Persuasion Optimization for your Website’s Traffic

Persuasion Optimization for your Website’s Traffic

30th October 2012

Search mainly focuses on attracting visitors to your site. Brand managers and digital marketers optimize their sites in order to gain higher rankings in search engines to increase the likelihood of searchers to access the particular sites which as a result leads to higher website traffic. Apart from that though we also ought to think of other forms of optimization. So what happens when visitors land on your page, what other forms of optimization are in place to increase the success of a website?

In this blog post I will look into persuasion optimization, the numerous benefits it brings with it as well as 6 on-site persuasion techniques. Each of your site visitors has a different perception of value therefore I will provide a summary of the 4 most dominant persona types as identified by the Eisenberg brothers.

After having managed to attract visitors to land and access our sites, we want them to stay on it and act upon our call of actions, right? The umbrella term for this is persuasion optimization which focuses on influencing (hence NOT manipulating) and triggering visitors to act in a certain way that are beneficial to you. This could be in the form of feedback, making a purchase, donating, or even downloading a white paper in return for the visitor’s contact details. Once you have planned, designed, and optimized your content for your target audience you’ll see that your site becomes a far more efficient sales tool.

For instance poorly optimized e-commerce websites on average only have a conversion rate between 2.5% to 3.1%. With ever increasing advertising costs a well performing website is essential. The majority of e-commerce websites focus on affiliate networks to boost online sales, however before throwing money at others why don’t we concentrate on our site and make it work harder for us from its already existing website traffic? Keep in mind this is a continuous process which has to be tweaked on an on-going basis. The good thing about persuasion optimization is that it uses what you already know about your visitors and their likes and dislikes. These on the other hand can then be influenced via language, visuals and engagement mechanisms.

Source Credibility

We all know that there are numerous of dodgy websites out there that’s why source credibility is becoming increasingly important. We tend to trust sources that are credible, trustworthy and authoritative. If your site’s traffic perceives your brand as credible your messages will have a far greater persuasive impact on them. Depending on your industry there are various ways to add credibility to it. The most common ones though are:

  • Professional look (clear brand logos and slogans)
  • Well-structured content that is relevant (logical content order and structure that is relevant to your audience)
  • Intuitive navigation (helping to quickly find the desired information)
  • Download speed (responsive websites usually have higher conversion rates)

To summarise, you should always focus on helping your customers to find what they are looking for (what’s the problem) and to provide the relevant answers (solving the problem). As you know, target audiences always consist of a variety of different personality types, the so named personas. As a result content has to be tailored for those segments.

6 Persuasion Techniques 

No one likes to be manipulated but influencing people with persuasive techniques is absolutely acceptable as long as you are genuine. The majority of conversion best practices are purely based on psychological fundamentals. Just think of ‘awards received’ or ‘testimonials’, I personally trust sites which feature those social proofs far more, how about yourself?

I would now like to take you through the 6 most popular persuaders that influence people to comply with a site’s requests according to Robert Cialdini.


The human species usually feels obliged to repay a gift from others. In the digital sphere we usually use rewards to increase the chances that customers provide us with relevant information in return. Best practice is to ask for the required information (e.g contact details) from your visitor before the exchange of the visitor’s request. A common example is the trade of white papers in exchange for the visitor’s contact details.



People like consistency as it saves them the effort and time to re-evaluate messages and a brand’s core values and missions. Therefore ensure that your website’s messages don’t conflict each other. The objective should be that all pages flow consistently, with the same tone of voice and design lay-outs to avoid unexpected tangents.

Social Proof

Our decision process of what is ‘correct’ and what is not tends to be highly influenced by what others (our peers)think. Do you currently feature visual evidence on your website that other people have found your products/services valuable in the form of reviews, awards, certificates and testimonials? For instance I have included awards won in my work email signature simply because I believe it adds trust and credibility. I have recently interviewed applicants for an available role and the interviewees were keen to find out more about the mentioned awards from my email signature!

