Friday, June 27, 2014

Book review: Webs of influence, the psychology of online persuasion


I decided to travel to Berlin today. Something different for a change. So now I am in an Eurocity train from Hilversum to Berlin. Time to read a book again. This time “webs of influence, the psychology of online persuasion”. An interesting book also in relation to cross border e-commerce because cultural differences in persuasion are described.
The book "webs of influence, the psychology of online persuasion" travels with me today.

There is no “silver bullet” for persuasion. Everybody is different, but the book gives nice case study’s and with some creativity of yourself, you can think of some very interesting tests and possibilities to change your website and marketing. The book has (very convenient) after every chapter a “ make this work for you” section. Perfect for a quick reference.

Well as the book teaches me, blue is the colour that is most preferred by people, regardless of gender and culture.
The blue colour is prefered by almost everybody
So probably that is why the book’s cover is also blue :) However other aspects of persuasion that are described in the book, are not always practiced by the book itself :) I would have expected a picture of the author, or some testimonials at the cover :)

The book consists of three parts.

  1. Know who you are targeting
  2. Communicate persuasively
  3. Sell with integrity

Part 1: Know who you are targeting

The book starts with a “brain introduction” and makes a difference between three brain types:

  1. The primal brain: responsible for our basic vital functions
  2. The emotional brain: responsible for relevant stimuli in our surroundings, responsible for emotions such as happiness, sadness
  3. The rational brain: Responsible for rational thinking, problem solving, planning and organization.
To be successful online you have to target all three “brain parts” the book explains.

Luckily the book gives some examples:

Target the primal brain
  • Images of attractive people
  • Include food images (if possible) hunger is targeted by our primal brain
  • Contrast: before/after 
  • Use scarcity
  • Keep it concrete: what’s in it for me
Target the emotional brain
  • Empathy: use photos or video’s that convey the emotional state you want your customers to feel. Be aware of cultural differences!!
  • Storytelling provides an emotional band with your brand
Target the rational brain
  • When customers are emotionally engaged, provide them rational support. 
  • Make use of authority
The following take-away I found interesting;

"One of the best ways to sell a product is to make new things seem familiar and to make familiar things seem new" 

Cultural Quirks

Page 32 is the chapter called “Cultural Quirks”. "The success of any business rests on its ability to engage and respond to it’s target market. Equally if you wish to be influential online, you must research your audience and understand their culture” . A case study from Coca Cola is described. In China the characters for Coca Cola mean ‘delicious and happy’, in Hong Kong, Coca Cola is sometimes served as a remedy for colds and the coke you order in London is physically different from the coke you drink in the sychelles.  As a result Coca Cola's website throughout the world are completely different:

Coca Cola's websites are completely different per country

Well, I am in Germany now, the train passed the border, the train gets crowded now, baby’s start crying, and I am sitting at a reserved seat  for someone else (because this one has a power plug). I just got a cup of coffee and a snack from the train restaurant but because the train is changing tracks or something, half of the coffee went on the ground and my arms. Not the book luckily!! So I can continue reading.


Dangerous cup of coffee in the train that almost went over the book

Monday, June 9, 2014

Model / Template EU wide withdrawal form | Consumer Rights Directive

The new EU wide consumer law, the so called, consumer rights directive in Europe, that will be into force in most countries as from the 13th of june, requires that websites offer a EU wide withdrawal form. Customers are not obliged to use it, but you have to offer it at your website.
Since I could not find an easy working template for this EU wide withdrawal form, I created an interactive PDF file with the minimum required information.

Download the latest ADOBE reader to make the interactive template work.
  1. Download the interactive withdrawal form PDF template here
  2. Upload your company logo (in PDF) (I am sorry, I could not get it programmed to upload JPEG's)
  3. Translate the texts in the PDF (you can start typing over the existing text) or if needed empty just give a space.
  4. Save the file using the "save as" button in the top left corner


For those who can't work with the (beautifully programmed) interactive PDF, the microsoft word template is available here.

Some background information:

Differences in the ways in which the right of withdrawal is exercised in the Member States have caused costs for traders selling cross-border. The introduction of a harmonised model withdrawal form that the consumer may use should simplify the withdrawal process and bring legal certainty. For these reasons, Member States should refrain from adding any presentational requirements to the Union-wide model form relating for example to the font size. However, the consumer should remain free to withdraw in his own words, provided that his statement setting out his decision to withdraw from the contract to the trader is unequivocal. A letter, a telephone call or returning the goods with a clear statement could meet this requirement, but the burden of proof of having withdrawn within the time limits fixed in the Directive should be on the consumer. For this reason, it is in the interest of the consumer to make use of a durable medium when communicating his withdrawal to the trader. Source

There is a lot more you have to know about the consumer rights directive if you do distance selling in Europe. Read more here

Personally I think, it is far better to set minimum requirements more focused in an "electronic consumer friendly way", then the directive there is now.
In this case about withdrawals to make this obligatory:

  • Webshops must have an online form for customers to register their withdrawals.
  • Webshops must confirm via electronic communication the receipt of the registred withdrawals.
  • Webshops must confirm via electronic communication when the withdrawed goods arrived.
  • Webshops must confirm via electronic communication when the money is reimbursed to the customer.
  • Webshops must announce in their electronic order confirmation (most opened and read e-mail) how consumers can withdraw the purchased goods. 
You can learn a lot from your customers when they withdraw their purchases. Make sure you ask information about why they return and make sure you store information about how often they withdraw their purchases.
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