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How authority can improve your online marketing strategy

How authority can improve your online marketing strategy

You’re watching a movie and a Colgate commercial is shown during the break. “Stronger and whiter teeth, a fresh breath and healthier gum. Switch now to Colgate, the number one toothpaste recommended by dental professionals”, as told by a smiling dentist. But is this really a dentist? He is wearing a white coat, so he must be. Do you believe him? There’s a big chance you do. In the end, he looks like the professional that knows everything about a healthy looking smile. Following the lead of an expert is called authority, another of Cialdini’s persuasion principles. Authority can be a powerful tool for both offline and online marketing. In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know and give you some tools how to use it yourself. Keep reading if you want to learn how to show off your expertise!

Judge a book by its cover

The most important fact about authority is that it’s mainly based on perception. We are visual creatures. To show off authority, you will need to convince others you have the right knowledge. If you are able to do this and people believe you are trustworthy, you are able to influence their behaviour. You doubtless have heard of this master in authority: Dr Phil. Yes, he is a doctor. Hence why he is showing off his title. Yet he is not licensed as a psychologist, even though he has helped thousands of people in his show. Dailymail even calls him a tv shrink. Dr Phil convinces his fans with his title, nice suit and trustworthy attitude. Is he licensed in what he does? People don’t seem to care. Dr Phil gets away with pretending to be a psychologist, when in fact he is not. He is the perfect example that we value visual aspects more than facts. Be careful though, we don’t want you to misuse authority! Always remember to be an expert. Otherwise, it will backfire and result in negative outcomes.
Visual webdesign to improve authority
The right visual design will leave a good first impression

First impressions are the most lasting

Now you know that visual appearance is important, it will not be a surprise to you that your website should visually stimulate your customer. This happens within an eyeblink: we can assess the visual appeal of a website within 0.05 seconds! It is important to give your online shopper a positive, first impression within this timeframe. You can lose a customer by just one mouse-click. If you do it right, the visual aspect of a website can even be so strong, that it draws away the attention from usability problems. This shows that the first impression is a very important one. Consequently, this first impression will leave a mark about how much customers enjoy your website and products. This will have an impact (positive or negative, depending on the impression) on the chance they will pay for their online basket.

Be an expert

Do you have a product that you support completely and know everything about? Are you able to share your knowledge about this product with others? Good! You are ready to become an authority on your product. We especially want to make you realise it’s important to not just be an advertiser. You must be an expert. The more specific your area of expertise, the better this will show off to your customers. Let us explain this through the idea of Stephen Covey who created two circles: one of concern and one of influence. As their names suggest, the bigger Circle of Concern holds everything you are involved with. The Circle of Influence lays inside the Circle of Concern and holds everything you can have an influence on. Which one should you focus on?
Improve authority with the circle of influence
Put your energy in the circle of Influence and be proactive
If you put too much energy in the Circle of Concern, you focus on stuff you can’t influence. In return, this will lead to frustration, anger and disappointment. As a consequence, your Circle of Influence will shrink, meaning the impact of your influence will become less and less. If you put your energy in the Circle of Influence, you are being proactive. You will see improvement, get satisfaction and energy. Your Circle of Influence will grow and the influence you have will be more effective. In conclusion, if we can give you one advice: it is to stay within your Circle of Influence. Focus on the stuff you know, so your influence will increase. Eventually, this will show off to your customers, leading to more trust and increased conversion.

How to use authority

You already know that authority is one of Cialdini’s persuasion principles. We previously showed you how to use social proof and scarcity for business improvement. We will now further explain three examples mentioned by Cialdini to show you how to put authority into practice:
  1. Use of titles; Such as Founder, CEO or PhD assuming there’s a high level of expertise and knowledge and you know whom you’re talking to. Example: Apple launched their Genius Bar, where you can speak with an Apple expert to get immediate support;
  2. Use the right visual design; Wearing a suit, uniform or other forms of clothes are ways that express authority. Think about the dentist in the white coat. For eCommerce, the suit or uniform of your website is its visual design. Therefore, make sure that the layout, images, typography and colour match its purpose. Example: adding an About Page including a photo to your website. Research shows that a photo results in more trustworthiness;
Original Beans about page
The about page of Original Beans
  1. Use of trappings or accessories that add authority; In the offline world, a powerful trapping can be a badge for a policeman. This badge, therefore, makes people respect the person in a suit more. For your website, you can add a badge in the form of social media or a case study. Example: Airbnb added a community centre to their website where customers can discuss problems and ask questions.
These tools are examples of how you can show your expertise to your customers. Remember you have to back up the expertise claim if you want it to be long term. If you can’t meet your customer’s expectations, your so-called expertise can backfire and result in disappointment. However, when putting your focus on the right areas where your knowledge is already present, your work will pay off! See your conversion increase if showing off the right expertise. Do you think you are able to show off your expertise, but you’re not completely sure how? At Neurofied we can help you with finding the most suitable solution. Contact us so we can discuss the options!
Follow the leader - Photo by Pablo Heimplatz

The power of social proof for your online marketing strategy

A Dutch saying goes “als een schaap over de dam is volgt de rest” (meaning if one sheep gets over the dam, the rest follows). We are probably not as dumb as sheep (although they are more intelligent than you think) but as humans, we also show a certain way of herd behaviour. Especially in ambiguous and social situations, we tend to follow the actions and thoughts of the majority of the group. This ‘sheepish-behaviour’ of ours is what Cialdini calls social proof. Social proof is driven by the thought that the surrounding people know more about a given situation than you do. We determine appropriate behaviour for ourselves by examining others. Are you not convinced? Keep reading, we will give you some examples!

