08 / 11 / 2017

PET: How can Persuasion, Emotion and Trust increase your conversion rate?

PET Theory and its application to website design. How does persuasion, emotion and trust influence user experience (UX)?

Persuasion, emotion and trust, commonly referred to as 'persuasion engineering' play a crucial role in both UX and conversion.

At Prodo, we're going to talk you through the three components of PET and offer advice on how you can maximise your website's efficacy by considering PET in your strategy.

Human Factors International (HFI), the authors of PET design say:

PET design uses research-based techniques to leverage the science of Persuasion, Emotion, and Trust to make websites more engaging, compelling, and effective. This innovative methodology complements classic usability, empowering companies to achieve their business goals.


One of the main principles of inbound marketing is offering information, in the form of content, around a potential problem a company may have. Inbound marketing agencies want to offer a solution, and to do so must first deliver quality, factual information in the form of landing page content, blog or social posts. Facts are crucial in persuasion strategy due to the value it can give to your audience - they also help to establish your organisation as a thought leader. The incorporation of statistics or data in your content will help to consolidate your position as a credible source or thought leader, making a customer much more likely to go from a lead to a conversion.

You can also improve your impression through repetition. Repetition of imagery or words within your text can help to reinforce the message your company is trying to convey. By bulking up your website's content with keywords you not only maxmise your ranking in search engines but you also leave a lasting impact on your readers.

By offering prospect customers something in return for their engagement, you are adhering to the social rule of reciprocity. Important in PET theory, reciprocity or in other words, rewards, are also effective in improving conversion rate. Rewards can include assets integrated in your website such as quizzes, guides or eBooks. They can give a customer the sense of reward through aspects of gamification and the procurement of 'gated' information. Not only can such assets increase your database, but they also improve conversion rate due to the increase of opted-in, in other words, warmer leads. The below is an example of one of our "rewards" in the form of an eBook:How to Reactivate Your Prospects Database Before 25 May 2018 - Google Chrome.jpgSocial validation: If users see that other people are happy about something, they'll be more likely to use or purchase the related product. Social validation can be utilised in the the following ways:

- Show share counts on a page and users will think “Ok, this page is relevant and I can trust its content”

  • - Show customer reviews on a product page, it will reassure users that the product is genuine and desirable.

  • - Add a message “Customers who bought this item also bought…”. This can enhance engagement and enables companies to cross/up sell.

Other principles of persuasion include scarcity and personalisation. Scarcity relates to the pervasive apprehension of "fomo" or "fear of missing out". This creates an urge to take action, however companies must sell with integrity otherwise you will lose the users trust. With personalisation, it's important to first understand what your users are interested in and then shape your content to match these interests. Patterns can also appear within initial contact therefore it's important to work with your sales team to understand the common questions your prospects are asking so you can create content to best personalise their buying journey.


Emotion is a relatively broad term in the context of marketing. To refine this spectrum, this article's going to talk about the two main drivers behind the creation of emotional content: pathos and semiotics.

Pathos refers to the appeal to emotion. Pathos is a communication technique most commonly applied in rhetoric, literature and art, but is becoming increasingly popular within online marketing strategy. When you apply pathos you elicit to the feelings which are already present in that individual. As an inbound marketer you can best apply Pathos by first identifying your prospect's needs, for example they may need to increase their conversion, and then offering a response to this problem in the form of a solution - this solution can be presented in the form of content, design and valuable assets on your website.

The imagery within your website is pivotal and relates intrinsically to the theory of semiotics. Semiotics can be applied to evoke a positive feeling or emotion towards your brand. In fact, some agencies such as Space Doctors devote their entire strategy to semiotics, determining that cultural insight is the most effective way of inducing purchasing behaviour. Semiotics can harness human logic to merge culture with meaning which gives brands their value.

Take the below as an example of how Aspinall Foundation's imagery can conjure notions of eco-friendliness, sustainability and happiness through green colour-themes and the facial expression of smiling. The value of applying semiotics is in the ability to create positive connotations of a brand. A positive brand image translates into a higher lead generation and conversion rate:

Wildlife Park & Enjoyable Days Out At Howletts  The Aspinall Foundation - Google Chrome


Like persuasion, informative, factual or valuable content is vital in building up trust. Without trust, your website can be visually impressive, trendy, user-friendly, but it won’t convert these users into customers. If you can’t be trusted, you won’t be able to generate commitment.

Trust can be built by adopting various strategies, here are some typical ones:

- Make sure that your “About us” page has clear and honest information. The best way to introduce prospect customers to your company is to answer the 5 W’s: who, what, when, where, how.

- Display partnerships, the logos of familiar companies that work with you or use your product, like below:Prodo  Web Development & Inbound Marketing  Culture - Google Chrome- Clearly present user reviews, testimonials and case studies. These will provide a feeling of reassurance and trust to users.

- Display awards, recognition from industry peers gives confidence to your users.

- Stay relevant. Out-of-date or neglected content transmits the wrong message to your users. Your content should address current issues within your sector, it should be littered with persuasive devices like data and statistics, and most importantly, it should answer the questions your users are asking.

Lastly, it's important to give your organisation a big, happy, trustworthy face! This can be achieved by incorporating videos, images or profiles to present the humans behind your content. By creating thought-leaders within your organisation you'll be solidifying its position as a trustworthy source, adding value to your brand and most importantly, increasing conversion.

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