Conversion Optimization Psychology: Through The Funnel

Optimize every touchpoint your customers have with your webshop - using psychological nudges.

Janelle de Weerd | Aug 06, 2020

CRO psychology

Optimize every touchpoint your customers have with your webshop - using psychological nudges.


Let’s face it, one of your biggest obstacles in eCommerce is making sure that your customers make it through their buyer’s journey seamlessly.

But it can be difficult to understand what your customers are thinking or feeling. Let alone understand why individuals do the things they do. 

At Crobox, we’ve made it our mission to understand the reasons why people behave the way they do online.

Through the course of our research and experience implementing our technology onto our clients’ webshops, we’ve discovered several barriers that virtually every shopper faces across the entire conversion funnel. 

These barriers cause psychological strain and can prevent your shoppers from completing their orders. 

Luckily, we’ve found several proven ways to aid shoppers in overcoming these barriers by offering the right nudges at the right time and provided you with your very own conversion funnel optimization guide.

From the Product Listing to the Checkout Page, these findings will show you how to optimize your entire customer journey. 


What’s a Conversion Funnel?

conevrsion funnel optimization ecommerce funnel

From bigcommerce

A conversion funnel represents the buyer’s journey, from the time your customer sees your webshop to when (and if) they checkout. 

Sometimes known as your sales funnel, the conversion funnel should be continuously optimized to get your customers to, well, convert. The more optimized your conversion funnels, the more products you’ll sell. 

It’s as simple as that. 

But, in the end, converting customers is just the crux of a great eCommerce marketing strategy. Optimizing your conversion funnel will lead to better overall customer experiences. 

That means that understanding your conversion funnels and making them better paves the way for a customer-centric webshop

But how do we nudge them to move further with their choice?

According to Fogg’s Behavioral Model, three essential elements must be present for individuals to behave: ability, motivation, and a prompt.

 conversion funnel optimization FBM

These elements all need to be present to effectively drive behavior. 

  • Ability means that an individual is physically or mentally able to do the task
  • Motivation means the individual wants to do it
  • Prompts are the reminders to the individual that he/she does it

You'll see these three elements come back throughout this article. Helping to to understand how to nudge behavior at every step in the funnel. 

Of course, depending on your products and customers, your conversion funnels look different to other webshops. Which means you should continuously analyze your funnels to make sure they’re in line with your buyer’s behavior. 


Conversion Funnel Analysis 

So how do you analyze at which conversion funnel stage your buyers are dropping off? There are two ways to look into this. The first is technical, and the second is psychological. We won't get too deep into the first, as we want to jump into how to analyze the psychological strain your customers might be facing in your conversion funnel. 

A quick win for the technical side can be found on Google Analytics. This analyzes your “checkout flow” by visualizing your funnel. 

conversion funnel optimization google analyticsSource: Cardinal Path

Since 95% of purchases are subconscious, the next best way to carry out conversion funnel analysis is by understanding psychology. As psychologists working in retail, we’ve had years of experience in eCommerce optimization. 

Looking at how webshops have turned browsers into buyers online, we use psychology to optimize conversions at every step of the funnel. 

Conversion Funnel Optimization on the Product Listing Page 

conversion funnel optimization decreasing choice overload

We live in an age of choice, and shopping is at the epicenter of it all. Everyone wants to feel unique, so retailers create countless products that help customers to express themselves. 

While for some, these choices are empowering, for many they are detrimental to their decision confidence, motivation, and ability. After scrolling through page, after page, after page, motivation starts to fizzle and frustration rises.

Humans have only a limited amount of cognitive resources that they can “spend” on activities. That’s why we feel so drained after a day of studying, research, or tough negotiations. 

We expend so much brainpower on these tasks that they can easily leave us depleted and tired, even if our physical activity for that day was minimal.

This idea isn’t so difficult to grasp. In fact, the brain uses more than 20% of a person’s daily energy intake. So it’s logical that when you think hard about something for an extended period, you become tired.

Making a decision is no exception. Even though it doesn’t take the same amount of resources, if there are too many choices, it can occupy more energy than a person is willing to spend on such a task.

So, to deal with broad selection assortments, we use mental shortcuts like colors, models, and prices to help us come to decisions faster. 

Next to optimizing these elements to the psychology of your shoppers, there are other techniques webshops can use to help shoppers make decisions with greater ease.


Conversion Funnel Optimization Tip 1: Use Dynamic Badges

conversion funnel optimization dynamic badges crobox

At Crobox, for example, we use Dynamic Badges (sometimes known as product tags or labels)  to nudge purchase behavior and decrease choice overload

When looking at the FBM, Dynamic Badges act as the perfect prompts for highly able and motivated shoppers. These effectively decrease choice overload by pointing out relevant products and their features to the customer. 

