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Sample Issue of

Web Marketing Psychology Report


Web Marketing Psychology Report is a publication of the Marketing Psychology Group / Scottsdale, written by Dr. Gary A. Witt.


LYNN AND MARGARET opened their dot com site with great hopes of selling higher priced products for babies, like strollers and cribs. But sales were flat. People were visiting, but not buying.

Then Lynn heard about a research study that found NEW buyers have a much harder time making a decision about products because they don't know how much importance to give to each of the attributes of the product.

"I see," said Margaret. "Our new moms don't know if they'll be happier with a heavy but sturdy stroller or one that's lightweight but more flimsy."

"Right. And if we help them make a wiser decision, we should get more sales. We do have good prices."

So Lynn surveyed a group of moms and found over 70% of them ranked weight as a more important attribute than sturdiness. They ranked six other attributes of strollers, too. Margaret created a Web page where visitors could check out how experienced moms ranked many attributes of their products, and which products they liked the most. And she put a "Buy" button next to each of the choices.

Within a few weeks they could see that sales were climbing. And that a large number of them coming directly out of their attribute-comparison page.

RESEARCH LESSON: People don't just buy products, they buy all of the attributes of those products. The less they know about which attributes will give them the greatest satisfaction, and which will cause the greatest dissatisfaction, the more likely they are to keep hunting until they have a "feel" for that information. If you give it to them, you're more likely to get the sale.


ALAN AND FRED'S FLORIST SHOP was doing OK, but they wanted to get more out of their new Web site. They were getting visits and orders, but more at the lower end of the price spectrum. Then one day Alan heard about a research study on 'self-prophecy' which found that people who BELIEVE they will take a certain action in the future, like voting, are more likely to do so than others who aren't asked-like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

"Fred, we can use this idea," said Alan.

"How? Give discounts to voters?" asked Fred.

"No. We'll set up a little two-point rating scale next to each picture of an expensive arrangement and ask people to give us their opinions."

"What would it say?"

"Choice one would say 'I'd buy this' and choice two would be 'I wouldn't buy this.' Keep it real simple and fast for them."

"We'll get some good information, but so what?"

"Don't you see? If they consciously rate an arrangement as one they'd buy, then they have unconsciously made a prediction about future behavior. Like role playing."

"I get it. They sort of see the arrangement in their home or wherever and decide they like what they see. So they're more likely to buy it. Pretty clever, Alan."

Alan and Fred did exactly that, and their Web site sales of high-end arrangements took a big jump.

RESEARCH LESSON: Imagination is a powerful selling tool. Get buyers to rate your product, make a 'make believe' decision or even guess which product they'd like most. That's a big step toward making the sale. Like the car dealers say, "Imagine yourself driving this new Cadillac."


MARIA AND LUIS have a successful online business selling gourmet food. Last year they wanted to increase sales, and give something back to the community. They remembered that Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream gave a part of each sale to help save the Amazon rainforest.

"Let's do that," said Luis. "We'll give a percentage to the March of Dimes."

"We're not Ben & Jerry's, Luis." said Maria. "How do we know it will work, and which products will we offer the deal on?"

Luis replied, "Let's ask Roberto."

Their son Roberto was a senior at the local University. A week later he told them about research which showed people are several times more likely to buy products tied to a charitable gift if they were "personal pleasure" items, like candy, ice cream, visits to a spa, etc. When the offer was made on more utilitarian items like soap or haircuts, it wasn't very effective.

The research showed it didn't seem to matter how big the gift was - the research used 5% and 50% of the price. "They think," said Roberto," that a lot of people feel a little guilty spending money for 'personal pleasure' items, and this is a way to make the purchase more acceptable. In fact, they'll even pay a little more if most of the increase goes to charity. It doesn't even seem to matter which good cause, as long as its well known."

Maria redesigned their Web pages to show that 5% of the purchase price was going to the March of Dimes, but she limited the offer to gourmet items that seemed particularly "pleasurable," like expensive truffles. And sure enough, the sale of those items increased. They even got several e-mails complimenting them.

RESEARCH LESSON: Charitable donations as a marketing strategy can pay off, but it probably won't work on auto parts or dog food. Picking a "personal pleasure" item is your best bet for increasing sales while doing good.


MONA AND ROLAND's dot com health foods business was struggling. "We're getting the hits that could make us a living if we could get the sales," said Mona. "What can we do?"

Later that day Roland showed Mona a report he'd found online. "Here's a research study that says just listing the good points about our vitamins isn't enough. We need to 'inoculate' our visitors."

"Inoculate them? Why?"

"What happens is they leave our site thinking our products are good, then they're persuaded to buy from someone else."

"So what do we do?"

"We pick some of the selling points used by competing Web sites. And we show how our brand is superior to them on each of those points."

"In other words, it isn't just comparisons, its like 'search and destroy' their key selling points?"

"Right. Like, if they say their brand of calcium is great, we point out that doctors say calcium needs lysine for maximum absorption, and their brand doesn't contain lysine, but ours does."

"So when they get to another site, they've already been inoculated against the sales pitch."

Roland's new Web pages pointed out their competitors' claims, then refuted them with backing from independent, scientific sources. And it worked. Sales started to climb as more people returned to buy their products.

RESEARCH LESSON: Try inoculating your visitors against future persuasive arguments by competitors. Point out the problems your competitor's brand causes, then show how yours does as good or better a job without the problems. One important point - studies show people don't like you to be personally derogatory. Like Joe Friday said, "Just the facts, ma'am."


Best regards,

Dr. Gary A. Witt
Marketing Psychology Group, Inc.
Scottsdale, Arizona

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