4 ways fear is part of the conversion process

Fear, when coupled with its more jubilant cousin, hope, is one of the reasons anybody gets anything done.

In eCommerce, you don’t really supply that fear – the fear is inherent. People have a task in mind, and visitors are afraid they won’t get the gifts delivered in time for Christmas, afraid they won’t get just the perfect pair of shoes they want, or afraid something is going to spoil the perfect getaway they’ve been planning forever.

But while it isn’t a marketer’s job to supply the fear, it’s absolutely part of the job description to know how present that fear is when selling or offering something. Whether it’s hotel reservations, flights, physical products, or goods and services, that level of fear is something to be cognizant of, to be highlighted or de-emphasized with particular levers. The amount in which fear is emphasized or de-emphasized should never be an accident.

There are 2 Items In Stock

Persuasion expert Robert Cialdini notes that a good strategy in marketing is to honestly tell people what they stand to lose. Scarcity can be a powerful persuasion tool when used in the right context.

By indicating the number of stock items left before the product becomes unavailable, you’re nudging a visitor to make the decision sooner rather than later. You’re essentially nudging people in the price- and feature- comparison phase to decide soon, or risk losing the product. The focus for the visitor becomes loss aversion, and that can help put a product you’re selling in context.

This Offer Expires Today

Psychologist and behavioral model author BJ Fogg has talked about the different types of motivators to get visitors to pull the trigger. His motivation, ability, and trigger model is something we’ve covered in the past, and the key takeaway is that you need to put hot triggers in front of motivated people. To motivate people to act on something, you have anticipation-based tools:

  • Time left: the product on offer is only available for x amount of time
  • This promo expires in: special offers designed to be time-bound

Pain avoidance and fear are powerful motivators. How much you use elements related to fear is something you need to watch closely.

Have This Delivered By Tomorrow

Closely related to purchasing a time-bound item is getting the item delivered on time, especially for instances when the items are likely not directly for your visitor. Displaying shipping time is always important, but more so for items that are likely to be gifts – for those items, delivery time deserves a more prominent role on the page.

Only 3 Aisle Seats Left

Flights and hotel bookings deserve special mention, in that not only do visitors fear losing that Delta flight at 1 pm or that reservation at the Hilton for Saturday, they basically fear that the reservation isn’t exactly the way they want it. The number of aisle seats and window seats, the single, non-smoking rooms that have mostly been booked, they all factor in to the decision.

Those should get featured prominently.

Control the Fear

Visitors already fear something by the time they get to your site. Your job is to be aware of this, and use elements to emphasize or de-emphasize those fears. Fear is pepper on a dish – too much and that’s all you can taste, too little and the dish is unremarkable. Controlling how much you remind them of the fear is critical in getting your eCommerce pages right.