Let’s break it down.

conversion funnel optimization example asics


Visually, Dynamic Badges, like those shown in the image above, are featured on products to make them stand out from the sea of products.

Textually, they use words that speak to human biases like social proof, authority, scarcity, the endowment effect, product attributes, or showing what’s special about the product. 

These human biases are, for instance:

  • Social Proof: studies have found individuals look towards the behavior of others to determine the right choice, these people are more susceptible to messages like "Popular", “Bestseller”, or "Best rated" (read about the do’s and don’t of social proof marketing). 
  • Authority: individuals who prefer to look to experts will respond better to messaging such as “Staff Pick” or “We Recommend”. 
  • Product attributes: informing your customers about your products' USPs and features will inspire more reasons as to why the shopper should buy it. These often come in the form of showing product attributes. 

Throughout our testing, we’ve found that some behavioral principles and attributes work particularly well with one audience, while others have an adverse effect. Highlighting the importance of personalizing the messages to make their customer experience more relevant. 

For example, check out how we’ve helped Asics optimize their conversion funnel with Dynamic Badges. 

Our findings highlight the importance of testing, and when possible, personalizing, to determine what messages resonate with your customer segments. 

Since we’ve tested this out, we can guarantee that they work to drive behavior and optimize your product lister page. 

To sum up, the best practices for the PLP conversion funnel optimization are:

  • Use Dynamic Badges to draw attention to certain products.
  • Boost your Dynamic Badge copy with behavioral motivators like social proof or authority. 
  • Motivate your shoppers to click on a product that will guide them through the conversion funnel playing with things such as hover-text, colors, like buttons, price anchoring, etc.


Conversion Funnel Optimization on the Product Detail Page

conversion funnel optimization increasing purchase intent

At this point in the online sales funnel and buyer's journey, individuals are interested in a product and ready to learn more about it. 

Something has sparked their attention, whether that was the dynamic badge on the detail page or simply the product itself. 

If we look at these elements on the Product Detail Page, we can assume that the shopper’s ability is high and the first prompt (Dynamic Badge) is there. That leaves increasing add-to-cart motivation as the primary barrier on this page.

One way to increase purchase intent is by providing relevant but selectively detailed product information. On the Product Detail Page, shoppers conduct an information search to confirm or deny whether the item is worth their time, effort, and money. 

However, information needs differ per shopper. While some may seek product-related information (material, sizing information, etc), others may already be convinced of their choice and want to know process details (shipping time estimates, unforeseen costs, the return policy).

These differences should be addressed on the webpage by offering relevant information that these different shoppers need to increase their motivation. 

It’s vital that this information stays within the scope of your users’ needs, as including too much makes it harder for them to see through the clutter.

With this in mind, we’re one step closer to making the product detail page optimized. But there’s more you can do to boost click-behavior on your Product Detail Page funnel and nudge your users to act.

To boost users’ motivation, we’ve tested behavior-driving copy that addresses potential shopper concerns.

Want to know what we found out?


Conversion Funnel Optimization Tip 2: Use Smart Notifications

 conversion funnel optimization PDP

It’s all about a combination of smart notifications and nudges.

Allow me to explain. 

These interactive/Dynamic Notifications catch the eye and capture attention by highlighting things that can help them decide either from a functional or behavioral perspective.

Like in the example above, these can be used to drive behavior by reminding the shopper of how desirable the product is. 

But you can also leverage behavioral principles in your smart notifications, e.g., “5 people are watching this product right now”. For people who respond to social proof, this will guide them along their journey, or draw attention to products that matter. 


Conversion Funnel Optimization Tip 3: Embed Copy

Another more subtle approach to optimizing your conversion funnel is to embed copy into the webpage itself. 

For example, we’ve used urgency driven text to convey the benefits of ordering now (e.g., receiving it tomorrow). This leverages the psychological principle of Scarcity.conversion funnel optimization PDP urgency

Ultimately, this page should be optimized to boost product-related motivation and be ability-facilitating. 

The bottom line?

When formulating your copy, ask yourself:

  • What are our customers' concerns? How can we address these?
  • Is there a way to make ordering this product easier or faster?
  • Do our customers respond to urgency, social proof, or other types of behavioral messages?

So, to sum up your conversion funnel best practice on your PDP:

  • This is the stage where your customers are considering a product in detail. Make your product information detailed but easy to read. 
  • Use smart notifications to engage the customer, drawing attention to why the product is appealing. 
  • Use behavioral principles to enhance your smart notification copy.
  • Embed copy within the PDP itself, using behavioral principles to boost the product’s appeal.


