22 Psychological Triggers That Help You Sell More Online

2Checkout (now Verifone)
12 min readAug 12, 2020



The human brain is so incredibly intricate. Where to even begin? It doesn’t just get you through daily tasks and conversations. It creates emotions like love, fear, anger, passion. The human brain has so many decisions to process and it wants to process them as quickly as possible, which is why it has mechanisms to swiftly make decisions — shortcuts if you will.

These are psychological triggers that your business can use to drive desired actions (i.e. conversions) among your target market.

This is great news, isn’t it?!

We drummed up 22 psychological triggers to help you sell more online at a time when everyone is competing for attention.

#1. Offer something for free

Who doesn’t love free things?

If you were presented with similar products that gave the same results, and one was cheap enough and the other offered a 30-day free trial, which one do you think you would choose? Get Response, the all-in-one marketing platform, is a great example of offering a free trial. And even better, they don’t require a credit card!

Offering something for free is the type of stimulus that can make the unknown seem less scary. It effectively lowers the mental and physical barriers to trying something new. You don’t have to whip out your credit card, think about canceling something if you don’t like it, or think about the potential of wasting money.

#2. Use novelty

People are willing to pay for new and improved versions. In fact, it’s more than willingness — they want to. The neurotransmitter dopamine is released in our brain when we try new things, which gives us a feeling of pleasure. That’s why people love upgrades, improvements, new features, and new innovations. You don’t have to add a new product to your offering to use novelty as a psychological trigger to help you sell more; just add a new feature or alter the way something works (just don’t forget to tell your customers about it!).

Wondershare did just this. They didn’t create something altogether new, they just updated their product Filmora. Updates encourage people to try the latest version of a product they are already happy with and they encourage people who didn’t like previous versions to come back.

#3. Leverage customer reviews

Customer reviews communicate that the customer taking a look at your marketing content isn’t the only one who is interested in it; someone else has used it and saw great success!

Around 95% of users are finding reviews to be a reliable source when evaluating a product or when wanting to learn more about it, as Baymard Institute research shows. So it’s quite obvious how much of an impact they have in influencing first-time buyers in particular. Reviews play into the herd mentality. The vast majority are followers and don’t want to be the first to try something.

You can showcase customer feedback pretty much everywhere: on your website, on social media profiles, or even use them in email campaigns or datasheets. Possibilities are endless in leveraging positive feedback to increase trust in your brand or product(s). The psychological outcome of this is that prospects seeing people sharing positive experiences are more inclined to buy from you than those who don’t read them at all. Also, customers seeing those reviews might want to leave a review as well, helping you increase your ratings.

Coupa used customer reviews to sell more by featuring handwritten customer success stories with real pictures. Coupa is a great example of making reviews personal to help potential customers connect better with their product.

#4. Add a “Recommended” pricing option

It’s quite reasonable to suggest a pricing option to a visitor because, when they can’t decide, they don’t buy. This doesn’t mean that you need to recommend the base-level package. Prompt them to purchase the middle or largest package. There’s a fine balance between not pushing past their limits, but encouraging them to step it up a bit.

Used wisely, colors can guide visitors towards taking the desired actions on your website. For example, use red to create a sense of urgency. Kaspersky, the computer security products company, is a great example of using a color that catches visitors’ attention and directs them to the package they want prospects to buy.

#5. Use curiosity

People are so inherently curious that once they have just a bit of information, if that information piques their interest enough, they can’t help but want more. So give them an itch that they must scratch; start a story, but don’t finish it. Let their curiosity get the best of them so they find themselves moving in the direction you want them to go — a sale.

#6. Add a sense of urgency/ scarcity

People love being the first ones or the only ones to get something. We selfishly, and subconsciously, love one-upping our peers. So, if you can position something in a way that implies that only few/ a limited number of people will have access to it, you will sell more. Limited-time offers raise that sense of urgency. They, along with discounts and free shipping, will boost sales immediately.

Corel creates a sense of urgency with their discounts well. Showcasing limited-time deals and the value of extra savings in bundled offers helps to convert anyone who is on the fence or debating between them and one of their competitors.

