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How to Use Psychology to Create Landing Pages that Convert

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How are you currently optimizing your landing pages for conversions?

Maybe you’ve run some A/B tests, or used industry best practices, or maybe even a little bit of both… but have you ever thought of dusting off that old psychology textbook from freshman year of college? After all, understanding how people think can also help you understand why people convert. While A/B tests and best practices shows you what will convert, psychology will show you why.

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Below are a few psychology principles that you can use to create landing pages that convert:

1. The ‘Halo Effect’

What is it?

The Halo Effect is a cognitive bias in which you make specific inferences about something based on a single trait or general impression.

An example that is often used for this psychology principle is that we tend to make judgments about people’s personality based on their physical appearance. In other words, even though we’ve always been told not to judge a book by its cover – we still do without even thinking about it!

How can I apply this principle to my landing page?

One way is to invest in design. Your product matters and your copy matters – but nothing is going to stick out to people more than design when first reaching your landing page… and that might make all the difference! Web users judge sites in just 50 milliseconds, making inferences about your product and company in the blink of an eye, so you need to be putting your best foot forward with a well-designed landing page.

Want more proof that design matters? In a study by psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Sillence, participants were asked to review health websites and then rate whether they trusted or distrusted the website. The study found that 94% of respondents that distrusted a website attributed their uneasiness to the website’s design.

With tools like Unbounce and LeadPages that make it easy to create modern and professional landing pages, there is no excuse to have anything less than a stellar design.

2. Choice Overload (or the Paradox of Choice)

What is it?

The Paradox of Choice is a book by psychologist Barry Schwartz in which he explains why giving people more choices can paralyze their decision-making ability.

This mental process is also called Choice Overload and is best shown by the famous jam experiment conducted by psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper. The study, which observed the behavior of 754 shoppers in a grocery store, found that presenting people with six options resulted in ten times more sales than if they were presented with 24 options.

How can I apply this principle to my landing page?

Trials, and demos, and whitepapers oh my! You may want to give people that are coming to your landing pages everything and anything you have to offer but this could actually harm rather than help your efforts. Giving people too many choices to convert on makes them more likely to end up abandoning your landing page.

How many choices should you give your prospects? The magic number depends on your goals and the type of choice you’re offering. Here at Capterra, we’ve seen that having just one call-to-action works best for landing page conversions – and a test run by behave.org reached the same conclusion.

3. Social Proof

What is it?

Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where we use the actions of others in an attempt to reflect the right behavior for a situation.

One of the earliest experiments that studied the concept of social proof was conducted in 1935 by social psychologist Muzafer Sherif. In this study, he put participants into a darkroom and showed them a dot of light several feet away. The dot was not moving but due to the autokinetic effect, it appeared to move to individuals by different degrees.

When asked individually and then in groups how much the dot moved, individuals deferred to the group estimate – even when it was different from their original estimate! With this result, Sherif demonstrated that the participants were effectively relying on each other to define a group-informed ‘reality’.

How can I apply this principle to my landing page?

Incorporating customer reviews onto your landing page is one of the best ways to leverage social proof. According to a survey by BrightLocal, 88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations and 72% of consumers say positive reviews make them trust businesses more, so including reviews on your page has to be a top priority.

People want to be sure that they are making the right decision when they are buying a product or even filling out a form, and as we have learned, they will use the decisions of others to figure out what that “right decision” is. By including customer reviews, you will ease your prospect’s anxiety and reassure them that they are making the right choice by converting on your page.

“Consumers see advertising and immediately become skeptical of what the merchant claims about the product. Social proof helps break down the skepticism.  The fact that the product performed as claimed for other consumers similar to themselves makes the merchant’s claims more believable” -Tyler Ellison, Conversion Fanatics.

Think about it – would you prefer eating at a restaurant that has zero Yelp reviews and that none of your friends have heard of, or a restaurant that has been reviewed by many and that your friends also love? If you prefer the latter, you are like most people.

4. Cognitive Fluency

What is it?

Cognitive fluency is about how easy something is to process, and studies have shown that people prefer to think about things that are easy to process. You’re probably thinking “Duh!”… But did you know that people also assume that things that are easy to think about are more trustworthy?

In one study, researchers asked people to view unfamiliar statements in either light-colored print or darker-colored print. Because the print-to-background contrast was better with the darker print, resulting in better readability, people tended to rate those statements as more truthful.

How can I apply this principle to my landing page?

Make it as easy as possible for people to digest the information you are presenting to them and don’t make it too hard for them to comprehend. Some ways you can do this are:

  • Use large font sizes
  • Keep language simple
  • Use icons and bullet points
  • Break up large chunks of text
  • Use white space

Landing on your page should be a pleasant and easy experience for people. It shouldn’t feel like a puzzle they have to solve!

Conclusion

Incorporate the psychology of landing pages into your optimization strategy. At the end of the day you are creating these pages for people just like you and me, and understanding the way us real people think can ensure you’re creating a landing page that will make people actually want to convert.

Do you know of any other psychology principles that can help you create landing pages that convert? Share them in the comments below!

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About the Author

Maria Lopez

Maria Carolina Lopez is a Marketing Services Associate at Capterra. When she’s not building landing pages for software vendors she can be found traveling home to Colombia or eating Nutella straight out of the jar.

Comments

That’s a really good article on psychology based marketing. One of the best aimed ways to get good leads

Use of psychology for generating better leads is really helpful in getting the most specific target prospects to the business.

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