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In this blog we talk about a few Persuasion Techniques for Conversion Rate Optimization:

  1. Empathize – see from the other person’s point of view
  2. Describe problem in detail
  3. Describe solution (your product or service) simply but in detail
  4. Describe how said solution makes customer’s life better
  5. Describe pain that customer would have without said product
  6. Really, use as much description as possible directed from the customer’s point of view at what is in it for them so that they can clearly imagine having and using said product or services
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Lessons from George Thompson and Jerry Jenkins’ book titled: Verbal Judo The Gentle Art of Persuasion

Today, I listened to the Verbal Judo audio book, and I noticed some important persuasion techniques for Conversion Rate Optimization which can be applied to optimizing your marketing material (website, emails, ads, etc.). This book is an excellent read which I highly recommend, but the main takeaway I wanted to share was a theme throughout the book – in order to be persuasive you need to empathize with the person you are trying to persuade. The same is true for trying to persuade a customer to buy from you or take the desired action. You need to be able to see your marketing through their eyes. Stand in their shoes and look at your marketing material the way they would see it.


Let me say it again, in order to be persuasive, the most important thing you can do is empathize with the other person (or in the case of ecommerce you have to empathize with the customer, prospect, email recipient, etc.)

What does that mean? George Thompson says that empathy doesn’t mean to sympathize or approve of he other person’s opinion. It means to see through his eyes and understand. 

In an online ecommerce setting, this means that you need to distance yourself from the marketing you’ve created and have an unbiased view of the information and the way it is presented in the way that a person who has never seen your product or solution can understand. That is the first step for being able to catch and correct confusing marketing where your customer can easily get lost. The second step is to show your product or service as the solution to a problem they currently have. A third step might be needed to highlight the problem the customer has and what their life would be like both with and without your product or service. Those are the just the minimum. But again, you need to speak to the person knowing where they are coming from and having an idea of who they are – that’s how to empathize and improve your marketing.

Many people have the wrong definition of the word empathize. Even the dictionary’s definition of empathize is not great.  George Thompson’s is the best in my opinion because it is simple, and he gives it to you with a great example of a case where he was able to sympathize with a man who had his 6-year-old sun at knife point that was threating to kill him because his ex-wife had poised his son’s blood. He had to spill the boy’s blood in order to save him from the devil and eternal damnation. George was smart enough to know that although the man was the real problem, he had to empathize with him to be able to save the 6-year-old boy from “eternal damnation” and from being murdered by his crazed father. After a few strategies that didn’t work he was able to convince the man that he knew a priest which could save his boy just by placing his hands upon him. That actually worked because he worked with the father as opposed to against him. He was able to effectively empathize with the crazed man through the use of this verbal judo and persuade him to not kill his son.

Seth Godin also has a good definition of empathy and writes, “if you want to know why someone does what they do, start with what they know, what they believe and where they came from.”

In order to better understand your customers and prospects to be able to persuade them better, consider talking to them, watching them interact with your marketing, survey them, track them with tools like hotjar (heatmaps and video shopping recordings), or even ask friends and family for feedback. I’d bet that you are too much of an expert on the product or service your company or clients provide and do not market in a manner that empathizes with what they know, what they believe, and where they came from.

I’m paraphrasing here, but Donald Miller, in his book Story Brand, says something along the lines that most people dumb down their marketing from about an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10 to a 4. They need to be simplifying it to a 2. His mantra is “if you confuse, you lose”. My point is that most people new to you or your service know absolutely nothing about you so be sure not to talk to them like they do know you. Empathize with them and start where their knowledge of your brand is… probably close to 0.


Other Big Takeaways from Verbal Judo

A) There are two ways to respond to verbal confrontation:

  1. Karate – short, quick, focused blows (this is what most people do when they react emotionally)
  2. Judo – which is about using and deflecting the other person’s aggression to reach your goal (Judo must come from a place of balance both internally and externally)


B) Never say “Calm Down!” instead interrupt with something like, “okay, let me see if I understand you correctly,” followed by a paraphrase. It might even be good to let them blow off steam, just be sure to remain calm and balanced yourself. The key is to have a slow calm tone and pace to your voice to help them calm down. Essentially, calm them down by you being calm yourself.


C) People want to know the answer to the question WHY. Explaining why you need someone to do something in great detail and at length is another good persuasion technique for Conversion Rate Optimization. This is also a good persuasion technique for conversion rate optimization. Explain your product or service in as much detail as possible. The more you explain and the more details you provide the easier it is for the customer to paint the image of them using the product in their mind and the more likely they will buy it. The old myth, “the shorter the copy the better” is WRONG. As long as you don’t lose your reader, the more detail and imagery you can provide the better. If you are worried you have to much copy, always be testing!


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