CXL Digital Psychology and Persuasion Minidegree — Week 11 Review

This week I covered four classes and I have to say, I am in love with what I am learning. I can’t wait to put it into practice.

At this point, a lot of the material has already been covered but presented in a different way. I need that because the brain is quite full of 90s hairband lyrics so repetition is key for me.

So, here is a list of the classes this article will cover:

Psychology of Products
Psychology of Communication
Psychology of Pricing
Social Proof

Before we dive into some of my biggest takeaways, I want to remind you that you can read my previous reviews by clicking the links below.

CXL Digital Psychology and Persuasion Minidegree — Week 1 Review
CXL Digital Psychology and Persuasion Minidegree — Week 2 Review
CXL Digital Psychology and Persuasion Minidegree — Week 3 Review
CXL Digital Psychology and Persuasion Minidegree — Week 4 Review
CXL Digital Psychology and Persuasion Minidegree — Week 5 Review
CXL Digital Psychology and Persuasion Minidegree — Week 6 Review
CXL Digital Psychology and Persuasion Minidegree — Week 7 Review
CXL Digital Psychology and Persuasion Minidegree — Week 8 Review
CXL Digital Psychology and Persuasion Minidegree — Week 9 Review
CXL Digital Psychology and Persuasion Minidegree — Week 10 Review

And if you are interested in checking out this training program for yourself (I highly recommend it), then visit the CXL Institute.


Psychology of Products

What does it take to make your product a habit? What would it do for your business if your product was addictive (but in a good way)?

There is a four-step framework to building habits and high customer satisfaction around your product.

  1. Engage your users
  2. Complete the action
  3. Keep them coming back
  4. Create investment

Think about the products you use every day:

  • Phone
  • Espresso machine
  • Facebook
  • Google

They solve a core need, not just physically (like caffeine) but there is the psychology behind it.

What path are your users taking? What will get them to automatically pick up your product or use your service?

You need to define the behavioral plan to map the path your users are taking.

Think of what they must do out of the product, not just in it.

What is going on not just inside our product but what is happening outside in their world and what is the need they have that triggers the need for this product in the first place. And what is their life like after they use your product?

Get users engaged.

Get them started using your product. What is the trigger or cue that signals them to start using a product?

External — notifications, emails, advertising, WOM, texts, CTAs — we can control these in a lot of ways

  • Make the trigger clear — a clear target- make it clear what they are supposed to be doing — what exactly are you asking them to do
  • Send at the right time — time is crucial
  • Make it exciting and engaging — how do you prime people with words

Internal — urge we get to use a product without being prompted — the personal problem/emotion needs to be solved — boredom, anxiety, pressure, FOMO, needs excitement, connection, lonely,

Exercise: Know your cues and triggers

  • What are your user’s internal triggers?
  • What external triggers are likely to engage them?
  • When should they receive the trigger?

Complete the Action

After you have your users engaged, it’s crucial to get them to complete an action no matter how small.

New behaviors are hard. We typically go at it the completely wrong way.

We change our behavior slowly over time.

Pick the smallest possible thing and get started. Commit to something you know they can achieve.

What is the simplest thing — one key action — that we can ask of our people?

Make the key action easy:

  • Clearly define the key action
  • Make the action easy to find
  • Make the action clear
  • Make the action easy

EXERCISE: What’s your product’s key action?

  • What’s the key action for a user to take?
  • Is the current process making it easy for them to do that? Map out the steps a user currently takes to complete the key action.
  • How can we simplify the process?
  • Can we make it easier to find?
  • Can we make it more clear?
  • Can we make it easier to complete?

Keep them coming back

What are your product’s rewards?

  • What are the rewards your users receive for completing the action?
  • How can you make the rewards more salient?

Beyond the Reward — Create investment

How can users be more invested in your product?

  • How can you build investment after the reward?
  • List the steps required for rewards and investment

Bringing it all together — Define the behavioral plan

  • Combine the steps for each phase to create a behavioral plan for the product
  • What’s the user’s story? What will have changed in their life when the actions are complete?

Then think about how you can optimize each step to make it easier.


Decisions are dependent on context. A great example is this survey of paroles granted by judges that found more paroles were handed out in the morning and right after lunch and fewer paroles were granted mid-morning and just before lunch. Why? Because the judges were hungry.

Judges were less generous when they were hungry. Small factors make a big impact on our decisions.

When are your users ready for your communication?

  • When is their motivation high?
  • When are they interested in the communication?
  • When is it their priority to complete the action?
  • When is their ability high?
  • When are they at the computer to open?
  • When is their focus high and distractions low?
  • When do they have the information they need?
  • Before sending, think, “when would I most want to read and react to this?”

Capturing Attention

Even when you get the timing right, there is still a lot of stuff vying for our attention. If we’re focused on one thing we can miss something — like a gorilla — if our attention is diverted in the other way.

It starts with the subject line.

Interesting stat: 35% of emails are opened based on the subject line alone.

Elements of a good subject line:


  • Clearly tell what it’s about
  • Clarify why it’s interesting to the reader
  • Who is the email for?
  • Why it’s relevant to them?
  • What are the benefits for the reader?


  • Personalize the message — having just the first name personalization increases your click-through rate from about 5.8% to 7%
  • Emails with “You” in the subject line are opened 5% more than those without
  • Make the sender a person’s name rather than a company (Jessica Webb, Hub Spot)
  • Make it official and trustworthy

Start strong

  • Start strong, length doesn’t matter, but the first 30 characters do
  • With more opens on mobile, the first characters of the subject line are more important

Optimize the experience for mobile users

  • 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing
  • 40% visit a competitor’s site instead

Create Action

Make the action clear:

  • Speak in the language your clients use
  • Write like you would speak to them in person
  • Remember that you are talking to a person
  • Ask the reader to take the action
  • Make it clear & obvious what they should do
  • Tell the ready why they should click
  • Use a short phrase
  • “Download market whitepaper”
  • “Save your spot on the webinar”
  • Visually separate the CTA from the rest of the content
  • It should be clear and easy to find

Get to the point

  • The necessary action and its benefits should be clear right away
  • Readers will only see the first few lines before having to scroll down, so make them count.
  • TL:DR at the top — set the expectation of how long it will take to read

Make it easy to read and easy to skim

  • Use subheading and short paragraphs
  • Make it easy to read fast
  • Subheadings and short paragraphs make it easy to jump to the content they are most interested in


We pay very different prices depending on the context of when we’re paying it and what it’s for.

There are two ways we can create context for how to view the price:

  1. Comparisons — We tend to look at whatever similar goods we can think of that we can compare that to.
  2. Implicit comparison — We make them ourselves based on past experience and what we’ve seen
  3. Explicit Comparison — When a comparison is specifically stated or brought up by the marketer or advertiser (i.e. Coke vs Pepsi)

What explicit comparisons could you make?

What other products are consumers considering when choosing your product?

What do they charge? How can you differentiate value?

Perceived Benefits

The next thing that creates context for pricing is perceived benefits.

A product’s benefits, both conscious and subconscious, define its value to the consumer.

There’s the actual price in the context of comparisons you make, and then there are the actual benefits that we’re looking to get out of the product.

Primary Drivers: A product’s features
Level 2 Drivers: Benefit of the feature
Level 3 Drivers: Emotions or goals the benefit satisfies (internal desires)

Change Your Price’s Perception


What is framing?

The way choices are arranged and presented to us changes the way we perceive our options and make decisions.

Framing affects pricing perception. subscription example:

$56 for online subscription (68% chose this)
$125 for online + print (32% chose this)

$56 for online subscription (16% chose this)
$125 for print only (0% chose this)
$125 for online + print (84% chose this)

Given that extra frame of reference, it completely changed the perception of the value of each one.

The Decoy Effect — Where you can add in this third option and it just completely changes our perception of the price by creating more value.

Center Stage Effect — We almost always choose the middle option when given a choice.

Anchoring is another example.

Set the price at $999 and then give them a deal to sell at $499. Anchor is where the original expectation is set.

Frame value.

Save a baby’s life for less than the price of a cup of coffee

We’ll save you $10,000

Frame what’s popular.

Frame with social proof.

Frame urgency — Only 1 seat left at this price.

Optimize the Payment Process

One of the most powerful motivators is the loss emergence; We hate losing stuff.

We’re always thinking about trade-off. Help them see the value in what they are buying.

Hassle factors — How can you make it easier to pay?

Timing — What is it that makes the experience nice>?

We tend to be a lot more satisfied with our purchases when we pay for it upfront rather than pay in installments, or way later.

Map out the current process of payment. How can the process be improved?

  • Make sure the value is framed
  • Reduce hassle factors
  • Consider alternate methods and timing for payment


What is social proof?

Any third party, unbiased proof that’s outside of a claim your company would make.

If someone is motivated to purchase they will seek social proof out, and best that you’re the one handing it to them.

Examples of social proof:

Case studies
Customer interviews
Security icons
Start-to-finish experience

Case studies and testimonials are two of the most common forms of social proof on websites. In this video, Joel breaks down the ways that a compelling story drives customer engagement. He also gives us some tips on writing and structuring stories in a way that is both believable and compelling.

1. Specificity
2. Relatability to audience
3. Ability to support an actual claim


Whew. That’s a lot, and still just a fraction of what I learned this week. Thanks for reading.



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Kristina Shands

Kristina Shands

Launch strategist and copywriter for spiritual entrepreneurs on a mission to heal the world.