Paul Rouke
Founder & Director of Optimisation
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  • Conversion Rate Optimisation

3rd Nov 2012

3 min

With so many persuasive design techniques available, which are the really influential ones that you should focus attention on? That may be one of your thoughts if you started considering the full spectrum of persuasive design techniques available that you can use to persuade visitors to buy online.

This topic is what I’ll be presenting on at Conversion Conference London 2012 if you’d like to know more. Oh and use PRWD12 to get 15% off the ticket price.

The Most Influential Persuasive Design Techniques from Paul Rouke

A sample of Mental Notes from


To satisfy my personal desire to continually understand consumers and the decisions they make, I spend a lot (read 100’s of hours) of time either moderating or observing user testing sessions. Based on the fact that around 90% of our clients are retailers, most of these sessions are focussed on understanding buying triggers, motivators and behaviour.

In this article I’ve highlighted 5 of the most influential techniques that persuade visitors to buy online. I have to give credit to for providing the clarity of explanations which I have used for each of the techniques. If you’ve hadn’t already I suggest you go and get some –

Quick tip – retailers who are having the most success with these techniques are those that combine multiple of these techniques during their online user journey. See & ASOS as 2 exceptional examples of this in practice.


We infer value in something that has limited availability or is promoted as being scarce

Limited Duration

Given a choice between action and inaction, a limited time to respond increases the likelihood that people will buy

Social Proof

We tend to follow the patterns of similar people in new or familiar situations

Commitment & Consistency

Given a choice between action and inaction, a limited time to respond increases the likelihood that people will buy

Limited Choice

We’re more likely to make a choice when there are fewer options

BONUS – Delighters & Personality

We remember and respond favourably to small, un-expected pleasures

This 6th technique is currently extremely under-used amongst retailers. Not many online shopping experiences provide what I would say are un-expected pleasures through the browsing & buying journey. An example of how a retailer can do this is to provide a money off your next order or similar promotion on the order confirmation page. Based on the fact that hardly any retailers bother to do this, instead just providing the standard order details and typically not giving any reason to remember their experience, retailers that do give customers this un-expected but welcome offer make their experience more memorable.

This approach also utilises another technique, the peak-end rule.

Peak-end rule

We judge our past experiences almost entirely by their peaks, pleasant or unpleasant, and how they ended. If you would like to read about 1 site that encapsulate delighters, personality and the peak-end rule, read my article on the art of persuading visitors to buy by Lings Cars.

Useful links

Below are a number of links which you may be interested in having a look at:

4 responses to “5 of the Most Influential Techniques to Persuade Visitors to Buy”

  1. Ray says:

    Thanks Paul for a great insight.

    I hate too much choice either in a real shop or on-line, I usually end up not buying, saying to myself, “I’ll think about it”.

    For various reasons we sometimes get customers that end up paying too much for delivery. If we send them a small refund they are absolutely delighted and often promise to always use us in the future and recommend us to everyone they know.

  2. Paul Rouke says:

    Hi Ray. Thanks for having a read and for your comments. They are really interesting and a good example of how small touches can make a big difference. Not many companies consider using ‘delighters’.

    In case you are interested my slides which I presented this week at Conversion Conference London on this subject about persuasive techniques is online here

  3. […] 5 of the most influential techniques to persuade visitors to buy – view […]

  4. […] Rouke van UX-firma PRWD heeft een interessante presentatie geupload over de beste manieren om klanten over te halen iets via je webshop te […]

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