CX Insights

Psychological Tactics Used by High-Converting Ecommerce Sites

Psychological tactics
4 min read

Nothing happens until a visitor clicks a button. And once that happens, that visitor is somewhere in the pipeline of a purchase – either providing contact information, signing up for something, claiming a free trial, or actually making a final purchase. Any one of these actions can be considered a “conversion.”

Getting a visitor to the point of conversion requires sales tactics that have been used for years and are the result of basic human psychological behavior – emotional appeals, such as a sense of belonging, a need to not be left out or an urgency of some sort, like a limited time offer. Overlaid onto human psychological needs, however, is the new research of neuroscience, which tracks brain activity when the senses are engaged. This new research adds to the “tricks” that ecommerce businesses can use to foster more conversions. Here are five tactics that use either basic psychological appeals, neuroscience, or a combination of both.

Colour Psychology

According to Kissmetrics, 85% of shoppers place colour as the primary reason for why they buy a product and colour increases brand recognition by 80%. Another important point to remember, is that colour can effectively trigger action. Below are two infographics that describe how colour can and should be used depending on the feeling that a brand wants to provoke. These colours should be kept in mind when designing a website and also when creating CTA buttons. Depending on what an ecommerce business is selling, these colours should be an important part of design decisions. For example, if a site is promoting a high end limousine service, black must be a part of the design. The same goes for high-end consumer products, such as Rolex or Cartier watches. Youth clothing businesses on the other hand, should use a lot of yellow.

Color Phychology

Now consider the following colour infographic from Kissmetrics:

How do colors affect purchases Infographic

This infographic gives businesses the colors to use based upon the type of shopper to which they may appeal. Notice that sales announcements or promotions should be in orange or red. This also coincides with the first infographic which shows that orange and red are good colors for creating urgency.

Emotional Psychology

These appeals take us back to basic psychology. There are certain emotions that drive human behavior – a need to belong, a sense of missing out, a need for pain relief, joy, excitement, sadness, love – and they can translate very well into conversion tactics. Here are a couple of examples of excellent use of emotional appeal:

Prevention Magazine – Promotion of its New Dance Fitness Videos


The operative word here is “excitement.” And, because the target market is female, note the colors – shades of purples and pinks, and the bright pink CTA button. The other appeal is in getting something of value for free.

Compare that CTA with one used in a B2B promotion of Basecamp, a business project management app:

Blue button

There are multiple emotional appeals here, all in a very simple design, with a blue CTA button – a color of “trust” and “security.” There is a promise of pain relief (chaos will become organized, the project will get completed, and people will work together harmoniously); there is an appeal to a sense of belonging (number of companies signed up in a single week – don’t be left out!); and, finally the free offer is displayed right on the large CTA button. A calm, simple design that will appeal to project managers who want to relieve their stress and get things accomplished without drama and chaos.

Placement Psychology

The placement of a websites CTA buttons plays a crucial role in securing conversions. Neuroscience tells us that eyes are drawn to the center of a page. It stands to reason then that CTA buttons should be placed there. If there are more than one CTA button, the most important one should stand out in some way. This is normally done using color contrast and a specific hierarchy.


Pinterest for example gives the visitor two ways to sign up – via Facebook or via email. It prefers Facebook because it will be able to get a lot more information about that member than it will from only an email address. Therefore the more important button is placed first and stands out more also due to the color contrast.

Besides color and placement, the design of the CTA also plays an important role. Research tells us that when the eyes are looking at something with squared corners, the focus and attention moves outward to what is surrounding the figures. When a rectangle has curved edges, the focus is drawn inward. To keep attention on the message housed on rectangular CTA buttons, then, edges should be curved. Look at the results from A/B testing on the CTA buttons below. Both the color and the shape of the button was changed and resulted in a 35,81% increase in conversions.


Shopping Cart Abandonment - Usabilla

Julie Ellis
Julie Ellis - The founder and the chief editor at Premier Essay, experienced marketer and blogger. Julie is always glad to find new opportunities for sharing her knowledge and experience.