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Cover of Click.ology - Works in Online Shopping and How Your Business Can Use Consumer Psychology to Succeed

Packed with tips, guidance and real-world case studies – from online niche stores Bellabox and Facetache to the universal appeal of Groupon, and from offline discount stores Dollar Tree and Poundland to the luxury Selfridges – my latest book reveals:

  • Why most online shopping carts are abandoned before a purchase is ever made
  • Why having a centrally positioned “search box” aids navigation and increases sales
  • Why offering free shipping online pays off
  • Why it makes sense to be sociable

Plus the book reveals the easy-to-use, five-step CLICK System to online sales success.

Buy Click.ology Now
Categories: Online Business, Retail

Print still wins in these days of digital

Make information print or digital depending on its purpose

If you use the Internet every day, as many millions of people do, you are living in something of a bubble. For instance, when you spend your life online it is all too easy to think “everyone” does their shopping online. Yet, in fact, over 95% of all goods we buy are bought from bricks and mortar stores. In spite of its success, online shopping is still only a small proportion of retail.

And when we are facing inboxes full of email messages and window after window of information to absorb, it is quite believable that digital is the way people prefer to get content. Except outside the Internet, print is alive and well. Indeed, sales of printing paper have never been so great.

In spite of being surrounded by digital technology, real world activity is still immensely high. Whether it is shopping or reading – the Internet is not the only place people do it…!

The need for categories

The human brain loves to categorise things. Indeed, categorisation is a fundamental part of how we recognise things, how we remember what they are and how to use them.  In the past we only had two categories of communication – printed and face-to-face. Now we can have emails, instant messages, Tweets or posts on Facebook. The more communications technologies we have, the more our brains like it because it helps categorisation. So, people have emails for work, instant messaging for family, Facebook for friends and so on. The more technologies we use, the better it is for categorisation.

Research data showing preference for printNow, it seems people are categorising information according to different purposes. New research in France shows that people are preferring digital communication for one thing and real printed information for something else. People are no longer making a choice between print or digital, but making the decision according to the purpose for which they need the information. Because we now have different methods of providing information, people are creating mental categories as to what each kind of information is for.

The study shows that people are using digital for information they want to share or to check a quick fact. But for in-depth information or material they want to have for future reference, print is the preferred technology.

Your website needs different delivery methods

What this study shows is that you need different delivery for various types of information. For instance, if someone wants to share information you need the material available digitally. But if your audience wants to store the information you need it available in print. Of course, you cannot always achieve that easily online. But what you can do is to make some information available on a web page and then the in-depth material to be stored available in PDF format which can then be downloaded and printed ready to store.

DOWNLOAD: Document on why people prefer print. Click Here (PDF)
Categories: Online Business

How to make your free offers more valuable

Use the psychology of choice to boost perceived value

free offer online bargain gratis download icon or buttonEvery day online you will be faced with an array of tempting free offers. Pop-ups abound with suggestions that you provide your email address and in return you will get a free ebook to download. Or you are enticed into signing up for a newsletter and get a free special report into the bargain. But how much do people value such free items?

Anyone who organises events knows that if you run a free meeting you get a substantial proportion of “no shows” – people who signed up to say they would attend, but then never show up. However, events organisers also know that if you charge even a modest fee for the event, people are more likely to turn up. The free event is valued less than one that is even just a few pounds.

However, this simple notion that free is perceived as less valuable than something which is paid for is not always true. One study found the reverse – that a free item was perceived as more valuable than the paid for one.

The psychology of “free” is more complex than we might think.

Eyes on the prize

Many people will fill in a pop-up to get the download, not because that is what they want, but because they see it as a necessary route to what they really want. For some people the download may be enticing, but for many it is just a means to an end. People focus on the ultimate destination of their desire – to get the newsletter or the trial of the product. The free download is just a minor hassle. No doubt you have plenty of free downloads on your computer which you have never got round to reading. That’s because your eyes were on the prize, not the ticket that got you there.