I think it’s fair to say that word-of-mouth is the most influential marketing tool, simply because we trust our peers and likeminded people far more than any corporation! Therefore ensure that your site features customer endorsements as they usually have a significant positive effect on trust. Further, we have to keep in mind that people are suspicious and worried when buying online, with new identity theft cases emerging daily. As a result it’s your obligation to build confidence and trust amongst your visitors by decreasing their perceived risk and uncertainty. Another way to reduce uncertainty is to place e-seals on your site to reduce your visitor’s perceived risk, think PayPal and Sage pay for instance!


I believe it is safe to say that businesses thrive on relationships with others, right? We like to do business with people we like. In the digital sphere we can assume that people respond to those who are like them due to similarities. A recommendation from a friend has far more impact than a cold call. As a result association plays a key part therefore make sure you associate your brand with entities your traffic already likes. For instance you could align your website with celebrity endorsements or highly popular industry events.


Humans tend to pay greater respect and credibility to authoritive people and sites. You can enforce authority by using symbols, qualifications and associations on your site. A way of doing that could be to list your employees qualifications, titles and achievements under your ‘meet the team’ section. Does your website currently feature proof of your authority claims?


Whenever we have the impression that something is only available for a limited time, or that only X tickets are now remaining we automatically assign greater importance to it. Scarcity is a widely used tactic to sell more products online. It is no news that marketers are limiting the number of products they sell to evoke scarcity emotions. For instance when you book a flight with Ryan Air they’ll let you know how many places are still left on that flight in order to induce a sense of urgency in the customer.

So far I have given you an overview of the 6 most powerful persuasion techniques, at this point I would like to let you watch a little video of the man who has identified those six, Robert Cialdini.


Maximising Your Site for Personas

Successful websites have one thing in common, they know exactly who their customers are and what their customers want and why they buy due to the different personality traits they have. In order to do that you need your traffic’s personas in place to target them accordingly with your content and design.  Each visitor to your site perceives value in a different way. Thanks to the Eisenberg brothers we can now divide them into 4 segments

  • Humanistic: this segment is altruistic and focuses on the welfare and needs of others. They are keen to understand the bigger picture this can be achieved with testimonials, awards, active engagement and incentives.
  • Competitive: this group values control and competence and are usually after rational options and of course challenges. Their focus is primary on future gain.
  • Spontaneous: without a doubt the most fast paced and impulsive group whereas they address their own immediate needs. Their questions mainly focus on why and when.
  • Methodical: these individuals are driven by hard facts and data in order to make a rational decision. Most of the time they are well organised and very detail-orientated.

Sites that use personas can direct visitors to different parts of the site in accordance with that persona’s preferences and objectives to optimize the user experience as a whole. As a result you can specifically tailor web content to their personality traits to make their visit a pleasant experience!

Discovering Personas

So far we have been looking at the most powerful persuasion techniques and the 4 main online personas. The latter requires you to discover who your visitors are and to understand what drives them, what they are hoping to get out of your site, what their specific needs are and what triggers to best put in place to achieve the required outcome. I thought it useful to provide you with a few pointers to help you discover your brand’s personas.

  • Demographics: age, sex, occupation, income, education
  • Psychographics: who, when, where, why and what
  • Geography: where are your customers based?
  • Customer objectives: why does the customer come to your site, what problem does he/she want to solve?
  • Value proposition: why would your prospects prefer you over the competition?
  • Risk Reversal: how can you decrease your visitor’s perceived risk in buying your product/service online?
  • Keyword phrases: what language does your audience speak, what’s their tone of voice and which keywords are most suitable to deal as trigger.
  • Frustrations: what are the most common frustrations faced by your customers when doing business with companies within your sector?

Marketing is the art of successful and convincing story-telling, in order to transform your website into a persuasion machine with the careful consideration of your market’s personas you have to align your tone of voice, copywriting and design accordingly.

Featured image source


Written By
Clarissa is a bilingual Strategic Marketing MA graduate with rounded experience in a number of key marketing disciplines including social media, project management, research and business development. Clarissa is Marketing Graduate at Linkdex.
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