The painful path to conversion

A psychological exploration


I hope your week has been good so far.

Personally, I’ve been feeling a bit philosophical of late. Maybe it’s the change in season or the fact that we’re already a quarter of the way through the year – whatever it is, I’ve been thinking. Deeply.

So today I’m channelling that, sharing some psychological insights and how you can use them to really connect with your customers and ultimately, drive conversion.

Here’s what I’ve got for you:

🧠 The painful path to conversion (bear with me)

✍️ Converting with long-form content

💬 Ask me anything


The painful path to conversion

It’s a grizzly headline but stick with me.

What if I told you that you could increase your conversion rate by leaning into some psychological truths?

The fact is, human beings move away from pain much more easily than they move towards pleasure. For most of us, consciously or not, pain – or rather, avoiding it – is our biggest motivator.

Every great business idea or product stems from a problem (or pain point) that needs solving. So, the question is – what problem does your product solve?

For some, the problem is clear. BLUNT recognised that pointy ends are a hazard and umbrellas tend to be flimsy. They honed in on a common frustration, then solved the problem with a beautifully designed, high-performing product – which is now an icon.

BLUNT Classic Collection

For others, the problem is less pronounced. Realistically, what pain point is a $5,000 dress solving that a $200 dress isn’t? The answer? Image. Wearing that dress implies status. It gives the customer a degree of confidence which they may be lacking deep down.

So when you’re selling luxury items – or any non-necessities – how do you tap into the pain response without causing actual pain?

To answer that, I give you Gucci…


Converting with long-form content

When you’re trying to tap into a pain response, there’s only so far you can push your product description before you stray into tacky infomercial territory.

“Tired of spending hours struggling to open that can of beans? Well, have I got a solution for you!”

But wait, there’s more…

Tapping into a pain response without sacrificing your brand (and dignity) requires much more tact. This Gucci advertorial demonstrates how to do it beautifully.

Gucci Epilogue Collection

This long-form article shows off the new Epilogue Collection but through a surreal, whimsical lens that – and this is the important bit – sells individualism.

“Gucci offers the individual a chance to experiment in a grand lab, to try on different identities, different modes of being, different outlooks on the world. In Gucci fashion, you can be anything you want to be.”

Gucci Epilogue Collection

Throughout the advertorial, they use language like “alternate universe” and phrases like “the mundane versus the extraordinary”.

The point of this is not that Gucci’s customers can have a pet unicorn if they will it but that the concept of this advertorial is based on an innate understanding of their audience.

While this doesn’t inflict pain on the target market, it does utilise painful themes to make the products more appealing. Feelings of disdain for the everyday; a need for freedom of expression; insecurities about forging a unique identity – we can go very Freudian on this but you get the idea.

When you lay it all out like this, it feels a bit icky and manipulative but the truth is that all good products solve a problem, whether that problem is physical or psychological.

If your product sits in the psychological camp, your customers are going to need more than a product description to make a purchase.

Think about your target market and what truly motivates them. Understand the pain response, then create something aspirational from it.

Long-form content is amazing for conveying complex ideas. Video, advertorials, blog articles, podcasts – these are all great mediums to bring your customers along the journey to conversion.

My advice? Allocate some of your ad spend to this type of content – work with trusted publications and/or drive customers towards compelling content and see how that affects your sales.


Ask me anything

Go on. I’m all ears.

I'm eager to see if you have any burning questions about e-commerce, design, development, conversion, retention, or anything else I might be able to help with.

I've got a list of questions to run through from various sources already. To add yours to the list, reply to this email by midday tomorrow.

I'll share a video with my answers next week.


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Thanks for reading!

Until next time.

Alex Murton
Managing Director & Co-Founder
Studio Almond