The reciprocity principle is based on give and take. Give what you want to receive. Have you ever caught yourself smiling at a coworker because he or she smiled first? This is the thought behind reciprocity. In a way, you feel inclined to smile back so this is what you do. To be successful with reciprocity, you need to be the first to act and give something. Make it as exclusive and personal as possible. In this case, people are willing to give something in return. An example for your online business could be a free trial, free content, or a discount.
People want more of what they can have less of. Several studies have shown that people see more value in products that become less available. (Let’s not forget the run on toilet paper at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic).
Showing real-time stock as soon as there are a few products left, consumers are faced with the fact that these products are not on sale forever. It creates a sense of urgency. Businesses in the travel and leisure industries use this principle a lot. For example to show how many rooms or seats there are left. But also the fashion industry makes use of this principle by showing how much stock is available of a specific item.
Authority and credibility are the basis of trust. When we trust an individual, we as consumers are easily influenced and persuaded to buy or use what this individual is using. Especially in fields where we aren’t experts.
Some examples of authority in our daily life are diplomas hanging on the wall, email signatures with qualifications, doctors who recommend a certain toothpaste and even job titles. But how can you apply this to your online business? You could show recommendations or testimonials from clients, show payment methods or make use of influencers who promote certain products.
It is important for people to be and stay consistent with their identity and previous actions. Therefore, they prefer to make consistent decisions that are aligned with their beliefs. For marketers, this principle is very useful as it can create brand loyalty. Once people say “yes” to you, they are more likely to keep saying “yes” in the future.
Examples of consistency are a subscription to a newsletter, the visibility of how many other people bought the product before, or the reward you can give to customers for investing time in your brand.
Sympathy or Liking
People like those who like them. In order to influence people, you need to win friends. This can be done by looking for similarities or appraisals. Cialdini calls this: “charm and disarm”. It is in our human nature that we like people more when they give us compliments or if there are similar interests. Keep in mind that when you give compliments, they are as sincere and specific as possible.
The same applies to companies. People simply prefer to purchase products or services from a company they feel compatible with. A way for online businesses to apply the sympathy or liking principle is to have a physically attractive and well-designed website or to give the opportunity for customers to share what they just bought.
Replying to mentions on social media to make your followers feel special or even put them in the spotlight by featuring photos is also a way of applying this principle.
People rely on the people around them for suggestions on how to think, act and feel. Before making a decision, we find it important to know what others are doing. Especially the people we trust. This could be friends, family but also an expert in a certain field or industry.
A way to use social proof in your online business is for example by collecting online (product) reviews. Consumers tend to value the reviews and opinions of others more than the information shared by a salesperson. A positive review or good product rating is nowadays an important factor in considering whether to buy or not. Also, the approval from relevant experts is an example of social proof.