Conversion Funnel Optimization on the Shopping Cart Page 

conversion funnel optimization cart page

Your soon-to-be customers have reached a pivotal moment in their online sales funnel journey: their favorite products have been added to the cart. So far, so good.

At this moment in their journey is the process of consolidation. Shoppers take a second look at their cart and are likely to deliberate their product choices in relation to their total, eliminating products when necessary.

Similar to the product detail page, the primary barrier shoppers face at this point in the funnel is maintaining their motivation. This is the moment to remind your shoppers of why they added specific products to their cart (e.g., because it was the most popular, a staff pick, exclusive offer, limited stock, waterproof).

Through the use of nudges and interactive overlays, we’ve been able to influence motivation and decrease cart abandonment.


Conversion Funnel Optimization Tip 4: Use the Endowment Effect on the Shopping Cart Page

conversion funnel optimization shopping cart page


If you can get your users to invoke ownership of their products, they will be less likely to leave them hanging. We call this the Endowment Effect, which explains that when a person owns an object, they assign more emotional value to it than its actual financial worth.

Using copy like “Great selection! Your summer wardrobe is sorted,” or “It’s almost yours!” on the shopping cart page can trigger customers to establish ownership of the items and encourage behavior. Even offering free returns is a good way to capitalize on this bias.


Conversion Funnel Optimization Tip 5: Use Interactive Overlays

interactive overlay

Interactive overlays are dialogue boxes that appear when an individual shows exit intent.

While these should be used sparingly - no one wants to trigger the second coming of the pop-box - we’ve found some success when used on the checkout page.

Especially when paired with price sensitivity messaging, aka discount-driven copy, we’ve seen significant increases in continuation to checkout.

While this seems like a logical conclusion (and it is), what makes it more interesting is that offering the discount at this stage of the journey is more effective than displaying it at earlier stages.

To sum it up - 

  • Remind customers of fast shipping, smooth check-out for account holders, or an alternative offer that your webshop has.
  • You could even provide product recommendations on the cart page for an opportunity to cross-sell. Things like “This would go well with”, or “You might also like”.
  • If you are selling to gift-oriented shoppers, you may want to provide a gift-wrapping option on this page. This is a great, customer-centric nudge that will boost purchasing confidence. 
  • Use interactive overlays to show discounts, leveraging the cognitive bias of price sensitivity. 
  • Use the Endowment Effect to make your customers see the product as their own, to eliminate decision stress when going from Shopping Cart to Checkout. 


Conversion Funnel Optimization on the Checkout Page 

conversion funnel optimization checkout

Phew! Finally, we’ve reached the final stage of your conversion funnel! Checkout completion. 

How do we optimize this phase of the customer journey?

Whereas all the previous steps put the most attention on increasing motivation, the checkout page should put effort into increasing the ability of users (the opposite of making things easy for your users in terms of UX design are called Dark Patterns, read here for more!).


Conversion Funnel Optimization Tip 6: Improve the Usability of Your Website

Since it’s impossible to change the actual ability of your users, you need to focus on improving the usability of your website. 

Several implementations that your checkout should have are:

  • State the shipping costs clearly before asking for information from users.
  • Use a progress bar and allow customers to go back to edit fields without having to start over.
  • Allow guests to login. Not everyone wants to create an account with your brand. Plus, it takes time, and shoppers would rather spend their time on the “fun” stuff of a website — like picking out their new products.
  • Use as few fields as possible when it comes to filling in invoices and shipping information. Do you really need someone’s phone number to deliver their product? Don’t let the concern of being called or giving away unnecessary personal details be a conversion killer.
  • Auto-fill any information you’ve already obtained for returning users.
  • Remove distractions from banners or sidebars so individuals stay focused.
  • Design and optimize your site for mobile users in a way that makes checkout easier. Remove the barriers, reduce frustration.


And that’s a wrap!

So there you have it, a comprehensive summary of all the barriers your customer face while navigating your online sales funnel. 

Moving forward, remember that:

  • Product Listing Page: Increase click-through rates by decreasing Choice Overload with dynamic badges on specific products.
  • Product Detail Page: Increase add-to-cart by boosting motivation with smart notifications, embedding copy, and relevant product/process information.
  • Shopping Cart Page: Increase check-out motivation with behavioral copy to decrease cart abandonment and interactive overlays.
  • Checkout: Increase checkout-completion by making the checkout fast and straightforward.


Do you want to leverage these on your webshop? Plan a demo today to learn how to do it for scale.

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