The Practical Psychology of Conversion – Buttons, Colors, Copy, Prices, and UX

Why did you read an article? Was it the simple need to clear curiosity about recent news?

Why did you buy a product? Was it to satisfy a simple desire?

I’m a bit cynical when it comes to marketing and the schools of thought that come with it. I strongly believe people make decisions based on a need or idea that was created from respective circumstances. We get hungry, we crave food. Our business grows, we need reliable organizational/management software. And so, we seek out food and software. It’s at this stage that marketers have a small window of opportunity to convince us. This is why the psychology of conversion, such as buttons, colors, prices, action words, and the whole user experience, is thoroughly tested and utilized. It’s thrust down our throats in the marketing & design world, day in and day out. Some people side with simplicity and whitespace; minimalism to the max. Others like to astound and impress with fancy effects and beautiful, wide media. Debates will arise over the maximum character limit for paragraphs and the best font size to use for call-to-action messages.

But at the core, the trending mantra has always been to be able sell – to convert – with as little as possible. It’s the minimum viable product being marketed on its own merits. If your product/service can live on its own merits, it’s validating its own existence in the marketplace. What comes after is a tangled web of conversion and persuasion psychology we’ll cover today.

psych conversion

To some business owners, marketing is simply defined as a tool to boost conversation rates and improve sales figures overall. This mentality already carries with it an inherent flaw. While marketing itself isn’t an exact science, it relies heavily on scientific principles and consumer psychology. Summarily discounting the role of buyer behavior as influenced by specific stimuli can cost your business time, money and customers.

Ultimately, this article will attempt to provide possible answers as to what informs a consumer’s decision to click the “buy now” button, what elements convince a user to subscribe to a channel, what makes the conversion process work and the role of persuasion in conversion. My word of advice is to stay a bit cynical and constantly test. 

1. Driving Sales Through Buttons

To understand how the shape and visual design of buttons affect the consumer psyche, one must first observe the difference between bounce and conversion rates which can be either positive or negative. Buttons are the end-test – the final tipping point – and they are vitally important where calls to action are concerned.

Companies that implement A/B split testing are able to distil the buying decision process behind the actions of their current customer base and then apply that information to attracting conversion rates from a wider demographic. In terms of how this can be leveraged in the design and implementation of a call to action, everything from contrast, clickability and placement to directional cues affect buyer behavior.

contentverve example


In a recent A/B split testing case study performed by Content Verve in relation to the above image, the control featured a generic signup form while the treatment promised consumers value. It also answered the common question most consumers have, namely, ‘What’s in it for me?’ Results showed that the treatment gained the company an 83.75 percent increase in signups owing to the addition of some well-placed directional cues incentivizing users to follow through.

When buttons are not tested properly, the landing pages of businesses fail to capitalize and the situation can quickly replicate itself, leading to unrealized sales potential.

2. Color and Connotations

Color has long been used as an effective marketing device and its importance in online conversion is undeniable. Numerous case studies involving consumer reception of different-colored buttons reveals that the color red – including variations on the scheme – are winning the war on claiming customer currencies. The psychology of color could take a semester to thoroughly peel through.

color psych purchase

Each color evokes a different set of emotions from the individual and choosing the wrong palette can effectively decrease your conversion rates overnight. In terms of what is likely to become the prevailing color scheme in marketing, orange seems the likely choice for its ability to conjure up feelings of optimism and reassurance, according to a recent article by Ubounce.

3. The Role of Quality Copy

Quality copy is worth more than the sum of its parts and has as much to do with presentation as is has to do with consumer psychology. Some of the recommended action copy to use to convert:

  • Get” something vs. “Buy” or “Download” or “submit”
    • one of my favorites: “Get the thing” (this was the button text to buy Louis C.K. tickets on his website)
  • Add to cart” vs. “Buy Now”
  • Start
  • Begin
  • Find
  • Become
  • Learn
  • Receive
  • Launch
  • Achieve
  • and of course, a healthy use of Free

In fact, the 5 most persuasive words in the English language are:

  • You
  • Free
  • Because
  • Instantly
  • New

Click here to see 189 more words and phrases that convert. Heh.

Words sell, and as research has been able to prove, there is an ideal length for attention-grabbing headlines and blog posts across every social media marketing platform. Even the button text we use can influence click rates:

via HubSpot

via HubSpot

But let’s be cynical for a moment. If I’m reading something that’s written well and I’m intrigued, I’m not going to randomly stop reading because I’ve hit the average minute mark for when people stop reading. But I guess average is the key word. It’s out of a majority and basing article length on those stats plays into a strategic mindset. For reference, here are the stats for recommended length for digital content:


tweet length


facebook length


article length

The Internet is full of advertising content that speaks to potential customers and it can be difficult for marketers to cut through the noise. If businesses are to achieve results, they must attempt to optimize their content by supplementing words with visuals, giving their content a superior statistical edge in conversion.

4. The Power of Price Points

The Internet has made it possible for consumers to have access to the tools they need to dictate their terms and conditions when it comes to paying for products online. As the digital age began to revolutionize consumer behavior, forward-thinking business owners scrambled to find an answer.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways to implement psychological pricing which can have the effect of re-positioning your competition and promoting exclusivity, such as:

  • Charm pricing: This pricing strategy takes advantage of the anchor price-points of comparative items and thus creates an improved perceived level of value.
  • Bulk-bundling: Those products that are consumed on a regular basis are able to be packaged in various iterations, providing consumers a wider range of value selection. Thus the same item appeals to a greater variety of buyers.
  • Flash sales: Also known to consumer as impulse buying. This type of pricing strategy relies on eliminating or bypassing the lengthy thought process many buyers typically go through and as such can be implemented to great effect.

Always keep in mind that price is one of the foremost factors that influences consumer purchase decisions and that even if you change nothing else in your marketing mix, favorably manipulating price is statistically likely to result in positive conversion rates.

5. Creating a Positive User Experience

Improving the user experience is akin to improving satisfaction. We’re making the process of navigating our site, finding things, and taking actions as seamless and intuitive as possible. That being said, we also want to influence certain actions by thinking in percentages. For example, what % of the following home page is working towards a single goal?

keystone industries landing page

About 35% of the Keystone home page is nudging us to make a call. The user experience is kicked off with a consideration to call – anyone who bypasses this funnels in to exploring product categories. It’s a simple two-step funnel.

According to a recent article by Useful Useability, you have less that a fraction of a second to grab the attention of a unique visitor coming to your website for the first time. In that time, the user will form lasting opinions about your brand and as such, the landing page must address the following:

  • Who the company is and what it does
  • What products and/or services are provided
  • What benefits will the visitor receive?

Providing the environment for positive user experiences (UX) should be one of the key functions of any e-commerce website. The ease by which a consumer can make a transaction through various online media spaces directly correlates to the success or failure of conversions.

Ultimately, if a consumer cannot get to the end of the payment process with minimal effort, they will look elsewhere. As a website designer or an online marketer, it is in your best interest to effectively observe the needs of your target audience and exceed their expectations on every level.

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Jesse Aaron

I'm a blogger, homebrewer, and community manager. Aside from writing, I have a passion for music and design.

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