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The Art of Persuasion

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 The Art of Persuasion

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This article will focus on the topic of persuasion, and how it can be maximised to deliver marketing messages optimally.
The question of what makes certain marketing messages more persuasive than others is one that spans many academic disciplines including marketing, psychology, advertising and communications.
The article will explore the issue of how to make marketing messages more persuasive and what changes retailers can make to their marketing strategy to ensure that marketing messages are as persuasive and effective as possible.
Multiple Ways To “Hear” Or “See” A Marketing Message
One thing that makes marketing messages more effective, is where the person on the receiving end of the messages can choose how to hear or see them. 
Different people have different cognitive styles and as such for some, a video will be easier to understand, whereas for other a written blog will be preferable. Marketers that cater to all kinds of different cognitive styles will find themselves delivering more effective messages, to an audience with a higher overall level of engagement.
Think Data
The best marketing campaigns begin with the best data. Planning who you will contact in a marketing campaign, correctly, is one of the single most important determinants of how successful your campaign will be.
Despite this many marketing professionals will buy large datasets from external data providers, with the objective of persuading random recipients of marketing messages to buy a product or service. This strategy will probably reach some new customers, however this isn’t the best approach.
A better approach is to use segmentation for all data that will be used in a marketing campaign. Data segmentation is where a larger data set is apportioned according to its own characteristics, like gender, location, age and ethnicity. Marketing messages are then targeted to those segmentations that are most likely to be interested in, or persuaded by the marketing messages in the first place.
Ensuring the right audience is targeted from the beginning can be as simple as ensuring that data being purchased externally for use in marketing campaigns is segmented in very precise ways, so for example there is no point in trying to persuade men to buy sanitary towels. This is a waste of precious resources. Yet, it is surprising just how many marketing campaigns will begin with purely random datasets, with little thought or planning out into the question of targeting the right people, and then trying to persuade them.
It is not necessary to go to an expensive external provider of data to acquire useful data for market segmentation purposes. The best data will often be data that is gathered in-house, so from point of sale purchases, from member registrations and so on. This is the best way to guarantee that people receiving marketing messages are likely to be interested in the messages to begin with.
Moreover, with data like this, a more precise segmentation and targeting process can be carried out. For example, customers who have made multiple purchases from specific product ranges can be targeted for more marketing attention than those who have not made any purchases. Customers who have expressed particular preferences can also receive a more bespoke marketing campaign.
Another good example is data from abandoned purchases. People will sometimes express an interest in a product by placing it in their shopping basket, but will later abandon the purchase. These so called “basket abandonments” are golddust in terms of data, because these people have already shown interest in a given product or service. These customers can be targeted more, because they have already shown an interest in the products that are being marketed.
Get The Target Audience Right
There are lots of ways to ensure that marketing messages are not “wasted” on audiences who aren’t likely to be interested in the products concerned anyway. Effective persuasion filters out people who aren’t likely to be interested anyway.
Marketers should ensure that the data they are using is updated and reviewed regularly to ensure that updates have been applied correctly, for example people who have opted out are excluded from future campaigns.
Allow Easy Opt-Out From Marketing Messages
Some people will not be persuaded by marketing messages, whatever form they take. That’s just a fact and instead of communicating with people who do not want to be communicated with – it is better to allow people to easily and quickly opt out of marketing messages, by for example placing an “unsubscribe” option in all marketing messages.
The creation of opt-out facilities from marketing messages is required by law in some countries, but it also helps the marketer. It makes sense not to bother contacting people who will never be interested in the messages anyway – this is a waste of time and resources.
Additionally, marketing messages can be seen as a nuisance, and there is nothing worse for a business than a marketing campaign that actually harms a brand as opposed to promoting it. As such, marketing campaigns should respect the wishes of people who are simply not interested, and instead concentrate marketing campaigns on people who are receptive to them.
Make Your Website User-Friendly
It is amazing how little thought can be put into making a website, or mobile interface use-friendly for the audience concerned.
Lots of people are dyslexic, yet many website administrators omit to allow for functionality to change text to larger font.
Website and mobile interface functionality should also employ the “click” test i.e. how many clicks are you asking people to click through in order to get to key parts of your website like where to buy products from? Research has shown that the higher the number of “clicks” required to perform simple tasks, the lower the sales conversion rate.
All tools used to communicate with your target audience should therefore be audited and tested to ensure a high level of functionality and user-friendliness for the audience concerned.
