Get More Clients: 5 Psychological Triggers to Convert Your Website Visitors Into Customers

In the digital age, your website is the motor to your business. It is the central mechanism used to identify, attract, inform and enlighten potential customers. And if all goes well through that process, a transaction takes place.

“If all goes well,” is such a powerless phrase, though, isn’t it? Especially in business. Surely the successes of top brands like Apple and Amazon weren’t built on the premise that “if all goes well, our products will sell.”

Then what’s the secret? Aside from offering immense value, these and other pioneers of modern consumption have mastered the art of conversion. Put simply, they know how to turn visitors into customers.

So how can you, the independent designer, marketer, photographer, artist or entrepreneur, utilize your website to get more clients? The answer is in the psychologies of web design and marketing, specifically in triggers. Nir Eyal, author of Hooked, defines triggers as cues that signal users to take action. All humans essentially have the same triggers, and you’d be surprised at how accessible these passive prompts are to tap into.

Here are five psychological triggers to boost your conversion rates through smart web design and strategic marketing:



Let’s start with something you have control over: the design and navigation of your website. Have you ever visited a page to explore a potential solution to a need, only to be driven away by a cluttered, disorganized layout? Visitors to your site will immediately remember the experience as positive or negative. If it’s positive, you have a chance to convert them right then and there with a clean design that moves fluidly from landing page to checkout or contact. The key is to eliminate all barriers in between and lead the potential buyer as close to action as possible before their hard-earned money becomes a factor.

Using Theme.Works, you’re able to build your own WordPress theme, visually, from scratch. In doing so, you’re taking yourself through the customer experience and implementing design functions – like visual landing pages, clickable headers and call-to-action buttons – specifically targeted to hit the simplicity chord. We tend to tout a positive experience for you in building your website, but what we’re really promising is a positive experience for anyone who visits your website (including you on the back end).

Avoidance of Pain


Sigmund Freud’s Pleasure Principle suggests that all human behavior is driven by two primitive desires, avoiding pain and gaining pleasure. If you’re marketing a product or service that can be perceived as a mechanism to the avoidance of pain, that’s a powerful trigger to harness.

Amazon is the ultimate online marketplace where you can buy the latest New York Times bestseller, a pair of running shoes, a 12-pack of Coca-Cola, a new laptop and your daily vitamins – all in one location. The obvious trigger to shop on Amazon is that in doing so you don’t have to go through the pain of visiting a different store or website for every need. Our wish to avoid pain (better described as “hassle” in this case) could be considered the main reason online shopping exists, and Amazon’s ability to fulfill that desire is engraved in the core of their mission, all the way down to the passive “a to z” message in their logo.

If you’re a designer or marketer, your services help people to avoid pain in a number of ways. First, they don’t have to do the work themselves; they’re hiring you to do it for them. Second, they can immediately eliminate the distraction of searching for a solution to their needs. Perhaps most importantly, they can avoid a future search for similar needs if you prove yourself to be reliable and effective. The same goes for startups.

Attainment of Pleasure


On the other side of Freud’s theory, pleasure is an equally potent motivator. For artists and photographers selling their work online using an e-commerce tool like our Sell Media plugin for WordPress, it’s safe to say that the majority of your visitors will be driven to action by pleasure rather than pain. A study by British neurobiologist Semir Zeki found that viewing artwork can have the same effect as falling in love, dopamine being released into the orbito-frontal cortex to trigger pleasurable emotions.

Tying this trigger back to the first one, you can also create pleasure for your visitors through simplicity. If your work itself is appealing, the experience of browsing it is positive and the action of buying it is easy, you’re hitting all the right pleasure points along the line of progression.



In 1994, the American Psychological Association published “The Psychology of Curiosity: A Review and Reinterpreation” by George Loewenstein. The Carnegie Mellon professor’s information gap theory explains that curiosity comes when we feel a gap between what we know and don’t know. Curiosity is likened to a mental itch that we simply must scratch.

Curiosity is the driving force behind content marketing. It’s the reason we follow brands, click on links and consume content. There are so many ways to create curiosity in your marketing, whether it’s a newsletter delivered with an intriguing subject line, a collage-style page layout or a snappy header. In piquing your visitors’ curiosity, you’ll also build trust, which is obviously essential to any transaction.



Brand storytelling is becoming a pillar of online marketing and social media. Rather than hammer-to-nail marketing garble, we’re seeing more businesses position themselves as storytellers. Instead of being told what a product can do, we’re being shown what it does – and we love it.

Take for instance Beats by Dre headphones. They’re awesome, seriously – unbelievable quality. But the story behind Beats’ groundbreaking success isn’t the 3.5mm audio cable, ¼” adapter and 0.21 kg weight, or even the aesthetics. Outside of maybe the audio engineering community, nobody really cares about sound specs. Even the most skilled copywriter could only make so much of them.

The reason Beats by Dre headphones are so popular is because we experience these riveting advertisements of famous athletes and entertainers – human symbols of success and passion – utilizing Beats headphones in their everyday lives. Each piece of content becomes a new extension of a brand story, creating an audience of connected customers who unite as a community of fans.

The power of storytelling is seen in black and white across the board. According to Wagener Edstrom Communications, 56% of people who support non-profit organizations on the social web say that storytelling motivates them to take actions. Syncapse found that 85% of “fans” on Facebook recommend brands to others, compared to 60% of average users.

You can create a connection with visitors by telling your story visually through multimedia, or simply through engaging text. Show them who you are. Creativity is yours to seize here; just remember to speak rather than sell and you’ll be on the right track.

How to Get Started

We’ve packed a lot of information into this post, but none of the above should be seen as imposing or intimidating to implement, even if you’re thinking of a full redesign. In fact, many psychological triggers intertwine within a quick update to your strategy and website. And with Theme.Works, you can create a beautiful website in minutes, no coding required. You have complete control over not only your website design, but also how your strategic marketing decisions manifest themselves throughout that design. So, are you ready to start converting visitors into customers? Try Theme.Works today.

by Daniel Gordon

Daniel Gordon is a commercial copywriter, editor and content strategist who seeks to engage and inspire through the power of the written word. He enjoys living a creative life.

1 comment

  1. Pingback: Get More Clients Part II: More Website Conversion Triggers

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *