08 Mar 2017 20:09 IST

The psychology behind making a sale online

Technology will keep evolving but it still takes a person to speak to another person

Marketing and advertising have always been about identifying groups of people who will most likely buy your brand. Big data has only accelerated the process of ascertaining these groups, and it does so with great precision.

Yet, it’s going to be psychology that hones the craft of spinning buyer interest into actual sales. Digital marketers can do far better than merely attract consumers to a website. The time taken to decide on making a purchase is shrinking. And to tap this, psychology will be the key. How people behave is not going to change. However, getting the message to them will, given the prevalence of handheld devices.

You have to get to the point with a message and visually tell a story.

Data vs people

With the help of insightful data, marketers know whom to look for. However, in the end, it’s about selling. The number of visitors to a website can be fixed, but sales can increase if the conversion rate goes up.

One way of doing this is to make sure the keywords used in searches appear in your sales pitch on the landing page. Once the customer makes it to the seller’s website, you must ensure that the customer stays on the site. For that, you must craft a message, based on the personality of the group you want to sell to.

Data can be inferred partly by machines, but algorithms can’t imitate an audience. It’s essential to have someone in psychology interpret customer behaviour. People tend to get caught up in the mounds of data and forget that there are people behind those clicks.

Therefore, it will take a mix of analysis and intuition to see the product as a customer would wantto. It is imperative, then, to have an analyst on board to sieve through the numbers, as well as a marketer who can see the product through the eyes of a customer.

Bigger messages on smaller screens

Mobile usage is growing exponentially and will play a big part in the future.

Well, the future arrived on May 15, 2015, when Google logged more searches from mobile devices than from desktops! So how information is presented on smaller screens will matter.

On desktops, key information has to appear on the first screen, before the user scrolls down. On smaller screens, scrolling is inevitable. Web designers are now creating single-screen solutions, ideal for the handheld device as well as the desktop.

The small screen also forces transience — you have a maximum of 10 seconds before consumers decide what to do next. And how information is presented here will make all the difference.

It is imperative to keep in mind that on the internet, people don’t read. They scan. Therefore, videos can substitute text or, if text is used, the headline should be a summary. Creating an article with lots of points and navigation tabs is a no-no.

On mobiles, consumers have a short time between finding out more about and purchasing the product. Hence, you, as the marketer, must deliver right information at the right time, in a simple format. And the shopping experience has to be fast.

Personalisation will go some way towards this goal, but the page has to be so crafted that it reaches a particular individual in a specific target group. Consumers are doing a lot more research themselves. Brands cannot expect much from simply broadcasting their brand names — the slogan isn’t enough any longer.

It was a dark and stormy night…

Brands must tell stories. Mobile use is certainly pushing the use of video, but it must be part of a narrative that leads the consumer to the brand. That means the message has to be on a mobile platform; it must pique the user’s interest enough by getting them to enter information; this must be followed up by delivering the rest of the information about the brand. And all this must be done to get the user to make a purchase.

These are baby steps that can help a brand connect with the audience. Personalisation will help entice an individual of a known target group to enter the sales funnel, but it will take a human to craft a message that will churn out conversion rates. After all, it takes a person to speak to another person.

Technology changes people, but people always want what they want. Human psychology will remain the same. How we put the message in front of them is what makes the difference.