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Think Like Your Visitors to Increase Website Conversions [WEBINAR RECAP]

To engage your visitors and increase website conversions, you have to know how they think. We invited Erik Johnson, Marketing Optimization Manager at Morningstar, to speak about the behavioral tools that marketers and website owners can use to influence traffic on their domains.

Morningstar’s Behavioral Insights team applies social science to help drive more effective communication and product design. Erik’s webinar on behavioral psychology can help you increase website conversions by focusing on four central ideas.

1. Speak to the Right System

The human mind operates in different systems, evolved over time to anticipate and handle different tasks. Erik highlighted these two systems, automatic and reflective, and how they work in relation to marketing and decision making.

System 1: Automatic System

Automatic and quick, actions are performed with little or no effort, and no sense of intentional voluntary control. When we’re using system 1 we rely on intuition, emotions, and vague natural direction.


System 2: Reflective System

When we need to engage in effortful mental activities, we move to system 2. Deliberative, analytic, deeper thought. Slower and more analytical, reason dominates over intuition.


Pausing to think moves from system 1 to system 2, which is more tentative. Erik said that people are probably using one system or another when navigating your site. Be intentional to keep them in System 1, as System 2 will introduce hesitation. Appeal to system 1 first, by making your site intuitive to maneuver and speak in the language your visitors use.

2. Prime Your Visitors

Our thoughts, feelings, and actions are primed by everything around us. When it comes to your content, everything needs to work together to keep your visitors in the right state of mind.

Erik posed the question, “How are your visitors being primed?” There are four main tools you can use to prime your visitors to take action on your website:

  • Images: Visuals have the power to convey a multitude of emotions, and capture the attention of your audience.
  • People: Humans are social beings, and visuals of people interacting and smiling can communicate with customers without having to be literal.
  • Color: Core colors and shades make a difference on how we perceive something. Be intentional with how color is used.

3. Frame the Action

The way choices are arranged and presented to users changes the way they perceive and make decisions. Intentional choices on the part of the marketer or designer can remove stumbling blocks for the customer, keeping them in their automatic system.

Erik quickly outlined 5 ways framing can influence the way your site is designed.

  • Anchoring: Set a baseline of expected cost and then deliver lower
  • Frame value: Communicate the end need with emotional resonance rather than the initial action
  • Frame what’s popular: Users are most likely to go with what other users are using
  • Frame with social proof: Seeing other real people’s opinions and case studies is huge translating authenticity.
  • Frame urgency: Motivate users with time limits or availability, pushing them to take action now versus later.

4. Experiment

At the end of the day, none of these techniques will be fully actionable unless you push forward with testing on your domain. Test to see what really works, test against best practices (because they aren’t infallible), and test using methodology that you can rely on to pull dependable results.

A great example is A/B testing pages using statistical analysis, to dive in and check and impact on a page by page basis.



Interested in learning more about how to leverage behavioral psychology to increase website conversions? Here’s a list of helpful resources Erik mentioned at the end of our webinar: