CXL Digital Psychology and Persuasion Minidegree — Week 8 Review

Photo by Kourosh Qaffari from Pexels

This week I covered two courses — Building Trust and Building Habits and Loyalty. I think I say this every week, but this might be my favorite topic because I can see how many people in my world rush the trust part and skip straight to give me your email address, give me your mobile number, now give me your credit card number for this $37 product. Is it too much, too fast?

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

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


I’m not really sure I’ve thought about trust when writing copy but I sure will be from now on. In any relationship, people must have basic trust needs met before being able to progress to more substantial interactions.

What does that mean for us? Asking someone for their mobile number for a lead magnet could prevent them from moving forward.

Establishing trust, whether with a stranger or with a website, is gradual: as the relationship progresses, skepticism is overcome, the comfort level increases and new demands can be made. The relationship evolves through different stages of commitment, each built on top of the previous ones. Higher levels of commitment cannot be attained before the lower ones.

Levels of Commitment — Users’ Trust Needs (from this article).

  1. Baseline Relevance Could this site help me accomplish my goal? Is it credible and can I depend on this information? Does it seem to have my best interests at heart?
  2. Interest and preference over other options — Do I choose to use this site for this task? Is it better than other options?
  3. Trust with personal information — Is this site’s offering valuable enough to justify the time and effort to register? Do I trust the site with my personal information? Do I want emails from this company?
  4. Trust with sensitive/financial information — Do I trust this site to securely use and store my sensitive data (e.g. credit card, street address)? Is it worth the risk?
  5. Willingness to commit to an ongoing relationship — Am I comfortable enough to establish a continuous connection with this site (e.g., recurring charge, linking with other accounts)?

Biggest takeaway: Don’t make demands at higher levels of commitment until you’ve addressed all the trust needs at the inferior levels.

Pyramid of Trust

Tips for adding trust:

  1. Allow browsing to build trust and credibility. Let them see what they can expect.
  2. Allow guest checkout, PayPal, etc. instead of making them register to check out.

Remember: High trust comes from experience so give them plenty of opportunities to connect with you.

BJ Fogg’s Credibility Factors

  1. Appropriate Design — For your company and what your visitor’s expectations are.
  2. Easy Verification — Visitors can easily verify the statements you are making.
  3. Show You are Real. Show real people, the people who are behind the website.
  4. Prove Expertise — Show certifications and degrees and organizations you belong to.
  5. Real (Trustworthy) Humans behind the product. Allow them to show their personalities.
  6. Easy to Contact — the more ways to contact you and the more obvious those ways are, the more credible you will be. Live Chat makes it a rather human experience and convenient.
  7. Easy to Use — More important than trust when choosing which site to go to for medical information.
  8. Update Often — Fresh information makes you more credible. Show people the activity on your site is current.
  9. Limit Promotion/Ads — You can have ads that are nicely designed blocks that look credible.
  10. Avoid ALL Errors — Tech errors and misspellings reduce credibility of the entire site.

The Ultimatum Game

Socialization plays a role in building trust. Here’s proof. A common experiment psychologists use is the Ultimatum Game.

There are two players who don’t know each other and have never met. The first player proposes how to divide a sum of money with the second party. If the second player accepts the division, they each get the agreed amount. If the second player rejects this division, neither gets anything.

In this scenario, there is a 33 percent failure rate, meaning the second party doesn’t agree.

But when the two players are allowed to talk to one another socially for 10 minutes before the experiment, the rate jumped to 83 percent fair deal and just a 5 percent failure.

Key takeaway: To increase sales and negotiation success, socialize first.

Goal Gradient and Endowed Progress Effect

What we are looking for is true loyalty that comes from experience and emotion rather than having people locked in and can’t get out.

Rewards programs are not the same thing as loyalty. Rewards reinforce behavior. They are best used as an incentive.

Fixed rewards

  • 10th cup of coffee free
  • Gold Status at 50,000 miles

“The reward needs to come often enough so that there is reinforcement. At the same time, it can’t be too close. Then it wouldn’t be meaningful.”

Rewards must be desirable and achievable!

Endowed Progress Effect

The idea is that instead of having rewards cards with 10 empty spots where you have to make 10 purchases to get a free coffee (or whatever), you have 12 spots with two already filled in so the reward was still a free coffee after 10 purchases. That triggers the goal gradient effect where it looks like they had already made progress and they want to get to their goal faster.

Three Ways to Ramp Up Motivation in Rewards Programs

Show progress visually. You’ll motivate them more.

Your Rewards Program:

  1. Exploit Goal Gradient
  2. Establish goals, show progress
  3. Increase motivation
  4. Start with “free” progress credit.
  5. Be generous with progress estimation
  6. Be fair with rules! Perception of fairness

Final note, you should integrate your rewards and loyalty programs with everything else.

Nir Eyal’s Hooked Model: A Quick Overview

How to build habit-forming products.



  • External
  • Email, notification, ad, tweet, invitation to download
  • Tells you what to do — Check it out


  • Internal
  • Rises from an emotion or state (bored, hungry, frustrated)
  • You know what to do

Open app
Go to website
Post a comment
Send message


For taking action, you get a reward
Our brain loves variable rewards — different people liking our FB posts, …

Information rewards — Google — get variable reward that is novel to your brain

Using the product stores value for you. You are building your value within that product

Examples: # of followers, bank of tweets, … so much invested in Twitter/products

Just knowing how to use them makes it worth staying instead of going somewhere else and learning something new.

Example: Alexa — speech learning skills integrations — becomes more valuable the more you use it.

KEY: Process loads the next trigger.

Ideal: the more you use a product, the more value it has to you.

B = M + A + T

Behavior = Motivation + Action + Trigger

There are six factors that can increase motivation.

Seeking pleasure
Avoiding pain
Seeking hope
Avoiding fear
Seeking acceptance
Avoiding rejection

Every bit of copy you see in advertising, on your website, tv commercial — at its core is about manipulating one or more of these 6 levers of motivation.

Six factors can increase or decrease ability.

  • Time it takes
  • Money it costs
  • Physical effort is required
  • Brain cycles and cognitive load
  • Social deviance — we become more likely to do something when we see other people like us doing it
  • Non-routine we become more likely to do it simply because we have done it before in the past

Questions that will keep me up at night…

What responsibility do we have when changing user behavior?

The world is full of problems to fix. Help others find meaning. Engage them in something important. Help them build healthy habits.


What itch are you scratching? What’s the psychological requirement of your product?

I love these questions — not just for my clients but for my own business.




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

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

3 Features We All Wish Were Available On LinkedIn

What Chipotle Just Taught Us About Packaging Digital Products

How ‘The Detroit Entrepreneur’ Plans to Build Community Small Businesses and Talents

AMA RECAP: DeFi Raccoons X Faith Tribe

The “Charm’tastic Mile” Unveils New 2022 Postcard for Tourists at Hotels

How Well Is Your Content Performing On Social Media?

10 Lessons from the Top 10 Best Digital Marketing Books to Read in 2022

Having The Weight Of The World On Your Shoulders

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Kristina Shands

Kristina Shands

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

More from Medium

Every Sales Page Must Have These 5 Proven Areas to Turbocharge Your Sales

Are you Struggling to Succeed in Digital Marketing..?

5 steps to developing a marketing strategy

7 Little Known Copywriting Strategies to Transform Your Business in 30 Days or Less