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48 Motivational Tactics in Conversion Optimization

Posted by Jeremy Smith on Feb 19, 2019 11:21:51 AM

It’s one thing to know about motivation. [Click here for a full scientific analysis.]

It’s quite another thing altogether to actually motivate an actual, living, breathing customer.

And yet it is possible.

I preach long and hard about the importance of the buy cycle, the reality of shopping cart abandonment and the significance of cognitive biases.

But when it comes right down to it, I’m as eager as the next guy to motivate a customer to buy my product, convert on my website, and do what I want them to do. I’m a realist. I’m a conversion rate optimizer. I’m Jeremy Smith. This is what I do.

Someone (who may be smarter than me by a negligible amount) wrote this:

“The motivation of the user is the single most important factor affecting conversion.”

I’ve said similar highly intelligent things, but I think Burstein’s statement nails it with succinct accuracy.

Conversion optimizers do a lot of things — stupid “best practices,” useless button color changes and tons of testing — but they often slide right on by the “single most important factor affecting conversion.”

I pulled together this master list of motivational tactics so you can open it up, pick a tactic and apply it to your website. No, of course I don’t expect you to use all of them. No, not all of them will work on every website. And no, you don’t have to pay me for it.

But here it is — Read and profit.

48 motivational tactics in conversion optimization

1. Write about their pain.

Ah, pain. We hate it, and yet we know that people will do anything to solve their pain. If you can speak to the customer’s pain, they will feel it. And that’s motivation enough to make them do almost anything.

The pain can be overt — like someone’s joint pain. It can also be subtle, psychological, under-the-hood. You can alert people to a pain that they don’t even realize they have. Whatever the case, pain works.

This ad for a theft alarm uses pain language and signals.

motivational tactic #1 - ad using pain as a tactic

And if you’ve got a thing about spiders or termites, this not-so-skillfully-designed website might tip the pain scales in favor of a conversion.

motivational tactic #2 targeting pain to convert users

2. Solve their pain.

It’s unfair to talk about pain unless you talk about a solution, too. The point in bringing up pain is to solve that pain. Not only does the aspect of pain itself work as a motivating factor, but so does a creative and satisfying solution for that pain.

The company Interlogix uses the pain/solution model in their website. Yes, there is the word “threat,” but they also show a reassuring picture of father and son. There’s the solution — and you might want to go ahead and buy their system, hmm?

motivational tactic #3 reduce pain frication landing page

A more explicit pain/solution model is in this ad for Instaflex. The ad uses the word “pain,” but shows the bottle of solution, plus a guy perfecting his golf swing.

motivational tactic #4 reduce frication by targeting relief of pain

3. Charge a higher price than anybody else.

Charge a higher price? Huh? How could this motivate?

Remember, motivation isn’t a one-size-fit-all affair. Motivation that works for some customers won’t work for others. If you raise your price, you’ll successfully fend off a certain swath of customers. At the same time, you’ll tilt your service in favor of others.

I don’t know about you, but I prefer to work for people who can pay high fees.

Although it’s not, technically speaking, a conversion optimization technique, let me use the example of Hillary Clinton. Her speaking fees are astronomical, but she has the ability to command such high figures because of who she is and what she delivers.

motivational tactic #5 charging more as an emotionla tactic

The high price doesn’t put the kibosh on her potential to convert people. It enhances it.

4. Never, ever threaten them.

Customers don’t want threats. They don’t want ugly language. They don’t want pressure.

Provide a risk-free, judgment-free, consequence-free zone where they can feel motivated positively. Threats are off the table.

5. Offer a kick-ass guarantee.

Guarantees win sales. Many people, methodical buyers included, consider everything in a purchase. Your guarantee will be part of that. Make it good — really good.

Here’s an example of a good guarantee:

6. Create a temporary price cut.

Temporary drops in prices can motivate people who love a good deal. The more drastic, sudden or surprising the price cut the better.

Here’s one:

Deadlines motivate people.

7. Put a countdown timer on the page.

Countdowns are an effective strategy for motivating time-conscious shoppers. The simple presence of a clock or digital timer is enough to cause conversion motivation to take place


8. Tell them how much time it will take.

We live in a time-sensitive culture. People want to know “how long will it take?” and “how much time do I have?” Give this information up front, so people don’t have to guess.

Clarity about time is a major advantage to any purchase price.

9. List the benefits in all their glory.

A raw bulleted list of benefits is a great way to motivate. The bullet list is effective, because of the way that it layers benefit over benefit over benefit.

