Customers want to be inspired. Not persuaded.
Now to be fair, persuasion can be a good thing. Open, honest persuasion is definitely much better than downright dishonest manipulation or coercion. But is it really necessary?
The idea that if we craft clever paths into a website or other digital media, we will somehow enable users, who would otherwise not be interested in our products or services, to become willing customers is in large part a myth or an illusion. Now, to those who have followed my thoughts in the past, this may come as a surprise and sound like a major a departure from a previous stance I may have participated in. Which was to indeed, in some instances, market ourselves as “persuasion architects”. Again, to be fair, there is a large part of our work, especially with e-commerce that concerns itself with buy-flows. Persuasion may play a role there. But I now believe, the term “persuasion architect” is misleading.
We, as humans, make purchasing decisions at an entirely different level, that is actually far more emotional than we are willing to admit in most instances. And, more importantly, where external persuasion does not play a role at all. We then use our own “rational” arguments to justify our decisions. So, in that respect, the best a website can do is simply clear the way for an easy path to fulfillment. No real need for so-called “persuasion architecture”. However, the inspirational component is very much relevant. Brands can inspire us and lead us into action.
And so the more relevant question for digital media producers is: How do we most effectively weave that stickiness, that emotional inspiration into an experience that does not detract from the need to be totally transparent, fluid and easy to use? Better yet, how does that inspirational component actually make the experience even more fluid?