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How to Increase Online Sales Using Placebo Effect and Cognitive Bias for E-commerce

abstract image of placebo effect bias in black and white

As an ecommerce store owner, designer, or marketer, one of the biggest goals is to increase online sales. But what if you could do it without spending time and money on advertising?

The answer lies in leveraging the power of cognitive bias and the placebo effect. By understanding how these two psychological phenomena can be used to create an online shopping experience that drives sales, you’ll be able to increase your online revenue without breaking the bank.

What is Cognitive Bias?

Cognitive bias is defined as “the tendency for an individual’s thought process to be biased by subconscious factors such as past experiences and personal beliefs”. In other words, it’s our tendency to make decisions based on what we feel instead of what we know. This is important when it comes to ecommerce because it means that subtle cues (e.g., design elements, imagery, copy) can have a big impact on how shoppers interact with your store and whether they ultimately decide to purchase from you or not.

What is Placebo Effect?

The placebo effect occurs when someone believes that something—whether it’s a drug or a shopping experience—will have a positive outcome but then experiences a benefit due to their belief regardless of any objective evidence for that outcome. In other words, if people think something will work, they will often experience the benefits even if there is no scientific evidence for why it should work. For ecommerce stores, this means that shoppers may be willing to buy from you just because they think your product will help them in some way.

Using Cognitive Bias and Placebo Effect Together for E-Commerce

Now that we understand more about cognitive bias and the placebo effect, let's explore some specific tactics you can use together to drive online sales:

1. Use Social Proof

People are more likely to buy products if they see others recommending them or buying them. The most effective way to leverage social proof in ecommerce is through reviews and customer testimonials - displaying these prominently on product pages can help boost conversions significantly. You can also use social media influencers or celebrity endorsements as another form of powerful social proof.

2. Leverage Visual Cues

Design matters - research has shown that people make snap judgments about websites within 50 milliseconds. This means that using visual elements like colors, fonts, or images strategically can influence whether people stay on your site or leave quickly without making a purchase.

3- Focus On Value

Instead of focusing solely on discounts or price points when trying to attract customers, focus on highlighting the value added by buying from your store instead. Research suggests that emphasizing value over price increases customer satisfaction and loyalty - both of which will lead to better long-term results for your business.

4. Create Urgency

Creating a sense of urgency with special offers or limited time discounts encourages customers to act quickly rather than wait till later - resulting in higher conversion rates. Just remember not to go overboard with this - too much urgency can come off as desperate rather than persuasive!

5. Provide Reassurance

Finally, don't forget about providing reassurance throughout the purchasing process with things like free shipping/returns policies or satisfaction guarantees – this helps ease customers' worries and increases trust in your brand overall.


In conclusion, understanding how cognitive bias and the placebo effect work together can help create an online shopping experience which drives more online sales for any ecommerce business. By leveraging tactics such as social proofing visual cues focus on value creating urgency providing reassurance etc., you'll be able one step closer towards achieving maximum ROI from every dollar spent on marketing efforts!