#7. Use “sale”

Nothing triggers conversions like a good ol’ sale! By having a sale you aren’t giving up quite as much as giving away a free trial.

Did you know that people could respond better to $$ off sales versus % off? It just depends on what values you are looking at. Try both ways and see what works best for you! If you have a $$ off sale, you can optimize it even more by lowering a $40 product to $39.99, because that makes people think it is $39 instead of $40.

#8. Use strong visuals

The images you use are so important. People know hogwash when they see it so don’t use generic stock images. A strong visual will generate an emotional response in viewers, thus helping people connect to your product or service, and increasing the memorability potential of the site visit.

Choose images that make your customer feel happy because that’s what they want after all — happiness. A picture of a happy person or customer will hit the spot and help you sell more because you generate happiness.

#9. Find a common enemy

We define enemies to help us make sense of the world and negative outcomes. What is the common enemy that is keeping your customer from getting the results that they want? The “enemy” that your customer has can be anything — a product, a concept, or a company — anything!

Zapier saw that they could unite with their customers against a common enemy: wasting time on tedious tasks. Because of that, now more than 3 million people rely on Zapier to take care of their tedious tasks. Find common grounds with your prospects by relating against a negative outcome.

#10. Use influencers

Use people that your audience trusts to sell more. Your customers see the person they trust and think “if this person says it’s good, then surely it’s good!” These people carry so much power and they can use it by working with you as a speaker, through social media, distributing a code or trial to their following, or sharing a link that leads back to you.

Quickbooks used the actor Danny DeVito from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia for a Quickbooks promo video. Guess how many views that video got. Over 6 million. People certainly like Danny DeVito more than a business tool like Quickbooks.

#11. Use storytelling

Stories are a great way to trigger your customers’ brains to help you sell more. Why? Because stories trigger emotions and 95% of our cognition happens within our subconscious — the part of our brain that makes emotional connections. Stories creatively use words, images, and sounds that, if done well, help you stand out amongst all the noisy content. A well-told story helps people feel experiences that they haven’t even lived by activating areas of their brain related to sight, sound, taste, and movement. A good story can increase people’s perception of your credibility. Connect people to your product through a good story.

#12. Use numbers and statistics to build credibility

Sharing very specific claims make you seem more believable. Concrete numbers bypass natural skepticism. Some numbers are more convincing than others, though. For example, would you be more likely to believe that someone saved $5,000 using a product or $5,437? Give the real numbers because people will know.

Appcues used numbers to make them appear more credible on their website and sell more. They cited the % adoption increase, the % user retention, and the rate of increased responses their users got in their own businesses.

#13. Make your prospects feel valued

According to Maslow’s hierarchy, love and belonging account for some of the basic needs that motivate humans and their choices. We all want to feel valued and significant so we will make choices for the alternatives whose outcome has a better chance of getting people to recognize the value of our individual uniqueness.

The Dollar Shave Club creates a personalized package suggesting exclusivity based on the premise that no two people are the same. They move visitors to their site through a questionnaire to build up the concept that they are creating a customized box design just for them.

#14. Communicate authority

While people will normally follow the crowd, they may follow a single individual or company if they perceive them to be an expert in that domain. You can either promote yourself as that expert to sell more (by naming the different outlets where you appear or have been featured, for example) or feature people or companies that back you to signify your authority. If you have top-notch customers, show their endorsement on your website. If a celebrity backs you, let people know to experience that increase in sales!

If you are backed by relevant social authorities and thought leaders, that must mean that you are a leader in your industry. Sumo claimed the #1 one position in the email capturing space because they’ve powered over 800,000 sites.

#15. Color psychology

Did you know that colors trigger more emotions than words? As such, the color red is associated with energy and passion, orange is associated with fun, positivity, and good health, yellow with optimism and joy, and blue with confidence and trust. Colors define our moods and have the power to influence our responses so you should use them to convey your message effectively. Not only that, the brain processes visual information 60,000x faster than text! Color psychology is a great way to help you predict and guide the choices your customers will make so you can sell more.

