Top critical review
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A good introduction to psychology principles. Weak on application and case studies
on 7 January 2013
A broad and useful introduction to several areas of psychology. Lively, engaging writing style. An easy-read.
Weak at proving that the ideas offered (the book is full of 'Make This Work For You' suggestions) would made a difference i.e. a lack of evidence.
If you don't know much about psychology, web marketing and web design principles, then it's a good intro. Unfortunately - in my humble opinion - I don't think it's as revolutionary as some of the other reviews imply.
I love psychology. I have a degree in it, post-grad qualifications and more psychology books than I have items of clothing.
OK. The bit about my clothing is an exaggeration. But my love of psychology and all things, 'influence and persuasion' especially, isn't. I also work in digital marketing and have done so for about 100 years (or so it feels).
You can imagine my excitement - glee in fact - at reading the synopsis of 'Webs of Influence'. I couldn't think of a better combination of two of my fave subjects - psychology and the InterWeb. Ace!
As soon as I got the book, I read it eagerly from cover to cover. And I like it. Sort of. Ish.
It's got lots of solid, psychology information in it. There's stuff in there that I did know, knew a little about and stuff I'd not come across before. Believe me, I could read this type of material again and again. Any book that covers this ground is a winner with me :)
It's just when the book tries to tie the psychology into web design and online marketing that I feel it book doesn't quite work. Or, perhaps more accurately, the premise of the book doesn't work. Because I have to say that this is a lovely book to read. The writing is chatty, simple and without too much jargon. At 234 pages, it won't take you long to read it. There's also a useful Notes section with references to other follow-up material.
The Not So Good
For me, a lot of the ideas presented in the book are either flimsy, don't necessarily link to the psychology being described or are rather banal pieces of marketing advice that can be found elsewhere. For example (edited quote from the book):
"Stand out from the crowd...a smart solution is to add real value to your products and services (offer something your competitors don't) and reflect this in the price." Really? Never thought of that.
I know, I know. I shouldn't mock.
I'm not the one who's made the huge effort of writing a book (something I admire in anyone). It's just that I wanted this to be a niche book on the Psychology of Online Persuasion and not one with average marketing advice.
The other thing I wanted to see in the book - longed to see in fact - were 'Before and After' case studies.
My argument is, if these techniques are so powerful, it would be great to test them on a real website. It's not that I don't think that many, if not all, of the ideas in the book aren't decent. It's just that I've learned from painful experience that in digital marketing never to rely upon gut instinct alone. Especially when you've got some amazing testing tools available.
For example, I would have like to have seen case studies where A/B or MVT tests were run to determine whether, for example,
"...requiring customers to 'tweet this link' to unlock the product they're wishing to download' (p191)
...either improved sign-ups and conversions or increased the website visitor bounce rate? As anyone in digital marketing knows, this would be a pretty simple test to set up and would add weight to the arguments made.
OK - with so many ideas presented, not all of them could be tested. It's just that in digital you really can 'put your money where your mouth is'.
Final Thought and Recommendation:
Buy the book. It's a decent read. Just don't expect that without applying some serious and time consuming research you'll necessarily revolutionise your online marketing.