Tag Archives: marketing psychology

A tactical guide to creating emotional connections with your customers

Anxiety. Relief. Pain. Desire. Frustration. We’ve been talking a lot about emotion lately. And for data-driven marketers, it’s easy to…Read blog postabout:A tactical guide to creating emotional connections with your customers

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A tactical guide to creating emotional connections with your customers

9 marketing trends you should track in 2018

“Growth marketing” has become mainstream. Experimentation is revolutionizing organizational culture and breaking down internal silos. Testing is bridging sales, marketing,…Read blog postabout:9 marketing trends you should track in 2018

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9 marketing trends you should track in 2018

Our top 7 blog posts of 2017

Build the most effective personalization strategy: A 4-step roadmap Along with “artificial intelligence”, “personalization” has been a hot topic among…Read blog postabout:Our top 7 blog posts of 2017

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Our top 7 blog posts of 2017

How to use pricing psychology to motivate your shoppers

Black Friday, seasonal sales, and post-holiday blow-outs: Throughout the year, marketers rely on deals and discounts to get rid of…Read blog postabout:How to use pricing psychology to motivate your shoppers

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How to use pricing psychology to motivate your shoppers

How to use pricing psychology to motivate your shoppers: Two test results just in time for the Holidays

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, holiday sales, and post-Christmas blow-outs: We’re in the middle of the biggest buying season of the…Read blog postabout:How to use pricing psychology to motivate your shoppers: Two test results just in time for the Holidays

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How to use pricing psychology to motivate your shoppers: Two test results just in time for the Holidays


A/B testing during the holidays: Risks and rewards

Are you considering running A/B tests this holiday season?

Testing during the holidays may seem like a good idea — after all, the spike in traffic can help complete a test quickly — but it’s important to understand how the results might be skewed.

Consumer behavior is different during the holidays: their sense of urgency is higher, or they may be more concerned with factors like delivery time than with good deals. In addition, any change you’ve made in advertising spend may bring in an audience that isn’t your usual one.

But testing during the holiday season isn’t necessarily a bad idea, either. Holidays are simply one among a long list of external factors that can change your buyers’ moods and behaviors.

Whether you test or not, you can still gain valuable insights from the unique visitor behavior that comes with the holidays.

Here’s what you need to know.

Some businesses are hesitant to test during the holiday season because of the perceived financial risk of sending costly traffic to variations that might underperform, or the operational risk of introducing tests during a seasonal code freeze where little to no change is allowed by website development teams.

But take a closer look. On the financial side, if you’re afraid to run an underperforming variation during this prime time for quick tests, you may be losing more money than you would by running tests.

What tells you that your current page is performing well?

If you’re not testing, you’ll never be able to understand what drives your customers during the holiday season. A possible loss in the short run will generate bigger wins in the long run. The high traffic also provides a good opportunity to get statistically significant results on segments.

As far as operational risk goes, many platforms, including Optimizely, have a visual editor that allows users to create their own variations without touching the code, as long as the changes are simple and don’t change the functionality of the page.

For example, you can remove, resize, add and rearrange content without touching the code. A simple test, such as changing the headline, is easy to do and doesn’t require the development team to drop what it’s doing for a short test.

Option 1: Keep testing and gain urgency insights

You can use the holiday season as your once-a-year opportunity to determine statistically significant winners on multiple tests in a limited timeframe. Try testing your shoppers’ sensitivity to Urgency (one of the six LIFT Model factors.)

Consider what’s important to shoppers at different points in the holiday season, for example:

  • Early season shoppers may be less time-sensitive than last-minute shoppers. The most effective messaging will probably be about finding the right gift.
  • For later season shoppers, the number of products left in stock and when the user can expect the product to arrive may be more relevant. Use stock counts, recent order counts, or offer expedited shipping options and make gift options more prominent.

Once the shopping season is over, repeat your tests to find out if the insights you gained apply to the other holidays (and possibly, although unlikely, all year round). We used this approach to increase donations over the holiday season for the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a non-profit organization.

In IRC’s case, we discovered that when external urgency was added during a disaster donation season, a different page performed better than during a non-urgency period. The organization learned some important principles about the different types of messaging to use during high and low urgency seasons from the landing page tests we conducted. For more details about how the test was run, watch this landing page optimization webinar.

Option 2: Hold off on testing while you conduct qualitative studies

If A/B testing is out of the question for the holiday season, then use this time to learn about your users through different means. Focus on the “Explore” phase of the Infinity Optimization Process, for example.

Infinity Optimization Process (TM)
WiderFunnel’s Infinity Optimization Process™

Try interviewing customers, sales and support people to understand customers’ motives and why they buy from you. Don’t underestimate the value other departments can bring in helping you better know your users.

We recommend you keep testing during the holiday season, but limit your test timeframe to the season itself. Don’t let a test run any longer, or it will skew your results. Remember that the insights you get are specific to holidays and should be treated as such (unless follow-up tests prove otherwise).

If you can’t do any testing during the season, use the time to keep driving for insights, remembering that any results, even negative ones, can give you a clearer picture of what your customers are looking for.

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A/B testing during the holidays: Risks and rewards

The psychological persuasiveness of Aylan Kurdi’s tragic story

The world didn’t make much sense to me as a young boy.

