Everything is moving towards mobile. For examples, Google penalizes you if your site isn’t mobile optimized and Facebook Ad CPC (cost per click) is much cheaper on mobile compared to desktop. More than half of the world’s web traffic now comes from mobile phones. This means more and more potential customers are viewing your website on their phones. If you still haven’t optimized your site’s conversions for mobile user experience, then chances are you’re losing money. On top of that, audience targeting is way more successful on mobile than on desktop, so you can’t afford to put off mobile any…
In a saturated online world with an abundance of information, marketers are constantly battling for attention. You’ve likely read that online users have an attention span less than that of a goldfish. Therefore, the more organized and straightforward your strategy is for converting a lead, the better. Over the last couple decades, eye-tracking studies have been performed to ascertain where consumer’s eyes move when they land on a web page. Jakob Nielsen even authored a book Eyetracking Web Usability which analyzes “1.5 million instances where users look at Web sites to understand how the human eyes interact with design.” Landing…
Although eCommerce receives most of the limelight, 91.6% of U.S. sales still take place offline. With all the benefits of buying online — lower cost, wider choice, no need to put on pants — how come retail stores are still a thing? According to a study by Ripen Ecommerce, 30.8% is explained by people wanting to be able to touch and feel the products. The second main reason (29.9%) is that people want their items right away. This need for instant gratification is a powerful one. And while a 4D online shopping experience is likely still some years away, there…
Three user interfaces (UIs) go to a pub. The first one orders a drink, then several more. A couple of hours later, it asks for the bill and leaves the pub drunk. The second UI orders a drink, pays for it up front, orders another drink, pays for it and so on, and in a couple of hours leaves the pub drunk. The third UI exits the pub already drunk immediately after going in — it knows how the pubs work and is efficient enough not to lose time.
“Color is important!” …declared our very own Neil Patel a couple of years back. You’ve read innumerable blog posts about the psychology of colors as they relate to impression and persuasion. And you probably rushed off to relaunch your website in green (if you want growth). Or blue (if you want to please everyone). Or red (if you think you’re daring and unique). While marketing research frequently indicates that buyers make snap judgments based on a host of factors (such as colors or design), it seldom conclusively proves or advocates a specific choice (such as black or parallax) over others….
Most of us are in our late 20’s, living in Downtown Vancouver, where there’s plenty of public transit, parking is difficult, and expenses are high. Owning a car doesn’t really make sense.
Until one of us needs help moving, of course.
My boyfriend, Andre, owns a 1997 GMC Sierra 1500; needless to say, he gets hit up constantly for truck-related favors.
We hear a lot of:
“Hey Dre, can you help me move on Saturday? I’ll buy you beer!” “Dre! Can you help me move on Saturday? I hate to ask, but you’re my only option.” “Andre, can you help me move on Saturday? No pressure, of course, if you can’t do it…”
The initial request (“Can you help me move?”) is almost always accompanied by something else: a bargain (“I’ll buy you beer”), a reason (“you’re my only option”), an out (“No pressure”).
For our friends, it seems instinctual to cushion the request somehow, to urge Andre to say “Yes” and dissuade him from saying “No”.
Think about all of the times you’ve asked a friend for a favor. Do you ever simply ask for the favor, or do you find yourself negotiating in some way? I, for one, try to frame my requests in ways that make them almost impossible to refuse.
As marketers, we do the same thing. After all, most of what we do revolves around trying to get our users to take an action. In the social science community, these ‘negotiations’ are referred to as compliance gaining techniques.
Four compliance gaining techniques you should test
Get this list of 4 of our favorite “Loss Aversion”-specific compliance gaining techniques. Learn how these techniques work and get ideas for how to test them on your website.
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In this post, I’m going to examine the concept of compliance gaining through a marketing lens.The question is: How can you leverage compliance gaining techniques in your marketing to get your users to say “Yes” rather than saying “No”?
When your mom gently advises you to wear your helmet or when a friend asks you to set him up, the message source (mom, friend) are trying to get you to do something.
To clarify, compliance gaining is often confused with persuasion, but they are different. While persuasion is often concerned with changing a person’s attitudes or beliefs, compliance gaining seeks to change behavior.
There are numerous (read almost 900) strategies you could categorize as compliance gaining, from “bargaining”, to “complimenting”, to “persistence”, but here are some of the more pervasive compliance gaining techniques you may have heard of as a marketer:
Types of compliance gaining techniques
You ask your user for something small first that they will most likely say yes to, then ask for something larger (the actual action you want them to take) at a later time. Researchers have several theories as to why this is effective, one of them being your user’s desire to remain consistent with what they previously said.
