By jameszol
Published on February 15, 2008

I finally started reading the books I mentioned in a post last month.

The first one I am reading is entitled The Psychology Influence of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D.

In the first chapter, Dr. Cialdini discusses automated responses that we have due to what we have learned and experienced in our lives. He describes a story where tape recordings were used to test automated responses within a mother turkey. Whenever she hears “cheep-cheep” she acts motherly towards any object emitting that sound, even if it is a mechanical predator.

While that can be detrimental to the turkey, the positive side is that when she hears her chicks emit the “cheep-cheep” sound, she will immediately try to take them under her wing to feed and protect them.

He summarizes this case by stating: “Click and the appropriate tape is activated; whirr and out rolls the standard sequence of behaviors.”

So, when the “cheep-cheep” tape was activated, the turkey behaved in a certain way.

We do the same thing as people - certain actions or reactions within our environment encourage us to automatically act or react within our own understanding of what we “know”. This is very natural because it simplifies our lives.

How this applies to Paid Search

I believe a searcher is already acting or reacting to a stimuli when they search for your product or service. They are already whirring.

Your job as a search marketer is to disrupt that whirr by clicking the appropriate tape, thereby activating it and trying to anticipate and optimize upon the most popular standard sequence of behaviors that your audience has.

The click/whirr search cycle:


You want to optimize for the audience that has the highest probability of their “standard sequence of behavior” leading to a conversion.

Measuring, testing, and refining for your audience’s most common sequence of behavior takes a lot of time and effort. If you change your ad, then you might be inherently changing who your audience is. If your audience changes, then your landing page might require new tests to vigorously meet the needs of your audience.

Remember that audience behavior can and will consistently evolve - I like to consider audience evolution as an excellent form of job security. :)


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