CRO: It’s not just about the tools, it’s about rhetoric

By Charlie Claxton
VP of Creative Strategy, Produxs


cro rhetoricGiven that the quest to increase conversion – the “take action” part of an event – is really about persuading a user to take action), and persuasion is at the core of rhetoric, why is there not more talk about rhetoric?

Rhetoric, the art of discourse, has been around for more than 2,500 years and encompasses many aspects of our daily life (more than just politics).  Strategically manipulated information is how brands position themselves –it’s how products depict value over their competitors’ and is pivotal in the ways restaurants provide clues to potential customers about how expensive they are before they even look at the menu.

Though subtle, the strategic manipulation of information is all around us… to the point that consumers are increasingly leery. It’s similar to the situation of waiting in a long line to enter a nightclub, only to find it nearly empty when you get in. If you experience it a couple of times, then you’ll stop believing that clubs with long lines are actually busy.

Social proof, a well-known cognitive bias, is alive and well in many online experiences. Companies use this tactic to persuade potential customers that their offering is great by showing how many others use it (and even better, how many of our friends or family use it).

Yelp is a great example of a company that uses a social proof strategy. Not only do they show ratings, they also point out how many of your Facebook friends are using Yelp. If a potential Yelp user questioned using their service and did not trust the many random people who provided a rating, they may be more open to Yelp’s offering if they see that their Facebook friends took advantage of it.

So — one could argue that the companies that have tapped into our subconscious in the best (and most subtle) ways would be the most successful at securing the largest chunk of the $1 trillion spent online last year. Given that 95 percent of our cognition occurs in our subconscious, understanding and properly applying cognitive bias techniques is key to designing effective solutions for conversion.

And once you have a solution in place, you shouldn’t stop there – to maintain a high conversion, you need to validate and re-test those solutions using the many great conversion rate optimization (CRO) tools available.  If there was ever a time that resting on your laurels was a bad idea, it’s now.

About the Author

claxton-vAs the leader of Produxs’ creative strategy, Charlie’s ability to define, design and deliver stellar interactive experiences for end-user consumer products and corporate audiences has brought him opportunities to lead successful design efforts for companies such as Expedia, Amazon, Boeing, and Microsoft.

The Puget Sound Business Journal honored Charlie as one of Seattle’s 2012 “40 Under 40.” He was chosen from a field of over 400 nominees for this award recognizing individuals “under the age of 40 who [are] center stage in our business community, working hard to drive the economy and demonstrating dynamic leadership.”

Charlie has a master’s degree in technical communication from the University of Washington School of Engineering and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.

See Charlie Live!

Join Charlie in his session on “The Design Psychology of Conversion” at Conversion Conference West 2013 San Francisco, April 15-17 See the full agenda and read more about this session.



Conversion rate optimization is a leading digital marketing priority this year – Don’t be left out, catch your team up to speed fast at Conversion Conference SF.  Register with Charlie’s promo code SF13205 and save $150 on your discounted Conversion Conference pass!



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