These 6 Cialdini’s Principles of Persuasion Can Teach You Marketing Fundamentals Instantly

Image: Jakub Šafránek, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons, image link

Boost your sales, improve conversions, and reach more people following 6 simple techniques.

Digital marketing doesn’t have to be solely about SEO, content, numbers, and statistics.

If you think about it, being a genuine human is often enough to tell the story, convince people and convert them into buyers.

Robert Cialdini, an American psychologist, knew this already back in 1984 when he published the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.

Cialdini spent a great portion of his life researching influence and persuasion and summed up his finding in the above-mentioned book, which later became a part of the New York Times Best Seller and Fortune lists.

For me, this book was a groundbreaking discovery when I started learning digital marketing half a decade ago.

Although his work is almost forty years old, the principles outlined here are still applicable today and the majority of globally-known enterprises keep consistently using them in their marketing strategies.

And why do they work? The answer is simple:

Humans prefer to make decisions based on emotions rather than logic. To be precise, up to 90% of our decisions are emotion-based.

Cialdini understood this during his research of influence and persuasion and therefore aimed his principles at impacting buyers’ emotions.

Knowing this, you should temporarily forget about Google Analytics or your stats page and learn a bit about psychology and influence.

Cialdini’s principles will help you improve your conversion rates, increase sales, and ultimately, make you a successful entrepreneur — or content creator (content is a product too!).

1. Reciprocity

In order to get, you need to give first.

If you want to sell, be the person who makes the initial step. Whether it’s offering a free e-book, trial, checklist, or cheat sheet, make sure you give before you ask for something in return.

We naturally feel obliged to return the favor and pay off our debts, so buying from you after you gave me free stuff feels more reasonable.

Plus, you are becoming more respectable in the eyes of customers when you’re willing to share something with others for free.

Simple as that.


Make sure what you offer is valuable and useful. Don’t give away crap — it’s disrespectful.

2. Consistency

The consistency principle (or commitment principle) tells us that once people display some behavior, they are likely to stick to this behavior in the future.

We simply want to be consistent with our manners, previous self-image, and identity.

Marketers use the technique to convert a person from a visitor to a customer utilizing various tools. For example, you’re interested in dieting, and you enter a website about healthy eating where you’ll get an offer to take a short quiz to determine your weight-losing goals.

Once they get your attention, they are one step closer to selling you. Instead of dropping a sale offer right away, they proposed you a free quiz to get a foot in the door.

Now, when you act like a person who wants to lose weight, you’re likely to stay and discover more about diets because you want to stick to your previous self-image of a person who wants to get fit.

To make this principle work for you, focus on slowly building up your potential customer self-image so they’ll commit to you.

You can achieve this with:

3. Social proof

Social proof is a major driving force when converting visitors into customers. Think of reviews, star ratings, comments, or social shares.

To prove the power of social influence, I took a few statistics from Pew Research Center:

  • 50% of US adults younger than 50 check reviews before purchasing new products
  • 82% of US adults stated that they read customer ratings and reviews at least a couple of times before buying a product for the first time, while 40% said they do it every time before purchase

Plus, the latest Edelman Trust Barometer survey showed that only 8% of people believe that the information displayed in ads is accurate.

Thus, oddly enough, we trust strangers on the Internet more than we trust professional ads.

This means you should focus on getting as many social proofs as possible, without hesitance to give people something back for a review — if necessary. You can offer discounts or even give away free products in exchange for an honest review.

It might seem crazy to be handing out free stuff or high discounts, but receiving positive reviews and feedback can guarantee higher sales in the future, hence, you’ll make up for your initial loss.

4. Authority

Humans tend to trust authority figures more due to authority bias.

Sellers use this fact to their advantage because they know people get influenced more if the product/ service is made, reviewed, or recommended by someone who is an authority figure in any particular field.

Simple examples of this technique are the following statements:

  • 90% of US dentists are recommending this toothpaste.
  • Our software is used by companies like Google, Microsoft, and Dell.
  • As seen in Forbes, Inc., and Harvard Business Review.