So, one way to increase the perceived value of your download is to emphasise its impact on getting your actual offer. Pop-ups often emphasise what you will get from the free download saying things like “to get my free newsletter just sign up here and you will get all of this….” and then go on to explain what “all of this is”, leaving aside any of the benefits of the newsletter itself. The website is putting the value into the free offer  and not into the element which people are most interested in – the newsletter.

When you emphasise the ultimate aim of the offer – and not the free element – the free item becomes something of a surprise and thereby gains more value, perceived as a bonus free gift that was almost unexpected.

Give people a choice

Another potential twist on the free offer status is to allow people to select the free offer they would like. Instead of having a single free download for signing up to something, give people a choice of ebooks or reports they might like to download. New neurological research shows that there is an element of bias in choice selection – when we choose something for ourselves we tend to value it more. This implies that if you offer people one of three ebooks to download free of charge for signing up to your newsletter they will value the free download more than if you simply gave them one.

Indeed this choice bias and its association with value may partly explain why sometimes something which is free is perceived as more valuable than something which is paid for. If the user has been able to choose for themselves what they want, they perceive it as more valuable than something which they could only get if they bought it.

Free offers are a necessary and vital part of generating leads, but you need to acquire potential customers who value what you do. The way you handle your free offers has a clear impact on perceptions, so to ensure those leads value your business you need to get them to place increased value on your free offers.

Categories: Internet Psychology

Why your web business might not need a charismatic leader

Leadership concept. We are sucked in by charisma, yet it can be a problem for long-term survival

The supermarket giant, Tesco, has announced today that its CEO is to leave – after only three years in the job. Philip Clarke took over from Sir Terry Leahy who was the company’s Chief Executive from 1997 having started work at Tesco in 1979. During his time at the business, Tesco went from an “also-ran” in the UK supermarket sector to becoming the second largest retailer in the world after Walmart.

Meanwhile, the football season is about to get underway where Manchester United is to get a new manager, following the departure of David Moyes after only 10 months in the job. He followed Sir Alex Ferguson who had been the team’s manager for almost 27 years taking the club to even greater success than in its history.

In both of these instances the new leaders took over from charismatic leaders and the organisations somehow didn’t quite make it to the dizzy heights previously achieved. Tesco, for instance, has issued profits warnings to the City, whereas Manchester United failed to achieve anything substantial in the year following the departure of Sir Alex. Even though great hopes were held out for the new leaders of Tesco and Manchester United, those hopes were never realised.

It is a familiar story. An organisation reaches dizzy heights thanks to the strong and determined leadership of the person at the top, only for that organisation never to be quite the same once that charismatic individual departs. Even though Apple remains a strong brand and a leading technology business, people still question its survival following the death of Steve Jobs. It doesn’t seem to be quite the same business.

Charisma is easy to achieve

Research shows that even though some people appear to be naturally charismatic, you can be taught charisma. It seems that what we describe as a “charismatic leader” is someone who merely makes significant emotional connections to us as individuals. They show empathy and emotional intelligence. They focus more on winning over our hearts than converting our minds.

That is why charismatic leaders achieve success. They get us emotionally connected to their vision and they create strong ties between us as followers and themselves as leaders. Martin Luther King did it. Gandhi did it. Jesus of Nazareth did it.

They may well have been naturally emotionally intelligent people. But there are other charismatic leaders who gained emotional connection between themselves and their followers who are not so nice. Hitler did it, for a start. And in modern times vast swathes of Russia have fallen into the emotional trap laid before them by Putin. Charismatic leaders do not always achieve positive success.

The problem with charismatic leadership

Whether you consider Putin as a negative example or Sir Terry Leahy as a positive example, the problem with charismatic leaders is what happens after they depart. The emotional connection between the followers and their leader is torn apart. The new leader does not have the same emotional tie and so the followers do not follow with the same degree of empathy and desire.