Likes, pins and tweets

No matter how independent you think you are, everyone is conditioned by the people around us. Social proof exists in different forms and shapes and mostly without us noticing. A very simple example is the internet. Likes (Facebook, Instagram), tweets (Twitter) and pins (Pinterest) are all forms of social proof because they show us in what degree the world around us thinks a photo or thought is cool, good or funny. In return, this will affect how we perceive this online feed. If you want to go out for dinner, it is an idea to look at reviews of that Italian around the corner. Are the reviews not too good? Maybe look a bit further, people that have been there already probably now better than you. iTunes uses social proof in the form of recommendations: when you’re listening to an album, related music will be displayed simultaneously. If you’re interested in buying Adele’s album, but suddenly see that others also listen to Amy Winehouse, you might think twice about which one to buy. The choice of others – apart from the fact that this might just be a marketing strategy for iTunes – has a major impact on your own.
Even Apple uses social proof in iTunes
Even Apple uses social proof in iTunes

A social boost for your product

Test social proof with gaze follow
Gaze follow; try it yourself by looking at the sky
If you think about it, the force of social proof is pretty amazing. One easy experiment everyone can do is called gaze follow. Try it yourself by randomly looking at the sky: even though there is nothing to see, other people around you will also start looking. We show this behaviour because of curiosity and the thought that there must be something worth looking at. Why otherwise would this person look at the sky? Because social proof is so powerful in both online and offline environments, companies use it frequently in their marketing strategies. What can you do to give your online platform a social boost? We will give a few creative tips and tricks, depending on your product:
  1. Reviews;
  2. Celebrity endorsement;
  3. Existing clients;
  4. Bestsellers.

Show reviews with a helpful/not helpful grading system

Netflix created a review platform where watchers can choose if a movie review is ‘helpful or ‘not helpful’. Helpful reviews will eventually appear at the top and not helpful reviews will disappear to the bottom. This creates a better and more valuable overview.

Use celebrity endorsement when showing your product

George Clooney drinking his Nespresso, Michael Jordan wearing his Nike shoes and Kate Moss putting on her Rimmel lipstick. Adding a familiar face to your page can have tremendous effects on your sales. We want to do what others do, but if George does it, we want to do it even more!

Show your existing clients by displaying their logos in a fun way

Create your own infinite client logo carousel that displays your satisfied customers in a fresh, modern way. It’s also possible to let a specific client (e.g. a CEO) write a little review with their picture, to make it more personal.

Add a best sellers page when showing favourite choices

Amazon has a Best Seller Book page, showing books that are already a favourite choice. This page will make them even more popular, resulting in a positive spiral of sales that feeds itself.

Choose wisely

Adding these strategies to your website or online store will not be the most difficult thing to do. Combined with scarcity this can really improve your revenue. The difficulty is to choose the right one, so it really gives that boost and it does not backfire. Displaying the number of followers when this number is 5 can have a negative consequence. Think about it: why would you follow this page, if there’s a comparable one with 5000 followers?. A Youtube video with 100.000 views is way more impressive than one with 10 views. If you run a restaurant, a few negative reviews can literally kill your online business page. Choose your strategy wisely and experiment with different varieties to see which one is most effective for your context. Curious how you can increase online sales with social proof and other psychological principles? Get in touch and we’ll figure out what’s best for you!
Scarcity: only one left

How scarcity and urgency improve your sales

If you like to go on holiday, you probably have used Booking.com at least once in your life. During my travels, I used their app almost every day, in order to find myself a bed again for the night. How relaxing travelling may be, Booking.com always succeeded in making me nervous with their “hurry! We only have 1 room left” note, resulting in a pretty fast decision of booking a room urgency. This is a classic example of The Scarcity Principle: people attach more value to things that are fewer in quantity.

A golden persuasion principle

Marketing means persuasion where you build on a customer’s impulsive behaviour that eventually, or hopefully, leads to a sale. As we do here at Neurofied, psychology can be a useful tool to understand and influence this behaviour. In his book ‘Influence’, marketing expert Robert Cialdini views Scarcity as one of the six golden persuasion principles. He says that Scarcity and Urgency combined are a success formula for increasing online sales. From a neuromarketing perspective, this means that certain words, layouts and colours have an influence on decision making that largely happens unconsciously in our brain.

The online salesman

Can I help you? - Photo by Naomi Hébert
Can I help you?
Before the digital world made its entrance, a salesman in a shop was the one to persuade a customer of buying a new kitchen. Communication between and the emotional state of the customer are important factors that determine the success of a sale. We can apply this oldschool information to the nowadays online sales world where not a person, but a webshop is selling a product. For a website, this can mean that the first page the customer sees presents the initial message and leads to more curiosity to further explore the website. In addition, the use of certain words or images —priming— can lead to certain emotional responses like familiarity or empathy.

How to use scarcity

Putting all this information together, there are quite some tricks that combine scarcity, communication and emotions in order to make your online sales rise. We will mention a few to give an impression of how to use this type of neuromarketing.
  • stock scarcity: displaying how much stock is left for a certain product, in the form of ‘only X numbers left!’. This will increase the chance a customer will buy the product and speeds up the whole buying process.
  • seeing other buyers: displaying how many other people are looking at the product. Booking.com is again a good example of this and replicates the real-life situation where two people grab the same item in a store at the same time. If others are also interested in an item, it becomes more valuable to us.
  • fear of missing out: also known as FOMO, which is the anticipated regret of not being able to seize an opportunity. A good example is a limited-time discount, which pushes customers in the direction of buying the article during this period.
The list of how to influence your online customers is even longer and you don’t have to be a marketer to benefit from neuromarketing. For instance, think about using social proof in your marketing. But with this article, we want to give you a short introduction in how this works and how to put it in practice. The power of applied neuromarketing can be enormous if you know how to apply it, and apply neuromarketing ethically.