October 9th, 2011 | 4 MIN READ

10 Bizarre Things That Influence Customers Online

Written by author_profile_images Linda Bustos

Linda is an ecommerce industry analyst and consultant specializing in conversion optimization and digital transformation.

We know there are a lot of psychological factors that influence purchase behavior online and offline. Here are just a handful of funny things that influence customers to behave the way they do:

Bigger Buy Button

It's 2011, and by now you would think web users would be confident that every ecommerce site has an Add to Cart button, right? Why does color, size and even irregular shape have a proven, measurable impact on products added to cart, checkout initiation and checkout completion?

The most likely answer is that big, bold, funky shaped buttons stand out and put the "call" in call-to-action. Steve Krug was right: "don't make me think." I mean really, don't make them think!

Mixed Case Ads

According to testing by Mind Valley Labs and others, This Simple Tactic of capitalizing the First Letter of each word in your PPC headlines can Boost Click-Through Rate by 80%. But hey, why not test it yourself?

Up To...

Is it better to send an email promotion with "Sale! 15-75% off!" or "Sale! Up to 50% off!"?

With number ranges, the customer will make a mental shortcut that defaults to the lower end of the range for percent off, and the higher range for dollar amounts in a "sale" context.

Why? We all understand that most people win $1 on the scratch and win ticket, not $100,000, and sale products are more likely to be just 15% off. So in this case, up to 50% off is more persuasive than even the 75% promise in the range. (The flipside is, people can mentally ignore the "up to" and demand 50% off of an item "as advertised" - yes, this happened to me plenty of times in my retail days!)

Free Shipping

A professor at the Wharton School of Business found that consumers preferred free shipping worth $6.99 in savings over a $10 discount on the product. Irrational, but I have my theories why...

Are we there yet?

Nearly 1/2 of consumers are too spoiled rotten by high speed broadband and Google searches in 0.00000001 seconds to wait more than one-Mississippi-two-Mississippi before bailing from a site. Site speed not only impacts the current site visit, but even future visits, as Forrester reported in 2007 when page load expectation was a generous 4 seconds:

  • 64% of dissatisfied online shoppers said they were less likely to visit a slow retailer again
  • 62% were less likely to purchase from the site again
  • 48% would purchase from a competitor
  • 28% would hold a negative perception of the company
  • 27% would tell a friend about the bad experience
  • 16% reported they would be less likely to visit a retailer’s offline store after a bad online experience


Not to mention, page load speed affects search rankings. Optimize for performance!

The Eyes Have It

The direction of a model's eyes directs the eyes of the web user. Show subjects looking towards a call to action or important, and customers' eyeballs will follow. Or use a head-on shot and stop 'em dead in their tracks.

Kill Will

Ditch "will" in your copywriting to make it more powerful and persuasive. For example: "The SuckCut will shave dollars off your monthly haircuts by giving you the freedom to groom your head at home. Chicks will dig it!" Better: "The SuckCut shaves dollars of your monthly haircuts by giving you the freedom to groom your head at home. Chicks dig it!" (OK that's otherwise an example of terrible copy, but you get the idea).

Open Fields

Users have a tendency to start typing in open fields without really reading the label first. For example, entering email addresses in search boxes and vice versa, or in returning customer login fields instead of clicking Guest Checkout.

Labeling inside of the field helps prevent such errors (text disappears when user starts typing).

Extreme Couponing

Showing a coupon box in checkout (or voucher code for our European friends) can send a customer to Google to find a coupon, costing you margin in price and affiliate commission and messing up your marketing attribution. Blech.

Displaying the coupon box only to customers who have been referred with a coupon code is one way to curb this behavior.

Spam Button

The spam button should be used for flagging messages selling C*alis and other, well, spam emails. But many use the button simply because an email was uninteresting. This means messages one has opted into could be erroneously marked as spam, and the reputation of that sender hurt. Follow the tips to avoid this problem!

Got any more examples? Please share in the comments.

Looking for help with ecommerce? Contact the Elastic Path consulting team at consulting@elasticpath.com to learn how our ecommerce strategy and conversion optimization services can improve your business results.

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