Chase Makes A Miracle Happen With Persuasive Design Part II

In my last post I talked about the chase blueprint site (http://www.chaseblueprint.com/#/home) and asked readers to write in with their ideas about why this website is so persuasive. Here’s a summary of what you wrote in:

— The use of the word You frequently (activiates old brain)

— Using attractive people who are “like me” (principles of attractiveness and similarity)

— Use of stories

— Use of animation to grab attention

— Use of trigger words such as “free”

Here’s what I think Chase could be doing to be even more persuasive and engaging:

— The stories are good, but with the use of stories there is a lot of use of “I” rather than “you”. So Chase should consider interspersing the “I” with more “you”.

— Tell me how many people have signed up for blueprint. (Social Validation principle).

— For even more social validation, have more people telling stories rather than just the one couple.

— Using close-ups would be better at least some of the time, so that we can see the person’s face more clearly and closely.

Thanks to everyone who wrote comments and sent in emails!

Chase Makes a Miracle Happen With Persuasive Design: Part I

An impossible task: I don’t know about you, but these days I’m not used to thinking of a credit card company as “my friend” or “on my side”. And the last thing I’m interested in is getting another credit card. Then how is it that in less than 5 minutes Chase convinced me that I absolutely have to have their credit card, and not only that, that I will want to use it as much as possible rather than any other card I have?

Let’s hear from you: I’m actually not going to tell you how they did it —  yet! That’s why this blog is labelled as Part I. I thought it would be more fun if we have everyone go to this site: http://www.chaseblueprint.com/#/home, spend some time looking at all the features of the card, etc, and then come back here and leave a comment with all the effective persuasive design techniques you noticed that they have used. Or if you are more comfortable with just sending me an email, send your comments to weinschenk@gmail.com. (Those of you who have read my book Neuro Web Design: What makes them click? may have an advantage when it comes to coming up with a list of persuasive design ideas they incorporated, but I’m sure everyone will be able to come up with at least a few of the concepts they are using).

I’ll compile the ideas: I’ll wait a few days and see what everyone has to say and then I’ll write Part II and summarize what everyone found.

The Secret Ingredient to Web Site Loyalty

Here’s the Answer: I’ll state right up front — The Secret Ingredient is …. FUN!

The Scenario: Recently I was researching a trip for my son. He’s in Cairo for a semester abroad, but rather than coming straight home from there for the Christmas holidays, he’s decided he wants to go to London for two weeks (ok, I can’t blame him). But he’s a poor college student, so he has to do this as cheaply as possible. I was on video chat with him, and we’re discussing possible dates, itineraries, etc. I had to be able to search all these different options quickly. First I used Expedia, and then I used Travelocity. They were so slow, and ponderous, and had numerous usability issues. Why is it so hard to choose one-way or multi-destination? Why are the date pickers so hard to use? I was getting more and more frustrated and then somehow (I don’t even remember how or why), I ended up at Kayak.com.

Is it Usability or is it Fun?: Now Kayak is much more USABLE than the other sites. And that was wonderful, but that’s not what made me stay at Kayak for the rest of the research. And that’s not what made me go to Kayak since then to look up all other kinds of travel. Kayak is FUN. If you don’t know Kayak, then go try it out right now and then come back and finish reading the blog. Really. Go now and then come back.

So What’s So Fun?: When you enter your search criteria into Kayak and press the Search button things happen… you don’t just go to a screen with a progress bar, or an hourglass, or a funny picture of William Shatner… you stay on the same screen, but there are things happening… there is some kind of word unscrambler that is scrolling through word combinations. I don’t even know what that thing is, but I swear I can feel excitement mounting as it is cycling through until a word or phrase appears. And the results! The results of your search, with cities, and prices starts populating right away. It starts at the bottom of the screen and works up. So first you see a bunch of flights for $775, and then the price dips and you see a bunch of entries scrolling by of $585, then $356, and WOW, it stops at $272… I WON! Now I’m not a gambler, I don’t play slot machines, or even the lottery, but I”m telling you, this gets me every time. I find this website fun. Instead of dreading checking out flights I look forward to it. After I find the flight I want I am just one click away from Expedia or Travelocity or whomever else I want to use to actually BUY the flight. It will come up immediately with my flight info right there and I can purchase right away. This is great.

