Your website sucks because it's lying to me
One way to get more people to make a purchase is to provide social proof - evidence that other humans, ideally similar to them, have already made a purchase.
Another tactic is to create a sense of urgency - implying that visitors need to act quickly or they’ll miss out on an opportunity.
Deploying these tactics is often as simple as adding some copy or installing a free widget on your site.
For example, the Shopify plugin store has several options for creating “social proof sales pop ups.” They look like this:
And a few lines of custom code will get you “shopping cart urgency messaging”:
Crucially, you can trigger the sales pop ups even if you’re not getting sales. And you can fire the shopping cart message whether the item is actually scarce or not.
Given that these notifications are based on solid psychological principles of persuasion, and since it’s pretty simple to add them to your site, doesn’t it make sense to try them out and see if they help?
No. Because they’re cheap, dishonest hacks that real humans will see through.
Here's what you can do
Do not lie to your customers. Even if it increases sales in the short term, do not lie to your customers.
Do not use these tactics if the information they present is not absolutely true.
Even if it is true, you should probably avoid them - because plenty of other websites use them dishonestly, and your customers won’t necessarily know that you’re one of the good guys.
Here are a couple of ethical - and more persuasive - ways to provide social proof:
Display customer reviews, ideally including a picture of the reviewer
For ecommerce, add unboxing videos from real customers
For SaaS or lead generation, create video case studies and testimonials
As for urgency, it’s fine to let visitors know if supplies are limited, or an offer will soon expire.
And it’s fine to experiment with where and how you present this information.
It’s fine to try all sorts of tactics - just keep in mind that so-called Best Practices, or growth hacks, or plugins and add-ons will not provide you with a moral compass.
It’s up to you to decide where to draw the line, and so I beg you: do not lie to your customers.