Cognitive bias can be an incredibly powerful strategy for ecommerce marketing, working with your audience’s unconscious biases that play a role in how purchase decisions are made. These biases can impact the purchasing decision in many ways. They can determine the formulation of beliefs, the way that shoppers behave, how they spend, and even how they rationalise purchases.

Used as part of a well-rounded ecommerce marketing strategy, cognitive bias offers a way to connect to customers on a deeper level, working for both customer acquisition and customer retention.

How to Use Cognitive Bias in Ecommerce Marketing

To use cognitive bias in your ecommerce marketing campaigns, it helps to understand some of the most prevalent biases found in the majority of people. Here are some of the biases that affect purchasing decisions the most.

Confirmation bias

This is one of the most common biases and it can be a challenge. When people are presented with evidence that works against their beliefs, this evidence will often be rejected, while beliefs will be held even more closely. Humans typically have a need to look for information and interpret it in a way that confirms existing beliefs.

Understanding your target audience is key with this type of bias to have a better idea of long-held beliefs that may be in place. A good example is the slow but steady rise of veganism. Although there are more vegans than ever before, there is also a backlash from meat-eaters. Campaigns that use health as a focus rather than anything that could cause a guilt-type reaction would work better than emotive campaigns.

Barnum effect

Named after the American circus entertainer, P.T. Burnum, this bias focuses on the way that people tend to rate descriptions of their personality that seem to apply just to them, when such descriptions are, in reality, general enough to apply to a huge number of people. Horoscopes and personality tests are good examples of this bias.

Creating a personalised experience for your audience is the best way to make use of this bias. Even if you are talking to a wide audience, strategies such as personalisation make customers feel like you are talking just to them. Personalised offers also work well, including those based on past purchases or viewed items.

Hyperbolic discounting

Discounting refers to the way that people tend to prefer instant benefits compared to benefits that require waiting. If customers are presented with two offers that are much the same except that one arrives more quickly, that is the offer that most will take. Offers that arrive later are discounted as being lower value.

To use this bias, make sure that you are able to offer a range of shipping options. Even if they have to pay more, customers will often opt for same-day or next-day delivery wherever it is offered. Limited-time deals can also be used to trigger this bias.

Post-purchase rationalisation

This type of bias applies to the way that people often perceive purchases that they have made as being good value. People always want to feel that they have made the right purchase decision. This means that they will often view the item positively to rationalise their purchase.

To get the most from this bias, make sure that you have a post-purchase strategy in place that makes optimal use of confirmation emails and pages, and have a good customer retention strategy in place, too.

Enhance Your Ecommerce Marketing with Cognitive Biases

Used as part of your broader campaigns, cognitive biases do not have to revert to ‘tricking’ customers. Instead, they simply offer a way to better understand the way your customers think, which, in turn, can greatly help your ecommerce marketing efforts.

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