Fun + Usable = Trust?: There’s another subtle psychological shift: I trust the info at this site. I used to go to Northwest or Travelocity or Priceline, or all of those, because I didn’t trust that I was getting ALL the flights. But because Kayak.com is EASY and it’s FUN… I trust it.

The secret ingredient: FUN.

Trust Issues — A Sure Way to Kill a Marketing Campaign


Today I received a Linked In message from someone I don’t know describing a free assessment tool for using social media to generate leads. The word FREE was used 3 times in all caps, so it caught my attention, of course, (FREE is a trigger word), and I clicked on the link to the web page. The page itself had some good persuasive design, but Trust alarm bells started ringing, and before long the entire interaction had gone down the drain.

Three critical Trust factors were violated in this interaction:

Trust Issue 1: Insincerity — The original linked in email started with: “I think you attended one of our free training classes on Generating Leads using LinkedIN and or Facebook in the past.“… I don’t remember attending any training classes on this topic, and the author even says “I think”… so it’s an amazing testament to the word FREE that I even went the next step and clicked on the link. But my Trust alarms were activated by that first sentence, and that colored the rest of my experience.

Trust Issue 2: Mispellings and grammatical errors — At the web page itself there was a grammatical error and a mispelled word. I know this sounds small, but these are Trust issues. I was already on alert because of the original email, and seeing these errors in the copy of the web page made me wonder how legitimate these people were. STILL the copy at the web page was persuasive and I was willing to fill out the form for the free assessment. Willing, but not able! Read on…

Trust Issue 3: Usability issues and errors — I tried to fill out the form 4 times! There were numerous unexplained errors… One of them said that Field #6 requires numbers… well, none of the fields are labelled as Field #6, but I counted and I think this was the phone number field… I did have a number in it… Another error was that there was a text box labelled “Additional Request”. I had no idea what to put in there, but I got an error message saying it was required! I tried 4 times to fill out the form, but kept getting errors. Now my trust had eroded down to zero. Not only will I not be getting my free assessment, or buying their service for $199 — I will have a hard time trusting the company, and I even have written this blog post, passing on my trust issues to others.

Lesson — Make sure you aren’t violating trust. Although each of these trust issues is small on its own, together they create a Trust 3-alarm fire that chases away potential customers.

7 Ways Mr. Fire Can Use Neuro Web Design to Turn Up The Heat


Dr. Joe Vitale is Mr. Fire and when I got an email from him saying “I love your book” we talked first by email and then by phone. Joe interviewed me for his subscriber base, and during the interview he asked if I had looked at his site from a Neuro Web Design point of view. I told him during the interview that I would review his site in my blog, so here goes!

What is Joe doing well in terms of principles from the Neuro Web Design book, and what could he change to make his site (www.mrfire.com) more persuasive?:

1. Use More Pictures That Tell a Story: Joe is using photos and videos and that draws attention, but he needs to use more pictures that tell a story. On his home page there are pictures of him, but where are the pictures of all the people he has helped? There are lots of testimonials and stories from people (that’s persuasive) but a picture of these people in action would be more persuasive. And how about pictures of people doing all the things we all want to do that Joe’s books and ideas will help us achieve? Especially attractive people doing interesting, worthwhile, and fun activities.

2. Use Scarcity: At the web site there is a page announcing his upcoming seminars. He should consider using scarcity. If they are filling up fast he can have a note with a color background saying, “This seminar almost full” or “Only 3 seats left”.

3. Use Social Validation: There are many places where he could use social validation. How many people have attended his seminars? How many books has he sold? How many people are estimated to have watched The Secret (he’s in that movie) or any of the other movies he’s been in? How many people have sent in testimonials to him (he has lots and lots at his website). It would be powerful to show these numbers.