Be Informative
If you can impart useful information to people watching or reading your marketing materials, you have gone a long way to building up trust and confidence in your audience.
This helps people quickly differentiate a brand that can be trusted from a scam. Scams are usually hastily put together and lack any kind of coherence and don’t impart value of any kind. In the first instance, this builds trust in the targeted audience, who see that this marketer has gone to great lengths to create useful and helpful material.
This tactic of communicating marketing messages indirectly using otherwise informative material is employed by many marketers, but makeup manufacturers are particularly successful at leveraging it.
Makeup manufacturers will use a model in a video to show how makeup is applied, or how to use a certain product like blusher. Then the products that are being advertised are used in the video.
People watching videos like this are getting a useful lesson, even if they don’t want to go on to buy anything.
From the marketer’s point of view, even if no product purchases are made on this occasion, there is usually a high level of engagement from the audience. If nothing else this increases brand awareness and audience engagement, form people commenting and sharing the videos on social media for example.
Build Rapport
When you build rapport with people, they are more likely to be persuaded to engage with you, and to be persuaded by what you are saying.
There are lots of ways to build rapport. When creating videos you could include a face-to-face discussion, that is useful, well-conceived and informative. You can try to make people laugh.
Even more simple things like mirroring body language and smiling immediately puts people at ease and as such more likely to be influenced by your messages.
This is because building rapport is the first step towards building trust. When people trust the person, or brand communicating with them, you have cleared a major hurdle in the struggle to get people to make a decision to purchase.
Clarity And Simplicity
It can be tempting to take a great product and describe it in over complicated terms. Some people hold the mistaken belief that by using jargon, people listening will be impressed and will assume that if the speaker knows the jargon, they must also be some kind of expert in relation to the product concerned. This is the wrong approach.
People do not want to be spoken “down” to. The best way to persuade someone to buy something is to explain how it works and how it could help fix a certain problem, in the most simple way possible. Simplicity also makes things memorable for others, and as such people are more likely to discuss the product concerned among their peers – opening the possibility of referrals and word of mouth recommendations.
Making messages as simple as possible also makes it more likely that in the few seconds many readers will give a marketing message, the communication has actually been understood. Many readers will stop reading marketing communications that are overly complex, or take too long to get their messages across.
“When it’s gone, its gone”; “only seven days left”; “limited places available” - slogans like this imbue a marketing campaign with urgency and highlight a very important aspect of marketing, which is that resources are limited and if people want something, they better buy it quickly, or face the risk that it will run out and no longer be available.
This tactic is using human psychology to aid the selling of products and services. People were originally hunter-gatherers, so we are all programmed on a subconscious level to avoid situations where resources are scarce.
Images have the potential to be highly persuasive, but the retailer using images to sell products and services must beware of the difference between good images and poor ones.
Research has indicated that text accompanied by an image is seen as more trustworthy by readers, and this applies particularly when messages are disseminated online. People using the internet are frequently swamped by marketing messages, so any decision about what message to trust and which to discard is made very quickly. Inclusion of an an image with a blog, or other marketing message is a good way to build trust with the reader. People will instantly see that time and effort has been put into the creation of a blog with an image as opposed to one without.
Good images are impactful and relevant to the product or service being advertised. So, marketers should take the time to choose, or create the best image or set of images possible.
Don’t Guess – Evaluate
It is tempting to implement a marketing campaign and then subjectively judge whether it has been a success. Nobody wants to admit to themselves that the marketing campaign they have spent hours on has not worked. However, this is exactly the kind of harsh analysis that effective marketers need to apply to their own marketing campaigns to ensure effective persuasion is being used.
Any marketing campaign must evaluate the effectiveness of the campaign after it is implemented, by asking questions like – how many new customers were acquired, or how many more products were sold as a result of the marketing campaign.
In this way marketing professionals can get an objective assessment of what campaigns have effectively persuaded the audience and which have not. This is extremely useful in judging how to continue to connect with a target audience, what changes to make and what types of campaigns to focus on.
Well Thought Out Persuasive Tactics Can Make Or Break A Brand
The central tenet of any good marketing campaign is its capacity to persuade people and build trust in the audience targeted. Despite this there are far too many clumsily executed marketing campaigns that merely place a drain on resources, with little prospect of success.
In this article we have focused on highlighting what makes a marketing message persuasive. These tactics can be used flexibly, in marketing campaigns of any size or scale to increase the chances of its success.
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