Greetings Converteer, Captain Conversion reporting. In this transmission you’ll learn how people feel obligated to act consistently with things they’ve committed to. And you’ll see how small commitments lead to much bigger commitments – i.e. conversions. You’ll discover how successful websites use commitment and consistency power to get more conversions. And you’ll learn how to unleash the same conversion power on your website.
Website Conversion Powers
People strive to be consistent with what they’ve said and done. Consistency is a sign of strength, honesty and intellect; whereas inconsistency signifies indecisiveness and weakness. People who get others to commit to something small can use consistency to win bigger commitments.
Once we have made a choice or taken a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment
- Dr. Robert Cialdini
An experiment carried out on a beach shows consistency power in action. Two researchers staged a theft there. One would leave their towel and portable radio to go off for a walk, while the other would come past, grab the radio and make off with it. The aim was to see if onlookers would try to stop the ‘thief’ under two conditions. In the first, the ‘victim’ researcher would just get up and leave the possessions. In the second, they would ask someone nearby to watch their belongings, which each person agreed to do.
it was demonstrated that bystanders more readily intervened to stop a theft if they had committed themselves in advance to the victim
More specifically, only 4 bystanders helped out in the 20 times the experiment was staged with no commitment to watch the belongings – a 20% conversion rate. But an astonishing 19 bystanders went after the ‘thief’ – trying to get the radio back – in the following 20 times the test was run with commitment to watch the belongings – a 95% conversion rate!
When people commit to something, there’s a strong obligation to act consistently.
A further aspect of consistency power is its ability to turn small commitments into big commitments – or small conversions into big conversions. As Robert Cialdini puts it:
the strategy is to obtain a large purchase by starting with a small one
An experiment in the 1960s shows how this works. A researcher in California, masquerading as a volunteer, went door to door asking residents if they’d be willing to have a large billboard put up in their front gardens. The billboard said ‘Drive Carefully’. Predictably, 83% of residents refused. But in one area, 76% of people agreed to have the big ugly billboard put up in their front yards.
Why? The answer is a small commitment they’d made about two weeks earlier. Someone had visited these people then and asked them to display a small 3-inch square driver safety sign, probably in the window. Most of them had agreed to such a small request, making a small commitment. But:
Because they had innocently complied with a trivial safe-driving request […], these homeowners became remarkably willing to comply with another such request that was massive in size.
- Dr. Robert Cialdini
This is called the foot-in-the-door technique. And successful web businesses understand its power, using it to generate more sign ups, subscribers and buyers.
Successful Websites Using Consistency Power to Get Conversions
Software provider Unbounce publishes useful blog content, gives away free eguides and offers a free trial on its product to get visitors to make an initial small commitment (read an article, download a guide, sign up for a free trial). With prospects now committed to the cause of landing page optimization, Unbounce advertises its paid software.
ClickBank calls this approach stair-stepping:
Subscription service Econsultancy provides free articles, insights and report samples to get prospects committed to the cause: better digital marketing. From there they encourage people to become paid subscribers.
Similarly, blog-success site Think Traffic publishes free content and resources in the hope people will commit to making their blog more successful. When readers are ‘ready to get serious’ – meaning more committed to the cause – Think Traffic encourages them join the mailing list. From there, Think Traffic can market paid products like the $35/month training service.
How to Unleash Consistency Power on Your Website
Get prospects to make a small commitment to your cause, whether it’s better digital marketing, a new fashion trend or saving the environment. Once they’re on board, it’ll be much easier to get bigger commitments – such as purchases – later on.
To start the commitment and consistency process, you could:
- Offer a free trial
- Get people to sign up to your mailing list in exchange for a free guide or report
- Encourage visitors to watch a demo video or listen to a podcast
- Provide free educational content to get people interested in what you do
The aim is to create a multi-step commitment process, starting with something small. With your foot in the door, you can then build up to the ultimate conversion by getting prospects to make bigger commitments at each step.
Giving something away for free to get initial commitment is also an example of reciprocity power.
Now You Can Unleash Consistency Power!
You can take advantage of people’s obligation to be consistent with things they’ve committed to. You can get your foot in the door by asking for a small commitment. And then you can build up to the ultimate conversion. Congratulations, your persuasion power just levelled up!