Recently, I have been doing a lot of research into online marketing techniques and the prevalence of “lead pages” and “sales (or click) funnels.” I have also been reading a great book on the psychology of persuasion, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert B. Cialdini. It is a fun read, and got me to thinking about what I was seeing and experiencing watching all these online webinars and free guides, tools, etc…
Much of what is in his book is very much at work online, but I thought it might be easier to explain by making a cool infographic.
Yes, my designer’s-mind works that way.
(Now, before you say anything: Yes, I know this is really (probably) an illustration of a process rather than a true infographic. But, the hashtag #illustration isn’t really trending like #infographic is right now. Oh well… when in Rome….)
So here are the highlights of the psychological techniques I have observed at work in a simple online “free offer” process for a newsletter:
- SOCIAL PROOF: There has been a ton of electronic ink spilt recently about this feature of human behavior. When humans are uncertain about what kind of action to take or decision to make, they look to other people to see what kind of actions/decisions they have made. You think that you are an individual? Actually, we are an inter-connected species. We prefer to make decisions in groups – it’s usually safer that way.
- THE “LIKING” PRINCIPLE: This one’s deceptively simple. We will act more positively to an offer made or endorsed by our friends, or people we like. What does it take to get people to like you? There are books written on that too.
- THE CONSISTENCY/COMMITMENT PRINCIPLE: We prefer to act in ways consistent with who or what we believe about ourselves. Or what we SAY that we believe about ourselves. Actually, what we affirm, and say publicly, about ourselves often forms those beliefs. This goes hand-in-hand with commitments.If we make a small commitment (like accept a free offer), and by doing so affirm what we believe about ourselves, we cement that belief and will likely make a much larger commitment which is consistent. To reject or resist the larger offer, once we have committed to a smaller one, often causes us humans to feel shame. And, for most of us, we would probably rather be set on fire than feel shame. Even if that feeling of shame is illogical and it is in our best interest to refuse the larger offer.
- RECIPROCITY: This is a survival instinct. We tend to reciprocate a favor for another favor, even if the favor we are asked to do is larger than the favor we have been given. This is the idea behind all those tchotchies you get at every tradeshow, everywhere. We feel more positively inclined to accept an offer if we have been given something first.
Now, all of these techniques used by marketers and salespeople, and many more, are a matter of human behavior. In order to survive, we have adapted ourselves to behave almost automatically according to these principles. They operate in all human relationships, and there is nothing good or bad about any of them. They can be used ethically by marketers, or un-ethically. I have personally seen examples of both.
So how do you tell the difference between an ethical approach or un-ethical one?
Trust your gut – literally, your gut. The hollow organs are neurologically connected to our emotional centers, and we are usually warned by our emotions a long time before we start to rationalize our decisions with that pesky left-brain. You know, the part of your brain that gets you into trouble because you thought “it seemed like the right thing to do at the time?” (Some of you will have flashbacks to your college fraternity days about now.)
An un-ethical marketer will make an offer that questions your deeply held personhood in a negative way, but may be still very persuasive even if it feels sleazy. It will make you feel like a “loser” if you refuse. It will be manipulative. The un-ethical approach will make you feel shame. No one needs to feel shamed into making a major (expensive) decision. Shame is the mark of an abuser, not an ethical marketer.
So, fellow marketers, let’s commit to not be “that guy.” We have powerful knowledge of human behavior.
And, with great power, comes great responsibility.Tags: Design, infograohics, Marketing, Psychology
This post was written by jcwretlind