#16. Leverage emotions

Did you know that pain is more powerful than pleasure? Address their pain points to sell more, but not to an extent that it seems fake.

In its copy, Norton invokes common situations that its target market can relate to, particularly getting a loan. By mentioning the consequences of unprotected data on such a sensitive matter, the company creates a scenario that induces fear, therefore motivating visitors to purchase its product.

#17. Sense of belonging

We all have an innate desire for community and a sense of belonging, as Maslow very well pinpointed in his hierarchy of needs. That’s why making your prospects feel as part of a larger group, can make them more susceptible to listen to your message.

Hubspot tugged at people’s heartstrings by communicating the community that they built. Their claim of their products being “Powerful alone. Better together.” extend to the social angle, as well. They also developed wonderful customer support and communities of users to create that sense of connectivity.

#18. Use reciprocity

People don’t like feeling like they owe someone — so they won’t! If you give them something, they’ll want to give back to you. Sell more by first providing your potential customers with free tools, resources, samples, or gifts.

#19. Sell benefits, not features

Companies have the tendency to advertise the features that they created for their product. After all, it’s because of those features that people will see results, right? The thing is… features lack emotional connection; they are purely logical. People care about their own problems and how you can solve them. Selling the benefits is what helps people truly understand how the product would improve their life. By doing this, you play to people’s emotions and inspire happiness.

Mailchimp focuses on the benefits that customers get from using its solution

#20. Use the PAS formula: Problem, agitate, solution

This formula is like good storytelling. You start by identifying the problem and then agitate it by bringing up common symptoms that your customers can relate to. Don’t rush straight to the punchline, though. Enough tension has to be built up first. If the story is crafted properly, it should be an easy sell and your solution should be an obvious answer. Agitate the problem, then provide a solution — your solution.

#21. Build anticipation

Just like the previews for the next episode at the end of the episode you just watched on Netflix, you can build excitement about your new launch. People need just enough of a cliff hanger to make them excited and keep them coming back for more. In fact, the Zeignarik Effect states that people are more likely to remember incomplete information than complete because the missing portion sticks in their mind. That missing portion just needs to have piqued enough curiosity to keep them thinking about it. In order to build anticipation, you need to be thinking a few steps ahead in your campaign so you can plan for how you will build it.

Will it be with teasers? Webinars? A countdown? Marketing emails? Good luck triggering the mind to want to come back to learn more and buy more!

#22. People prefer simple

Easy, fast, and effective solutions jive well with people. But, people still want good results, so ease cannot come at a cost.

Psychologically speaking, the human mind is more inclined towards simplicity than complexity, that’s why people tend to avoid those situations which burden their cognitive load. According to the Simplicity Theory (ST), the interest of individuals is triggered by simple situations. This theory can be very well leveraged in sales and marketing. Whether it’s about the product per se or about the brand experience, customers are looking for minimalist experiences.

Note that simplification is not limited to eliminating steps (in the checkout page, for instance) or clarifying language. It also pertains to mapping the customer journey, identifying pain points, and addressing those with a user-friendly solution that makes the user’s life easier. Simplification also pertains to creating a holistic, seamless brand experience which the customers can easily navigate on their own, without encountering barriers.

The CRM Pipedrive uses this tactic with their promises of “A simpler way to sell” and “Less legwork.”


The human brain is so intricate that there are so many different ways you can take advantage of it to sell more (at least 22). Experiment with some of these tactics, spin them different ways, and mix and match to see what is most effective for you. Using these psychological triggers, you can surely sell more than you are now, even if you’re already selling a lot!

The Psychology of Selling” by Brian Tracy is also a good starting point in your journey to understanding how to sell

Let us know in the comment section below what psychological triggers you employ most often.

Want to learn more about how you can leverage emotions to drive more conversions? Make sure you watch this webinar on “How to Create Funnels People Love to Convert to.



2Checkout (now Verifone)

2Checkout (now Verifone) is the leading all-in-one monetization platform for global businesses built to help clients drive sales growth across channels.