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E-Commerce Psychology: Top Black Friday Strategies for Brands

Published Oct 6, 2021

Successful brand marketers work hard to understand how—and why—consumers behave the way they do. It’s easier to create an e-commerce strategy when you know what compels your customers in the first place. Never is this more important than during the Black Friday shopping season. Consumer psychology plays a huge role in the way brands create loyal customers out of first-time website visitors.

Before jumping into the finer points of e-commerce marketing psychology, and explaining what role that should play in a Black Friday strategy, it’s important to understand how consumers operate to begin with. Many e-commerce brands fail to consider customer intent and the persona of individual website visitors when developing their Black Friday strategies. However, understanding e-commerce psychology can strengthen your current buyer relationships and lead to exponentially higher sales figures during the all-important Black Friday shopping season.

To help you convince and convert more Black Friday shoppers through marketing, you should know the following lessons about retail psychology and consumer behavior.

Psychology and E-Commerce: Important Principles to Use

Have you ever heard of priming? Priming is a retail strategy that involves exposing consumers to one stimulus that impacts how they will respond to a different stimulus. Psychology Today defines priming as a “phenomenon in which exposure to one stimulus influences how a person responds to a subsequent, related stimulus.” Research on priming is used to explore how subtle cues impact consumers’ thinking.

In e-commerce marketing, priming involves placing subtle cues around a website to influence consumer behavior and increase conversions. For example, a brand might run a paid ad on Facebook or Instagram with a feel-good holiday theme. When a consumer views the ad, a mental pathway activates and leads to positive memories. The next time the consumer is browsing the retailer’s website and they see the ad, those feel-good memories are triggered, leaving the shopper with a positive attitude toward the product at hand.

Priming is one of the most effective tools marketers have for influencing shopper behavior during the lead up to Black Friday. However, it’s not the only option we have at our disposal.

The more we understand what motivates customers to buy during Black Friday sales, the easier the conversion becomes.

What Motivates E-Commerce Shoppers to Buy?

The motivation to buy during Black Friday is different from other times of the year. Research shows us that Black Friday shoppers are primarily motivated by steep discounts and the availability of promotions.

How can we use those motivations to influence consumer behavior? By putting marketing psychology into action.

Without getting too scientific on the theory of marketing psychology, it’s important to understand how the fundamentals of e-commerce website design influence consumer decision-making, particularly around the holiday season.

Broadly speaking, the three biggest components to effective e-commerce website design are:

  • Visuals
  • Color
  • Speed

More than nine-in-10 people say visuals are the No. 1 factor that influences their purchasing decisions, and 80% of consumers feel more secure making purchases online when trustworthy credit card logos are displayed prominently on the checkout page. Visual elements can influence how consumers feel about purchasing from a website, and these are relatively easy updates for any web developer to make.

E-commerce website design plays a huge role in consumer sales psychology. Small changes, like adding a credit card logo to the footer of a checkout page, can lead to double-digit increases in conversions. The use of bright colors, high-quality images, and a clutter-free interface all play a role in influencing purchasing decisions, as well.

Certain website design decisions can have the opposite effect, driving consumers away from an e-commerce website. One of the most common triggers that lead shoppers to exit an online shopping experience are unexpected pop-ups or unattractive ads. From a psychology perspective, unexpected pop-up ads startle consumers back into reality and cause them to second guess their buying decisions.

Whether we’re talking about Black Friday or any other time of the year, it’s important to consider how e-commerce design triggers visitors to take action—whether that action is positive or negative.

Black Friday Motivators

The average shopper spends more than $313 on sale items on Black Friday, and 69% of that money typically goes toward gifts. More shoppers are expected to purchase gifts online this year than ever before.

Everyone loves a good deal, and Black Friday shoppers are no exception. Purchasing an item for less than the standard price is psychologically motivating, even when the product is something the consumer doesn’t really need. Shoppers already view Black Friday deals through a positive lens, and many believe that the discounts they see online in the weeks leading up to the Christmas holiday are better than other times of the year.

The belief that Black Friday deals are better than other times of the year comes from years of psychological priming. We know that sales happen all year long, and prices fluctuate constantly. Years of priming have created a fear of missing out. Successful brand marketers have been able to capitalize on this by running limited-time offers during the Black Friday sales period.

Limited-time discounts and offers drive consumers to purchase products they might not typically buy through something known as anticipatory regret. Shoppers are more likely to splurge on a high-value item during a Black Friday sale, even if they didn’t intend to purchase the item or spend that much, out of fear that they might miss out on what’s perceived as a good deal.

Not all Black Friday shoppers are motivated exclusively by discounts. Shopping online the day after Thanksgiving is seen by many as an escape from reality. Many consumers log on to their favorite e-commerce websites as a way to get away from the stress of their families during the busy holiday season. Years of research on marketing psychology tells us that the longer a consumer spends on a website, the more likely they are to convert.

How do we keep consumers on an e-commerce website for longer? With thoughtful design and a great user experience.

Colors that promote calmness and serenity will keep visitors on a website for longer. Infinite scrolling, also known as endless scrolling, is also helpful. This is when content is loaded continuously as the consumer gets to it, minimizing clicks and increasing visitors’ average time spent on site.

Being able to develop data-driven sales strategies that utilize marketing psychology is what separates top-tier brand marketers. To learn more about e-commerce psychology and the role that consumer behavior plays on Black Friday sales, check out CMDS President Chris Mulvaney’s talk at The Black Friday Summit.

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