The Principles of Persuasion: How to increase conversion with Cialdini’s Techniques

content marketing, conversion, sales

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On its website, Betfair claims to be the leading online betting exchange in the world. They have a unique system that allows betters to set odds among themselves, removing the need for a bookie to payout the winner. Visual Website Optimizer helped Betfair increase conversion by 7%. They used three principles of persuasion techniques to encourage click-through and registration.

VWO designed three modules that used a unique method of persuasion



Social proof

The team found that Betfair wasn’t harnessing the power of its Facebook page. They also tested other principles for the main landing page to see how they perform against their control.

The hypothesis was right for all variations. However, the social proof variation was the clear winner with a 96% chance to beat the original.

How can you apply the six principles of persuasion in your marketing campaign?


While Dr Caildini wrote The Psychology of Persuasion in 1984, its’ still the authoritative guide for marketers, 34 years later. He explained that humans feel obligated to repay a debt or favour when someone gives us something or does something nice for us.


Think of reciprocity as the hook. You must be prepared to give generously. What are you willing to give to your audience in exchange for their email or money? It could be a free white paper or a discount on a product. In exchange, you get a review. Some brands offer a gift alongside a high-end product.

Some of the top blogs such as Search Engine JournalNeil Patel and Moz blog offer high-quality content worth thousands of dollars. They use content to improve CTR, drive traffic and generate inbound links.

The trick is to determine the action you want your customer to take. Do you want to encourage shares on social media? Download a product or signup for a newsletter? Whatever the goal, it begins with identifying the best offer you’ll give the customer.


Use this technique to persuade your audience to complete action on a landing page or click on an ad. Scarcity is the best way to trigger FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). It originates from the regret you feel when you don’t make a decision in time to get a mouth-watering deal.


People rush to buy a product when it’s marketed as a limited time offer. The fear of loss triggers a feeling of impulsiveness. Scarcity works because losing hurts more than gaining something.

Black Friday sales are hugely popular because of the limited window you have to make a purchase. Many customers buy things they don’t need. Its’ 60% off, flash sales or lightening deals that expire in 10 minutes. Use scarcity to improve CTR and boost conversion. Be careful. Too many limited offers at once and customers might feel overwhelmed.

Consistency and commitment

As humans, we strive to maintain an image that aligns with our personal beliefs. When we commit to an internal goal or idea, we follow through to maintain our image. We feel bound by our commitment.


Ask questions that help the user make the best purchase decision. Let users make their own choices. For instance, if you run a salon, allow customers to book appointments independently. It makes them more likely to show up.

Many companies entice users with a one-month free trial. Display multiple options and ask them to choose a pricing plan that fits their needs. They’ll feel compelled to follow up.

Live chat functionality is direct communication between the brand and the customer. Engage your audience in conversations. Encourage word of mouth recommendations from peers and celebrities.

People trust people. Find common ground with your customers. They like people who are similar or share a common interest with them.

Build customer personas and create content based on your personas. It’s the best way to engage your customer’s interest.  You show your audience how your brand and its product alleviates their pain point.

Social proof

If other people are doing it, it must be good. The new Betfair landing page has a social proof that reads “121,558 likes we’re confident you’ll like our offers.” In the psychology of persuasion, this conversion booster works like a charm.

Cialdini believed people like to do what they see others doing. If you notice a bookstore filled with customers, you’re more likely to give it a try. You watched others the first time you walk into the laundromat. You observed what they did and imitated them. Same as in the supermarket when you walk to the checkout counter alongside everyone else.


Social proof is most powerful when it’s people you respect or those who have the same pain points as you. For instance, your friends on LinkedIn or Facebook liking a brand such as Nike. Showing a high number of likes (similar to Betfair) is a positive social proof that people enjoy your offering.

Reviews and testimonials are two of the most powerful social proof. E-commerce websites display positive reviews under a product as proof that it works. B2B businesses also use customer reviews to encourage trust and increase conversion.

Highlight one powerful story with a case study. Small and large brands alike use case studies to offer an in-depth analysis of how the brand helped a customer.

If you were mentioned in an authority website such as Entrepreneur, Huffington Post or Forbes, display brand logos as social proof.


You walk into a law firm and ask to see a lawyer. Who do you want, an associate or a junior partner? If it’s a hospital, would you gravitate towards a nurse or a doctor?

People naturally listen and obey authority figures. If Barrack Obama walked into a room, everyone would drop what they were doing. Uniforms such as the army and police or job titles like Dr. or Professor infuses an air of authority that makes you accept what they say.


If you’re selling toothpaste, get a dentist to endorse it. Selling a slim tea or a fitness product? Hire a celebrity who lost weight to endorse your product.

Reference research conducted by top scientists related to your product or service. If you’ve won any company awards or received nominations, display them on your website. Same applies to professional membership or industry accreditation.

Increase your authority through association by speaking at key industry events. This is one of the hardest principles of persuasion to implement but the rewards are bountiful.


You’re more likely to be persuaded or comply with a request if you like the person. There’s a greater chance of customers buying products and services from brands they like.

When a friend invites you to a charity event or yard sale, you feel obligated to make a purchase regardless of the product. You’re doing it for your personal relationship with your friend.

People trust recommendations from peers and celebrities. That’s why influencer marketing works so well to promote a product or service.


Find common grounds with your customers and prospects to influence their purchase decision. Improve your website’s About Us page. Use it to connect with your audience on a personal level.

Similarity is the key to building blocks of likeness. Humanise your executives and staff. Are you a dog or a cat person? What motivated you to set up your business? Which hobbies do you enjoy? If your brand is likeable, you’ll increase conversion.

Determine what your audience loves. What tone of copy are they receptive to? Conduct surveys and read comments on social media pages where they hang out. For a good first impression, it’s important that you sound human and approachable to your audience.


Cialdini’s principles will help you connect with your customers on a personal and emotional level. Review your landing pages, video content and pillar pages to see what you can improve. When applied properly, the principles of persuasion increases brand awareness, loyalty and conversion.

Are you using the principles of persuasion?  Which of the principles do you need help with?

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