Introduction to Psychology in Online Marketing and the Importance of Words

20.10.2017 |

Episode #1 of the course Psychological factors that influence purchase decisions by James Scherer


Even though you only came into the grocery store for milk, you think that leaving with a pack of gum, chips, a carton of Ben & Jerry’s, and a new (50% off!) blender were all rational purchases.

You think that a pair of sunglasses shown on a model isn’t going to make you buy them any more than if they were on a table.

You think that buying the new F-150 makes more sense than buying one from 2014, because new is better.

You think your heart rate doesn’t increase its tempo, making you act more rashly, when you see the color red.

These feelings are called cognitive biases: the belief that the judgments and decisions we make are made objectively, logically, and based on our ability to take in and evaluate the information around us rationally.

These biases result in rash judgments. They result in decisions made without conscious thought, decisions we make because we’re influenced by forces we’re not even aware of.

For marketers, tapping into the cognitive biases of our prospective customers can be hugely impactful on our bottom line.

Without further ado, welcome to “The Psychological Factors That Influence Purchase Decisions”!

This course will take a look at the most impactful psychological factors that affect the buying process.

We’ll examine the power of language, color, sampling, and novelty, ways to trick the mind, and much more in the next nine days.

You’ll leave this course having more than just a better understanding of how psychology affects buying behavior; you’ll have actionable strategies you can implement online today to turn traffic into sales.

This first lesson will start out by giving you an insight into the importance of the words we use in our website copy.

As I’m sure you know, every word in any language has two real meanings: a denotative meaning (the dictionary definition) and a connotative meaning (the feelings or emotions that that word evokes in us).

Digital marketers can use both the denotative meaning and the connotative to encourage a conversion. The right words in the right time and place can create a feeling in your prospective customer—a feeling that might encourage a purchase.

Some of these words, like “Free” or “Exclusive,” are powerful denotatively. And some, like “mother” or “home,” are powerful connotatively.

You’ll have to get creative with fitting those emotionally-charged words into your website copy.

Denotative meaning is just as powerful, though. Here are a few of the most powerful words that affect conversion:

• Pronouns like “You,” “Me,” “Yours,” as in, “Apply for your exclusive discount today!”

• “Save,” as in, “Save 50% When You Buy 2!”

• “New,” as in, “Click to get new research on email marketing.”

• “Proven,” as in, “Proven results from 1,890 happy customers.”

• “Free”—see below.

Several years ago, online address app Sooca tested the sign-up button on their homepage. They introduced the phrase, “It’s free!” to the page element. That’s it—just the words, “It’s free!”

Here’s that test:

The original element, which converted at 14.5%

The variation, which converted at 18.6%

Actionable takeaways for this psychological factor:

• Use the word “free” wherever applicable. Test “Get started free” for your free trial landing page.

• Use pronouns in your call-to-actions and landing page copy. Test “Get your ebook” vs. “Get My Ebook.”

• Tap into connotative associations. For instance, if you’re talking about “protecting your house,” use “protect your home” instead.


Tomorrow, we’ll dive into how to create urgency to drive a sale. One of the biggest reasons people don’t convert on your website isn’t that they don’t need your product or don’t see the value, but because of laziness. The next lesson will show you two proven strategies to combat that laziness and increase the chance of a sale.


Recommended book

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman


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