Conversions: The Psychology behind Evidence-Based Growth

by Luke Wroblewski November 9, 2017

In his The Psychology behind Evidence-Based Growth presentation at Google Conversions 2017 in Dublin Ireland, Bart Schutz shared how to think about applying psychology principles to influence customer behaviors. Here's my notes from his talk:

  • What truly drives and influences homo sapiens?
  • People are never one thing, we have two systems in each of us. System two is your consciousness, the self. System one is automatic and controls your intuition and your unconscious actions. System two has memory, can think logically, and make predictions of future outcomes. System one can't.
  • Our system two brain tries to automate as much as possible, so it can focus more energy on new situations. As a result, we often give automated answers, without thinking about them.
  • Accept that you don't know why people do what they do. Your brain only understands things consciously so a lot of time is spent talking. Instead, use that time to run experiments.
  • Make it fast and cheap to run experiments. This is step one. To convince others, rethink experimentation as regret instead of gain. Consider what what you would have lost if you would not have run the experiments. Loses are powerful motivators.
  • Once you are running a lot of experiments, adding more is no longer as valuable. You need to increase the value of each experiment you run. This is where you can apply more psychological insights.
  • Different experiments work to influence human behavior depending on which systems are in "control".
  • When people are only system two driven: they are in conscious control and know what they want. This is goal-directed behavior. In these cases influencing behavior is all about ability and motivation. Make things very easy and keep people moving toward their goal.
  • With complex decisions, people are often better off using system one since they can't consider all the options at once. In influence behavior in these cases we distract you with information overload, to make your unconscious behavior take over and make choices for you. Like in the case of picking a hotel room from thousands of variants.
  • Only system one driven: when people are distracted and not goal orientated, make use of heuristics and habits to influence behavior.
  • When people are not goal driven but you want them to think rationally, you should apply triggers and forced choices.
  • Behavior is difficult to influence not because we differ because of personal factors like nature and nurture. That's what most people think but these have much less impact than situational factors like context, emotions, and environment.
  • Get the data right, start experimenting, and get your skills up. Only then does it make sense to add psychology to drive new insights.