Mapping for Online Persuasion Model

Mapping for Online Persuasion Model

Designing and implementing an online persuasion strategy can be difficult. One must decide on what strategy to use (what do you want to achieve as a company?), one must choose from a vast number of theoretical persuasion methods (e.g. Social Influence methods, Framing, etc.) and practical applications (building a brand community, using loss aversion to persuade consumers to buy now, using dynamic retargeting to make display adds more relevant, etc. ). It may not always be clear when to employ which method and what techniques. Furthermore, most methods and techniques may only work well under very specific conditions (see for example this post). To facilitate the development of effective online persuasion strategies, we developed the Mapping for Persuasion Framework.  This framework helps you to design and implement your online persuasive strategy to maximizing your online sales with fewer costs and better customer retention.

Mapping for Online Persuasion is a protocol that describes five steps in designing and implementing effective online persuasive communication strategies, based on scientific theories and evidence from behavioral and communication sciences. This approach differs from other approaches because it primary focusses on the behavioral aspect of online persuasion (i.e. it focusses on your customers behavior). Furthermore, it integrates methods and application from various disciplines (e..g psychology, behavioral economics, marketing, communication, design, etc.) and as such uses an holistic approach to designing online persuasion strategies. The Mapping for Online Persuasion Protocol is based on Intervention Mapping  protocol for Health Promotion programme development.

Step 1: Needs Assessment. The first step is to briefly review your current online persuasion goals (increase conversion for product x), and to analyze your marketing & communication strategy (branding, social media, etc.). The aim is to get a thorough understanding of your goals, of you and your company, and of your customers. Next, you must understand the reasons (called determinants) why your customers want to reach your goals (e.g. why do people want to buy your product x?). For example, customers must hold a positive attitude towards your product, have the necessary skills to buy and use it, perceive positive social norms, etc. The results of step 1 will be a set of online persuasion goals for your company and an overview of all the reasons your cutsomer may have to reach those goals. These goals and the associated reasons will form the basis on which your online persuasion strategy will be build.

Step 2: Identify Behavioral Steps. These are the steps your customers have to take in order to achieve your online persuasion goals (from step 1). Remember, your customers’ behavior is central in the Mapping for Online Persuasion Protocol, so your “Performance Objectives” primarily refer to “behavioral steps”. A behavioral step is defined as an action your customer has to do in order to reach a specific goal. For example, one goal of your online persuasion strategy may be to have your customers subscribe to your weekly newsletter. Ask yourself “what do my customers have to do in order to subscribe to my newsletter?”. The answer to this question are your Performance Objectives (e.g. decide to want to the newsletter, locate subscription page, enter an e-mailadres, click on subscribe-button, etc.). The result of the second step is a set of Performance Objectives which will serve as input for selecting the appropriate persuasive methods and applications. Furthermore, these performance objectives also act as your Key Performance Indicators used to assess the succes of your online persuasion strategy (see step 5).

Step 3: Selecting Persuasive Methods and Applications. Based on your Performance Objectives, the relevant persuasive methods and applications will be selected. It is very important to align the various performance objectives with the most relevant persuasive methods. For example, the performance objective “customer completes newsletter subscription form” requires different persuasion methods (e.g. using set completion) and applications (e.g. add green mark next to each input line) than the performance objective “decide to put item in shopping cart” (e.g. loss aversion or price priming). Key here is to make sure you use the appropriate method and application for each specific behavior you want to influence, and check the conditions under which each technique works (or perhaps backfires).

Step 4: Design and Implement Online Persuasion Strategy. Bases on step 1 to 3, the online persuasion strategy will be designed. This means, the website will be altered in such a way that it covers all performance objectives using all the selected persuasive methods and techniques. In practice you will most likely build several versions of your website. These versions differ in that they use different persuasive applications (i.e. photo’s, content, coloring, etc.), and these different versions will be tested in step 5.

Step 5: Test and Adjust. The last step is to test the various online persuasion designs you created in step 4. Only when you measure your results you can be certain your persuasive campaign is effective. Testing involves using analytics data (e.g. Google Analytics) to analyze website traffic or bounce rates,  and A/B or Multivariate test to test conversion rates. Based on test results, the online persuasion strategy will be adjusted when necessary.

In conclusion, the Mapping for Online Persuasion Protocol can be used to build an online persuasion strategy, to design an optimal online sales campaign, and to test and review the online sales campaigns. Using the Mapping for Online Persuasion Protocol makes sure your online marketing and sales efforts are based on the latest scientific insights thereby optimizing your conversions!

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