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The holidays are just around the corner: time is running out. But I thought I’d include one last wrap-up post on how persuasive online communications can be tailored to Christmas / New Year. I’m not suggesting you do use all the methods below (or in previous posts). That would be overkill. Rather, consider it a “checklist”. Perhaps you can use one or two of these techniques.

Contrast Principle

Rarely do we evaluate things in isolation. Rather, we compare them to similar products and see how they stack up. This applies to price, color, taste and smell, quality, feel, features, etc.

As web marketers, we can control what our products are compared to. So… make sure your website compares your products to others that make yours look good!

One particularly effective (if rather diabolical) technique is to use a decoy: display an intentionally bad (overpriced or inferior) alternative next to the item you really want to sell. This will make the item look great in comparison.


We hate making decisions. Add the extra stress of pre-Christmas deadlines, and it’s even worse.

So… make it easy for your stressed-out last-minute shoppers to make a decision. Limit the number of options you display, and/or make a clear and strong recommendation.

Social Proof

As an adaptive shortcut to real decision-making, we often simply look to see what others are doing, then follow. To help stressed-out shoppers decide, let them know which products are the most popular choices.

Reason for Request

We’re much more likely to respond positively to a request if we’re told why we’re being asked. The interesting thing is, the reason need not be particularly good (unless the stakes are high). Mostly, we just like to hear “because…”

Whether you’re asking for a sale, an email signup, a donation or anything else, always state a reason for making the request:

  • Because this is the gift your daughter really wants”
  • Because we want to email you with special offers”
  • Because homeless people count on your generosity”

Divestiture Aversion

We tend to place an unrealistically high value on what we already have. Basically, we don’t like to have things taken away from us.

Consider making a great last-minute offer to select customers. And make it clear that this offer expires on Christmas. Many customers simply won’t be able to stand seeing this “special coupon” expire.

Feel Good

We tend to edit our view of the world to feel good about ourselves, to feel we’re “good people”.

What better time than Christmas to give your customers a chance to feel good about themselves? Let them know that by giving generous gifts, they’ll be proving their love for their friends and family.