How to Change Online Behaviour

Humans make around 35,000 decisions per day - which is around 24 decisions every minute. Of course, not all of these are big decisions like where to live or which career path to take but we still have to put a lot of energy into the choices we make day to day. To save us time and energy, we create routines - which is often why we order the same thing at restaurants and walk the same way to work each day…it’s just easy.

Once we have a routine, changing it can be hard - we get so used to doing things a certain way that we almost start doing things automatically, as if on autopilot. Changing routine can take a lot out of us - we suddenly have to be in pilot mode again and make several new decisions. If it's too hard, we might want to give up - maybe this is why we can never stick to our new year's resolution to go to the gym..?

Of course, with some things, like a new job for example, we can't give up too easily which encourages us to stick at them for a bit longer. However, if we're in the process of buying something from a new website and it gets complicated, it's much easier to just give up and go elsewhere. As an ecommerce business, this is what you want to avoid, but there's also lots of opportunity here for you to change the behaviours of those buying from your competitors.

So what can you do?

There are a number of techniques available to help you change the behaviours of your target market, but before you get there you need to think about why people make certain choices - it's not always about the easiest option


Is there enough information available to your target market? Learning influences people's behaviour - so you need to provide the appropriate information to encourage them to buy from you. Information becomes more important as the price of the product increases as it becomes much more of an investment. Generally, we like to be sure that we are buying the most suitable product for us so we will spend more time researching and we may even go into store (if possible) to check things like sizing and materials in person before we buy.

Give Directions

Do you have strong calls to action to direct your prospects? If you don't tell people where to go, they won't know how to proceed. If someone adds something to their basket, you need to give them the option to continue shopping or to proceed to the checkout. If someone visits your about us page, tell them how they can view your products and start shopping.

As well as calls to action, you need to ensure your site is easy to navigate - too complicated, and your prospects will be leaving before you can say 'navig-'…

Keep it Positive

The language you use can really affect people's behaviour when it comes to online retailing. Using negatives in your language such as 'do not hesitate to ask' can actually cause people not to ask as all they will read is 'do not ask'. Remember to keep your language positive to avoid this from happening.

Change the Frame

Re-framing your business could completely change the way people look at you and your product. Take a cup of coffee for example - in your local supermarket you can buy a jar of instant coffee for about £5 that will make at least 20 cups , but in a completely different frame at your local coffee shop, you can buy 1 cup for around £3.

There are different ways to change the frame, such as providing convenience (as with the coffee shop example), but also with price, availability and many others. As above, you can re-frame your business with the use of language, both on your website and in your marketing outputs.

Make Yourself Scarce

People hate the idea of missing out, and you can use this to your advantage. Try adapting your copy to create a sense of scarcity with your ecommerce stock as this can increase the perception of value. Brands have used tactics like this for years to generate more sales. Phrases such as 'last chance', 'limited edition' and 'for a limited time only' can help to do this.