Here’s an example from Zoho:

motivational tactic #9 benefit selling

10. Show pictures of happy people.

Simply seeing someone exhibiting positive emotions is enough to cause others to exhibit the same emotions. When you show smiling, laughing, or happy people, it encourages the positive endorphins to fire, creating a psychological proclivity toward motivation.

Evercoach nails it.

motivational tactic #10 show iamges of happy people

11. Ask them to do something.

People can motivate themselves. With a little push from us, they will do the rest of the motivation themselves. The way to spark this self-motivated approach is by asking the user to complete a task, fill out a form, fulfill an objective or otherwise be active.

When the user overcomes a small challenge, it produces an uptick in their motivation, making them more expectant, more positive and more connected to your brand or product.

12. Offer clear rewards.

This article isn’t the place for me to describe a good loyalty program. I’ve done that in another blog post. What I do want to insist on is the significance of a solid reward structure.

Don’t speak vaguely of rewarding them. Instead, tell them explicitly the rewards they will receive if they convert.

13. Write down their potential reactions, and deal with them.

Some of the best copy to motivate buyers is an objection/response model. It works effectively in long-form landing pages.

Here’s how it works.

  • Think through the customer’s thought process as they consider your product.
  • Anticipate all the responses that may prevent them from buying.
  • Write down both the objection and an answer.

For example, if you think that a long delivery time may be a concern for a customer, you can write something like this:

Why does it take so long?

We’re committed to giving you nothing less than a perfect product. Perfection takes time, but we think it’s worth waiting for. A few days difference is going to pale in comparison to the awesome product that you’ll receive.

14. Tell them exactly what you want them to do.

Deep down inside, people really do want to be told what to do. You’re the marketer. They’re the buyer. Tell them what to do in the clearest and nicest way possible.

There’s no sense in trying to shroud things in mystery. Make your call-to-action explicit and overt.

15. Show them their progress.

Everyone craves a sense of progress in life. This desire for progress extends to something as banal as an online purchase. Progress bars and little encouragements along the way can help to enhance motivation and keep the buyer engaged.

16. Tell them how you can relate to and empathize with them.

People long for others to understand them. When humans sense that they are understood, this reciprocal response heightens their sense of motivation. Give your customers a motivational nod by trying to relate to their position of need, pain, scarcity or discomfort.

17. Assert your exclusivity.

If you offer a great product, you have every right to brag on it. People aren’t going to be motivated by something that sounds sub-par.

Make your product sound really good, and it will boost the motivation and confidence of the buyer.

18. Provide a survey that forces them to admit their interest.

Surveys can be annoying, but in some cases they work as a great motivational tool. When you offer a survey that rates the user’s satisfaction level, structure it in such a way that the survey it tilted with more positive feedback than negative feedback.

19. Show them what others like them are doing or buying.

People are motivated by the actions of their cohort. If you can show that an option is “most popular” or that “15 other customers are considering this deal,” it helps the user feel as if they are doing something in keeping with their peer group.

20. Eliminate the negatives.

Take negative language out of your copy entirely. Although negative motivation is a thing, it is rarely effective in motivating a user to convert.

21. Make your process simple.

I’m a big fan of simple, simple, simple. Simple websites, simple conversion process and simple solutions are the best.

22. Show the brands that trust you.

Trust signals are a form of motivation all their own. If you’ve worked with other brands or buyers, make sure that you feature their logo on your website or somewhere along the conversion process.

23. Set a deadline.

There are all kinds of ways of using this technique. Take a look at this vacation site. One day left on this amazing vacation location? Maybe there is; maybe there isn’t. But if someone wants to buy it, they better do it right away.

motivational tactic #23 create a deadline

24. Offer a free sample or trial.

One method of motivating customers is giving them a free something. In the case of a free sample or trial membership, the motivation level is high.

25. Provide free information.

As a worker in the knowledge industry, I know that knowledge has big appeal. I’m willing to exchange my email address in return for a whitepaper or e-book. This motivational tactic is de rigueur, but no less effective than it’s ever been.

motivational tactic #25 provide free information or resources

26. Provide a bonus product.

Gifts are always in style. If a customer converts, please them with a little extra something. Remember, be explicit about the rewards that you’re giving them. If you plan to throw in a bonus product, tell them about it upfront. It increases the motivation.

27. Give them options.

People like to feel in control of a process. Where possible, give the user options, but make it as simple as possible. Sometimes, the best popups are those that have a clear yes/no proposition. For example, “Yes, I want leads,” or “No, I don’t care about making more money.”