Example: If your web page features a form, you can break the form into multiple steps. Start by asking for easy-to-give information; save bigger asks for later steps when there is more to abandon. Once your user starts saying “yes”, they are more likely to continue to do so.
You ask your user for something big that they will most likely say “No” to, followed by a smaller, more reasonable request (the actual action you want them to take). Guilt and self-presentation help explain why this is effective: Your user has already said “No” once, and won’t want to say “No” twice.
Example: On a non-profit website, you might start off by asking your user to sponsor a child for $20/month. This is a fairly large request. Your user may feel badly for saying “No” to this initial request, making them more receptive to your next request for a smaller, one-time $20 donation. This is your intended request.
You ask your user for something in a confusing or strange way the first time around. You immediately follow-up by re-framing your request or giving your user a reason to say “Yes”.
Example: Some brands use a catchy, clever headline that isn’t clear at first, that they reframe with informative copy just below the main headline.
In this example from Apple, the headline reads “Light. Years ahead.” The dots disrupt our thinking framework and the copy below helps reframe with adjectives such as “lighter”, “better”, “thinner”. We are less likely to resist the reframe because our brain is busy with the initial disruption and the adjectives help to convince us.
Note: Be careful about making your content too disruptive. You could lose visitors due to a reduced information scent.
Dump and Chase:
You ask for something and your user says “No”. You respond by asking “Why not?”, repeating your request in a slightly different way. Urgency and guilt are at play here: You’ve created a sense of obligation by asking “Why not” and the repetition of your request can make it seem more important, more urgent.
Example: Your user may decide they are not ready to buy from you. That’s where mailing lists come into play. If they sign up for your mailing list, you are able to repeat your offer (via email) in various ways until that user’s concerns have been met and they finally do buy.
There are many more compliance gaining techniques. But my favorite of the moment is referred to as But You Are Free or BYAF.
But You Are Free to refuse…
But You Are Free refers to a situation where I ask you for a favor followed by a gentle reminder that you are free to refuse my request.
Wording can vary, but the key to this technique is to acknowledge the target’s freedom to say “no”.
In 2000, French researchers Guéguen and Pascal published a study that demonstrated the BYAF technique for the first time. In the study, experimenters asked passersby if they could have some change for the bus, followed by the statement “But you are free to accept or to refuse”. The Control group of passersby was simply asked for change for the bus, sans compliance gaining technique.
Their findings showed that passersby who heard the follow-up phrase were more likely to comply with experimenters’ request and gave twice as much change as those in the Control.
This experiment was based on psychological reactance theory. Introduced by Jack Brehm in the 1950’s, the theory states that “individuals have certain freedoms with regard to their behavior. If these behavioral freedoms are reduced or threatened with reduction, the individual will be motivationally aroused to regain them.”
Freedoms once granted will not be relinquished without a fight.
– Robert Cialdini, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
Guéguen and Pascal proposed that the phrase, “but you are free to accept or refuse”, weakens the target’s perception that their freedom to say “no” is being threatened by the initial request. Instead of being motivated to refuse, in order to protect their own freedoms, the target is reminded that their freedoms are still in tact, allowing them to say “yes”.
Recently, I asked a coworker for a favor via Slack, followed by the phrase “No pressure, of course.” Even though I really needed this favor, I added the phrase “No pressure” to my request—it was automatic. It was the BYAF compliance gaining technique. (My coworker said yes.)
Now, before you go adding a “You are free to accept or refuse” sub-head to all of your calls-to-action, let’s go a little deeper…
BYAF in a marketing context
In 2013, Christopher Carpenter published a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of the BYAF compliance gaining technique in Communication Studies. He wanted to know, given the research that has been published on this technique, whether or not BYAF is effective in a sales situation (among other questions).
Carpenter cited past researchers who theorized that “people are more suspicious of self-interested requests and cognitively process such requests more thoughtfully,” which would render the BYAF technique less effective when a request is being made in a sales context.
However, when Carpenter completed his meta-analysis, he found that the effect of BYAF on a target was equal for both prosocial requests (compliance benefits some worthy cause rather than the requester) and self-interested requests (compliance benefits the requestor) e.g. a sales request.
The BYAF technique has the virtue of being adaptable to potentially any context. That the effect size was consistent for both prosocial and self-interested requests in a variety of contexts…is reflective of a technique that has widespread value. All that is required for the BYAF technique is that the key phrase is added to the request.
– Christopher Carpenter
So, is BYAF a compliance gaining technique you can use when you’re talking to your prospects? Quite possibly. You should test that!