I remember sitting in my grandparents’ backyard on Fraser Street in Vancouver one summer day. I was probably seven or eight years old. Wondering why people were asking others for money to support research for cancer, or kidney disease, or tapeworms, or whatever.

It didn’t make sense.

If a thousand people become ill and die from Disease A and ten thousand are affected by Disease B, shouldn’t the money and effort distribution be based on some sort of a weighted calculation? Shouldn’t Disease B obviously get more research effort?

Why should people be spending all the wasted time and resources creating fundraising campaigns, printing brochures, and canvassing for money?

Stories drive action

“The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic.”
– Joseph Stalin, murderer of 43 million people

Recently, the world has been moved to action during the Syrian crisis, not by the thousands of people driven from their homes, killed, and injured, but by the picture of one three-year-old boy washed up dead on a beach.

Aylan Kurdi’s story is tragic.

His father, Abdullah Kurdi, hoping to find a better life, decided to take his wife and two children on a midnight dinghy ride from Turkey to Greece. The waves overpowered the rubber boat and they were tossed into the sea a mile offshore. Tragically, he had only brought a lifejacket for himself.

Aylan Kurdi had no chance. He didn’t make the decision to leave Turkey that night. He didn’t decide not to have a life jacket. He didn’t have any chance of battling the waves and swimming back to shore. He was a three-year-old boy who should have had someone protecting him.

Yes, it is tragic. If your heart isn’t touched by his story, there’s something wrong with you. But there were many others taking the same trip that night.

Thousands of Syrians and others have been pushing across borders toward the west. Their tragedies and poor situations haven’t motivated you. The stats and photos of the masses haven’t opened the western countries’ doors. It took one photo of a three-year-old.

Why has his story had such an outsized motivational effect on the world? Why didn’t the world act with such vigour before it was published?

A study by Paul Slovic reveals the answer. He shows that “most people are caring and will exert great effort to rescue individual victims whose needy plight comes to their attention. These same good people, however, often become numbly indifferent to the plight of individuals who are ‘one of many’ in a much greater problem.”

As Slovic said in an interview, “the first life lost is very precious, but we don’t react very much to the difference between 88 deaths and 87 deaths. You don’t feel worse about 88 than you do about 87.”

Other studies have further examined how our brains process information about small- and large-scale tragedies. Psychologist Elizabeth Dunn found that while people thought they would feel differently about hearing that 5 people versus 10,000 people had died in a forest fire, they felt just as bad in either case. In a related experiment, Dunn found that visual cues helped people process information about tragedy. When people saw images of the dead, they were better able to understand the scale of how many people were affected.

Slovic found that people are actually more affected by smaller numbers, and are more likely to donate to a cause that affects one person than one that affects many people.

Humans aren’t rational

What does this mean for marketers? Though it may seem crass to use a tragedy as a marketing lesson, and I hesitated even posting this article for that reason, all experiences can be instructive. I am in no way minimizing the tragedy of Aylan’s demise, or commenting on the current Syrian refugee situation. But, what can we learn?

We can be reminded that people are irrational, and they’re driven by stories of individuals. Your prospects will respond to a relatable story much more than to facts and figures about your products.

We’ve found, for example, the long-copy first-person story can be an effective approach for landing page optimization. It appeals to this human bias toward empathy for an individual over the masses, as well as the inherent appeal of stories.

Landing page optimization example

Here’s an A/B test with an example of how stories can move action.

Hypothesis: On a landing page selling colon cleanse programs, we hypothesized that a personal story from an individual would motivate prospective consumers more than factual presentation of the product.

Test: We tested several variations against the control page, including one that focused on an individual’s story. Here are two of them:


(Note: all variations followed the graphic standards of the client’s website and control page at the time of this experiment.)

We found Variation B with the individual story approach lifted sales by 8.6% over Variation A at 95% statistical significance.

Now, there were clearly a lot of variable changed here, which were necessary to create these entirely different approaches. This is what we call a ‘variable cluster’ test where many variables are changed within each variation.

This isn’t the only example of similar findings. In other examples, WiderFunnel has seen conversion rate lifts by adding videos of personal stories from customers and company founders.

  • In one case, for a consumer medical product company, adding a video next to a course signup lifted registrations by 40%.
  • In another example, an experiment variation on a social media landing page that included a video interview of the company’s popular founder lifted e-commerce sales by 15%.
  • An e-commerce landing page had a 13.7% sales lift by adding a collage of pictures pulled from fans’ Facebook pages.

Make your marketing personal to drive results

Do personal stories drive your prospects to act? You should test that! Try adding more personal details and individual stories to your landing pages and sales copy.

Keep reading. Download our white paper, Developing a Successful and Scalable Conversion Optimization Strategy.

About WiderFunnel
WiderFunnel creates profitable ‘A-ha!’ moments for clients. Our team of optimization experts works together with a singular focus: conversion optimization of our client’s customer touchpoints through insightful A/B testing. We don’t just consult and give advice — we test every recommendation to prove its value and gain tested insights. Contact us to learn more.

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The psychological persuasiveness of Aylan Kurdi’s tragic story