Persuasion: Beyond Trust and Credibility

  |  September 5, 2003   |  Comments

An even more important element in the persuasion mix.

What elements are essential to making a Web site persuasive? Trust and credibility are vital. If you can't establish trust and credibility, your site won't persuade. But there's an even more important element in the persuasion mix.

Persuasion is impossible without appealing to a person's emotions. No decision, no matter how logically justified, is made without emotions. Even the most logical decision is a source of pride, satisfaction, happiness, and/or beauty to the decision maker. At a 2001 scientific conference, Dr. Dean Shibata presented a study based on brain activity imaging that reveals emotions are inextricably a part of the decision process. According to Shibata, "If you eliminate the emotional guiding factors, it's impossible [for people] to make decisions in daily life." People with damaged prefrontal lobes -- where emotions are processed -- are completely stymied when making decisions such as determining what to buy.

So what's more important than trust and credibility? Confidence. Without confidence nobody is willing to buy anything.

According to "The American Heritage Dictionary," confidence is "a feeling of assurance, especially of self-assurance."

How many times have you gone shopping but come home empty handed? You weren't sure you found the right thing, but later you bought the item. Did the item improve? No, you became confident enough the item would meet your need or solve your problem. The best forms of persuasion are never based on pressure, deception, trickery, or gimmicks. True persuasion is nothing less than a transfer of confidence.

The trust and credibility your Web site communicates is critical in helping visitors feel confident in purchasing from you. For example, I trust Citibank and its credibility beyond reproach. But I wouldn't look to Citibank for advice on my dog's nutritional needs. No matter how easy Citibank's dog food was to find, how quickly the information downloaded, how beautifully presented the merchandise was, or how inexpensive it was, I still wouldn't purchase. Why? It has to do with my dog-food buying process.

I buy the same brand of dog food out of habit. There was a time when I was in the market for dog food and was persuaded to buy a certain brand. Would I change brands? Perhaps, but the competition would need to introduce a threat or an opportunity that would make me lose confidence in the brand I currently buy. I love my dog (for those who may be wondering, he's a deviously cute mutt, a four-paws-and-a-tail type dog), and I feel confident about what I serve him.

How do you communicate something as abstract as confidence? Building your visitor's self-assurance is based on answering the questions visitors are asking. The more relevant the information you present, the closer to the way visitors want it presented, the more confidence you help build.

This is why we insist on wireframing, a skeletal rendering of every click-through possibility on your site. Only by applying persuasion architecture can you plan with empathy exactly what it will take for visitors to feel confident about choosing your product or service.

Put yourself in your potential customers' shoes. If they're too tight or too loose, brush up on your empathic skills and approach your Web site just as they would -- without your level of knowledge. Be honest with yourself. Are you giving visitors that extra edge? Are you telling them that piece of information they haven't found in your other literature? Are you talking to them in the manner they appreciate? Are you presenting to them differently based on what their needs are? Are you really inspiring their confidence?

ClickZ Live Toronto Twitter Canada MD Kirstine Stewart to Keynote Toronto
ClickZ Live Toronto (May 14-16) is a new event addressing the rapidly changing landscape that digital marketers face. The agenda focuses on customer engagement and attaining maximum ROI through online marketing efforts across paid, owned & earned media. Register now and save!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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, Shop.org, 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 BryanEisenberg.com.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get the ClickZ Analytics newsletter delivered to you. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

ion Interactive Marketing Apps for Landing Pages White Paper

Marketing Apps for Landing Pages White Paper
Marketing apps can elevate a formulaic landing page into a highly interactive user experience. Learn how to turn your static content into exciting marketing apps.

eMarketer: Redefining Mobile-Only Users: Millions Selectively Avoid the Desktop

Redefining 'Mobile-Only' Users: Millions Selectively Avoid the Desktop
A new breed of selective mobile-only consumers has emerged. What are the demos of these users and how and where can marketers reach them?

Jobs

    • Contact Center Professional
      Contact Center Professional (TCC: The Contact Center) - Hunt ValleyLooking to join a workforce that prides themselves on being routine and keeping...
    • Recruitment and Team Building Ambassador
      Recruitment and Team Building Ambassador (Agora Inc.) - BaltimoreAgora, www.agora-inc.com, continues to expand! In order to meet the needs of our...
    • Design and Publishing Specialist
      Design and Publishing Specialist (Bonner and Partners) - BaltimoreIf you’re a hungry self-starter, creative, organized and have an extreme...