3 Principles of Persuasion and How to Apply Them for Conversion

November 19, 2019

E-commerce owners know that cart and browser abandonments are the biggest threat to the survival of an online store. 

But how do you fix this if 96% of the visitors coming to your store aren’t ready to buy? And only 3 out of 10 who engage with your site go beyond the “enter your credit card details?”

To deliver positive interactions, smart e-commerce owners use on-site campaigns and customer recovery campaigns to fight abandoned sales or improve conversion. However, even these campaigns don’t make your site immune to abandonment. 

The grail to reduce cart abandonment remains in influencing and persuading customers to say “yes” using the power of others.

In this article, we’ll uncover how to use three scientific principles of persuasion to reduce cart and browser abandonment as follows:

  • Scarcity principle — to reduce abandonment that results from customers not ready to buy from your store or making a price comparison.
  • Liking principle — to reduce abandonment that results from customers saving items in the cart for future consideration.
  • Social proof — to reduce abandonment resulting from customers not having enough information to make a purchase.

Let’s get started!

The Scarcity Principle

The scarcity principle is quite simple: People want products or offers that are rare or difficult to get. Why? Because we think they are more valuable and we believe they will be unavailable to us, even if the verdict of scarcity is not there. Brands use the scarcity principle to reduce browser abandonment and pursued customers to purchase from them.

When OnePlus announced that its OnePlus One phone could only be brought through an invitation, sales automatically took off. There was something about the phone that people wanted to know more about.

Online clothing store Kohl has a kinda different way to apply scarcity — by making most of its items on clearance sales.

scarcity in marketing

If 41% of your customers were abandoning your online store because they are not ready to buy or 27% because of price comparison, or 25% because of higher prices, as shown in the graph below, clearance sales would persuade them to act fast or risk losing a great deal on items.

Using your landing page to give the customer an idea of the items that are under clearance will reduce abandonment from reluctant customers and those engaging in window shopping turning them from googlers to customers.

Because customers are usually attracted to where stocks and sizes are limited or on clearance, they will want to get a product even if they are not ready to buy and even if there is no additional benefit they stand to gain if they choose the product or service.

The Liking Principle

The second part of improving conversion and fighting abandonment is done through the principle of persuasion “liking”Among the reasons for cart abandonment during checkouts, are: 

“I don’t trust the site with my credit card information.” “The website wanted me to create an account.” Or “I just wanted to save products for later consideration.”

Indeed, such things will make us un-like an ecommerce store. But the science of persuasion tells us we would like something if it is like us in certain ways, when we cooperate towards a common goal, or it pays us a compliment.

Proof Eyewear compliments its customers by regularly parading their fans on social media feeling happy about their products. 

Proof Eyewear actually also uses their social accounts to not only showcase their proud customers but as a way of reaching new brand ambassadors and clients through instagram, like the example above. 

If a customer had lost trust in their product, the compliments they give their fans would return a shopper, re engage them and convert the abandoned sale. But how can liking help reduce abandonment as a result of customers saving products as forethought?

E-commerce owners can use customer feedback to generate amazing social media posts for their visitors. 

By showing customers enjoying or having fun with your product on social media immediately after a purchase is proof enough that your products are hotcakes and not just an afterthought. Hence a great persuasion strategy to reduce abandonment from visitors forgetting about the items they had saved in the cart.

Customers will prefer your store because of the compliments and not wanting to be left out in the social media frenzy by associating with the people using your products.

Social Proof

Minimizing cart and browser abandonment demands that you do everything possible for the customer to checkout from the time they google your website. That includes leveraging your willing customers to speak to new audiences and push your lead generation efforts

It can be using celebrities, third-party reviews, and case studies so that customers who abandon a purchase at cart or browser can come back and buy from you after forming an evaluation resting on the action of other people. 

It can also be capturing your visitor’s possible behavioral data using a tool like Cartstack then sending reminders to cart abandoners with words of wisdom from your regulars.

Booksellers like Amazon and movie reviews like IMDb use social proof to show new and returning visitors the value of their product by showing them customers who have brought the same or similar books or celebrities who have acted or endorsed a particular movie. 

For fear of missing out, people would crave to buy a product with lots of reviews and likes from their friends or a celebrity. 

If your customers are abandoning your shopping cart because they don’t have enough information to make a purchase, referrals, reviews, and customer testimonials can recapture new customers, convince them to stay longer, buy other products while preventing a tank on your sites’ reputation. 

You can show your visitors who sign in via social accounts their friends who have purchased from your store. The social proof from a friend will bridge the gap between bounce and sale to bring back trust. 


Scarcity, liking, and social proof are simple, practical, and costless persuasion weapons to nuke cart and browser abandonment. 

They can bring a big difference in how we use recovery campaigns to influence and persuade a customer and recapture abandoned sales or drive conversion. 

Use the scarcity principle if you want to reduce discovery failures, especially those created by window shoppers: liking and social proof to extinguish conversion failure and prevent your customers from ghosting you!