Are You In Business to Inform or Persuade?

Some days it seems Dale Carnegie will never be irrelevant. His message was if you want to sell something, make it relevant to what the other person needs, not what you need.  Everything after that is packaging, right?

Trouble is, that was easier in the door-to-door days than online.  What’s the need online?  You can boil your audience down to a few key personas, but with a potential of millions of visitors, you can’t reasonably address every need.  You have to focus on the actions you need visitors to your site to take.

To review, take a look at this short article written by Bryan Eisenberg about the importance of commercial websites correctly informing and persuading their customers.  This marketing optimization expert is also Chief Persuasion Officer of Future Now and author of GrokDotCom Newsletter.

He explains that the customer decision is a process, not an event, and goes on to say that AIDA(S) is what pushes website visitors all the way to the confirmation page.


Since the success of a persuasive system depends heavily on the ability to focus on the varying levels of needs users bring to the online experience, it is imperative to address these needs through each point of the process. Eisenberg breaks it down by saying:

“Most people measure conversion by the complete macroaction (the ultimate objective) they want users to take (e.g., how many people bought, subscribed, registered, etc.). Each of these actions comprises a series of smaller actions. Each microaction or omission of one is a step closer or further away from your ultimate objective. The devil is in the details. Microactions are the measures of “almost success.” In a persuasively designed site, the reject rate of a page that qualifies interest is a clear signal of what needs to be adjusted. It’s during the wireframe and storyboard phase we ask three critical questions of every page a visitor will see:

1. What action needs to be taken?

2. Who needs to take that action?

3. How do we persuade that person to take the action we desire? “

The bottom line is, if you’re trying to reach customers through your website, the most important thing is to focus on their needs. Ask yourself… How will this particular person evaluate my product after looking at my site?

If you want more details on how you make that work in detail, take a look at “No unsupervised thinking,” a webinar by the brains at MarketingExperiments.