Written by James Scherer
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The Ultimate Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization: Chapter 3: Compliance Tactics


Compliance tactics are a significant part of social psychology, as they deal with an individual (or brand’s) ability to get what he, she or it, wants.

Compliance affects our everyday behavior, from asking your partner to grab you a glass of water before bed to a business-meeting discussing billion-dollar corporate takeovers.

There are three primary compliance tactics which can be implemented when optimizing your site or business’ communication strategy for conversion...

4. The Foot in the Door Technique

The Foot-in-the-Door Technique relies on something that social psychologists call “successive approximations.”

Basically, it’s the fact that the more an individual or subject agrees to small requests, the more likely they are to continue to agree to requests (even if those requests get more and more substantial).

I’ll get more into reframing value in Chapter 6, but the foot-in-the-door technique is one of the reasons that “pay in installments” strategies work as well as they do. Not only does it feel like you’re actually paying less (more on that in Chapter 6), but each installment makes you feel like you’re progressing, In short, each small conversion you take makes the distance from entry to the next conversion shorter.

People have a vested interest in their relationship with you, making it easier for you to develop that relationship.

How you can use this psychological factor for conversion rate optimization:

The primary use for the Foot in the Door Technique is in lead generation. Provided you can get an initial piece of information from your lead (9 times out of 10 that’s an email address) the successive pieces of lead information become easier to get (ideally, until the point at which they make a paid for conversion).

  • Stagger your lead generation strategy. So long as you can keep track of your lead’s place in your marketing funnel (through marketing automation for instance), ask for a progressively-valuable piece of lead information until your lead is ripe for conversion.

5. The Door in the Face Technique

In contrast to the Foot-in-The-Door technique, the Door-in-the-Face technique works by the persuader (your business) attempting to get a large initial request (like a yearly, white label plan) which the respondent (your prospective customer) is likely to turn down.

Once this initial request has been posed, any and all smaller requests seem more reasonable (far more reasonable, for instance, than they would have been without the initial request).

For example:

  • “Hey, John, can you lend me $10,000?”
  • “Of course not! I don’t have that kind of money. Who do you think I am!?”
  • “Fine. What about $10? Surely you have $10?”
  • “Sheesh. Yeah I have $10. Let me go get my wallet…”

Alternatively:

  • “Hey, John, thanks for letting me borrow your car.”
  • “No problem. Anything exciting happen?”
  • “Actually, yeah. I was in a serious wreck. Your car is totalled!”
  • “What!! Are you serious?!”
  • “Hah! No, I’m just playing with you. There is a small scratch on the door from the grocery store parking lot though.”
  • “Jesus you scared me! No worries about the scratch, I’m just glad the car isn’t a write-off!”

How you can use this psychological factor for conversion rate optimization:

  • Test a landing page with an overwhelming number of form fields (asking leads for everything from phone number to primary marketing frustration, etc). When they decide to leave the page, place an exit popup with the same offer but only a single email address request.
  • Test a pricing page with a single price option (your white-label, perhaps). Place a timed popup at about 5 seconds with a limited-time pricing offer which is significantly less (your basic plan, perhaps).

Further Reading on Compliance Tactics:

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Written by James Scherer

James Scherer is the content editor at Wishpond. When he's not writing or designing for Wishpond he's risking his life biking around the city. Reach out to him on Twitter @JDScherer.