Is your Online Marketing Persuading?




One of the insights of persuasion marketing is that customers’ sensitivity to persuasive arguments varies according to a number of factors, including their immediate emotional state. Therefore, in order to increase the chances of converting a customer, a salesperson or marketer needs to look for a “persuasion window,” open one if they can, and make the deal before it closes again.

Consider a visitor who has just registered for a newsletter or promotion on a website and lands on a “thank you” page. Since that visitor has already engaged with the website and is in an “interactive state”, additional offers on “thank you” pages typically earn a 39% conversion rate.

Another way to generate persuasive windows is to “alarm clock” a website. Many marketers design pages in a way that people have reasons to regularly check it to avoid “missing out” on opportunities or offers. When people visit a website on their own time, they arrive already open to persuasion.

There are four primary elements of persuasion marketing: structured communication, storytelling, copywriting, and neuromarketing.

Structured communication, like the “planned conversation” of interpersonal sales, is about controlling the order of the dialogue, or how information is presented to the consumer. The goal is to move a customer along his or her “impulse curve,” initially encouraging a customer’s impulse, and making a call to action after that impulse level has been raised to its highest point. In website design, it means that the first page the customer sees does not immediately seek a sale, but instead presents the initial message and encourages further exploration of the website.

Storytelling uses a narrative framework to invoke a customer’s emotional and subconscious responses, so that they join—or dominate—their more analytical responses. Use of particular words and images evoke habitual emotional responses, such as affection, familiarity, empathy, and desire for triumph/resolution.

Copywriting is using the right words and phrases for headings, captions, product descriptions, and other text. For example, when people scan material (and most Internet pages are scanned before they’re read), questions stand out more than statements, so “What is the best way to capture attention?” catches more attention than “How to capture attention.” The persuasion marketer field-tests different kinds of copy, in order to determine which is most likely to produce the emotion or answer he or she’s looking for.

Different words describing the same thing can have very different connotation. “Choices,” for example, produces a positive emotional response, but “trade-offs” produces a negative one. Additionally, the copywriter and marketer must remember that the fear of loss is more motivating for most people than the promise of gain. Thus “don’t miss out” has more impact than “this can be yours.”

Neuromarketing is perhaps the most important component of persuasion marketing, applying psychology to the marketing message. Psychological research reveals information about the diverse factors that contribute to a decision—and as much as 90 percent of that all takes place beyond our conscious reasoning. For example, research demonstrates that visual and olfactory cues are important for “priming” a particular mood; therefore, grocery stores display flowers in the front in order to “prime” customers with the image of freshness. In terms of website design, it means using color scheme and particular visual imagery to improve visitors’ response to the website.

Another major feature is testimony from other people. Businesses typically display customer testimony on their websites, developing a “wall of social proof” approach. Businesses post photos of happy—and attractive—customers, so new customers are comfortable being associated with them.

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