Improve conversions and satisfaction by understanding fear

1. Identify the problem associated with not having your product.

Through interviews, surveys, and review mining, figure out what pain point your product is solving and how customers would feel without that solution. Take their exact words and phrases – voice of customer data – and use them in marketing copy.

2. Use the problem you identified to create personally relevant threats targeting your audience’s vulnerabilities.

People that feel vulnerable to a threat are more likely to be nudged toward the desired action. Choose a fear appeal that is both high-arousal and targeted at vulnerable respondents. Remember that vulnerability isn’t easy to predict, so personally relevant threats aren’t always as easy as knowing your target audience. For example, smokers are aware of the dangers of smoking but generally make excuses, due to cognitive dissonance, that lower their own perceived risk.

3. Offer your product or service as an easy and effective solution to your audience’s fears.

Convince your audience they can actually do something about their fear, otherwise, you risk driving paralysis instead of action. The most important ingredient in an effective fear appeal campaign is perceived efficacy — a combination of both self-efficacy (Can I avert the threat myself?) and response-efficacy (Will the action recommended indeed avert the threat?).  For example, this fear appeal calls for the viewers to wear a helmet – an action proven to avert the threat and one that viewers can easily do to avert the threat themselves: This fear appeal calls for the viewers to wear a helmet—an action proven to avert the threat and one that viewers can easily do to avert the threat themselves.

4. Add a clear call to action next to your fear appeal to make it easier for them to commit the desired action.

The less friction users have on the path to ease their fears, the more likely they are to convert. Adding a clear call to action right next to the fear appeal encourages users to take action right when you scare them. This could be as simple as making them aware of the negative consequences of missing out (scarcity) and providing a way for them to avoid these consequences. For example, buy now and receive before Christmas.  The image below is a perfect example that shows that fear doesn’t always have to look dramatic and scary: Letting customers know that there's only 9 products left in stock makes plays on their fear of missing out (scarcity) and encourages them to take action.

5. Remind users how effective your solution is and reassure them that they made the right decision by taking action.

Reassuring users who chose your product or service further eases their fears and leads to increased customer satisfaction down the line.