4. Tell More Stories in the 3rd Person: Joe has many fans and they write in telling about how his books, mentoring, and courses have changed their life. But these stories would be more compelling if they were told as stories. Rather than all the stories being told in the person’s own words in the first person, it would be more powerful if some of the stories were told in the 3rd Person narrative form as true stories: “Amber had been struggling for eight years in a combative relationship with her mother, but after coaching with Joe she was able to change their relationship in only a few days….”

5. Use More YOU YOU YOU: Joe’s content is all about individuals reaching their goals. So his website is full of all the wonderful things you will have come into your life when you practice what he is teaching. A lot of the content is written in paragraphs, and this will put the old brain to sleep. The web site would be more persuasive it if would really focus on the word You more, and point out (to the old brain) in short bullet points and pictures exactly what You are Going to Get by reading the book, watching the movie, or signing up for coaching.

6. Reduce Fear of Loss: On the home page Joe has some FREE! offers. I’d like to see more FREE offers on the inside pages, especially when he wants to get someone to spend money. The FREE on the home page is to subscribe … but it’s actually not totally clear what I am subscribing to (a newsletter?) FREE works best when it has to do with a purchase, as it mitigates fear of loss.

7. Limit Choices So People Will Choose: Joe does so much… he has books, movies, seminars, coaching… his site is rich and full of things to read and check out — too many things. Research shows that if you give people too many choices they choose nothing at all. I wonder how many people come to the site and leave without purchasing anything or signing up for something. Sure, you can have all that info at the website, but Joe should consider making only one or two or three at the most actions really clear… make it seem that the first decision is just amongst three alternatives. That would get people to take an action.

There you have it… 7 ways for Mr. Fire to turn up the heat. Joe Vitale has great content. I hope some of these ideas will help his ideas get out there even more persuasively than before.

Sell with Stories

It’s all about stories. Finca is a micro loan company. You give them some money and they loan it to people around the world who are trying to improve their lives. It’s a great organization doing vital work. Their website has good photos, but they could be even more effective if they would focus focus focus… Here’s a snapshot of their home page. There is a block at the top that cycles photos from people and small businesses that they loan to, and this photo block is great. However, they could use it even more… the one liner they have under the photo should start to tell a story about the people in the photo. When you click on the photo it should take you to a page where you get to see (with more photos) and read the story of the people in that photo (it takes you instead to their goal of a 100,000 village banks).

On their home page they also have a picture of some people at an event to open a UK branch… this is not a compelling photo, and it distracts from the photos above which are the real people who are recipients of the micro loan. And lastly, the yellow column on the right is also a distractor… small text, lots of text, small images… it draws attention away from the main STORY which should be the photos of the people.

In Neuro Web Design: What makes them click? I write about how and why stories are so powerful. Finca’s home page would be more compelling if they would focus the home page on telling stories of the people that are helped by donating micro loan money, and if you could click on the photos to get the full story. The home page would be improved if they made it simpler, taking off other information from the home page… let it focus on story.

Do you have a favorite site ? or a site that you think is not persuasive enough? Send me the URL and I’ll review it here at the blog.

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A University Gets Neuro Savvy



With the economy the way it is right now I am guessing that colleges and universities are doing whatever they can to attract and keep students. Perhaps that is why we are seeing what is obviously a lot of effort being put into university websites. Even small, less well known colleges.

I happened upon one of these… this is a midwestern school of about 10,000, and whoever is working on their website is doing a great job at designing for the unconscious. There are lots of bold interesting pictures on the home page at the top… these scroll through as you watch them. They show interesting pictures of real students out in the world. The pictures themselves are stories, and they make you want to read more (as in click the Read More button) to find out the story behind the photo. When you do so you get a story, told as a story. As I write in my book, Neuro Web Design: What makes them click? stories are powerful and get and keep the attention of the unconscious mind, as do pictures of people, which they have a lot of.

With competition for students getting tougher, and with students choosing to stay closer to home and save money, these savvy neuro tactics become important for all colleges and universities. Kudos to UW, Steven Point!

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New Research Shows Herd Behavior When Shopping Online

In my book, Neuro Web Design: What makes them click, I have a chapter on Social Validation: When we are uncertain we look to others to see what our behavior should be.

