“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” John Wooden

I am a big fan of the micro-conversion vs. macro-conversion discussion (go team micro!). Coming from a behavioral science angle to take up conversion challenges I would like to start the micro persuasion vs. macro persuasion discussion as well.

Marketers often have too ambitious persuasion goals to really be effective. Behavioral scientists are trained to start with micro goals when they aim for macro goals.

When you want to motivate someone to exercise regularly, a first push up is a great start! The same goes when you want to sell products.

Nudging to add to basket

What are the micro persuasion strategies for your website’s micro conversions? Yes, how do you motivate people to sign up for your newsletter? Or what nudges do you use to make people add to their basket and wish list?

What should trigger people to create an account? If you can answer these questions you are well on track. But I want you to think even smaller than this.

Think smaller than small

Even smaller. Getting a couch potato to go running is tough. It requires a lot of intermediate micro behaviors. Putting on his trainers will make it almost impossible not to go running.

Finding his trainers will make it possible to put them on. He could go looking for his trainers if he gets out of his chair. Shutting of the TV would make the person more likely to get out of his lazy chair. Finding the remote control will increase the chance of shutting of the TV.

couch potato

Getting a couch potato to go running is tough. Behavioral scientists would say nearly impossible. It’s much easier to persuade someone to find a remote control next to him. And that’s the first step in getting him to run.

The same goes for ecommerce. Focusing on micro persuasion will make you better at persuading customers.

Micro persuasions by persuasion giants

I am a big fan of Booking.com, a hotel booking website already extensively discussed on this blog. I yet have to see a website that uses more advanced persuasion strategies than them. Next to that they really have experimenting in their DNA.

With over 300.000 bookings a day, Booking.com can be used as a reference guide when you aim to successfully implement persuasion strategies.

So let’s take it as example to see how micro persuasions work.

In a hypothetical path to book a hotel, which is surely the primary conversion goal, you have many tiny steps to take. First you have to choose a location. Then you pick a date. Next you compare hotels. You read reviews. Once you have chosen a hotel, you pick a room. After that, you enter your details and you’re done.

Let’s focus on choosing a hotel and deciding on a room type.

About this hotel you are going to choose (micro desired behavior). It’s got many good reviews (social proof). It’s apparently a Smart Deal and it’s also likely to sell out soon (scarcity). The entire hotel. The last booking was 19 minutes ago, which only emphasizes the scarcity. (all micro persuasion strategies)

Persuading people to pick a specific room type (micro desired behavior). But leaving a visible path of desired behavior, you can see the Superior Double Room in this hotel was just booked which seems to make it even scarce.

And there are only five rooms left. (again micro persuasion strategies) Although the Triple Room also has just five left, there isn’t much extra social proof to make you choose it. Although I don’t think the choice of room type is part of the business rules of Booking.com.

From a behavioral science point of view this is what is being pushed the hardest. And this will show in the data.

To nitpick some more

So the experts at Booking.com are going micro. I hope this inspires you to do so as well. But when I look more closely, I can even see some missed micro persuasions on their website. Here is one example.

When beginning to book a hotel, you will start filling out the search form. Going micro means considering the use of persuasion strategies for every field that needs to be filled in.

Should we persuade someone to chose a location? I don’t have access to their back end (I wish!). But I am guessing there are very few queries where people didn’t fill in a location. But persuading people to fill in a date seems to be very necessary.

A check-in date to be more precise, a check-out date will be automatically filled based on the check-in date if you don’t do it. Implemented as a business rule, so it seems, Booking.com very much prefers people to specify a check-in date. Very desired micro behavior, without appropriate micro persuasion.

booking.cm form

Why not include an extra call to action “You tell us when, we tell you what the best deals are.”? Or consider using data already known to you. “Don’t have a specific date yet? Most of our customers go to “Edinburgh” in August (for the Fringe Festival, come on people!).” Or you can always go cheesy; “We prefer to spend our spring break in Doha”.

You might be asking yourself if I am not being too picky here. Maybe, but for an e-commerce website that does over 300.000 hotel bookings per day it pays off to worry about every detail. And even when you don’t spend millions on online advertising I think micro is the way to go.

Shown in the above examples you can see how others approach micro persuasion.

Hope you join the Micro-wave

With these examples I hope to have made a case for micro persuasion. The goodness really starts when you take a look at all your customer journeys in detail. Of course start with the most critical ones, and when you got those right take a look at the rest.

Getting people to do something is our core business. Persuasion strategies are used for specific desired behavior. Choosing high-level customer behaviors to persuade won’t work well. As always the devil is in the details.

Foto credit: Besto 2012 (CC)