In personality psychology, individuals with an internal locus of control believe that their behavior and actions are guided by their decisions and efforts, while individuals with an external locus of control believe their behaviors and actions are guided by external forces.
People with an internal locus of control are more proactive and self-motivated, while those with an external locus of control are often more passive.
One theory as to why BYAF works is that the requester is giving control back to the target by adding the phrase “but you are free to _____” to a request.
For one WiderFunnel client, DMV.org, our Strategy team wanted to test giving control back to the prospect, just like the BYAF technique does. Rather than emphasizing a prospect’s freedom to refuse, however, the team wanted to emphasize the prospect’s freedom to choose.
DMV.org is a privately owned publisher of helpful information about the DMV. The company earns revenue through performance-based advertising on their thousands of content pages. For example, on a license renewal information page, a banner within the content offers visitors an opportunity to check car insurance rates.
When we tested the BYAF spin-off, we were testing on the second step of DMV.org’s funnel, where visitors select a provider.
We tested a single sub-headline isolation on this page, adding the phrase “The one you choose is up to you!” This phrase was meant to remind visitors that they are in control, they are free to choose exactly what they want to choose. Our Strategists were targeting the same mental sweet spot that the BYAF technique targets.
The addition of this phrase led to a conversion rate lift of 28.9% for DMV.org.
Testing compliance gaining in your marketing
Persuasion principles and compliance gaining techniques are extremely helpful to consider when you’re planning your digital experiments. Of course, persuasion principles are just one source of information you should look to when planning a test.
Related: For more sources of information, check out Chris Goward’s post outlining WiderFunnel’s Infinity Optimization Process. Pay particular attention to the section on “The Explore Phase”.
It is always helpful to de-construct the persuasion principle or psychological trigger itself to try to get at the heart of what is actually motivating someone to act. In the case of BYAF and “the one you choose is up to you”, the motivating factor might be the simple fact of reminding a visitor that they are in control of their decision.
What might your users respond to?
What are your favorite compliance gaining techniques to test? Have you seen success with the BYAF technique in your testing? Tell us about it in the comments!
It is often easy to overlook the underlying principles that compel people to take action. Instead, we tend to obsess over minute details — things like button color, pricing and headlines. While these things can compel users to take action, it is worth considering the psychological principles that influence users’ behavior.
Unfortunately, few organizations try to understand what influences user action. Research by Eisenberg Holdings shows that for every $92 the average company spends attracting customers, a meager $1 is spent converting them.
On Sunday, June 19, the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. The franchise, founded in 1970, had never won an NBA championship.
A few weeks after the Cavs’ victory, Nike released a spot called “Worth the Wait”.
As of this article being published, the video on YouTube has over 5.6 million views.
Every time I watch this video, my throat tightens and I tear up a little. I’m not from Ohio (in fact, I’m from a notorious rival state), the Cavs are not my team, I’m not even a huge basketball fan. But this ad makes me feel. It taps into something deeply human, feelings of community and triumph.
Nike is incredible at this. From their 2012 “Find Your Greatness” campaign to their 2014 ad for the World Cup “Winner Stays” (which has more than 40 million views on YouTube), Nike knows how to elicit emotion.
And it’s clear they spend big bucks to do it. Why?
Because Nike knows that we — consumers, people, humans — don’t buy products or services…we buy feelings.
Comfort. Acceptance. Power. Freedom. Control. Love. We are all longing to find satisfaction for our intangible desires. If you can provide a payoff for your prospects’ unspoken needs, you will find yourself handsomely rewarded.
If you’re a marketer, chances are you’ve heard about the ‘old’, ‘middle’ and ‘new’ brains in relation to how we make (buying) decisions. The 3 brains refer to the structure of the brain in relation to its evolutionary history. Here’s a brief overview.
In the 1940’s, Paul MacLean popularized the triune brain theory, where he categorized the brain into 3 parts: Reptilian (old, sensory), Limbic (middle, emotional) and Neocortex (new, rational).
The reptilian brain evolved first and controls the body’s core functions from heart rate to breathing to balance. It’s called the reptilian brain because it includes the brainstem and cerebellum (the main structures found in a reptile’s brain).
The limbic brain came next and includes the hippocampus, the amygdala and the hypothalamus. This is the part of your brain that records memories of behaviors that produced pleasant or unpleasant experiences: it’s responsible for your emotions and value judgements.
The last to evolve, the neocortex is credited with the development of human language, abstract thought, imagination and consciousness. It includes the two large cerebral hemispheres and has almost infinite learning abilities.
So, which of the 3 brains buys?
