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Laws of Persuasion for Online Marketing

This is a little longer post, so bear with me

Persuasion is the art and ability of influencing a person’s thoughts through some specific methods and strategies. Psychologist Robert Cialdini has written a book called Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. It’s a really a great book, which tells you how you can use the laws of persuasion to convert your prospects into actual sales. This is one of the best books I recommend for anybody on online marketing and sales.

Even though some people may not believe it, but it is true that human nature and behavior is quite predictable for some specific actions. For example, if you show them some specific type of advertisement, the viewers will respond in a predictable fashion. This is why the advertising companies are making so much money. By understanding how these laws of persuasion works, you can help doing better marketing and making better sales online.

Laws of Persuasion

There are 6 laws of persuasion.

In short:

  1. Law of Reciprocity
  2. Law of Commitment and Consistency
  3. Law of Liking
  4. Law of Scarcity
  5. Law of Authority
  6. Law of Social Proof

Now we will discuss all these laws in detail. These are called laws because they work on predictable human behavior.

Law of Reciprocity

It is in human nature to reciprocate any favor given to them. If someone gives you something which you wanted (or actually, you don’t want, but
you think that you wanted), you will feel obliged and would try to reciprocate giving something in return.

So, if you are selling something on your website and offering a free sample of it, people feel obliged and would like to return your favor by buying a product from your website. So this law of reciprocity can help you convert better on your website if you are offering something free or doing some sort of favor to your visitors.

Law of Commitment and Consistency

Law of commitment and consistency states that people try to be consistent in their thoughts and actions. Once they have taken a stand on something,
they will try to stick to it and it would be difficult for them to move from that stand. A simple example can be seen in a simple argument between
two people. The person giving wrong arguments sometimes realize that he is wrong, but still he will keep his stand on that side only. Similarly, if you
have made a commitment to some cause, it is easier to convince to increase it. This is why offline sales persons try to get “yes” out of your
mind. It makes your mindset into yes. So after committing yourself to “yes”, you will try to be consistent and will not say “no” to the product
offering by sales person.

This law of commitment and consistency can also be used for online affiliate sales by asking some positive questions on your website for which the customer says “yes” in his mind many times. And then offering your product with positive mindset. For Example:
- Do you really want to help yourself?
- Are you committed to help yourself?
- Do you want to improve your quality of life?
Then download this ebook of ours and achieve all this.

Law of Liking

Law of liking states that if you like someone, you will be more inclined to please them by doing a favor or buying a product. Offline example of law of liking is “good Cop, Bad Cop”, where person starts thinking that good cop is on his side.

The law of liking can be used in affiliate marketing by making your visitor comfortable on your website and making him liking you. So if your visitor think that you are like him and he likes you, there are more chances of him converting into sales.

Example: Let say you are selling a ebook about “Finding Teacher’s Job”. You can use the law of liking by giving statements like “There was a time when I was also searching for a good teacher’s job and wasted lots of my time going places and doing the search. I wrote this book for my type of people who are search for such jobs and don’t want to waste much of their time”. By stating this, you convince the visitor that you are/were like him
and he starts liking you (we like people more who are like us).

Law of Scarcity

We like to get things which are scarce. For example, lets say there is a product which you may not want to buy right now, but the moment in becomes “last one left”, you starts thinking of buying it.

I see the examples of this law being used on forums a lot where people sell some sort of ebooks. They keep the price to $99 and sell “just 5 copies at $10″ (which is actually the price on which the person wants to sell. But people gets into the law of scarcity and think that this $10 price is scarce and buy it.

So if you are selling a product and mark it as “limited number of copies will be sold” and states that only “last few left”, there are more chances of completed sales. You can later always increase the “number of copies”.

Law of Authority

Law of authority states that, we try to follow what the authorities do. We think that this is good enough for them; it should be good enough for me as well.

Offline examples of this can be seen on “Celebrity Endorsements”. Online examples of this can be seen in forums where people want to buy products reviewed by people who have authority status in the forum (more posts, more itrader, more reputation). If some authority person says that product is worth the money, many people buy them.

You can also use the law of authority on your website by creating some virtual authorities. For example, if you are selling some product related to pregnancy, you can use words like “Gynecologist experts have verified that the product is safe and produces great results”. Now who is the gynecologist expert, it may be you, yourself. Nobody asks that. So try to create some authority on your website and use the law of authority to make more sales.

