This is my oh-so-biased view:
|Is the brainchild of…||engineers||advertisers|
|Treats the user as…||an agent: will consider her options and do what she thinks is right||a patient: her behaviour can and should be influenced|
|From a marketing perspective, is affine to…||product marketing||promotion marketing|
|If a conversion funnel were a slide, it would deal with…||making the slide frictionless and safe||nudging the user down it|
|If it was a period of Prehistory it would be…||Neolithic: about breeding and exploiting long-term relationships with customers||Paleolithic: about hunting/gathering customers|
|Relies on tactics such as…||Putting the user in control||Creating a sense of urgency or scarcity to drive the user to action|
When it comes to interactive design, some designers put persuasion at the same level of usability. If you ask me, I think persuasion is a spice, not an ingredient. As a matter of fact, persuasion in Web design is like nutmeg: in small doses and some applications it may be beneficial, if overused becomes unpalatable, and in large doses it’s downright toxic.
As I see it, the most influential single factor in conversion is good matching between your value proposal and the users that come to you. It never ceases to amaze me how many people give up working on this factor, and get obsessed with other details instead.
If you are concerned with conversion, work on the definition of your value proposal and your target audience first of all. Once you’ve done your homework here, usability can do a lot to make sure there are not obstacles in the way. And given you have the right value proposal and a usable process, persuasion can certainly help you walk the extra mile to prevent users from procrastinating, or to help users understand and feel the uniqueness and attractiveness of your proposal. But to a point. Beyond that point, it may look as if your immediate conversion figures are improving, but chances are your lifetime customer value will be unaffected or even damaged.
Of course, this is just an opinion. What is yours?