In classic economic theory, consumers are rational economic actors who make choices after considering all relevant information, using the new brain. While this may well hold true for large purchases, like insurance or a house, recent research has pointed to the power of our older brains in everyday purchase decisions (like buying that pair of Nikes).
Neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux explained “…the wiring of the brain at this point in our evolutionary history is such that connections from the emotional systems to the cognitive systems are stronger than connections from the cognitive systems to the emotional systems.”
LeDoux is suggesting that our brain waves flow from old brain to new brain, meaning our decision-making processes are much less rational than we’d all like to believe.
Moreover, feelings happen before thought and they happen far faster.
We have gut reactions in three seconds or less. In fact, emotions process sensory input in only one-fifth the time our conscious, cognitive brain takes to assimilate that same input. Quick emotional processing also happens with cascading impact. Our emotional reaction to a stimulus resounds more loudly in our brain than does our rational response, triggering the action to follow.
In recent years, the science dubbed neuromarketing has begun to emerge; it “bridges the study of consumer behavior with neuroscience”. The first piece of neuromarketing research was published in Neuron in 2004 by Read Montagne, Professor of Neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine.
Dr. Montague studied a group of people as they drank either a Pepsi or Coca Cola while their brains were scanned with an fMRI machine. The results suggested that a strong brand (like Coca Cola) could “own” a piece of a person’s frontal cortex.
The brain is responsible for all consumer behaviors…we only use about 20% of our brains consciously. Worse, we do not control the bulk of our attention since we are too busy scanning the environment for potential threats. Because nothing matters more than survival, we are in fact largely controlled by the ancient part of our brain know as the R-complex or the reptilian brain.
Morin goes on to quote neuroscientist Antonio Damasio who said, “We are not thinking machines that feel, we are feeling machines that think.” We are proud of our thinking abilities, but the fact of the matter is, our brains have relied on instinct for millions of years.
Research would suggest that we can optimize our marketing messaging by speaking to consumers’ reptilian brains.
The old brain’s responsiveness to openings and finales
The old brain’s affinity for visuals
The old brain’s responsiveness to emotional persuasion
And we’re back to emotions. To that Nike ad that makes me cry. And then really want some Nikes.
Note: Neuromarketing is not without its critics who voice ethical concerns akin to those that arose in the days of subliminal messaging. There are concerns that this research could lead to manipulation of consumers. It’s up to the marketing community to use this know-how to benefit the consumer first. With great knowledge, comes great responsibility.
System 1 and System 2
Dual-process theory is another cognitive theory about how we make decisions; it originated in the 1970’s and 1980’s and has been developed in more recent years.
The “dual” refers to the 2 cognitive systems we use everyday. In 1999, Professor of Applied Psychology at the University of Toronto, Keith E. Stanovich dubbed the two systems (rather generically) System 1 and System 2 in order to label the 2 different sets of properties. The terminology stuck.
This table showcases clusters of attributes frequently associated with the dual-process theory of higher cognition.
Characteristics to note within the intuitive process are fast, nonconscious, automatic, and experience-based decision making. In other words, our intuitive cognitive system is easier, requiring less focus and energy.
It follows that, if you can tap into your customers’ natural affinity for old brain, system 1 decision making, you’ll most likely see an uptick in conversions.
The level of dominance of each process at a particular time is the key determinant of purchasing decisions. Visitors are more likely to add a product to their cart when the emotional process takes control as they are directed by ‘how it feels’ and not ‘is it worth it.’…Advertising is above all a way to groom the emotional state.
It happens often: during our Explore phase, a client’s users will tell us (via surveys and other forms of qualitative feedback) that they want more information to…well…inform their purchase. Users often vocalize a desire for more description, more specs, presumably so that they can make a rational, thoughtful decision.
We also often have clients who come to us, assuming that their users need more information to make a purchase decision, particularly if their product is technically complex. And yet, time and time again, we test more information against a Control and more information looses.
Get rid of half the words on each page, then get rid of half of what’s left.
Of course, you must take this suggestion with a grain of salt. Your users may, in fact, respond to more information versus less (we’ve seen that too!) but given all of the research that points toward “we buy feelings and rationalize our decisions later” it’s certainly worth testing more concise product descriptions, information hidden behind tabs, etc.
We can’t all be Nike, and Nike’s tactics certainly wouldn’t work for all of us. But when you’re considering your customers’ decision-making, be sure to take into account how you can up the feels.
In his book, You Should Test That!, Chris Goward discusses the “Intangible Benefits” of your Value Proposition. This is where the feelings associated with your brand sit. The question is, how can you highlight these intangibles?
