Use modern persuasion techniques in CRO

Business Benefits

Improve your argument and increase conversions.


Set your own goal by describing exactly what you want your visitor to do.

Choose a specific step in Cicero’s process of persuading people to target- stimulate emotion in your audience, change your audience’s opinion, or get your audience to act. Ask yourself: what does the visitor have to change, for example, their mood or their mind, for you to achieve your goal? For example, if your goal is to change a prospective customer’s opinion, make the option you want them to select the reasonable middle.

Use the future tense and deliberative rhetoric that promises the customer a payoff to meet mutual goals.

Aristotle said there are three types of arguments: blame, values, and choice. Blame deals with the past using forensic rhetoric, values deal with the present using demonstrative rhetoric, and choice deals with the future using deliberative rhetoric.

Use choice-based arguments that focus on Should I buy this? to keep prospective customers focused on the mutual goal. For example, Dove uses the future tense to promise the payoff of softer, smoother skin after just one shower, when persuading their customers to buy their product.

Use sympathetic, reluctant, and sacrificial rhetoric in order to maintain the appearance of having your customer’s best interest in mind.

For example, you can show doubt in your own rhetoric, by starting slow and remaining plain-spoken, then becoming passionately sincere. This technique prevents the customers from detecting the ongoing persuasion. For example, Uber uses personal sacrifice in their recruitment copy. The copy reads: Drive when you want. Make what you need. Driving with Uber is flexible and rewarding, helping drivers meet their career and financial goals. It gives the impression that becoming a driver helps the visitor more than it helps Uber.

Collect specific words, phrases, and concepts that your audience repeats when doing conversion research.

Look for what your audience believes, values, and desires. Pay attention to the language used by potential customers who did not convert, as well as that of customers.

Attach words and connotations that appeal to your audience’s values to yourself, your brand, and your goal.

For example, ask:

  • What commonplace words describe you?
  • What commonplace concepts do you fit into?
  • Are there any commonplaces that can paint you, your brand, or your goal in a favorable light?

Control the argument by defining the issue in a way that appeals to the values of the widest possible audience and focus on your specific goals in the future tense.

Avoid logical fallacies - incorrect arguments in logic and rhetoric - that undermine the validity of your argument.

In the persuasion attempt, avoid these three core mistakes: bad proof, bad conclusions, and disconnect between the proof and the conclusion. For example, false comparisons, bad examples, using ignorance as proof, tautology, false choices, using red herrings, and wrong endings are all logical fallacies that can undermine your argument.

Update phrases, correct yourself, and use the audiences’ own language.

Take an old saying or cliché and change the ending or a couple of words to make it specific to your product. For example, Moosejaw is putting a clever twist on the phrase carpe diem changing it to carpet diem to marketthe outdoor blanket they are selling.

Correct yourself in the middle of a sentence, to seem fair and focused on the truth while pursuing your argument. Repeat and correct your audience’s language within your argument. For example, too expensive, too time-consuming.

Use your audience’s commonplace words - specific words your audience repeats multiple times during conversion - and value-focused words regularly.

Avoid rational speech, as it can distract from the values that drive your argument and is a major detractor for some audiences. Identify words and concepts that mean the exact opposite of the audience’s commonplaces, and avoid using them, or use them as counter-arguments.

Communicate any mistakes or unfavorable news immediately, refrain from apologizing and switch to the future tense as soon as you can.

Build up the person or group that is suffering as a result of the circumstance, and express your feelings about not living up to your standards. For example, Sarah Bird of Moz announced they would be laying off 28% of their team. When delivering the news, she did not apologize and instead used deliberative rhetoric to focus on the future.

Seek to take advantage of natural, environmental, political changes, as well as changes initiated by you, that can signal the start of a shift in your customers’ susceptibility to persuasion.

Place an upsell or cross-sell call to action on your post-purchase page.

For example, Cards Against Humanity capitalized on the election of Donald Trump, by releasing a themed card pack using the phrase, Prepare for the collapse of civilization with the Post-Trump pack.