So if your business has a charismatic leader you run the risk of the company getting into trouble when that leader moves on. The followers no longer have someone to follow who creates the degree of emotional connection they are used to.

Following in footsteps

The new leaders often start their term of leadership by explaining that they are not the person everyone loved, that they cannot replace him or her and that they are different. Indeed, boards of directors often search for a replacement who is different and who “cannot possibly replace” the former leader.

And therein lies the problem. What people need as a new leader is someone EXACTLY like the departing leader – someone with massive emotional intelligence, someone who has deep empathy, someone who concentrates on hearts not minds.

In other words, your business might not need a charismatic leader if you cannot guarantee to concentrate on emotional intelligence and empathy. If your web business wants to concentrate on hard facts, don’t get a charismatic leader because you will limit your future potential when you replace them. Alternatively, you can set in train a process to ensure your business always has charismatic leaders because you focus on emotion and empathy, rather than logic. Sometimes organisations don’t do so well because they swing from charisma to logic and then back again when someone emerges with charisma to lead them again.

Either concentrate on always being a charismatically led company, or concentrate on being a logical company.

Which leaves us with one unresolved issue – how we find someone with charisma who is a positive example to take over from President Putin.

Categories: Online Business

5 Psychological Reasons for Not Blogging

Successful websites are the ones with the most frequent updates – so why do people fail to update regularly?

47398f088ac19b2ff01a53aa_640_bloggingThere is consistent evidence from across a wide range of studies conducted by a variety of different organisations which show that the frequency of adding content to your website is related to the number of visitors you get, the ranking you get in Google and the amount of money you can make from it. Wherever you look for data, it points to the same conclusion – the more you blog, the more successful your website becomes.

Yet, consistently, you find that many bloggers or businesses adding content do so only on a sporadic basis. Their argument is usually that content is only “part of their strategy”. They are providing what seems like a logical argument for only blogging occasionally. But at the same time as giving this apparent logic, they ask “how do we get more visitors, how can we get higher up the search rankings and how can we make more money from our website?”

You can show them the data which shows quite conclusively that their online problems are down to lack of content and they just go back to their “logical” argument that they already do blog, but it is “only part of their strategy”.

When people do not wish to accept the obvious, there is usually something deeper happening inside their minds, so we need to explore the psychological reasons for refusing to do what’s necessary when it is so clear.

1. Fear of failure

One of the main reasons we don’t do all sorts of things is because we fear failing. We fear failing because have previous associations with failure which have led to emotional reactions such as disappointment, guilt, regret and impacts on our self-esteem due to the way other people have related to us following failure. Because we have a mental model of failure within our brain that links it to negative emotions we have an in-built defence against doing anything which could lead to failure. Only a relatively small number people have a natural tendency to block out the mental model and perceive failure as something positive. Psychologically that can be related back to the way we were brought up as children and our personality type. Some personality types appear to be better protected against the fear of failure than others. Ultimately, though, most of us dislike failing and so we avoid doing things which might not work. When people are considering writing new blog posts their subconscious brain is filling their mind with warning signals about failure, so people tend to blog less than they might, waiting until they are more certain that their post will attract interest.

2. Lack of empathy

Empathy is the emotion where you can see things from the other person’s perspective more than from your own point of view.  Most content producers and bloggers are busy writing material from their own perspective. Indeed, blogging attracts people who want to express themselves. But expressing yourself and writing about your own world means you do not so easily see things from the visitor’s perspective. That means a blog can become completely self-indulgent, but it can also mean people put the brakes on their blogging and writing because they cannot see why anyone else would be interested. These people see things so much from their own viewpoint they are unable to tap into the thoughts and feelings of others and see how they might be interested in something. As a result, such bloggers write less because they are constantly waiting for the “right idea” to pop into their head which they are sure other people will be interested in.

