In a small suburb of California, researchers went door to door with an absurd request.
They were asking homeowners if a huge ‘Drive Safely’ sign could be erected on their front lawn. As you might expect, almost no one agreed.
But, on one street a strange thing happened – over 70% of people actually agreed. The reason they said yes could be one secret to you getting more sales.
Well, one week earlier the same homeowners had been asked if a small sticker could be placed on their window with the same message. It was such a small request that almost all of them agreed.
When one week later the same person returned and asked about placing the huge sign on their lawn. As it was much harder for the homeowner to reduce the request, the sign went up.
The Principle of Persuasion
In his 1984 ground-breaking book, Influence, psychologist, Robert Cialdini1Learn more about Robert Cialdini’s 6 principles of persuasion. identified 6 principles of how to get someone to say yes (convert them). They are:
- Reciprocity – we want to return a favour
- Scarcity – we buy because it is in short supply
- Authority – we believe trustworthy and credible experts
- Liking – we say yes to people we like
- Consensus – we trust the power of the crowd, and
The Principle of Consistency
The principle of consistency states that we like to be consistent with what we have said or done in the past. Tell people you like Grande, nonfat, Caramel Macchiato, and next time you’re in Starbucks you’re more likely to order it (even if you’d feel better drinking tea).
Consistency also plays a part in marketing and sales.
Your waitress drops by your table to ask how your meal is. With your mouthful, you pause, consider how delicious the burger is a mumble that it’s great. What appears to be simply good customer service is also the principle of consistency in action.
Customers who agree they liked their meal are more likely to order dessert2There are many studies on the impact of a waiter’s behaviour and the number of tips they receive. One study found that if waitresses added a smiley face on a bill it increased tips (but not for waiters) and when waitresses briefly touched the patron’s arm when asking if they’d like to order a drink, tips increased an average of 25%., stay longer, and tip more generously.
The ad agency wants you to think that the new truck displayed in their ads is a perfect fit for a person like you (adventurous, rugged, and the kind of person who would happily hook a chain to a friend’s 4X4 and pull them out of the mud).
A car salesperson wants you to agree that you like the color of the new car in the showroom.
We are responding to our need to be consistent without knowing it. Applying the principle of consistency to your website can motivate visitors who otherwise might visit and leave to stop and take action.
First, you need to deal with a high exit rate.
High Exit Rate
The goal of your website is to showcase your business to prospects and fill your sales funnel. Of course, your website can help build a brand, or offer members access to a membership site, but the primary goal is sales.
Unfortunately, that’s not what’s happening. Most visitors to your site arrive and then leave. Quickly.
Imagine running a store where customers walk in the door, look around, and then leave – within one minute. It would be disastrous! The reality is that one minute is the average time people will stay on your site.
The good news is that a small percentage of those visitors will stay 3, 5 even 10 minutes. Those are your future customers.
The trick for getting short-time visitors to your site to become long-time visitors is to get them to take one small step. That’s where the principle of consistency comes in.
Just like you agreeing with your waitress that you like your meal if you can get a visitor to act in a way consistent with what they believe in you have a good first step.
One Small Step in the Right Direction
A good place to start is with your customers. Start by asking yourself what does your ideal customer already believe about themselves?
Brian Clark’s company Copyblogger invites readers who consider themselves to be “smarter” to join his list and learn more from his company.
Like many software companies, Convertkit invites site visitors to take a free trial of their software. What happens next is a great example getting prospects to take one small step.
Once, you click the button to take the free trial you are asked a simple question: are you starting a new mailing list or moving from a competing product?
Depending on how you answer that question you are asked one more question about your goals and then led to enter your name and email to open a free trial account.
The genius of this step-be-step method is that prospects are being led down a path of consistency—each question naturally follows what you indicated in the last question.
Getting a prospect to say yes to a sale will always be easier if they are acting consistently with their beliefs and the way they have acted in the past. Using the principle of consistency could be the secret weapon for turning your website into a sales funnel and converting more visitors into customers.
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