Test video case studies and testimonials against written ones (visuals appeal to the old brain). Test copy that emphasizes your credibility and trustworthiness (alleviate consumer anxiety), test copy that emphasizes social proof (tap into consumer FOMO and yearning for community). Make your users feel: happy, sad, afraid, connected, angry.
Because we don’t buy things. We buy feelings.
How do you make your users feel? How do you emphasize the intangible benefits of your offering? Let us know in the comments!
Did you know that by the time a teen in the US reaches 16 years of age, they are spending less than seven hours a week in nature, and these trends are worldwide. Parents are as concerned about their children not having time outdoors as they are about bullying, obesity and education. But they are unsure about what to do.
Parents have increased concerns for their children’s safety. They are less willing to let their children play outdoors without direct supervision. As a result, children spend most of their free time in organized sports, music and arts activities. This results in less time for unstructured play than in previous generations. Richard Louv, writer and nature-time advocate, describes this condition as a “nature deficit disorder.”
Much like peanut butter and jelly, copywriting and design are key elements in crafting the perfect marketing campaign. One without the other just isn’t quite the same — you’ve either got a sad sandwich on your hands or a boring campaign. I’ll have neither, thank you very much.
Don’t let mediocre design (or angry geese) make a sad sandwich out of your marketing campaign. Image via Giphy.
As a professional marketer, you likely have the copywriting part on lockdown.
And while you may have some design fundamentals under your belt, amping up your knowledge will not only help your campaigns, it will also help you to communicate with your team of designers in order to achieve the results you want.
Now, we know you’re busy and may not be able to carve out the time to teach yourself design, let alone take a course (ugh, school), so we’ve curated our top nine design resources from our fave blogs. Read them all at once, or bookmark them for later.
Have we forgotten one of your favorite posts or resources? Tell us in the comments — the more the merrier!
You may be able to woo your visitors with compelling content, but if your page isn’t visually optimized for conversion, you may be missing out on leads. Uberflip does a bang-up job of identifying seven rules for effective content marketing design — all wrapped up in a beautifully designed SlideShare.
Two such rules include keeping the design consistent throughout (a.k.a. visual message match) and showing more (i.e., using videos and images to demonstrate the product rather than using wordy descriptions).
It’s not a stretch to say you can spot a stock photo from a mile away. Often they’re cheesy, posed and make you wonder, WTF? Thankfully, Dustin Senos, former head of design at Medium, put together an invaluable list of stock photo hubs brimming with beautiful, candid, modern shots that don’t suck — like, not even a little.
Just one of the many non-sucky stock photos. Image via Unsplash.
Getting your visitor’s attention in today’s crazed digital age is about as easy as getting your toddler to put down the iPad and come to dinner.
If you can’t even get your visitor’s attention, how will you ever get them to convert? Well, Oli Gardner of Unbounce has shared 23 principles of attention-driven design to help remedy this modern problem.
Not all marketers have the privilege of working closely with a designer. There are times when you need to pull up your sleeves and open up that intimidating image-editing software.
If you’re worried about creating something that looks right (let alone converts), Canva and HubSpot have teamed up to bring you an ultimate guide on creating assets for a variety of channels: from email to social and paid advertising. It’s filled to the brim with advice on information hierarchy, typography, color, grids, landing pages, CTAs and so, so much more.
Good landing page and website design isn’t just about choosing palettes and pretty pictures. This post by Marie Polli for ConversionXL explains that it’s also about information hierarchy. ‘Cause if your page doesn’t flow then neither will those dollar bills.
Marie explains how the good ol’ AIDA model (image below) can help you order your page elements in a way that feels natural (and pushes prospects toward the goal).
Bridging the gap between conversion marketer and designer can seem like a challenge: both have their own ideas about what works and what doesn’t.
Conversion consultant Jeremy Smith discusses how CROs and designers can find common ground by leaning on three key best practices to create beautiful and effective marketing experiences. My fave tip? “Make Your Main Thing As In-Your-Face As Possible.” I mean, how could it not be?
Is beauty only skin deep? This post by Crazy Egg explores whether the cliché is true for website and landing page design. When you give into flashy and trendy web design trends, do you sacrifice delightful user experience? Dale Cudmore attempts to answer that and shares his take on what all high-converting pages have in common (regardless of their looks).
As much as it’s great to read about design best practices, it’s also beneficial (and probably more fun) to hear about what not to do. If you need a breather from all these design tips, check out the subreddit /r/CrappyDesign — it’s filled with user-submitted examples of hilariously bad design choices.