Getting Customers to Convert: Weave Fear Into Web Content

25 April, 2011

web copywriting

Most web customers and site visitors are going through the motions with eyes glazed over. Little about the content and copy stands above the crowd. It’s all so vanilla and … nice and positive. Upbeat.

The eternally positive and upbeat web copy may suffice for informational and educational content, but if you’re expecting a customer to actually be moved to some sort of action with that syrup…don’t hold your breath. Please…disturb me. Kick me in the head! Threaten my survival….

For instance, most human beings respond more aggressively to the risk of losing their money, their home, their job vs. saving or gaining the same. Think…conversions, clicks, and sales.

It’s official: as humans we HATE to lose more than gain. Officially, this is called “loss aversion” and you can thank some very well-known behavioral researchers who’ve done the studies to prove Ken and Barbie are more moved to take some action if you can persuade them that they risk losing something if they don’t. Psychologists, Kahneman and Tversky and economist and legal scholar, Thaler and Sunstein, have been widely cited in good books like Nudge, Priceless, and The Art of Choosing.

  • “Research has consistently demonstrated that losses loom far larger in our minds than do gains. We do whatever we can to avoid losing the things that are most important to us…” (Iyengar, The Art of Choosing)
  • “People hate losses (and their Automatic Systems can get pretty emotional about them). Roughly speaking, losing something makes you twice as miserable as gaining the same thing makes you happy.” (Thaler and Sunstein, Nudge)
  • “‘Thinking of loss aversion as fear also implies the possibility that inducing emotions can push around buying and selling prices.'” (Poundstone, Priceless)

Manipulating the fear of loss is an effective strategy for sales copy, calls to action and anywhere the goal is to influence a customer to click.

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