Not everyone can claim anything from the examples above, especially if you’re just starting.

At that point, it might seem complicated to prove the value of your product or service, but there are always ways to fix this:

  • If possible, tell why people can trust you, e.g., you wrote a book about the mind & thinking because you studied psychology, so you know what you’re talking about.
  • Show stats, numbers, or any of your achievements so people can see what you’re selling really works. E.g., “with this method, I went from 0 followers to 4,000 in just three months.”
  • Highlight any relevant degrees, awards, or recommendations you got in the past.
  • Within your content, always use trusted sources and cite only experts in your field, not random blogs and websites. Don’t be shy to mention this to your readers —they will trust your content more if you link only to highly-reputable sources.

These actions will help you gain people’s trust and slowly build up your authority even more.

5. Liking

Liking someone increases the chances of you buying from this person.

However, it doesn’t have to be about physical attractiveness only — it also means that the person selling you is somehow similar to you, shares identical hobbies or values, or is simply caring and nice.

What does this mean for you as a content creator or marketer?

If you want to influence your readers and customers, you can achieve the principle of liking by following these rules:

  1. Share a bit about yourself
  • On your “about me” page of your website or in the product/e-book/course description. It allows customers to find some similarities between you and them.

2. Share reasons why you made the product/service

  • For example, “I’ve created this course because I know the struggle when you’re just starting and have no resources, information, or support. I was there too — and it cost me a lot of time and money. With this guide for newbies, you don’t have to repeat the mistakes I made.”

3. Stay human

  • Within your content, use everyday language, humor, and casual phrases. Also, don’t forget to give an honest compliment to potential customers.

6. Scarcity

The principle of scarcity makes people act fast without too much thinking. It uses FOMO and the fear of losing something rather than winning it.

Every big brand is using this technique to avoid buyer’s procrastination, so every customer knows the following phrases:

Only 2 items left in stock.

20% discount if you buy now.

Just three spots left.

161 people are looking at the product right now.

The sad thing about the scarcity principle in sales is that many marketers are simply lying.

There are way more items left in the stock than the sticker shows, there aren’t that many people looking at the product right now as the website says, and the “only if you buy now” discount will still be there tomorrow.

The good thing about the scarcity principle is that you can use it to your advantage without being a lying douche.

Just give something valuable in exchange for people’s willingness to buy right now without hesitation.


  • If you get my e-book right now, you’ll get access to exclusive content I share only with a small group of people.
  • Sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss a chance to win a free spot in my $200 course!
  • Buy now, and you’ll get free shipping (or 10% off on your next order, etc.)

The important factor in the scarcity principle is letting people know they are going to lose something if they don’t act now.


Although Cialdini originally introduced only 6 principles, later on, in his new book Pre-Suasion (2016), he added a new principle called Unity.

This principle talks about shared identities and has much in common with Liking.

However, in the case of Unity, Cialdini explains that sympathy sometimes isn’t enough to convince a potential customer and the marketer should focus more on showing what exclusive perks one might get when joining “the group of few”.

Unity can be simply seen as a we-identity, merging only the chosen ones familiar with a product or service.

Companies often use this trick when offering premium membership, access to private Slack groups, or anything that makes people feel exclusive.

To put everything in a nutshell, here are all of Cialdini’s principles:

1. Reciprocity

Give before you ask for something in return.

2. Consistency

Try to build up potential customers’ self-image to make them committed.

3. Social proof

Use people’s reviews and comments to prove the value and quality of your offer.

4. Authority

Point out reasons people can trust you, either due to your own expertise or recommendations from other authority figures.

5. Liking

Be honest and share what you have in common with your customers.

6. Scarcity

Make people act fast by showing them potential loss.

7. Unity

Create a feeling of shared identity that gives people a hint of exclusivity.

Cialdini’s principles give you a great understanding of people’s emotions and motives. If you manage to combine them with customer data, you’re set on a successful entrepreneur journey.

If you’re interested in topics like this, you might like the post below too:

How to Create High-Priced Products That People Are Happy to Pay For