3. External locus of control

The locus of control is a psychological concept which considers how people view their ability to self-determine what they do. People with an internal locus of control are those individuals who think they are responsible for everything that happens to them. However, people with an external locus of control believe they have little, if any, control over their lives and that everything that happens to them is determined by someone else. People with external locus of control fail to blog regularly because they blame other people for preventing them from doing so. “I couldn’t blog today because my boss asked me to do something else,” or “I couldn’t blog at all this week because my children were off school with a virus.” In other words, their ability to blog was hampered because of other people. It was nothing to do with themselves, at least as far as they see it.

4. Attachment problems

Attachment is an important concept in child development, yet it continues into our adult lives. Children can form a secure attachment to their parents or other care givers and develop in what you might call a well-balanced way. But they can also develop attachments which are problematic, leading to avoiding contact with adults, for instance. In adult life our childhood attachments can cause issues for our behaviour and a variety of styles of adult behaviour can be related to our childhood attachment patterns. So, adults who might avoid blogging could have a “dismissive personality”, which tends to distance themselves from issues and problems as a result of an “avoidant attachment” style in childhood.  Such individuals might well logically accept they need to blog more, but avoid the issue because regular blogging could lead to some kind of conflict with others which they wish to prevent from happening. For instance, they are worried their boss will pop in and say “goodness me, you’re not blogging again are you?”

5. Grandiose delusions

Although delusional behaviour is strictly speaking a psychological disorder, you do see elements of this in many business people. They think they are more powerful and more important than is really the case. Online, this translates itself into a sense of identity which means blogging is “beneath them”. They think they should only blog when they have something really important to say and which the world needs to sit up and take notice of. In fact, the world is interested in much less important and grand “stuff”. People who think that their business blog should only be used for grand announcements are not only misunderstanding what web content is all about, they are also exhibiting grandiose tendencies which lay behind why they only want to blog “when it is important”.

If you can understand that blogging is merely about adding content to the web which other people find interesting and that you have the ability to be in charge of your own blogging schedule, then you will be able to gain the benefits of regular blogging. It really is simple – the more you blog, the more successful you are online. If anything is preventing you from blogging regularly it might not be those other business activities that get in the way – it might be your brain.

Categories: Blogging, Internet Psychology

Once upon a time, a website grabbed a man by the throat

John sat in front of his computer unable to move. His eyes were fixed on the erotic image in front of him and his hand wobbled on his mouse as he thought he ought to click away from the page, yet he could not move. He moved gradually closer to the screen and was struggling to cope with his mixed emotions. “I shouldn’t be looking at this at work,” he thought, yet he could not stop himself gazing at the beautiful woman in front of him. He knew it was wrong, that he could be found out at any moment if someone walked by his desk, yet he was captivated by the picture.

OK – relax.

Now, if you are a man who works in an office and who has mistakenly hit upon a web page that contains something rather risqué you will have just experienced all those feelings all over again. Indeed, recent research shows us that when you read something that you can relate to personally your brain cannot tell the difference between reading it and actually experiencing it.  To your brain, they are one and the same thing.

And when we experience something we are truly and deeply engaged with it.

How to engage your web visitor

Throughout the web you can find a host of blog posts and articles all talking about “visitor engagement”. Much of it is pure tosh because many of these articles believe that engagement is measured by whether or not someone “likes” a page or how many comments are written. That’s not engagement – that’s activity, which is entirely a different thing.

Engagement is a brain process. Engagement happens when your visitor experiences something.

This research on reading shows that engagement happens when the brain cannot tell the difference between reading something and actually “being there”.

You will have been to movies or read novels where you have been transported “somewhere else”. Then you put the book down or leave the cinema only to realise you are back in the real world.

Yet how many times has that happened to you on the web…? Frankly, the vast majority of the web is boring and non-engaging.

But you can change that..

All you have to do is to write so that you give your readers an experience, something they can relate to, something that their brains think is real. It means your website needs to be written in real, everyday language, using story formats.

In other words, if you really want to engage your audience – stop producing web pages using boring, plain, business language and start having conversations with people. You know it makes sense.

Now…let’s get back to John and his picture……

Categories: Internet Psychology