers.

So, where do you begin with enhancing customer experience? 

The starting point is ensuring that your users land on the right page for their intent. Correctly mapping user intent to the most fitting page is critical. 

This article introduces a variety of behavioral nudges and ideas to help you extract more value from the traffic your website is already attracting.

Understanding conversion rate optimization

Before delving into these behavioral nudges, let’s quickly set the stage for those less familiar with conversion rate optimization (CRO). 

In essence, CRO is a process where hypotheses are crafted to make website changes to boost conversions. These actions are vital to your business, such as sales or engagement with content.

Once a hypothesis is formed, you can use tools like VWO or Zoho’s PageSense to create and test new versions of landing pages. No coding skills are needed.

The tool then serves the current and test versions of the page to a set percentage of the traffic and monitors the results. The test duration depends on your site traffic and how fast the tool can get reliable results.

When the test ends, if your idea works, implement it live. If not, tweak and retest.

Testing this way eliminates gut feelings and biases, letting you confidently report what works for your audience.

The challenge? Figuring out what to test.

5 behavioral nudges to elevate your traffic conversions

Below are five behavioral nudges for testing and driving more conversions from your traffic.

1. Social proof and herding

Social proof is the concept that the actions and beliefs of others influence people. Herding is the tendency of humans to follow what others are doing. 

Think about your website and the customer journey toward a conversion – how could you ensure these nudges are included to entice your user to complete the action?

When it comes to social proof, users are looking for signals of trust from others. 

Brand logos and testimonials are nice, but how can you ensure this feels as robust as possible? 

Well-known third-party integration review tools are great because they are independent and recognized, helping users feel they can trust the review’s authenticity. 

Herding might come to life on your website in the form of live messaging such as: 

  • “20 other people bought this item today” (for ecommerce).
  • “Join the thousands of leaders, who were just like you, that have increased their business profit from our training” (for B2B).

You may already have some of these features on your website, but do they stand out enough? Are they in the right position to influence the user in deciding whether to convert? 

Some of these changes are as simple as wording changes. A CRO test is often simple and limited to one change. If you change too much, it is impossible to know what worked. 

Dig deeper: Unleashing the potential of Google reviews for local SEO

2. Cognitive load

Cognitive load relates to our working memory and the amount of information we can hold at one moment. 

Which areas in the conversion path require the most cognitive load for your user? 

  • On an ecommerce website, this is often the checkout.
  • For other business types, this could be a lengthy form or application that needs to be completed.

Is there an opportunity to chunk the process steps up instead of having one long form, making it multiple simpler steps? 

Can the user save and come back? Saving your progress is especially important in processes where the user needs to find information they might not know off the top of their head. 

On the flip side, does your website process have too many steps? 

We recently tested simplifying a three-step personalization process on a client’s website to a two-step process, and the results were phenomenal, with 100% certainty and a material spike in revenue. 

You may have heard of “cognitive strain,” which differs from cognitive load.

Cognitive strain relates to the person having to decode what they are looking at, like trying to decipher a picture or content, or doing mental arithmetic to assess something. 

Used at the right point in a journey, this type of cognitive action can be extremely powerful. 

When we make people think or, ideally, make them feel something, they are more likely to remember it.

This is true of positive and negative feelings, so for any poor user experience, cognitive strain can create a memory you wish the user to forget.

Dig deeper: How to avoid decision fatigue in SEO

3. Scarcity and FOMO

Scarcity is when something is rare and exclusive, such as only a certain amount of tickets, spaces or products available. 

Fear of missing out (FOMO) is the urgency factor, which is time-sensitive or about to expire. 

These nudges can be used on their own or together. 

Most of us have probably been there, in a queue online, trying to buy tickets for a concert or an event that you know only has limited numbers. 

You’ve probably also experienced FOMO in a moment like this when a friend messages telling you they’ve been successful and you know it is only a matter of time before the event is sold out. 

Now, this is not something we can all replicate in the same way a famous artist or show can. But we can take learnings and think about how we frame our products and or services. 

I recently spotted a well-respected business trainer offering a one-time-only masterclass course with only 10 spaces available – an exclusive opportunity. The scarcity was real, and she sold out within hours. 

The FOMO of a time-limited sale is true, although this is easily eroded when some websites are always on sale!

Testing where your messaging sits to highlight the urgency, showing a live countdown or percentage complete bar.

There are many ways to grab attention; don’t assume you’ve already nailed it. Test it to see what has the best effect. 


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4. Loss aversion

Psychologically, the pain of losing something can be twice as impactful as the pleasure of gaining something. 

If your website offers a free trial, a sample product or some way of getting your product or service into the customer’s hands, they will be less likely to want to let go. 

As humans, our natural instinct is to avoid losing things. This instinct comes from our evolutionary history, where early humans focused on minimizing the risk of extinction. 

This mindset is deeply ingrained in us. So, when we’re concerned that something might go wrong or we might lose money, we tend to avoid or delay dealing with it.

Most businesses have options to avoid losses and the resultant unhappy customers, such as free returns or money-back guarantees. 

Messaging like this can be extremely important to help a user feel confident to decide, so it needs to be prominent. 

Testing different phrasing and positioning on the page to display this information and even additional links to more detailed explanations can be really helpful in building trust.  

5. Anchoring

Anchoring involves presenting a reference point before sharing your brand’s price, timescale or unique information. 

Examples include: 

  • Quoting a competitor’s price and then showing their cheaper price. 
  • Saying “most businesses take 12 weeks to deliver, we deliver in four weeks.” 
  • Highlighting that “other manufacturers use X, we use Y because…” 

When you present an anchor, you control the reference point. Otherwise, customers rely on their own knowledge for comparisons. Their reference point may be assumed or well-researched, making feedback uncertain.

Playing with anchoring is a great tool to drive conversions and can work for B2C and B2B. As a concept, this needs to be true to the brand.

Uncovering your anchors may take time if you are not using them already. But once you have them, this is a copy and design play from a testing perspective. 

Some anchors have transcended brands, such as your mattress should be changed every eight years or engagement rings should cost three months of your salary. 

Could your brand or product have an anchor like this that may help increase pricing? 

Other brands offer 100-day trials or even 365-day returns. Making these numbers stand out will help the customer see the value your brand brings. 

For a charity, the anchor could work in two ways.

  • Firstly, the Starbucks effect of having three suggested donation amounts, the most expensive being the anchor, will likely result in the selected middle amount. 
  • But also testing text to explain what that donation can do for the charity, “$10 will buy…” 

This framing may not always resonate with your audience, so test it.

Turning clicks into conversions with behavioral strategies

We’ve discussed five strategies you can use on your website to see if they boost conversions. 

Making the most of your current website traffic is a great way to get support for your search strategy. 

If you can show that your efforts are working and there’s potential for even better results with SEO or paid search, it’s tough for a budget decision-maker in a growing business to reject the idea. 

Begin testing today, and remember, even small changes can have a big impact.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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