Principles of Persuasion Inspired by Dr. Cialdini


For over 60 years, researchers have been studying what influences us people to say yes to other people’s request. It couldn’t be denied that there’s science involved in how we get persuaded. It would be nice to think that people think about every other detail when it comes to making a decision, but most of the time, that’s just not how it works. Our lives get more and more overloaded as time goes by, and right now, we need every shortcut we could take when it comes to making a decision. More or less three decades ago, Dr. Cialdini published a book that talked about 6 principles.

This principles has been adapted into a lot of things, especially marketing online. It has also been adapted in the business of conversion rates and it makes sense because when it comes to conversions, persuasion is very important. When a person reaches your website, by accident or voluntarily you want to make sure that person converts into a buyer. And mind you, even the slightest bit of conversion makes a difference. Here are Dr.Cialdini’s 6 principles of persuasion in order to boost conversions.

6 Principles of Persuasion 

The 1st universal principle of persuasion is reciprocity

Whenever you are the first to offer, people will feel like they owe you somehow. And that makes people more likely to consider and comply to your requests. Humans are just really wired to be reciprocal.

Factors that make this principle even more effective:

  • Be the first to offer something to make them feel indebted.
  • Offer them something that hold exclusiveness, they will feel more special.
  • Make your offer more personal, if they know it’s from you, the better.

The best example I could use to show the principle of reciprocity would be from restaurants. When you are in a restaurant, there are chances when a waiter/waitress would offer you a gift. It happens near the time they would give your bill. They would sometimes offer you a fortune cookie, dessert for free, or even just a mint. Now does the mint influence the amount of tip you would be giving? Most of the people asked this question would answer no, but if you are in the situation, yhou will be surprised of how it could make a difference. Studies has shown that giving a customer mint before the bill increased the tips by as much as 3%.

But here’s something interesting, if you give two mints, the tips won’t double. They actually quadruple, there will be a 14% increase in the tips. But if the waiter gives one mint, acts as if he’s about to walk away, but would pause and turn back then say “For amazing guests tonight, here’s an extra mint”, the tips would increase more than you can imagine. And that’s how the principle of reciprocity should work, you should be the first to give, and make sure it’s unexpected and personalized.

The 2nd Principle of Persuasion is Scarcity.

When things rarely come by or is exclusive, the more we get drawn into it.

When things are hard to have, we think it’s better than what is readily available. We assume and link quality to availability.

Ways that you could trigger urgency on your website:

  • Limited time- when items are only available during that period.
  • Limited Number- When products are limited and won’t be restocked.
  • One of a kind- for anniversaries, collabs, products that won’t be seen anywhere else.
  • Utilizing competition- this one is most of the time utilized in auctions or bids.

The science behind persuading others through the principle of scarcity is pretty clear. Telling your audience about the benefits your product provide isn’t enough to persuade them you have to make it seem urgent. You have to make what they will lose if they don’t buy it ASAP clear to them.

The 3rd Principle of persuasion is the Principle of Authority.

When we see people who look like they know what they are doing we most of the time follow them. Especially on things that we don’t know much about, that’s the common reason why people use “Experts say…” “Researchers say…”. 

Giving the air of authority could be done by:

  • Titles- The position or power of a person or the experience of the person.
  • Clothes- Cues that would link to authority.
  • Trappings- Cues that aren’t direct and would join roles with authority.

There was a group of real estate agents who were able to increase the amount of property appraisals as well as the subsequent contracts. They were able to do this by telling their receptionist to answer their customers question by mentioning the credentials and expertise of their colleagues at the very beginning. So it mainly went like this, “Oh, Lettings? Wait a moment, allow me to connect you to Joel, who has over 20 years experience in letting properties in your area, Florida”.

When they insert an expert intro they rise as much as 20% in appointments, and more than 15% in signed contracts. In such a very small change done, in a change that wouldn’t cost any amount, it has made a big and positive difference.

The 4th principle is Consistency and Commitment.

When we have already chosen something, we tend to stick to it no matter what.

Every day, we come across a lot of choices that has to be made, we make a decision and have to stay with it for every choice relevant it that has to be made. And that is one technique to gain your customers loyalty, by making them promise to a stand, a statement, or to an identity. Once they have done that they will feel like it’s compulsory to stay with it.

Ways to leverage from this type of principle:

  • Make your customers start form little actions, so that they would stay with it.
  • Encourage them to commit publicly, that would make backing out unlikely to happen.
  • Reward customers because they have invested effort and time in your company.

When you look for, ask for, consistency becomes activated and small commitments happen.

The 5th principle is Liking.

When we like the person who makes the request, it’s more likely for us to comply.

And this “like” could range from our closest friends to complete strangers that we are somehow attracted to. This is the reason for word of mouth recommendation being the best marketing strategy. When something is endorsed by people that we like whether it’s a singer, or our peers, we tend to comply.

Factors that would make this principle work:

  • Physical attractiveness- have a well designed website that functions and matches your products.
  • Similar- act like you are a buddy, a friend, not a brand.
  • Compliments- Use your social media to connect to people who admire your brand.

Basically, we like people that are similar to us, we like those who compliments us, and we like people who unite with us to reach mutual goals. A study was made where there was two group tested to see if they would agree with each others ideas. The first group was told to discuss it right away, while the second was asked to exchange personal information first and try to get to know each other. The second group had an argument while the second group was able to have agreeable outcomes.

So in order to be successful, make sure that you are sharing in a place where there are similarities shared.

The 6th principle is Social Proof

Most of the time, we trust what’s popular or what people we trust tells us.

  • Experts- get approval from reliable people in the field.
  • Celebrities- get approval or testimonials from them.
  • Wisdom of crowds- get approval from groups of people
  • Peers- get approval from people that you know.

Especially at times when people aren’t sure they will look at the actions of other people in order to decide what to do.

Just like in most hotels, in order for them to persuade their guests into reusing the towels they have signs that say 75% of our guest use their towel more than once during their stay, please do as well. And towels become reused by 26%. But imagine if all it said was “75% of our guests in this room reused their towel” it would not be nice and you might be wondering if it’s still the same towel/ Just a few words could make a total difference.

The science behind this is showing than instead of relying on your own power to persuade other people, point what others are already doing, especially if a high number of people are doing it.


Every day, people are trying to influence each other. One influences, and the other tries to influence others or influence them back. Sometimes it’s okay, it’s already part of the normal, but sometimes it could become annoying. So whenever you use these 6 principals, make sure that you are also following the fundamentals. Dr. Cialdini has worked with different influence professionals in order to come up with this, and we can’t deny how right it could be.

6 Response to "Principles of Persuasion Inspired by Dr. Cialdini"

  1. Comment From Anthony Cruz

    Sometimes, I offer my customers something for free as they checkout and whenever I do 99% of them come back and turn into loyal customers.

  2. Comment From Andrea Ferrer

    This is totally right and inspiring but also remember to know when the right time is. Some people’s mistake is trying too hard to influence a person it becomes annoying so also make sure to make the flow not sales like.

  3. Comment From Kathryn Drew

    I have been doing most of this principles unconsciously. This is very nice, I want to know more of his works.

  4. Comment From Althea Smith

    Good read! Dr.Cialdini has more work that is definitely worth checking out!

  5. Comment From Jonathan Johnson

    The 3rd principle works every time physically but is tricky to do online. But it’s definitely worth the try.

Comments are closed.