Ask Me Anything met Bart Schutz

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Iedere dinsdag en donderdag wordt er door een ‘Ask Me Anything’ (AMA) georganiseerd. Tijdens deze online sessies kun je digitale experts van over de hele wereld (zoals Johnathan Dane – Founder van KlientBoost, Nadja Blagojevic – Director of Content Strategy bij Axiom en Larry Kim – Founder & CTO at WordStream) gedurende anderhalf uur live alles vragen wat je weten wilt. Er zijn al meer dan 100 AMA’s geweest die steeds nieuwe inzichten bieden.

Afgelopen Koningsdag was de beurt aan Bart Schutz. 38 vragen en 33 antwoorden waarvan ik de 5 meest interessante, grappigste en innoverende vragen, antwoorden en ideeën voor jullie op een rij heb gezet.


Vraag #1: On your site at the Call-To-Action is quite interesting. It’s a two-tiered CTA with “Enter Now” and “but don’t click here” which both lead to the same destination.

  • What’s the psychology behind this?
  • Did you test its growth impact?
  • Can you quantify it?

There sure is psychology behind the CTA… There are several tactics applied here, like ‘Hobson+1 choice effect’, ‘decoy’ and ‘curiosity’.

Hobson’s + 1 (which is my own term) means that – under the right circumstances – adding any extra relevant option beside a CTA will increase CTR. There are several explanations for the effect. One of them is that we are less aware and less in control of the option ‘not to click’ (read more on The Wheel of Persuasion)

A decoy means that when there are two options (let’s say A and B), adding a slightly uglier version of 1 option let’s say B, we’ll consider the ‘better’ A. Due to the highly honored Dan Ariely the effect is nowadays often called the ugly brother effect (see his TED talk). Curiosity I guess speaks for itself…

I did not test this extra link on my own site (to low power level for such an experiment). However at Online Dialogue we ran a lot of experiments on it, and I guess almost 1/3 of the times we found a significant effect, with growth effect sizes averaging around 15%!!! (which I consider a lot for such small change in UI…).

Be warned though: We find the effect mainly among non-goal-directed people…


Vraag #2: Recently Burger King released an ad leveraging a defect in Google Home (Assistant). How should companies use such “calculated mistakes” in their marketing?

I am not sure that they should use such “calculated mistakes”. The (highly smart and I think funny) advertisement has both positive and some negative psychological effects. Positive is of course a lot of attention, mentions etc. Creating a familiarity effect (however, I think people are more than enough familiar with the BK Whopper).

A negative one is that it lowers people’s’ ‘Autonomy’, because BK takes over the control of their screen. And people have a huge ‘need for autonomy’ (especially during your 20’s / 30’s), therefore inducing negative associations with the brand. Moreover a lowered feeling of autonomy results in less ‘intrinsic motivation’.

The difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivations is one the more important but highly neglected basic insights from psychology… Intrinsic motivations are empowered by ‘self-efficacy’ (the trust in one’s own competence) and ‘autonomy’… And intrinsic motivations lead to long lasting behavioral change (since we ‘really want it’).

Extrinsic motivators (like discounts and freebies) have high impact on the short run, but can be very negative on the long run (I have examples of A/B-test of clients where B (with extrinsic motivator) won big time during the test, but we proved it to be a huge loser after a few months…).

Back to calculated mistakes: it does draw a lot of attention, so only use it when you need more awareness. Make sure you’re not messing with autonomy.


Vraag #3: Are there any aspects about the science of persuasion that you think don’t get talked about as often even today? If yes, what are those and why do you think they should be discussed more?

I am happy to see that the awareness of what is known within (consumer) psychology is really rising. Yet still I experience a lot that ‘the science of persuasion’ is seen as a set of tactics.

Basically, I tend to miss the discussions/insights on when/where/among whom/etc. to apply these tactics…

AND I often miss the practical side of the ethical aspects. Gaining more and more knowledge of what drives and influences people (especially through system 1 / subconsciously), comes with a huge responsibility. I’ll give you one example: For a hostel platform we found that inducing implicit (nonconscious!) feelings of ‘safety’ highly increased the number of dorm beds booked (a whole series of experiments proved it). However, we know from scientific studies that these effects are mainly prevalent among girls/women. So we checked whether we weren’t driving young women with feelings of safety to unsafer hostels. Luckily this was not the case. But I very often miss these kind of aspects of applying the science of persuasion.

A very short extra answer on the ‘when/where/among whom/etc to apply these tactics…’ aspect of persuasion.

Behavior is controlled by our brain. The most easy framework for brain processes are ‘dual-process theories’ (nowadays usually called System 1 & System 2 thinking, although I think we had much better terms before 🙂 ).

case study travix

System 2 is our conscious control which is more often absent than we think. System 1 is the system that is always on, takes in the information as it comes, and reacts automatically based on associations and behavioral schemas.

Nowadays most people do know System 1 and System 2, but tend to forget they themselves can also only think with System 2 and therefore don’t apply their knowledge enough.

So I would love to see more attention towards and discussion about ‘dispositional factors’ and ‘situational factors’. The first is unique to the person due to nature & nurture. The 2nd is -according to psychology- very important in driving our behavior. AND it becomes more and more measurable. Due to Big data, IoT, etc, we are more and more capable of measuring ‘the situation’. Insights like ‘how is the person feeling’, ‘how many others are around’? etc. are available.

So I think we should talk more about these situational aspects:

  • Context (i.e. ‘is someone goal-driven or not?’)
  • Emotions (i.e. ‘is someone sad or happy’?)
  • Environment (i.e. ‘is someone alone or in a group’ / ‘is the sun shining’?)

Applying this ‘situational/contextual data’ will lead to much quicker growth-through-persuason rates…


Vraag #4: Is it unethical to have too much engagement in your app?

Yes that can be unethical. We should design more for ‘Time happily spent’ or ‘time well spent’, instead of just ‘engagement’. I think we all see examples around us daily of people being ‘too engaged’…

The bigger issue however is that we use a multitude of apps (and we can’t measure whether someone has been ‘engaged for 24 hrs’ in another app when he enters yours…).

I explain my answer in this documentary (I’m in there together w/ other experts James Williams (Oxford), Tristan Harris (Time-well-Spent / ex-Google) and others).

Let’s find out way more of what really drives and influences our behavior.
And let’s use that knowledge to make this world a healthier, wealthier and happier place for all of us!


Vraag #5: What is anchoring exactly and why is it so important to persuasion?

Our system 1 (the always present brain processes that happen outside our awareness), evaluates everything not rationally, but relatively. So something is ‘a lot’ or ‘expensive’ relative to something. That something is ‘the anchor’. And be aware: anything can be an anchor.

For example: We once got a client that ran a test mentioning ‘1560 others bought this last month’ (don’t remember the exact figure). They concluded ‘social proof works’ (which in itself is wrong because 1 experiment can hardly ever proof a hypothesis). When we re-tested, it turned out that mentioning others was actually bad for their sales (they sold a sort ‘shame products’), but the anchor of the number was highly uplifting…

So anchoring? Yes very important due to our associative, relative automated brain processes 🙂


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