Law of Social Proof

If everybody is doing it, I should do it as well. Example, if everybody around is laughing on a joke, you will smile as well even if you did not understand the joke. You think that if everybody is doing something, it must be right and you should do it as well.

Offline example of this can be seen on the advertisements of the “bestseller books”. “One Million Copies Sold”. You think that people are buying it, so it must be good. And you buy it as well.

So if you want to use this law to improve your online sales, provide the social proof that your product is being used by other people as well. You can provide this proof by “Testimonials” and “User Reviews”. If you are providing a review of a product and using affiliate link to make a sale on that page, then use the comments box on that page to get other people reviews on that as well. The more comments that page gets from people, there are more chances of sales, as people see that many people are
buying it and happy with it.

So in short these are the 6 laws of persuasion to influence the thoughts of online customers and how can they be used.

  1. Law of Reciprocity (Offer something free)
  2. Law of Commitment and Consistency (Ask question with “yes” as answers)
  3. Law of Liking (Prove that you are like them)
  4. Law of Scarcity (Only last 2 copies left)
  5. Law of Authority (Experts says its good)
  6. Law of Social Proof (Testimonials and Comments)
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37 Responses to “Laws of Persuasion for Online Marketing”

  1. Hindi Radio responded on 21 Jul 2009 at 2:44 am #

    Those are really proven 6 laws. Appriciate you shared it with us. I insist on the 3rd one and believe me it will sure give you the boost.

  2. Jim Karter responded on 21 Jul 2009 at 4:34 am #

    6th is also a killer if done properly.

  3. Zak Show responded on 21 Jul 2009 at 4:31 pm #

    These laws are great! I have already used some of these laws without knowing about them, like the law of scarcity and the law of authority.

    There is another law, the law of low prices and sales ;)

  4. Jim Karter responded on 22 Jul 2009 at 12:19 am #

    Well Zak, low prices may not work at all times, but telling the person that it is high priced but is being given at low price for some limited time (or limited copies) surely works. ;)

  5. BecauseILoveJimKarter, :) responded on 22 Jul 2009 at 2:35 am #

    That’s funny, really - laws of life, that is. There are such laws in almost every area of human endeavor. Knowing and applying them almost always certainly GUARANTEES success in the particular area of endeavor. I mean - why go through the trouble of coming up with these laws yourself when they have been found and proven to work by others? Thanks for sharing, Jim. I love them all, :)

  6. Ecommerce Help - Tyrone Shum responded on 23 Jul 2009 at 11:21 pm #

    Persuasion is the power to attract clients and be able to make them say yes to you. In business, one should have the power of persuasion because one key to success is your ability to communicate well with your customers.

    Tyrone Shum
    Internet Business Path dot com
    Need help with understanding ecommerce? Visit my blog and learn how to profit from ecommerce.

  7. Tetris responded on 24 Jul 2009 at 5:00 pm #

    I have two jobs. Online and an “Offline” . :)

    I have a team which makes games. And i do this 6 laws naturally. I have 12 years on the job and i did some sales courses. And all that is true. even on the gaming market.

  8. Daniel Pry responded on 27 Jul 2009 at 10:56 am #

    These laws are spot on and all work really well. However to design a truly effective marketing campaign, it is important that all of these strategies are implemented. Thanks for the post.

  9. Vic responded on 30 Jul 2009 at 9:15 am #

    Hi Jim, I love the six laws. They are well written. This is a comprehensive article with a mix of passion.

    I would like to add one law that I always bring with me in blogging. That is the law of value. This law is doing and offering what are important to our visitors. This is the law of helping other people.


  10. DIY responded on 03 Aug 2009 at 3:58 am #


    I agree, 3 is very important.

  11. Courtney James responded on 04 Aug 2009 at 9:10 am #

    Great post,

    Influence is a book that every marketer and salesman should read.

    I think it’s a little padded but the tested principles are a practical checklist.

    In a sense, Cialdini simply confirmed what the old pros had been talking about for years but it’s nice to see old techniques supported by science.

    Thank you,

    Courtney James
    ObviousWriter on Twitter

  12. dreckscheuder responded on 04 Aug 2009 at 4:23 pm #

    great tips… thanx for sharing!

  13. lee responded on 04 Aug 2009 at 7:14 pm #

    hey jim why’s infolinks payouts getting lower and lower?