Stuff like this:

motivational tactic #27 give at least two options

28. Feature customer testimonial quotes.

Quotes from customers have major motivational power. Showcase the quotes of happy customers, and you’re likely to turn maybe customers into motivated customers.

29. Feature customer testimonial videos.

Videos work well, too. If you are offering a high-end or consulting product, users are likely to watch these videos and experience their motivational power.

motivational tactic #29 include testimonials

30. Use the right words.

Urgency and time-related words have massive power to convert. The simple use of words like “now” and “quick” can amp up the motivation temperature of a conversion situation.

Please, no angry words. The world has enough anger.

31. Pick the right colors.

Color can motivate, too. Know your audience, and select the colors that are most likely to encourage them to act.

32. Limit your customers or clients.

Saying that you’re going to close the door to clients or customers increases the likelihood that you’ll get some. Be exclusive, and you’ll motivate people.

33. Show stock limitations.

Look at this. What is this?

motivational tactic #33 Show stock limitations

It’s Groupon’s trademark strategy, which is currently making Eric Lefkofsky millions of dollars. What do they do?

They make you think that the good stuff is going to run out. They put scary “sold out” titles beside their products and deals. They want to motivate you, and they’re doing a darn good job of it.

34. Lower your price.

Discounts. They’re everywhere. This technique is so easy to implement that it’s hardly even worth my time to mention it. It’s a time-trusted technique that will make people feel happy about the money that they’re saving, thus motivating them to convert.

Check out what’s going on here. This site uses both a percentage discount approach and a cash discount method:

motivational tactic #34 show discount perecentage

35. Ask for a refundable deposit.

When you get a customer to make a deposit, it forces them to put their money where their mouth is. This buy-in is a powerful motivator, even if you do give it back at the end.

36. Create a sense of competition.

Humans are wired to compete with their fellow humans. Acknowledge this sense of competitiveness, and exploit it in fun and playful ways.

37. Speak to their fears.

Everyone has fears, even fears about the purchase or conversion process. Identify these fears and speak to them. Do so, and you’ll gain motivational cachet.

38. Write kind words.

People respond well to kindness. A customer is more likely to respond in positive ways to a kind approach than an in-your-face approach with abrasive language and harsh tactics.

39. Show your current customers you appreciate them.

Once you have a customer, don’t assume that the motivational game is over. In fact, it’s just beginning. A small initial win does not guarantee a long-haul victory.

You must retain your customers by using the same motivational practices that you used to reel them in in the first place. Motivation is a game that continues after the first conversion.

40. Praise them.

Everyone likes a little praise. Small doses of compliments will help to motivate customers to buy, share or otherwise convert in the way that you desire.

41. Say “please.”

Manners, anyone? Manners are a form of respect, and this serves as a subtle form of motivation, too.

42. Say “thank you.”

If they complete a desired action, you might as well say “thanks.” Kind actions beget kind actions, adding to the motivational force of your conversion process.

43. Use personalization.

In spite of their potential risks, personalized offers, emails and landing pages have proven to be very effective.

44. Tell them that you trust them.

If you trust your customer, tell them that. Trust is the kind of quality that is shared, affirmed and distributed within social networks and online experiences. Give trust, and you’ll get back trust in the form of a motivated and converting customer.

45. Acknowledge what they’ve done.

This innocuous form of compliment is a great motivational tool. When you acknowledge the progress, the skill, the intellect or actions of a user, then you are improving your personal and encouraging motivational qualities.

46. Tell them how they will be perceived by others if they buy.

Expedia makes an attempt at this technique. Here it is in practice:

motivational tactic #46 present them how they will be perceived by others if they buy.

47. Sound excited.

Your tone matters. If you convey an upbeat and excited tone, it creates an upbeat and excited response in your readers. Simple techniques to enhance the excitement of your copy can be a powerful tool for motivating them.

48. Give them money.

People are suckers for money. Everybody wants cash, and they suspend good judgment when it’s waved under their nose.

Why spend money on a cheap gift that people don’t need or want, when you can actually give them the equivalent in cold hard cash?

This is a popular trend for credit card companies, but others have jumped on the cash-giveaway bandwagon. You can give them a pre-charged card or a check.

Here’s a vacation booking company nailing it:

motivational tactic #48 give them back money


This list isn’t exhaustive. It doesn’t even scratch the surface. What it does is introduce you to some of the ways that you can start motivating your customers.

The operative phrase: your customers. Your customers are a unique group. You know them best, and you are in the best position to motivate them. Learn about them, know them, understand them and work to motivate them.


Topics: Conversion Optimization, Motivation, motivational tactics

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