Persuasion matters

The potential power of digital technologies is often unrealised

The rise of digital technology is transforming our lives. Digital products and programs to improve our lives are being generated at an incredible rate, and are getting better all the time. However, new digital technologies do not always realise their potential as people do not fully incorporate them into their lives. There is a gap between the promise of the technology and its actual impact. Something is missing; what is it?

Influence is key

What is missing is the element of influence. We know the potential of what we have created but we need to share that with the potential users of our product. Influence is about building a bridge that links our perspective on the world with theirs. When those two perspectives are in sync then influence naturally emerges, and what follows from that is new behaviour.

Successful influencing requires changing and maintaining behaviours

Trying to convince someone to invest their time or money in your product is not easy. You must compete with many factors including an imperfect understanding of people’s motivations; limited attention span; a human brain that is wired for efficiency rather than finding the best available solution and numerous other factors that can slow the decision-making process.

Once you have managed to persuade someone to try your product, the challenge becomes one of keeping people engaged.

This is an even harder behaviour to influence as it requires building your offering into the “habit loop” of the person’s life. This not only relies on you ensuring that your product continues to fit the needs of the person, but also that there is a fit between the product and the person’s behaviour patterns.

If you can master the ability to change and maintain another person’s behaviour then you can turn the potential of your product into the outcomes you aspire to.

The science of persuasion has dramatically evolved

The traditional masters of persuasion have been the sales and marketing industries, however recent discoveries in the neuro and behavioural sciences have enabled new approaches to behaviour change. Learnings from behavioural economics, cognitive science, motivational models and more have been brought together to enhance our understanding of behaviour and how to influence it.

Digital technologies bring new opportunities for persuasion

In addition, digital technology brings a whole new set of unique characteristics. Digital as a medium expands the inherent capabilities of whatever uses it. Interactivity, behavioural analytics, user experience design, gamification, big data, machine learning, and the inherent scalability of the digital medium itself, all create a much richer potential to influence and persuade. The intersection and application of all of these areas is called Persuasive Technology.

Unlock the value of what you have to offer

One of the first considerations of an organisation developing a product or program is the tools they will use to build it with. This is a critical question as best-of-breed products are dependent upon using a modern toolset. However most organisations are still using persuasion approaches that are not best-in-class.

Digital technology has a powerful potential to positively impact on the lives of millions of people. But in order to bring that potential to life we need to apply as much care in influencing people as we do in designing and building it in the first place.