Now some new research tests this idea online. In a series of research studies by Chen (see end for full reference), visitors to a simulated website were given two holiday traveling books to choose from. Both had similar sounding titles, were hardcover, showed similar number of pages, list price and availability.

In the first study Chen showed different consumer ratings. In some cases people saw that one book had 5 stars and the other had 1, or one had 4 and the other had 2, or both had 3 stars. The books with more stars were chosen signficantly more often. Ok, it’s not a big surprise, but it’s good to have some actual data. But read on, the rest of the studies got curiouser and curiouser…

In the second study Chen compared book sales volumes instead of star ratings. People chose the book that was selling the best.

In the third study Chen tested consumer recommendations vs. expert recommendations. One group got this info: “Name of Book Here” is the leading book in the tourism area as voted for online by readers” vs. “Our advisors, experts in the tourism area, strongly recommend “Name of Book Here”. People chose the book picked by consumers more than the book picked by experts.

And in the fourth study, Chen tested a recommender system, (“Customers who bought this book also bought”) vs. the recommendation of the website owner, (“Our Internet bookstore staff strongly recommends that you buy…”) People followed the recommendation of the website owner 75% of the time, but they followed the recommender system 88.4% of the time.

Consumer recommendations are powerful. Social validation at work. Welcome to the herd!

Reference: Chen, Yi-Fen, Herd behavior in purchasing books online, Computers in Human Behavior, 24, (2008), 1977-1992.

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Don’t Personalize: Cluster Instead!

In a TED video filmed in 2004 and published in 2006, Malcolm Gladwell (author of Blink and Outliers) talks about human variability. The talk is entitled “What we can learn from spaghetti sauce” because he discusses the evolution of commercial spaghetti sauces from only a few varieties to hundreds (at the time of the filming Prego had something like 36 sauces).

Although he is talking about variability in people’s preferences, one of the things that strikes me in the video is that there are clusters of preferences. If you collect enough data you will find that not everyone thinks/prefers/feels alike. However, you will also find that there isn’t unlimited variability, but that there are clusters. Gladwell’s point is that if you design for one preference (strong coffee for example) you will miss the preferences of many, if not most, people.

Market researchers and product developers, he would argue, ask the wrong questions. In fact he makes the important point that you can’t ask people their preferences at all, since preferences are largely unconscious, and asking them to talk about preferences invokes conscious thought. Most people don’t know what they prefer, or will prefer in the future, but they think they do. So they will give you an answer, but it isn’t accurate (watch out those of you who conduct focus groups!).

You might feel overwhelmed figuring out how to plan for or design a product for human variability, but there is a practical way to deal with this. You don’t have to design for each individual with all their variabilities. What you do instead is enough research to identify variability clusters. If you collect data (not by asking! but by testing and observation) you will find that most people cluster into a finite number of groups. And then you can design for those groups. Instead of designing for a million individual preferences you can design for 5 main clusters.

To apply this to the design of technology: Personalization of web sites and web applications, so that each individual can adjust what they see, might not always be the best way to go. If you’ve done your homework you should be able to place each person in the appropriate cluster and show them what they need. Then perhaps they can tinker a little from there. How less overwhelming that would be for both designer and user than starting from a generic template that fits no one.

To watch the TED video:
http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/malcolm_gladwell_on_spaghetti_sauce.html

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Thumbs Up: Credo mobile email hits 5 Persuasion hot buttons


I get plenty of marketing emails, and this one that came the other day really stood out. Credo Mobile… it’s a cell phone service provider that also promises political change! They use 5 different persuasion techniques, all on one page:
1. The word “Free” is very powerful and they use it several times
2. Scarcity — “Offer Expires…”
3. Association — They are a politically active company, and they talk about Barack Obama on the page… they are associating themselves with Obama… like Obama, then you will like them
4. Consistency — The message is: If you are someone who cares about being progressive, then you want to (be consistent) and use a progressive cell phone service provider.
5. Social Validation – -The bottom ofthe page has a customer testimonial, with a name and photo.

Good job hitting persuasion marks Credo!