6 Principles of Influence You Could Apply Immediately

There are many factors that influence and persuade us to say yes to the request of others. Researchers have concluded that there is a psychological effect to how we are persuaded.

Dr. Robert Cialdini wrote a book titled Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion back in 1984. Since then, it has been widely recognized as a seminal book on marketing, something everyone interested in conversion optimization should read.

The main highlight of the book is the six principles of influence which are reciprocity, commitment/consistency, social proof, authority, liking, and scarcity.

1- Reciprocity

In many social situations, we feel obligated to pay back what we received from others whether it be a gift or service. Psychology explains this by emphasizing that we humans simply hate feeling indebted to other people.

Researchers argue that people are likelier to say yes to those that they owe. For example, if you water your neighbor's plants while they're on vacation, they may watch your pet while you're away.

You can apply this principle more effectively in marketing by offering something exclusive and personalized to make your clients feel special. Another effective way to apply this principle could be by offering free material on your website (information, templates, ..). Based on the idea of reciprocity, some of the site visitor will feel obligated to pay you back by buying something from your website or subscribing to a service offered.

2- Commitment & Consistency

People like to be consistent with the things they have said or done. The principle argues that we humans have a deep need to be seen as consistent. Psychology explains this by asserting the fact that people have recognized commitment as being in line with their self-image.

We are bombarded with a variety of choices in different aspects of our daily lives. For convenience, we simply choose one and stick with it. For example, in the context of a social obligation, once we have committed to something or someone, then we are more likely to go through and deliver on that commitment. Thus, being consistent with our decision.

"Another example, one recent study reduced missed appointments at health centers by 18% simply by asking the patients, rather than the staff to write down appointment details on the future appointment card."

You can apply this principle more effectively in marketing by earning client loyalty using something they can identify with within the brand whether it be simply a statement or a brand vision. They will then feel an obligation to stay loyal. Also, reward you clients for investing time and staying loyal to your brand.

3- Social Proof

Social proof is a principle that's based on the idea of safety in numbers. People tend to trust products or services that are popular or endorsed by others.

This principle also applies to our daily lives. People tend to do what others are doing. For instance, when we realize that a certain restaurant is popular and is always full of people, we are likelier to try that restaurant ourselves.

Psychology explains this by arguing that we're more influenced when we're unsure of ourselves or if the people we observe seem similar to us.

You can apply this principle more effectively in marketing by getting approval from different sources which include: testimonials from experts, celebrities, and current clients. Make sure to feature the testimonial prominently in your website.

4- Liking

People tend to do business with people they like. Likability is a huge form of influence. Psychology explains this by arguing that there are three factors to this principle. We like people who are similar to us, we like people who pay us compliments, and we like people who cooperate with us towards mutual goals. Liking is also based on something as superficial as how physically attractive a person is.

You can apply this principle more effectively in marketing by focusing on four main factors:

  • "Physical Attractiveness" - make sure your website is well designed.
  • "Similarity" - try to be more approachable and relatable as a brand.
  • "Compliments" - form relationships with your clients by using social media platforms.
  • "Cooperation & Association" - fight for the same causes as your clients and associate your brand with the same values you want to communicate. Make your clients feel they are part of a team.

5- Authority

The majority of the human population is made up of followers. People usually follow the lead of credible knowledgeable experts.

In order to influence or persuade someone, it's important to signal to them what makes you a credible knowledgeable expert. For example, doctors are able to persuade more patients to comply with the recommended treatment and trust their opinions when they display their medical diplomas on the walls of their office.

You can apply this principle more effectively in marketing by paying attention to three factors which can trigger client's compliance in the absence of the genuine substance of authority:

  • Titles - position of power/experience.
  • Clothes - visual cues that signal authority.

6- Scarcity

People are usually drawn to things that are exclusive and hard to come by. Scarcity is defined as "the perception of products seeming to become more attractive when their perceived availability is limited".

You can apply this principle more effectively in marketing by using these methods:

  • Limited number - item is exclusive and will not be back in stock.
  • Limited time - item is only available during that time period.
  • Special - exclusive item that is available during a time period.

These principles are powerful and have been used by businesses and marketers for decades.

However, it is important to note that the most important factor that primarily motivates customers to stay loyal is a great product.

Which principle of influence will you apply first?


By Mariam