5 Ways to Read Minds (and Sell More) on your eCommerce Website

8 minutes read
Darren - 31.07.2018

An eCommerce website is easy to create but difficult to perfect. That's why we spoke to the experts on human behaviour and came up with five important points for every eCommerce business to consider. 

Martin Lucas (Chief Executive Officer) and Simon Jack (Chief Science Officer) of Mastermindset have created 6 businesses (4 together), published 2 books, received 16 awards and solved problems for hundreds of companies.

The pair uses psychology, science, behavioural economics, emotional intelligence and mathematics to examine what drives behaviours in any given marketplace. They begin with the underlying premise that behaviours are manifestations of how we think and act - demonstrations of prior actions and beliefs. Here's what they told us.


Martin Lucas of Mastermindset

1. Humans are irrational creatures

More often than not, human behaviour defies principles of clear logic. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, although it does make the job of reading your customers mind much more complex.

Renowned psychologist, Sigmund Freud was the first to postulate a model of the mind involving three tiers. Our conscious mind represents the surface level of all our thoughts. This is often described as the tip of the iceberg. It involves our perception of ourselves and the world surrounding us.

Secondly the subconscious mind, which is in constant contact with the conscious mind, involves all the things we may not currently be aware of but can easily pull into our conscious mind when necessary.

It exists just below the level of consciousness and is commonly thought of as ‘the waiting room’. Our unconscious mind, whereas, drives 92% of everything we do and is the primary source of human behaviour. It is a bank of all past experiences and memories.

If the titanic has taught us anything, it is that the most important point of the iceberg is what you cannot see.


Simon Jack of Mastermindset

2. Guesswork ruins experience

It's possible to conclude then that visitors to your eCommerce website don’t make purchases based on rational facts or emotions alone. To truly enter their mind, you need to discover precisely what they’re thinking and the desires they want fulfilling. This can be achieved through carefully thought out questioning techniques:

  • What questions target the conscious mind. They provide us with the least amount of information but are the easiest to answer. As a general rule, we recommend using more ‘what’ questions than any other type of question – we usually have 5.
  • How questions target the subconscious mind. They are a happy medium between ‘what’ and ‘why’ questions. Although they ascertain more data from customers they are slightly harder to answer, which increases the likelihood of customers bouncing.
  • Why questions target the unconscious mind. As such, we should use them very rarely to avoid frustrating customers. If we cause customers to think too much, their mind will wander to things other than your products/services and consequently they are more likely to bounce off your site. Therefore we recommend only using one why question.


3. Customers should be treated like humans

Furthermore, it’s important to remember that customers are people and not just users. By utilising simple customer insights, you can ensure that the content you produce for your eCommerce website meets its goals. Here are our top tips:

  • Influence – customers need to understand who messages are coming from. If a message is too salesy our social media brain will reject it. Personifying your brand can help to avoid this.
  • Clarity and intrigue – the content you produce needs to be clear yet interesting. As we’ve already mentioned, if something is too complex customers are more likely to get distracted and bounce. If you frustrate customers regularly they will start associating this feeling with all of your products which may ultimately result in you losing their custom.
  • Time – the receptiveness of your customers towards your products will differ depending on the type of products you sell and your customer base. Who are your target market and what do they think about at different points of the day? For instance, if you sell cereal, between 6am and 9am when people are commuting to work is the best time for it – most people wont be thinking about cereal in the middle of the afternoon.
  • Message – the language you should be wholly positive. Using ‘if’, ‘but’ and ‘maybe’ casts doubt onto your product. It suggests that you’re not sure and don’t fully believe in your product. If you don’t have confidence in your product you cant expect your customers too.


Black drawn silhouette of man on white backdrop


4. The science of attraction can't be underestimated

Our ego is a fundamental part of our psyche. Although we are irrational, we act to make us feel better about ourselves and feel good as much as possible. Therefore, a successful eCommerce website identifies who we are and who we want to become.

In simple terms, you get what you project – positive content reinforces positive imagery. As a brand, if you are projecting something negative or neutral that doesn’t invoke desire, then it won't speak to customer egos and will consequently be ignored.

The same applies in terms of brand imagery. People know how they want to be perceived so will buy certain brands if they fit into this categorisation. For instance, before it was re-branded, Tesco’s value range had a functional blue, red and white design which was easily identifiable. Customers didn’t like this as it was obvious when they carried around Tesco value products that they were shopping on a budget. Now the value line has been rebranded, the connotations surrounding that brand have also adapted.


5. We are digitally imprinted

The ego implicit in our brain means we are more attracted to people who remind us of ourselves. The same applies to an eCommerce website – our sense of acceptance comes from familiarity and prior experiences. Customers are turned off when their expectations are not upheld. Here are our top tips on living up to expectations:

  • Familiarity – Repetition breeds trust, so the more times customers see something the more likely they are to be influenced by it. A good example of this is influencer marketing – if your customers see all their favourite bloggers writing about your product, it will trigger our primal brain to think ‘if they are using it then it must be good for me too.’ As a result, they may be more likely to purchase.
  • Simplicity – The process of making a purchase should be easy for customers in order to avoid them becoming fatigued. If there are more than three steps involved in the checkout process, customers will be required to think too much, which as we know leaves room for doubt or uncertainty as their minds will begin to wander.
  • Visibility – For any eCommerce website, the phrase ‘out of sight out of mind’ definitely rains true. If your call to actions are not visible or contrasted enough, then it will act like camouflage – the customer won't be able to focus their attention, which makes the process a lot more difficult. Using contrasting accent colours will make calls to action stand out and grab the attention of prospective customers.


Are you looking for expert insight to create your own eCommerce website? We can provide an outsourced head of eCommerce to support your business with every element of research, planning and execution. Get in touch to find out more.


Book a call about outsourcing your head of ecommerce

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