Live from Optimization Summit 2012: The Science of Persuasion: Proven Tactics for Getting your Customers to Act

By Jenny DeGraff | Jun 13, 2012
More Articles by Jenny


Optimization Summit 2012The final keynote was presented by Dr. Noah Goldstein, author and UCLA Faculty, on the science of persuasion. Dr. Goldstein presented, in depth, 6 principles (please forgive the brevity of the list, there was so much great info, I tried to capture it all but if you miss anything Dr. Goldstien has a book out that covers all these principles in more detail):

1. Social Proof

  • People look to others to guide their own behavior especially when uncertain.
  • Organizations often fail to harness the power of social proof.
  • Social proof is most effective when the social group most closely matches the audience.

2. Authority

  • Trustworthiness + Expertise = Authority
  • People look to credible authorities to guide their behavior.
  • People often hide the weaknesses of their case and focus solely on presenting the offering the most positive light.
  • To immediately gain credibility in the eyes of your audience, argue against your self-interest (eg, mention a weakness in your case). This signals honesty.
  • Small weaknesses and negative info should be mentioned immediately prior to your strongest argument (in a list people usually only remember the first and last items).

3. Consistency

  • To have the commitments you ask your audience to make consistently followed-through ask the following:
    • Was the commitment make publicly?
    • Was it made voluntarily?
    • Was it made actively?
  • Pointing out the progress that the customer has already made on the task will also significantlly increase the likelihood they will complete the task.

4. Scarcity

  • The less available the resource, the more people want it.
  • Regret is the driver of scarcity.
  • When comparing a limited time offer versus a limited quantity offer, the limited quantity is found most effective. A limited quantity implies limited time, it also introduces uncertainty and a level of competitiveness.
  • Loss can be the most powerful form of scarcity. Its often a misstate of focus on what your audience stands to gain from the opportunity you’re presenting. You should instead, frame what you’re presenting in terms of what your audience stands to lose if they fail to act on the opportunity.

5. Reciprocity

  • There is no sense of social obligation when you ask someone to complete a task in order for you to do something good. A better approach is to go ahead and do something, then guilt, I mean ask them to complete the desired action. Make reciprocity the norm.

6. Simplicity

  • Keep choices and choice sets simple.
  • More isn’t always better, guide your audience through some select choices relevant to them.

Many companies fail to utilize these principles, as obvious as they seem to be. Don’t be one of those and remember, there are many creative ways to use these principles.

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