CXL Digital Psychology and Persuasion Minidegree — Week 5 Review

Unconscious Motivation, FOMO, and Unity…oh my!

Photo by Francesco Ungaro from Pexels

This week was all about nonconscious motivation. What blows me away about this material is that some of it comes so naturally, like I didn’t even realize what I was doing, and some of it is so obvious that I can’t believe I haven’t been doing it all along.

Before we dive into some of my biggest takeaways from this week, I want to remind you that you can read my previous reviews by clicking the links below.

CXL Digital Psychology and Persuasion Minidegree — Week 1 Review
CXL Digital Psychology and Persuasion Minidegree — Week 2 Review
CXL Digital Psychology and Persuasion Minidegree — Week 3 Review
CXL Digital Psychology and Persuasion Minidegree — Week 4 Review

And if you are interested in checking out this training program for yourself (I highly recommend it), then visit the CXL Institute.

One of the biggest “oh wows” that came from this week’s course was that there really isn’t a true left brain/right brain. Turns out, our brains are very flexible and can actually change over time.

Every decision-making process seems to involve various parts of the brain — nothing is ever happening just on the right side or left side of the brain.

We were introduced to Jonathan Haidt’s Elephant and the Rider metaphor he lays out in his popular book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics.

In this metaphor, the rider (our conscious brain) holds about 1% of the responsibility for the direction they are going, whereas the elephant (our subconscious brain) is 99% responsible.

It’s impossible to push or pull the elephant to go the direction you want; it’s just too big and stubborn. But what you can do to change its behavior is to erase obstacles in the path of the elephant to make it easier to get to the destination you want. When you eliminate friction, the elephant will choose the path of least resistance.

I think about this notion when I hear clients talk about their funnel. It’s like they try to make it as complicated as possible because they’ve been taught that is how it is supposed to look.

But the problem is not only are they adding friction and obstacles along the path of the prospect, they aren’t even clear on the direction they want them to go. Sure, they have a destination, but they are taking prospects on a journey through the valley and over a lake and up mountains, but not preparing them for the trip so they never stay committed to the action.

Not my smoothest analogy, but I think I make my point. Why ask someone to open four emails before you invite them to buy? Especially when we know the open rate goes down with each email in the sequence. Why ask them to hold onto different messages and still be able to understand what we are asking of them, even though we aren’t really clear about who they are and what they truly want (most are coming through Facebook ads so we assume the targeting is decent).

I’ll be interested to watch the metrics to see where I can use what I am learning in this CXL Digital Psychology and Persuasion Minidegree to improve the conversion results.

Now, back to the lessons.

We recapped Daniel Kahneman’s Dual Process Method with our brain made of two systems: System 1 and System 2 to explain how the brain works

System 1 — Intuition

  • Unconscious
  • Automatic
  • Low effort
  • Fast
  • Non-logical
  • Nonverbal

System 2 — Reasoning

  • Conscious
  • Controlled
  • High effort
  • Slow
  • Logical
  • Language link

System 1 is our default system. If you are trying to push your customer’s brain into System 2, it is going to be hard work for you and hard work for your customer’s brain.

Remember, customers buy with emotion and justify with logic.

What you really want to do is reach your customer’s nonconscious mind.

We cover a few more of Robert Cialdini’s principles of persuasion this week.

The principle of liking is about humanizing yourself. Show attributes that you share with your customers to create a liking effect. A good example is when pet companies include photos of their employees with their pets on the website. I love that Barkbox customer service always included the rep’s name along with their pet’s name. I even had one customer service rep send me a photo of her dog after she asked me to send her a photo of my new pup, Lacey.

Flattery is also a good way to use liking. When you flatter someone, they will like you more and remember more of what you say. This is true even of insincere flattery (we are a narcissistic species).

We covered social proof as a way to validate intrinsic desires or intrigue and incentivize action by eliminating doubt.

One of the things I realized with this lesson is that nobody in my world is doing social proof well. Not even close. What a great opportunity for my clients to stand out. I can’t wait to put this work into action.

Here are some great tips to amp up your social proof:

  • Precise numbers are most trusted and more believable
  • Tie the social proof to your benefit > Learn how I grew my list to 700,000 subscribers
  • Photos and videos increase truthiness
  • Express social proof in emotional preference language (if possible) — preferred (instead of ordered) and liked (instead of viewed)

Also, keep in mind that social proof doesn’t work for all industries. Areas where exclusivity, uniquenesses, luxury, status, arts/crafts, and signaling are going to be turned off by those efforts. Think industries like fashion and high-end brands.

I really loved Angie Schottmuller’s talk on Social Proof Power Plays. She gave us three big takeaways:

  1. Identify your audience’s fears, anxieties, questions, and doubts.
  2. Brainstorm and inventory 6S formats to buffer the audience’s fear/questions.
  3. Use the CRAVENS scorecard to grade and compare social proof persuasive quality.

Her CRAVENS framework can be used to score social proof persuasion quality.

  1. Credible — believable, authentic, trustworthy, authoritative, “ethos”
  2. Relevant — pertinent, germane, applicable, meaningful., important
  3. Attractive — emotional trigger, value-added, satisfying, “pathos”
  4. Visual — pictured, drawn, mapped, graphed, viewable
  5. Enumerated — quantified, scored, ranked, calculated, “logos”
  6. Nearby — proximate or near the fear/uncertainty/anxiety points, close
  7. Specific — distinct, descriptive, named, detailed, precise

We also talked about the last of Cialdini’s persuasion codes — Reciprocity, Scarcity, Commitment, Consistency, and Unity.

Reciprocity describes the inclination to do favors for those who have done them for us. This pay-it-forward mentality can be a tremendously effective way to earn your customer’s trust and establish a connection.

If I do something for you, you are more likely to do something for me in return. But note, this is not a quid pro quo! The items do not need to be equivalent.

Commitment/Consistency involves small favors leading to desired actions. This principle describes the tendency for people to honor ideas towards which they’ve previously committed, no matter how small.


Scarcity states that items or offers which are presented as being “limited” or “scarce” have an increased perceived value, and therefore demand.

Scarce is more desirable. Amp up SCARCITY EFFECT by showing decreasing availability.

Do you know who does scarcity the best? Travel sites. Study how they do it and see what you can take away for your own work.

FOMO + Loss Aversion can be very powerful.

In the fall of 2016, thirty years after his initial research, Dr. Cialdini added a new 7th principle of persuasion: Unity. Similar to Liking, Unity is more comprehensive and considers the intersection of shared identity and family.

There’s still one more lesson I need to complete for this week. I have to say, I think this week’s material was my favorite, so far. Of course, I say that every week.

Launch strategist and copywriter for spiritual entrepreneurs on a mission to heal the world.