How to Boost Sales with Persuasion

Does this page sell? I constantly experiment to increase leads and sales from my web pages. In this article you’ll learn the method I use to critically analyse web pages and take concrete steps to increase your sales.

The 6 Persuasive Principles

Robert Cialdini wrote about 6 principles that persuade us. I’ve used those 6 principles to develop a process for analysing the persuasiveness of any sales page. And you can use this process yourself. Not only will it tell you how persuasive your sales page is. It will also tell you how to improve your level of persuasion. Read on to find out how.

Briefly, Robert’s 6 persuasive principles are:

  • Reciprocation - We want to reciprocate when given something for free
  • Consistency/commitment - We want to been seen as rational humans, and will often do strange things to be seen as keeping our word. Getting a person to verbally or in writing take some small action will support a much larger stance in that direction in the future.
  • Liking - We are drawn to and trust other people that seem like (similar to) us.
  • Scarcity - We want what we can’t have or is difficult to get
  • Authority - We often trust someone in a police outfit even if they aren’t a policeman
  • Social Proof - It is well known now that we use the wisdom of the crowd to help make decisions

As a side note, Robert’s book Influence expands on each of these principles in extreme depth with plenty of entertaining examples. Pick up a copy from your library - plenty of actionable advice - you won’t be disappointed.

How to rank your web page

I’ve translated the 6 principles into a repeatable process that will help you:

  • Rank your pages consistently; and
  • Put your sales through the roof.

But you must take action. Reading about the process won’t get you anything, you must use the process on your own website if you want to see results.

The Persuasion Rank Tool

Write the names of each of Cialdini’s 6 principles down the page.

And for each principle, we’ll score the web page (one page at a time in isolation) from 0 to 2.

  • A 0 means that this principle isn’t really used on the page
  • A 1 means that you can see the principle is used; and
  • A 2 means that it has been used well.

You’ll read through your web page, giving each principle a score. At the end, your tally will indicate whether you need to improve the site and in which areas.

Apply this rank per web page

Avoid the temptation to give yourself credit if a principle exists somewhere else on your site but not this page. For example, if you have a testimonials page, you can’t count that social proof towards your homepage. It exists only on the testimonials page which would get a solid 2 whereas your home page may have none and get a 0 for social proof.

See this principle in action

I’ll use this process to rank the FreshBooks website. FreshBooks is a kind of online bookkeeping and invoicing system for businesses. Their target market would be the owners and CFOs of small to medium sized companies.

Here is their website

Reciprocation - 0

The “Try It Free” offer could trigger the reciprocation principle. But do you really feel like you are getting something for free - especially considering the freebie lasts only 30 days? No.. me either.

Consistency and Commitment - 0

There isn’t anything to give someone the feeling that they’ve made a commitment. They could add a small check-box that says something like “Yes I want to focus on my work not my paperwork” above the sign up button. Having it automatically checked could trigger this commitment principle.

Liking - 2

They have one section on their page for accountants. An accountant browsing the site will see the link and feel comfortable knowing that they are in the right place.

Another section states:

Take a minute to learn how we’re in your corner

Though they are a huge company, no longer a small business. They’ve made an effort to close the distance between us and them, by stating they are in our corner.

Scarcity - 0

There isn’t any mention of scarcity on this page. The copy doesn’t imply that FreshBooks memberships are in any way a scarce resource. From time to time I am sure they do use this principle. Such as for a limited time sale and with invite only sign up during beta.

Authority - 2

They frequently mention the number of customers and invoices that have been issued. They also promote their featured status in some high profile publications like CNN, Forbes and CPA.

If you stacked all the invoices that FreshBooks has sent, it would stand taller than the CN Tower.


Join over 5 million people using FreshBooks to make billing painless.


Number 1 Cloud Accounting Specialist for Small Business Owners.

They assert their market dominance and authority on the subject of invoicing and bookkeeping. Not a lot of startups can do that. If you are a small business you’ll need to be more creative in your use of authority. You could show a tweet about you from a high profile company and use authority symbols such as trust seals.

Social Proof - 2

FreshBooks knock this one out of the park. And rightly so, it is such a powerful principle to apply. They have rotating quotes with photos from their users and magazine articles.

Total score - 6

FreshBooks’ total score is high, they’ve applied a number of the principles very well. It is difficult to score consistently high for every principle. Don’t be disheartened, use this FreshBooks score as a benchmark when you are ranking your own site.

Get the 6 principles now

I know some of you will be interested in getting a copy of the tool I use to rank web pages. I’ll personally email a copy to your address when you put your name in the form on the right →.

And, if you want me to look over your site and rank it with you just email me back and ask. I want you to be part of the experiment and help improve the tool.

Did you rank your site? Tell me about it.