A 180 For the Web - Persuasion Architecture
There is a buzz in the air at online marketing agencies, interactive agencies, and in marketing meetings across corporate america, it's about Persuasion Architecture. If you haven't heard of P.A., it's a revolutionary model for developing persuasive selling systems on the web. The system was created by by the Eisenbergs (Jeffrey and Bryan). Their latest book, Waiting for Your Cat to Bark, immediately plunged me into brainstorming mode as I thought about projects that could immediately benefit from this model. So hold on to your hat (or should I say cat), here comes an idea that may have you excited, then depressed, and then excited again. I'll explain why as you read on...
The Current Process (and hopefully the soon-to-be extinct process...)
Let's take a step back for a second and review how most websites and e-commerce sites have been developed. We have a product, we want to sell the product online, we have a web development staff adept at coding, and marketing people adept at selling.
--The meeting begins..."we want to sell our widgets on the web, so let's focus on the features of the widget, we'll code the site for the lowest common denominator, target the top 1 of 2 types of buyers that will be hitting the site, and let them figure out the benefits based on the features."--
So, there may be 6 or 7 different types of buyers that will hit the site, but we are developing the site (design, code, copy, etc.) for 1 or 2. Can you start to see why the average conversion rate for e-commerce sites is between 1.5-2%?
--Then the interactive designer walks in..."Let's add AJAX for some interesting interface functionality and definitely add a flash movie that greets every visitor hitting the site."--
Uh, now we are facing another problem, NOT LETTING PEOPLE FIND WHAT THEY NEED QUICKLY AND EFFICIENTLY.
--Then the copywriter speaks up, "I will target our top 1-2 types of buyers with copy that jumps off of the page. The headlines, subheads, internal links and sidebar copy will sell like there's no tomorrow."--
OK, that sounds good, but what about the other 4-5 types of buyers? Are you seeing a pattern here?
Then the site is developed, it doesn't focus on the benefits of the product, it only targets 1-2 types of buyers, it's coded with functionality that will keep people from finding what they want, and the site converts at......1.75%. Woohoo!
How do we improve this situation??
In Waiting for Your Cat to Bark, the Eisenbergs explain how to create a persuasive selling system on the web. In Persuasion Architecture, there are 6 steps:
1. Uncovery - map out the business topology, understand the competition, the customers, the prospects, and other important aspects that can affect the buying process.
1a. Persona Development - determining the types of buyers that will traverse the site. This is not demographic information, it's more about how they need to access information and what they will need to make a decision.
2. Wireframing - (not storyboarding) a non-graphical decision trail through the site.
3. Storyboarding - site mockups which help flesh out the wireframe.
4. Prototyping - after the storyboard is ready, the prototype is ready for development.
5. Development - let coders do what they do best...code. If the previous 4 steps were done correctly, the development staff should almost entirely be able to focus on core development. No marketing decisions here for non-marketing people!
6. Optimization - with the proper web metrics program in place, you will be able to test and refine the site, paths, pages, and content to increase conversion.
This was obviously a quick introduction to Persuasion Architecture and I highly recommend you read the book, but I definitely wanted to introduce the model here. I plan to write more posts about this powerful model as I implement projects using Persuasion Architecture. If you are in web marketing, read the book, and then revisit my blog and post your comments. I'd love to hear your thoughts.