  14. MoneyMan responded on 08 Aug 2009 at 5:10 am #

    Great post, indeed. I would have to agree with the majority — number 3 is probably the most important law, out of these 6. And number 5 is a law all of us should be working to achieve.

  15. mack daddy responded on 13 Aug 2009 at 9:43 pm #

    i love this blog

  16. plin responded on 17 Aug 2009 at 3:02 pm #

    Just like to let you know that your RSS is broken.

  17. Webmaster responded on 18 Aug 2009 at 5:16 am #

    That was a pretty long post indeed.
    Thanks for the nice points regarding the Laws of Persuasion.

    And, btw, your feedburner is broken. You probably need to transfer the feed to your google account.

  18. cara buat website responded on 18 Aug 2009 at 9:16 pm #

    Thanks for you explanation about law persuation, i learn from this blog.

  19. Rachel responded on 20 Aug 2009 at 12:57 pm #

    Very important point three.

  20. Free XBox Live responded on 23 Aug 2009 at 1:27 pm #

    Law 3 is pretty important.

  21. Free Microsoft Points responded on 23 Aug 2009 at 1:29 pm #

    Thank you for this post. I leaned a lot from it! Like your header image of that Porsche.

  22. Rahul responded on 24 Aug 2009 at 6:26 am #

    Today i read this post fully. i was not reading because little boring. And don’t find any immediate benefits.
    But in actual this is one of the best post in your blog. You can get sales on your websites or hubs by using these laws.

  23. MoneyMan responded on 26 Aug 2009 at 4:48 am #

    @Rahul: It wasn’t boring to me. :-) It’s very interesting. But of course, someone doesn’t like theory.

  24. Free Wii Points responded on 28 Aug 2009 at 5:52 pm #

    Great post. This is definitely going to be an up and coming blog.

  25. Executive Training responded on 01 Sep 2009 at 3:25 am #

    Helpful information about online marketing. I learn many new things from this post. Thanks.

  26. mat responded on 06 Sep 2009 at 7:23 am #

    great story,i am just starting to build my blog on earning free money and this will help

  27. marcus@make money online responded on 07 Sep 2009 at 10:56 am #

    Great list. Of the six, I think the Law of Reciprocity and the law of liking are most effective.

  28. MoneyMan responded on 15 Sep 2009 at 1:53 pm #

    I read somewhere that to some folks who are first for their keywords on both Google and Yahoo, Google gets them double more traffic than Yahoo! Go figure…

  29. Chris Peterson responded on 18 Sep 2009 at 12:09 am #

    Hi Jim,
    I feel that you have it the nail with those points. However, some of them are just out of fashion or have become inoperative in terms of results like: 1 & 4.
    What would you say about their effectiveness in online market?

  30. jimi responded on 19 Sep 2009 at 4:40 pm #

    thank u so much ure article as really been a blessing.

  31. Decoratiuni Nunti responded on 21 Sep 2009 at 8:04 am #

    Thanks for sharing with us these tips. Anyone has something to learn each day so this can help on certain moments.

  32. sadun responded on 02 Oct 2009 at 9:04 pm #

    I was searching for info like this and came across your article. I found it to be very useful. Thanks!

  33. Legitimate work at home opportunities responded on 03 Oct 2009 at 4:41 am #

    it is true, psychological laws can help a lot in the internet marketing. There are many researches done how the design and lay out of the landing pages influence on conversion, for example.

  34. Carpet Cleaning Edinburgh responded on 12 Oct 2009 at 5:02 pm #

    great info here! thakns for posting! can i ask, while you be making more posts soon?

  35. Web Marketing Tips responded on 16 Oct 2009 at 1:06 am #

    Certainly this one is long post but I must say this one is interesting one raising few awesome points.

    Let me save this one and would love to read this one in weekends.

  36. Adsense in Pakistan responded on 17 Oct 2009 at 9:59 am #

    Hi Jim,

    Appearance this all looks like theory but the fact is that its how people are making money. If you are a serious vendor and wana sell, you have to follow this. It is vital.

    Thanks for nice post as always.

  37. Tyrone Shum responded on 20 Oct 2009 at 5:54 pm #

    Great post! Very informative and it could be applied in online businesses. Although persuasion is kind of hard to do, you actually need patience too so that you will be able to continue convincing people who does not want to be convinced.

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