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How to Persuade Your Audience (or Teach Your Cat to Bark) Through Data

How to Persuade Your Audience (or Teach Your Cat to Bark) Through Data Blog Feature

Ramona Sukhraj

Associate Director of Content, Strategized Initiatives That Increased IMPACT’s Website Traffic From ~45K to ~400K

January 11th, 2017 min read

Marketers are constantly trying to better understand human behavior to deliver more persuasive marketing messages, but human behavior, in theory, is very different from it in reality.

Consumers don’t shop the way they used to, so the marketing practices that were effective in the past have less power today. To put it differently:

“Cats don’t bark—and consumers today don’t ‘salivate on command’ like they seemed to a couple of decades ago. Consumers today behave more like cats than Pavlov’s pooch. Times have changed—and so must we.”

Waiting for Your Cat to Bark?: Persuading Customers When They Ignore Marketing by Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg dives deep into the idea of how to persuade modern consumers with your marketing (or for all intents and purposes, getting your cat to bark again).

The book was written at a time when social media was just emerging and the landscape of marketing was far less sophisticated than it is today, but the authors were right on the money with many of their findings, predictions, and advice.

“Cat,” as the book is commonly referred, illustrates how marketers aren’t always prepared for the always-on audience of today and are often oblivious as to how to interact with it to increase sales.

The Eisenbergs also introduce Persuasion Momentum, which helps businesses create a multi-channel system for anticipating customer needs, serving those needs, and then measuring the ROI of those efforts.

In this summary, I’ll give you a quick overview of the concept of Persuasion Momentum and how to achieve it through research and data.

What is Persuasive Momentum?

As defined in Cat, persuasive momentum is “the progressive decision-making process that aligns the customer’s goals with our own business goals.”

In other words, in inbound marketing, it’s our understanding of what we want to accomplish and the thought process we go through when planning a website, offer, or campaign in general to achieve them.

According to the Eisenbergs, we can build and sustain persuasive momentum in these situations by intentionally and repeatedly providing answers to the following questions:

  1. Who are we trying to persuade to take action?
  2. What is the action we want them to take?
  3. What does that person need in order to feel confident taking that action?

For example, let’s take the design and build out of a new homepage. The goal of these questions is to align your customers’ buying process and your company’s sales process.

In the case of our homepage, we want to make sure that we make it clear who we do business with, have one clear call-to-action for them to follow (and speaks to their needs), and provide the copy and perhaps social proof to make them click it.

The Brothers explain:

When we understand and anticipate what answers, or points of resolution, a customer may require at every step in their decision-making process, we can help them make the decisions that matter to them. These are, after all, the decisions that matter to us and move us closer to our own business goals.

Persuasion occurs when people perceive they are on their way to getting what they want. Persuasion is a forward-moving force. People must feel they are making progress. If a customer feels he isn’t making progress, then he isn’t persuaded.

This is why it’s so important for us to thoroughly research and adapt your inbound marketing for your buyer personas, instead of forcing them to adapt to it.

Anything that slows or interrupts their natural momentum in the buying process creates friction and kills the persuasion leading them towards a purchase.

Note: These resources can help you learn more about how to build momentum and be more persuasive:

The Design of Persuasive Systems

To design a persuasive system that supports interaction with potential customers, you have to plan for all of the different types of interactions that might take place across different touchpoints or “persuasion entities.”

Persuasion entities include everything from Facebook videos and blog articles to marketing emails -- but we can only anticipate what your persona needs or how they’ll react through research.

Push vs. Pull

A good persuasive system, like inbound marketing, makes use of push-and-pull aspects:

Touch points that offer limited opportunities for direct interaction are push entities: marketers broadcast push entities to the customer like ads; marketing pushes the information at the customer. [(These are usually more self-promotional pieces.)]

Others, especially your Web-related ones, are pull entities. In pull entities, customers typically initiate the interaction and attempt to pull the information they need from the business. [(i.e. Searching a keyword on Google and finding your website, filling out a form, etc.)]

The effectiveness of each tactic really depends on where your prospects are in the buying decision process.

This is where understanding your persona’s typical buying behavior, A/B testing and conversion rate optimization, come in handy to help your business pinpoint which persuasion entities perform best at which stage.

Data can empower your persuasion efforts, but only when analyzed correctly.

3 Common Mistakes with Analyzing Customer Data

In our full synopsis of Waiting For You Cat to Bark, we'll dive deeper into the Einsberg's book and 3 common mistakes people make when analyzing data and implementing it into their strategy. To continue, click "keep reading" below. 

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