The Five Issues that Persuade Visitors

  |  September 10, 2004   |  Comments

Have you taken the time to understand how they feel? Five elementsthat instill confidence in online shoppers.

Whenever visitors land on your Web site, they consciously or subconsciously deal with five issues until they're satisfied, or better yet, delighted. These five issues will either induce the visitor to take the action you want them to take, or a lack of satisfaction may push them to find a competitor. None of these five issues is easy to measure. None has objective factors that are easily influenced. But all are nonetheless key to converting visitors.

Whenever a visitor comes to your site and doesn't convert, go back and ask yourself which one (or more) of the five issues held them back. Bear in mind each changes with intent, and where in the purchase cycle the visitor is.

So what are the five critical issues (and Webster's definitions) that must be communicated to each visitor's perceptual reality

  1. Relevance - the quality or state of being relevant: relation to the matter at hand.
  2. Trust - assured resting of the mind on the integrity, veracity, justice, friendship, or other sound principle, of another person.
  3. Value - a fair return or equivalent in goods, services, or money for something exchanged.
  4. Privacy - freedom from unauthorized intrusion.
  5. Security - the condition or quality of being secure. Specifically: (a) freedom from apprehension, anxiety, or care; confidence of power of safety; hence, assurance; certainty.


When visitors arrive on your site, they have certain expectations it will be relevant to their information search. I don't mean search engines, specifically. I'm including the information search that begins in your visitors' minds when they begin the buying process and identify a need, then begin to do first an internal information search in their minds, then an external information search (today, predominantly conducted online).

The internal information search is used to assign a name, keywords, brands, and resources to the problem. If I recognize a need for a computer, I make internal decisions based on what that need may be. I can then go to an external search engine and type in keywords I identify with my problem. Or, I can type brands I associate with solving my problem, like Dell, HP, or Tigerdirect. If I type keywords into Google or Yahoo and land on your site, I just broadcast to you what I expect in terms of relevance. Your first goal is to show me relevance. The greater the relevance, the greater the likelihood I'll continue.


Next, I must feel I can trust you before I can buy or learn from you. Design, content, layout and how relevant the content is convey trust. Design doesn't mean it must be pretty, but it must feel right. It must feel professional, easy to use, and it must intuitively guide me where I need to go. This is one place where brand can buy a lot of wiggle room. People will put up with failures in lots of other issues if they already have trust in your brand from a previous experience. No one will deal with you if they feel they cannot trust you.


Value is also completely subjective. For every product in the world, value is in the eyes of the beholder. The value of water to a man lost in the desert is vastly different than to one whose thirst is sated. Every product or service has attributes. Value is how an individual assigns the benefits of each attribute to their needs. Have you listed all product attributes and articulated how they impact all the potential customers who might buy from you? (I call these person ae.)


Privacy is only critical if there's an exchange of information. If you want a visitor's email address or other personal information, you must realize they provide it as part of a value exchange. This doesn't mean you make every visitor read your privacy policy. But if you can acknowledge how you value their privacy at the point of action, it should help. This is one of those questions that need only be answered when asked. If they do make it to your privacy policy page, make it clear and simple to read, not like a contract drafted by a lawyer.


Security isn't about owning the most advanced encryption technology. Obviously, you want to be sure your site is technically secure. A battery of tests can be performed to evaluate this. Security is really about letting people know ordering from you is safe. It's about making sure visitors feel secure enough to complete an action on the site. Check out how and let you know how secure your order is as soon as you enter the checkout process.

Ultimately, confidence is the goal. Address all five issues. If they add up positively in visitors' minds, what they feel is confidence. Any type of persuasive interaction is necessarily a transfer of confidence. It's about the visitor's confidence level. They're asking, "Am I confident you're the right solution? The right company? That it's the right time?"

Persuading visitors isn't difficult if you understand the variables. Have you taken time to understand how they feel?

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Bryan Eisenberg

Bryan Eisenberg is coauthor of the Wall Street Journal, Amazon, BusinessWeek, and New York Times bestselling books "Call to Action," "Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?," and "Always Be Testing." Bryan is a professional marketing speaker and has keynoted conferences globally such as SES,, Direct Marketing Association, MarketingSherpa, Econsultancy, Webcom, SEM Konferansen Norway, the Canadian Marketing Association, and others. In 2010, Bryan was named a winner of the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation's Rising Stars Awards, which recognizes the most talented professionals 40 years of age or younger in the field of direct/interactive marketing. He is also cofounder and chairman emeritus of the Web Analytics Association. Bryan serves as an advisory board member of SES Conference & Expo, the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, and several venture capital backed companies. He works with his coauthor and brother Jeffrey Eisenberg. You can find them at

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