The Human Side of Conversion

As analysts we tend to use our systematic left side of the brain for optimization strategies. We apply multivariate testing and the Taguchi Method, breathe the confidence interval, and digest the funnel reports in our analytics platforms. Sometimes we are so focused on conversion metrics that we forget that we the people visiting our sites are human beings and not just integers in our reports.

A right-sided brain approach

There are different ways to optimize based on human behavior. One of my favorite experts on this subject is Dr. Robert Cialdini, author of “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” – which sold over 2 million copies and has been listed on Fortune Magazine’s “75 Smartest Business Books.” Dr. Cialdini is recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on social influence. and actually spent years going “undercover” applying for jobs and training at used car dealerships, fund-raising organizations, telemarketing firms to observe real-life situations of persuasion.

Dr. Cialdini’s principles are based on fixed action patterns (instinctive behavioral responses) that are triggered by specific stimuli. All animals have these – a mother tiger will go crazy when she hears her cub crying. An yes, we humans are also born with some instinctive triggers that is so hard-wired we will be influenced by them.

The six magic triggers

Dr. Cialdini identified six “weapons of influence” and how to leverage these to persuade people. These triggers are:

1) Scarcity – When we think an item is scarce, we will want it more.

2) Social proof – We determine what is correct by finding out what other people think is correct.

3) Authority – We tend to obey authority figures – even if the acts are objectionable.

4) Reciprocity – We should try to repay in kind what another person has provided us.

5) Commitment (consistency) – Once we make a choice or take a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment.

6) Liking – We most prefer to say yes to the requests of people we know and like.

On the web

When you optimize your headlines, images or call-to-actions – do you consider persuasive messaging? I have seen different sites using different triggers. Here are some good examples of “scarcity:”

So, how are you using persuasive marketing to increase conversion rates based on these “weapons of influence”?

About the Author

Phillip Klein has an active role with web analytics and adserving in Latin America. He is also co-founder of Predicta, an adserving and web analytics software/service provider in Brazil that placed 1st in the 2009 WAA Waalter awards and 2nd in the first WAA Championship. Phillip is also a tutor for the award-winning UBC Award of Achievement in Web Analytics and helped develop measurement guidelines for the IAB. He is the founder of BTBuckets – a free on-site behavioral segmentation and targeting platform and SiteApps – app store for websites..