Persuasion is the new blackHow to win users and influence them

Remember the time when you went to buy a regular coke at the multiplex, but you ended up buying a large coke even when regular was sufficient. First of all, when you buy a ₹250 ticket, ₹90 coke despite being expensive seems reasonable because you compare it with the price of ticket. And when they ask you to add ₹20 to ₹90 coke to make it large this additional cost starts to seem even smaller in the whole scenario. This a classic example of Perceptual Contrast principle at work. As much we would like to believe that we are rational while making choices, our brain is not hardwired to do that. The irrationality comes from the environment, conditioning and individual personality.

Approaching a design problem keeping Persuasion Principles in mind can make a big difference in not only facilitating user’s decision making but also in getting more conversion leading to a positive impact on business. To give a glimpse of it, I’ll take you through the comparison of two fintech companies serving the same set of users and demands – online platform for mutual fund investment, Goalwise (GW) and FundsIndia (FI). Why Fintech? They have a major bottleneck when it comes to customer conversion, people are really skeptical about parking their money. So, using persuasion principles can become very handy while designing to win customer’s trust and get an upper hand over the competitors.

Let’s see how both the firms are using persuasion principles to change the user behavior.

  1. 1. Perceptual Contrast
    People don’t think in absolute terms, we tend to make decisions on relative scale by comparing one thing with another, present in the same context.

    Goalwise is using this principle to make the GW features and returns seem much better than the actual. Like showing higher GW returns along with lower Sensex returns, makes it amplified and meaningful.

    GW_returns Goalwise_savings

    On the other hand, FundsIndia is not doing anything on these lines.

  2. 2. The Reciprocity Principle
    In social situations, we have a tendency to pay back what we receive from others because we feel indebted when someone does us a favor.

    Last week, Jay, a friend of mine was looking for an investment advisor. I suggested him to meet two advisors from my network. One of them went unprepared and the other went with a basic portfolio based on the information I gave about him. Jay felt more confident and indebted about the second one as he had put some effort before meeting him.
    Goalwise is transalating this real world experience into the digital world by allowingusers to create goals and giving them full breakup of the portfolio upfront, making the user feel indebted. When you go further ahead they give you the monthly amount as per the user’s requirement and facility to customize the goal, which makes the user feel special.

    what do you want to invest for

    Whereas, it’s competitor FundsIndia is just giving a long form to get inside the system. There’s no way you can get to know about their portfolio and offerings without Signing Up, which is a big turnoff for new customers. But they are using this principle in a different way by showing the account is free, the indebtedness can be increased by making users feel that they are getting something more than just the account, personalized to their need. For eg: Get the Investing 101 free guide to get started, which they are already showing but after some scrolls. Showing it alongside with the free account can boost user conversion.

    want to invest for
  3. 3. Commitment and Consistency
    The way to earn customer loyalty is to make them commit to something and announce it publicly. Then they will feel the compulsion to stick with it.Goalwise, as the name suggests is using the principle as their value proposition. When the user commits to a goal, he/she feels the compulsion of fulfilling it. The company keeps on emphasizing on this by showing it on the dashboard whether you are on track or not.

    want to invest for

    They have also incorporated gamification by showing the ‘longest streak’ and ‘rank’ which acts as an incentive for the users to keep on investing. But this is still not up to the mark, they can improve it by figuring out a way to make this a public announcement.

    FundsIndia is using this principle by asking users to share their peer rank and percentile on Facebook. Commitments made in public space is harder to break, so users will not only try to stick to their commitment but also try to get better at it. Additionally, it also acts as a social proof for other potential customers.

  4. 4. Social Proof
    We tend to have more trust in things that are popular or endorsed by people that we trust.

    Apart from showing customer testimonials and 20,000 Goalwisers around the world they show investments made in last 24 hrs. by other Goalwises which acts as a Wisdom of Crowds – approval from large group of people.


    FundsIndia is using the classic way of social proof by showing the customer testimonials, which is helpful only if users can relate to the reviewers. To make it relatable, these can be made more realistic by showing the Facebook/Google reviews. Or, showing the age and work profile of reviewers can even help a bit.

  5. 5. Authority Principle
    We follow the people who look like they know what they’re doing.

    Goalwise has taken this principle to a whole new level by showing the portfolios of advisors and other team members at Goalwise, investing their own money real time. It makes the platform appear more authentic to the users. In addition to that, they are also famous for their customer service and have 5 star rating on their Facebook page. Goalwise is setting a good example to all those who believe a good user experience is a 360-degree experience, it can’t be in silos of just product or service.

    goalwise buddies fb_ratings

    FundsIndia is using this principle by showing

    • the number of customers and investments made, which clearly works in their favor
    • their partners, which is great when you have renowned partners, and
    • news articles, which can be made more authentic by providing newspaper clippings or giving the links of the original article

    To communicate the authority, they can also show awards section on the landing page, which is already being done but in the internal pages. Sometimes people quickly evaluate a site just by design, so paying attention to colors, layout, typography, images, white space and consistency can itself make the site more credible.

    our partners

With great power comes great responsibility
Overall, from a persuasion design stand point, Goalwise is doing a notch better than FundsIndia. That explains their high conversion rate and profitability in a short time span of just two years. Persuasion principles work on an unconscious level and have the power to impact user behavior and business in a big way. These principles are like superpowers and it’s up to you whether you use it for customer’s benefit to make their experience better or manipulate them in doing something that they wouldn’t do otherwise. Persuasion design is not about tricking users into doing something, it’s about helping them achieve their goal.



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