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Conversion Rate Optimization with Cialdini’s 6 Principles of Persuasion

Posted on Aug 25, 2022

Dr. Cialdini was one of the most admired authors back in 1984 and even today after three decades for his contribution towards marketing through his book of influence; The psychology of persuasion. The key principles discussed in the book are,

  1. Reciprocity
  2. Commitment & consistency
  3. Social proof
  4. Authority
  5. Liking
  6. Scarcity

Six principles of persuasion are proven to be absolutely successful in the internet marketing scenario today for conversion rate optimization (CRO). If we think about it, connecting the dots is quite easy. After all, converting a visitor into a potential customer is all about persuasion. Every wee bit of persuasion works a great deal towards boosted conversions. Having a clear understanding on how Cialdini’s principles of persuasion can be molded to influence consumer behavior is the key for Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). And here’s how you do it!

#1 Reciprocity – We return the favor!

Reciprocity discusses the human tendency of repaying or returning a favor for good deeds someone has offered us. We do so as it’s what is accepted by our norm system in social behavior. Think about it! We generally say ‘yes’ to people whom we are obliged to return a favor. To use this principle for Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) and as to amplify the result, you should,

  • Offer your target audience something unique for free to make them feel special
  • Make sure to let them know that it’s from you

Spotify premium

Spotify offers premium membership for any music lover absolutely free for a month with every exclusive feature. Moreover, you can cancel the membership at any time at zero cost. As a result, the majority of visitors absolutely love the site and they find it very hard to cancel the subscription when the free trial ends, instead they proceed with the payment.

#2 Commitment & consistency – We are consistent on our commitments!

According to Dr. Cialdini, Commitment and consistency go hand in hand on persuasion in the perspective of psychology. Think about it! Once something is publicly committed by us, most of us work on sticking to our commitment to maintain the self-image. All you have to do is pull a few tricks (We don’t mean it in a nasty way) to make your visitors commit to something small in your site; preferably something that they can obtain for free. Once they feel that they are committed towards you, it is easier to target them with the paid products or services.


Casper is a brand of award winning sleep products including mattresses. Getting a site visitor to invest on something really expensive such as a high quality mattress is absolutely not easy. Casper took the complete advantage of the commitment principle of persuasion by giving their visitors a free trial of 100 days to use their mattresses with transparent description of the returning policy which was beyond cool for many visitors. And the majority of the visitors who committed for the free trial were reported to purchase the product subsequently by being consistent of their commitment.

#3 Social Proof - It is safe to do what the majority does!

As per the Cialdini’s definition on social proof, most of us happen to accept what the majority does to be the right thing to do. Think about it! If your colleagues work late on every Friday, it’s highly likely that you too do the same. When applied to digital marketing, the result of Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) will be amplified, if a visitor is not quite sure about his/her decision and he/she acknowledges other visitors’ behaviors. That’s why reviews and success stories are taken seriously in digital marketing.


IMDb maintains a review directory in their website where the users can post reviews on the movies which works great for the newcomers to get the opinion from a vast spectrum of other users on a particular movie. As a result, the site is very much famous as a top movie review site with 250 million new visitors monthly.

#4 Authority - We trust the experts!

Most of the people have a tendency to trust the opinions of the authority figures as we believe they possess more knowledge in their field of interest than we do. Think about it! If we happen to come across a doctor endorsing a protein shake on a website, the majority of us will choose the product from that particular site without giving much thought. That’s the power of Authority in social psychology towards Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).

ShoeDazzle and Kim Kardashian

ShoeDazzle, being one of the specialized businesses in women’s shoes, takes a great advantage of the principle of authority by bringing in Kim Kadashian as the core founder even though there were other two founders originally. The reason behind their decision was to attract more conversions as many young women are inspired by Kim as an authority figure of fashion styles. The buzz generated by Kim helped the business a great many deals in Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).

#5 Liking – We are influenced by the people we like

According to Dr. Cialdini, liking is all about us listening to the people with the similar interests or superficial interests and it indeed works great towards Conversion Rate optimization (CRO) when applied wisely.

Think about your favorite influencer on instagram. How many products can you recall which are endorsed by that personality and how many products you use just because he/she endorses them? Liking principle and influencer endorsement go hand in hand in digital marketing.

Kylie Jenner and Puma shoes

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Kylie Jenner is a celebrity followed by a vast audience of women all over the world and they indeed admire her sense of fashion and choices in life. Puma uses her as a key model for their women's shoes range and whoever is inspired by Kylie in need of buying a pair of sneakers won’t have much trouble selecting the Puma brand.

#6 Scarcity – If it’s running out of stock, I want it right now!

Principle of scarcity discusses how products are deemed to be more attractive when they are limited in availability. There's a high tendency for us to buy something which is limited in stock or an offer that is about to expire. The reason is we really hate to miss the opportunity and the countdown of time displayed next to such products definitely act as strong motivators. However, using fake scarcity will be seen through by your customers and if you really worry about Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), you wouldn’t dare to embed fake scarcity.

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