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Persuasion Architecture

By Steve Tsai, Managing Editor, Internet Journal

Editor's note: This is part three of the Internet marketing series. The previous articles covered behavior targeting and local searches.

Howard Kaplan, Vice President of Marketing, Future Now, was one of the speakers at the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition at San Jose Convention Center on June 7, 2009. His topic: Waiting for Your Cat to Bark?

Conceptually, his talk is interesting because it maps the traditional sales process and buying process onto a Web site. This includes the buying motive, buying behavior, and buying process. By breaking down the process, you can systematically put together step-by-step a method to guide a visitor (prospect) through your Web site and lead them to take the desired actions.

The advantages of this approach are:

 Increased the conversion rate

 Reduced cost of sales

 Instant feedback

 Ability to track the actions and make adjustment

In offline sales, if you cold call suspects, you may get 4% of the qualified prospects, of which you may close to of them. This leads to an overall conversion rate of 1-2%. For online sales, the average conversion rate is about 1-2% as well. This means 98-99% of the leads leaked out of the sales funnel. This seems like a very inefficient process.

Persuasion architecture consists of the following steps:

    1. Uncover motivations

    2. Plan behavior

    3. Predict actions

    4. Execute plan

    5. Measure actions

    6. Optimize continuously by testing execution and testing assumptions

Buying Motives

For example, David is learning about diamonds. So he goes to the learn about diamonds page and read through the 4C's of diamonds, he then moves to the diamond settings page to learn about how diamonds are mounted on the setting, and then goes to the page that explains diamonds beauty is in its brilliance, at that point he downloads brochure to study further.

Natalie, however, knows what she is looking for. She is looking for a perfect diamond. So she goes to the perfect diamond page and looks for new, fund, and fab. From there she goes to the diamond settings page to look for the setting that she likes and precedes to find a jeweler.

By utilizing the persuasion architecture, Leo Schachter gets 54% conversion rate in contrast to 0.86% before.

Buying Behavior
Buying behavior is influenced by personality types. In offline sales, sales people are familiar with four personality types: competitive (driver), spontaneous (expressive), methodical (analytical), and humanistic (amiable).

This can be applied to online sales as well. For example, if the site is selling movies DVDs, competitives search by actor and title, spontaneous seek top sellers and new releases, methodicals find by genre, and humanistics care about reviews. Therefore, the web site should provide choices so that all four types can find the preferred way to search for what they are looking for.

Executing Plan
The following seven pointers provide the guideline in architecting your web pages:

    1. Product images tell visitors a story

    2. Test headlines and copy to speak to your visitors

    3. Calls to action give visitors a reason to click

    4. Point of action assurances make visitors feel better

    5. Make it obvious and expected

    6. Don't make visitors wait

    7. Plan persuasive architecture scenarios with scent

Measure Actions
Using Web analytics tools, you can measure the results and analyze the navigation patterns. This would give you the information you need to validate your execution and assumptions.

Readers interested in learning more about the persuasion architecture can read the book "Waiting for Your Cat to Bark". The authors are Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg.

About The Author
Steve Tsai is the Managing Editor of the
Internet Journal Internet Journal provides the insights and analysis on Internet marketing, eCommerce, mobile communications, eSecurity, and global e-Business. If you have any comments about Internet Journal, please send email to


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