Instantly Ramp Up Your Persuasive Power - Part 2

I told you they're a dime a dozen. Persuasion techniques are so vast they stretch farther than the eye can see.

But, you're probably wondering why we should even focus on more? Shouldn't we just stick with what we already know and love?

As I previously stated Robert Cialdini's techniques are the holy grail of persuasion. But, there's always room for more.

Imagine you're in a fancy restaurant. You had an appetizer, a delicious main course and ate so much that you can't imagine taking another bite. And just as you decide to leave, the waiter comes out with a dessert cart filled with cakes, cookies and pies. The desserts look so delectable you can't bear to pass them up.

So what do you do?

If you're like most people you would take a deep breath, unloosen your pants and make room for dessert.

That's what we're doing. Cialdini's principles are set in stone. They're top notch. But, there is and always will be room for more.

So, picking up from where we left off, let's dive into the next persuasion technique.

Affect Heuristic

"We decide differently based on our emotional state."

Did you know that how you feel influences the decisions you make? This principle makes me think of the popular Snickers commercials. They always show hungry people behaving in an unseemly manner. And then after consuming a Snickers bar, the people transform back into who they truly are. The commercials always close with a caption that says: "You're not you when you're hungry."

Affect heuristic is the same. The way we feel influences the decisions and the choices we make.

When we're happy we are more likely to try new things. When we're worried, we tend to be more reserved and make conservative decisions.

We carry these emotions with us throughout our everyday lives. They affect us at all times. They even control our online experiences and how we respond to apps, websites and social media pages.

Because we are so dependent on our emotions, affect heuristic is involved in nearly every decision we make. Think if it like a person who visits your house that you can't get rid of. Like no matter how hard you try you can't get them to leave.

Now let's explore how affect heuristic comes into play. I'm sure you're familiar with the phrase "go with your gut." We like to use that gut feeling as a method of telling us if we should or shouldn't do something.

Here are some examples:

You may have gone on a first date based on a gut feeling. Or bought a new dress. Or accepted a job offer. That's using affect heuristic.

And the more complex our decisions are the more we rely on it.

Online persuasion tips:

  • Consider using a small bit of sadness when you want users to make a conservative choice (like renewing a subscription).

  • Provide the comforting and reassuring aspects of your offer when you induce a negative mood.

Facial Distraction

"We can't resist looking at faces."

When we notice faces in our surroundings we tend to scan those faces. Just think about the last photo you saw. If it contained faces, you probably looked at the people first and examined the background second. Even if the background was a complete mess filled with distractions.

But, we don't just look at faces to take notice of them. We thoroughly process the faces we see.

Now, let's see how this applies to marketing. Offline when someone looks at you, you look back at them. And your brain tries to determine if you can or should trust the person. You instantly perceive all their facial expressions and take notice of their body language. And you pay close attention to the person's verbal message as well.

Online marketing is the same. The only difference is your message is not spoken -- it's written out in text. So, while your audience is processing the face they see they're simultaneously forced to process the copy. In these instances, a face on the page can distract from your message. So, the best thing to do is test.

Online persuasion tips:

  • Use faces to attract attention outside of your own platform (such as banner ads).

  • Test iterations of your website with and without faces.

  • If you use faces on your site, use gaze cueing (which we will discuss in more detail next week) to redirect the visitor's attention to what you want them to see.

Attentional Bias

"We pay attention to things that touch us emotionally."

I'm sure you can relate to this one. More than likely you've seen an ad with a cute puppy that warmed your heart. Or heard the touching story of a founder who built her company from nothing.

I'm a big fan of the show Shark Tank. And I love to hear stories from entrepreneurs who have overcome obstacles to start their businesses. Somehow they resonate with me and make me root for the entrepreneur's success.

With attentional bias, we focus on information that stimulates our emotions and make a decision based on that. Classic emotions used in marketing materials are pain, fear and sex.

Now, let's look at another example.

Scientists like to perform tests called Dot probe studies to measure attentional bias. They take test subjects and have them look at the center of the screen where two pictures with different emotions are shown. Then the pictures are removed and a dot appears where one of the pictures is placed. Afterward, the reaction time (the time it takes subjects to look at the dot) is measured. And reaction time is always the fastest when the dot probe is congruent with more emotionally dominated pictures.

Online persuasion tips:

  • If your brand is positively related to an intense emotion, promote it visually and through your context.

  • Put your USP and CTA close to emotionally dominant areas of your page (like an expressive image).

  • Put counter persuasive elements (like your terms and conditions or privacy policy) away from emotionally dominant parts of the page.