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Use Causation to Convert Leads

Have time to read a blog post? What if I told you in just a few short minutes you could walk away with increased knowledge of persuasive design techniques?

B.J. Fogg, a well-known researcher in the land of web design and info architecture, who’s been influential in discussions of web credibility, is also the author of a book on Persuasive Interaction. In short, “captology” as he calls it, is the idea of computers as persuasive technologies.

One interesting idea Fogg suggests is using cause and effect to persuade potential customers to convert: Fogg uses the example of how using curve of a simple graph symbolizing the growing nest egg of a customer can be juxtaposed with an image of one of the luxury perks, such as a hotel or yacht, that could result of the savings. I like this idea, but immediately begin thinking of other ways to show cause and effect online. Before and after type pictures are one obvious idea. But not everyone responds to pictures; some like hard facts, some like charts. Is there a “best” or “correct” way to use cause and effect?

An email newsletter I came across this week emphasized this same idea, cased as describing a service based on its benefits, rather than the logistics of what it entails. Reading it I imagine “fluffy” web copy, the kind that harks of empty promises and turns me off personally as a consumer. Thus as straightforwardly effective as the idea sounds, the same quandary presents itself: how can I speak to a variety of potential consumers on the same page?

The basis of the question seems rooted in people’s differences when it comes to preferred levels of specificity and presentation-types. A little research turned up Dave Young’s great resource on tailoring web design to different types of decision makers. The video uses a 4 quadrant grid to dichotomize fast versus slow decision makers as well as emotional versus logical ones. My dissatisfaction with over-generalized web copy describing benefits results from being a fast, logical decision maker. I want anything I’m going to read online to be quick to get to the facts.

One question that still lingers after watching Young’s video relates to whether there is any risk in combining so many types of content in a single page/site. I am thinking both of the example contractor’s site that Young uses, and Fogg’s example above of the graph in conjunction with the picture. The latter combines not only symbolic and realistic representations, but also emotional and logical ones. It is a fact that many people are scared of numbers and graphs. Is there a chance that some emotional folks will be scared off by certain charts, or numbers displayed too prominently? On the flip side, I do feel there are limits to how much “soft” marketing content I can handle before I am scared off.

Examples of sites that go to far in combining types of content would be appreciated!

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