This is the second post in a six part series that looks at Robert Cialdini’s 6 Principles Of Persuasion and identifies areas in which they can be used to increase a websites conversion rate. Want to know more about this series? Read the Introduction post.
What is the principle of Commitment?
The principle of commitment is also often called the principle of consistency.
Cialdini believes that we as people have a deep desire to be consistent. This is the reason once we have committed to something, we are more likely to go through with it.
What this means is that once we have made an initial commitment or taken a certain stand/position on a topic we are much more likely/willing to agree to requests that are consistent with our earlier commitment or stand-point.
Commitments are more powerful when they are public or known by others as people believe they have to continue to be seen to be consistent with their earlier actions/commitment.
This makes for a very powerful tool for marketers or for people who are looking to get others to take a specific action.
How to execute the principle of Commitment?
In order to execute the principle of commitment you have to attempt to get people to make a small commitment that is in some way related to the larger commitment that you are looking to achieve further down the line.
Here is an example used by Cialdini that shows hoe the commitment principle can be executed:
A group of people were provided with a cancer awareness ribbon and were asked to wear it for a week. The majority of this group believed it to be a harmless request and so wore the ribbon for a week. A while later after some time had past, these same people were asked to make a donation to help fight cancer. The people who had been asked to wear the ribbon for a week gave more than people who had not been asked to wear a ribbon. Why? Because they had publicly been showing that they were ‘cancer-fighters’ when asked to donate they believed that had to stay consistent with that commitment and made larger than average donations.
The trick is to get that commitment early and then build on it later on to get the person to take the action that you would like them to take.
The aim is to get the person you are looking to persuade to see themselves as something/someone they want to be and make them make that commitment. For example you can tell someone that they are an intelligent person, then later on you can say how intelligent people do x,y,z so they should to.
Car salesmen will aim to get visitors to their forecourts to test drive a car, as once the visitor has made the commitment to take the car for a drive, they are more likely to continue that onto a purchase.
One of the most common practices used by people selling services online is to offer a free-trial of their service, possibly for 30 days. Once the visitor has made that initial low-risk commitment at the start they are then more likely to becoming paying customers once their trial is over. This is a practice you can clearly see in action over at Visual Website Optimizer:
I hope that you now have an understanding of the second principle of persuasion: Commitment. If you are still struggling to understand then feel free to post your questions in the comment section below. If you are already implementing this principle why not share the approach that you have taken below so that others can learn from it. And finally if you are struggling to come up with that killer idea on how you can carry out this on your website then post your detail below and I will help you out.
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