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Persuasive Solutions for Demanding Times


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Persuasion is one of the most important constituents of any online engagement strategy. These slides are highlights from a presentation delivered to a number of corporate clients including Barclays Bank, Ministry of Sound and the Carbon Trust. They look at the theories behind ethical online persuasion and raise some ideas about how persuasion is relevant in the world of web2.0. A recording on the presentatin is available at

Published in: Technology, Education

Persuasive Solutions for Demanding Times

  1. Persuasive solutions for demanding times Richard Sedley Director, cScape Customer Engagement Unit cScape Breakfast Briefing 15 March 2007, Soho House, London
  2. A bipolar credibility test was undertaken on each of the pages above. Participants were given half a second to rate credibility against specific tasks.
  3. The need for decisional heuristics 4 seconds to 500 milliseconds to determine usefulness determine credibility
  4. How we make our decisions Elaboration Likelihood Model • High elaboration (central route) Requires great deal of thought to make a decision • Low elaboration (peripheral route) Requires little thought, reliant on decisional heuristics Petty & Cacioppo, 1981
  5. Background Practice Theory
  6. The need for Persuasion An attempt to change attitudes or behaviours (or both) without using coercion or deception Acquisition Conversion Retention Findability Persuasion Engagement
  7. History of persuasion Classic Modern Post-Modern Treatise on Rhetoric The Hidden Persuaders Influence: The Psychology by Aristotle By Vance Packard of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
  8. The functional triad How computers can be persuasive Tool Social actor Increases capability Creates relationships Can be persuasive by: Can be persuasive by: •Making target behaviour easier •Rewarding people with positive feedback •Leading people through a process •Modeling a target behaviour •Performing calculations or •Providing social support measurements that motivate Medium Provides experience Can be persuasive by: •Allowing people to explore cause-and-effect relationships •Providing people with vicarious experiences that motivate •Helping people rehearse a behaviour BJ Fogg, Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think, 2003
  9. Six key advantages of computer interactivity • Persistence • Anonymity • Data handling • Use different modalities • Easily scalable • Can be ubiquitous Stanford University, Persuasive Technology Lab, 2003
  10. Four types of credibility • Presumed = General assumptions in the mind of the perceiver • Surface Simple inspection or initial first = hand experience • Reputed Third party endorsements, = reports or referrals • Earned First hand experience that = extends over time Stanford University, Persuasive Technology Lab, 2003
  11. The power of credibility B A Marketing Experiments Journal, Feb 2007 Conversion rate = 3.03% Conversion rate = 2.69% % change = 12.64% Projected monthly gain = $30,582.30
  12. Principles of motivation • Reciprocity • Commitment and consistency • Consensus • Affinity (Liking) • Authority • Scarcity Robert Cialdini, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, 1984
  13. Consensus (social validation) An experiment was done in the 1960s where a guy walked in to the middle of a street and looked up. Four per cent of people who walked past him within a set time period joined him in looking up. When they repeated the experiment with five people looking up, 18 per cent of the passers-by stopped and looked up in the air. When they had 15 people standing around, they managed to stop traffic within a minute and 40 per cent of the people passing looked up. Experiment: Milgrim, Bikman and Birkowitz
  14. Kairos (Persuasion windows) Has anyone heard of the term kairos? Timing is everything – it’s critical for any persuasion tactic to be effective. Those of you who were at a presentation I gave in the middle of last year at Microsoft will know that I gave some examples from my daughter’s nursery where we managed get people to stop dumping rubbish outside the nursery simply by displaying a map of where the dump was. The idea was that when people came to drop their rubbish off that was the most opportune time to persuade them not to be anti-social. Putting leaflets through their door had almost no effect. So the concept of timing is ever important. I have a question to throw out to you: If we’re going to say we need to be in the right place at the right time, how can we create the right place and the right time? Because nine times out of 10, you don’t know exactly what’s in people’s heads, what they’re trying to do when they arrive at your site. I want to try and give a bit of structure to that by saying if you can shape some of the elements listed on the next slide, you can start to shape the right place and the right time.
  15. Kairos (Persuasion windows) • When you are in a good mood • When your world view no longer makes sense • When you can take action immediately • When you feel indebted because of a favour • Immediately after you have made a mistake • Immediately after you have denied a request Stanford University, Persuasive Technology Lab, 2003
  16. What’s the second best thing about skiing? It’s got to be après-ski, right? As a non-skier I know that! Here’s a photograph of something brilliant – it’s a chalet in the Alps. Inside is a purpose-built, a bespoke, bar in Swiss chalet style. But the bar is six inches lower than any standard bar and above it, tucked in to the ceiling, is a hand rail. So people go here on holiday, they have a really nice time. Then they go home and talk to their mates and they say “it was such a good holiday – it was so good people were even dancing on the bar”. What they’ve done through persuasive design is they’ve shaped the way that people are going to be able to spread the news about this particular holiday. It’s very clever and encourages people to spread the word. If they’d put up a sign saying Dancing on the bar is permitted do you think it would have had the same effect?
  17. What is the most powerful page on your site? Does anyone have any idea of what the most powerful page on your site is? The homepage? OK, anyone else? Well, it’s probably your thank you pages. There you’ve got a persuasive window, there you’ve got an opportunity to talk to people, you’ve got a situation where someone is already committed to you and has already decided to do something. Marketing Sherpa did an analysis in January this year where they looked at their own thank you pages. 39 per cent of the people who viewed them accepted offers for something else. Where else do you get 39 per cent of your audience committing to do something else? What was interesting was that 29 per cent went for the most popular offer and 10 per cent went for other offers. So showing one offer is not enough. You need to be able to give people choice in these kind of moments. These are your moments of power, these are your persuasion windows that you need to make the most of in order to maximise the impact that you have on your sites.
  18. Web2.0: Persuasion as a dialogue To influence a person to change their The process of attitude or behaviour persuasion changes the persuader
  19. I thought I’d give you a very simple example of ‘Persuasion as a Dialogue’. This is something I’ve started to use on my blog. It’s called a ‘swiki’. It’s basically a search result that’s also a wiki, which means that these search results are editable by the people who find them. So you are allowing people to navigate into the search results page and then – what I’m showing you here is a very simple example around Alzheimers – you’re giving them the opportunity to say ‘this is a very good result for me, that isn’t and that is completely inappropriate’. And over time, what happens, as you can see, is that the user-generated aspect of it is beginning to shape the site. It’s beginning to impact on the site so that it’s becoming more persuasive and more useful. All of this is a result of you persuading someone else to interact with your content.
  20. The value of persuasion Persuasion is about aligning our needs and desires with the needs and desires of our customers - for mutual benefit • Creation of persuasion pathways • Right touching through persuasion windows • As part of engagement modeling
  21. Questions • How can we use iterative interactivity to motivate? • How can we encapsulate the four types of credibility into a single site or even a page? • How can UGC be used to motivate? • How can we create the right place and right time for persuasion? • How ethical is persuasion?