As you know I have a huge interest in psychology and how that is translated online. At the upcoming Conversion Conference the keynote speaker will be Nathalie Nahai. She wrote a book called “Webs of Influence” which looks into how online persuasion on website could work.
I recently had the chance to talk to her. You can find the interview with Nathalie below. It was truly inspiring so I urge you to read on!
“Yes, whether or not we are aware of it and especially when we are not aware of it, we are constantly being competed for, in terms of our attention and engagement. Everything that we are encountering online is an act to persuade us to take a particular action.”
“I think it’s an element of both. Marketers and advertisers are in the trade of getting us to do what they want us to do, which is nothing new. But there are lots of things that we do without thinking that also have an impact on how we behave online. It’s a combination of both. It’s about raising awareness about the things we do subconsciously.”
“I think marketers are doing some of it enough, but I think the psychology of online persuasion is a field that has been largely neglected which is something that kind of surprised me and got me into writing the book. I think that if you’re looking at persuading people in an emotionally engaging way, then you have to look at the wider context of psychology – such as individual traits, culture and expectations – so that you can then create something which is a lot more persuasive.”
“I did a BSc in Psychology, then went to art college and I’m also a musician. I started to think about how the two (web design and psychology) interact, and discovered there was no-one combining these fields in a holistic way so I thought well I’ll write the book.”
“It’s not just about design, its about building reputational capital, social psychology principles that work to create more persuasive relationships, all sorts of things.”
“In that respect no, because people are expecting to have more user control. We’re also seeing increasing enforced personalisation. We like to think that we’re the authors of our own reality, that we are in control and when we are online, being forced to take actions (like having music imposed upon us) can be a big turn off for people.”
“No, they are all interrelated. The part that I found the most interesting to write about was the last part, selling with integrity. It’s also the largest part of the book. It basically talks about persuasion techniques and influence techniques you can use to sell more effectively to people. Which is a very tricky area because it can be seen as very manipulative and it can be very manipulative if you use it unethically.
If you look at the digital and tech industry, there is much more of an open community, of open source and sharing – we support each other as we succeed. With corporates you don’t find it in large organisations.”
“There is so much research in different areas. You have things like web science, human computer interaction, user experience, web analytics etcetera. I thought surely someone had brought all these together and created something like a manual. When I found that it didn’t exist I thought, Well I’ve got to write the book. Especially because a lot of the blogs I come across either haven’t researched properly or haven’t covered it in enough depth, which is what I aim to do with this book.”
“I think its possible to catch a lot of it. The difficulty with any sort of research or hypothesis is that it is based on the theory of ‘all things being equal’. In reality things are rarely equal and there isn’t a standard type of person.
There are definitely general principles which should work in most situations, but that’s why its also very important to test, test and test.”
“I think the thing that I found most interesting of all were the cultural differences. My heritage is very mixed, my parents are not British. The work that I found by a Dutch psychologist Geert Hofstede, who has done the most incredible work on cultural dimensions.
We assume to a large extent that other people are like us. We are seeing more and more content delivered in the native tongue of the people targeted. I thought the cultural aspect which was really interesting.”
“One of the books I read and highly recommend is ‘influence’ by Robert Caldini, who is an American psychologist and marketer. His work was seminal, 6 principles of persuasion. These are very much translatable online.
“I know! I have no idea why they didn’t do this from the start! I just think its crazy that this is the first time this kind of book is attempted.”
“I’m going to be talking about several things. I’m talking about personalisation within a context of culture. A bit about glocalisation, risk trust and privacy. Growing trends in customer behaviour the web as a whole.”
“People will be getting an idea of where they stand on Hofstede’s dimensions. Also some of the trends which they can start building into their websites to help get better engagement and trust.”