Persuasion Profiling: Changing the Game of Online Marketing

By Arjan Haring
Co-founder, PersuasionAPI/Science Rockstars


“One of the things I hate the most is when they change the rules of something.” Arjan Haring

Especially when nobody tells you they’ve changed the game.Take table tennis for example (also known as ping-pong). In 2001 the International Table Tennis Federation changed the rules on how you must serve to prevent a player from hiding the ball during service. My service was my secret weapon, I was an expert in giving a variety of spin to the ball without people seeing it. It’s why I won games*. I played my last official tournament in 1992, if you don’t count Pong Friday of course. You can tell where this is going. Last time I wanted to play a serious game of table tennis was at the opening of our new office, with table tennis table, this summer. I was unpleasantly surprised by the new rule that completely messed up my game.

I think I made it very clear with this example that it can be rather annoying when someone changes the rules of your favorite game. Especially when nobody has the decency to tell you. I want to spare you from getting yourself in this type of situation and that’s why I am here to tell you about the new rules of Online Marketing. We have entered the decade that we can persuasion profile customers on our websites and that we can predict how they react to specific persuasion tactics we use. How we played the game of online marketing some years ago has fundamentally changed. Out with the old and in with the new. These 3 rules are a heads up. Hopefully you won’t have any unpleasant surprises in the nearby future during a game of Online Marketing.

New Rule #1: Less is More
Dear Mister So and So, you should buy this product because all your friends bought it, world experts say it’s smart to buy it and the 50% discount only applies today. Not a piece of copy that you would write every day. But also not that different from what everybody is doing online today. Adding multiple persuasion tactics to increase conversion doesn’t work. It’s kind of a weakest link type of idea. The total effect of the persuasion tactics that you use is equal to the effect of the poorest performing persuasion tactic for a given individual. Rule number 1: Less persuasion tactics is more conversion.

New Rule #2: Individuals triumph the group

Rule number 2 is about personalizing. In itself a known feature of online marketing. But combine personalizing with persuasion and online marketing becomes a whole other ball game. With A/B tests we measure what version works best for the group that you are testing. But group level effects don’t inform us on what persuasion works best for individuals. We are missing out on essential information, not closing deals because we don’t personalize our persuasion. When you know which persuasion tactics work best for every given individual, your total conversion will reach epic heights.

New Rule #3: Learning beats testing
Have you ever thought about the cost of testing? How informed are your decisions and what are you assumptions? AB testing (or multivariate testing for that matter) is not optimal. It can be very costly. What you want to do is make a choice between version A and version B (if one is better) in a way that minimizes learning costs. This will mean a shift from content creation => test => decision cycles to content creation and continuous optimization. A paradigm shift, or game changer if you wish.

My talk at #ConvCon in Ft. Lauderdale October 10th (register as Early Bird and save $600) will focus on how persuasion profiling works in real life. As said this was a heads up, giving you the bigger picture. Hopefully you are now better prepared next time somebody throws you a curve ball.

Did I get your attention, want to know more? Let Maurits “Bad Hairday” Kaptein tell you more on personalized online persuasion profiles.

* When times got hard, hustling ping-pong games was the only means I had to get by.


This post first appeared on Science Rockstars:

About the Author

Arjan Haring is co-founder of Science Rockstars and one of the creators of PersuasionAPI.

His main interest is the practice and theory of behavior change. This brings him in fields such as social psychology, user experience design and even machine learning. His passion in bridging together different scientific fields led him to co-create PersuasionAPI, the world’s first recommender system that optimizes sales pitches and paves the way to a better marketing.

Science Rockstars was founded with the belief that good science leads to great business. It is aimed at building a safe haven for scientists that understand business and business people that see the immense potential of science in providing better solutions to business problems.

See Arjan Live!

Arjan will introduce you to the concept of persuasion profiling at Conversion Conference Fort Lauderdale 2012 on October 9th and 10th in Florida. Join him in his session on “Persuasion Profiling: Changing the Game of Online Marketing.” See the full agenda or read more about this session. You can also follow Arjan on Twitter for some pre-conference networking.

Save $600 when you register as an Early Bird with Arjan’s discount code FL12517. Early Bird rates end by Friday midnight, Sept. 7, 2012 so get your Conversion Conference pass now!


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