Mar 4 14

NextStage gets Patent #4 and Releases NextStage’s Experience Optimizer Tool

by Joseph


NextStage received its fourth patent on 18 Feb 2014. This patent is “… focused specifically on harvesting demographic data from the way a user interfaces with an electronic device.”

First, about the patent (and we didn’t write this, someone else did):

“Joseph Carrabis and NextStage Evolution, LLC were awarded their fourth US patent today (18 Feb 2014). US patent 8,655,804 is focused specifically on harvesting demographic data from the way a user interfaces with an electronic device. Whether using a keyboard, a mouse, a touchscreen, or eye movement, users reveal themselves in their interactions with these devices and Joseph’s software listens. With simple mouse movements within a web page, this software can determine age and gender of a user with over 95% accuracy. Ethnic background, economic status, home state, native language, and political party affiliation can all be determined in seconds of device interaction. This technology has set NextStage Evolution, LLC apart from all other neuromarketing technology on the market.”

The actual patent intro is a bit more technical:

A system and method for determining a characteristic of an individual is provided. The method includes determining at least one nonconscious element of an interaction by the individual and correlating at least one nonconscious element with at least one identifiable demographic characteristic of the individual. The system includes a computerized medium having a human interface system situated to facilitate interaction with the individual and produce a quantity of data corresponding to the interaction. A programmable device is in communication with the computerized medium and is situated to use at least a portion of the quantity of data corresponding to the interaction with the individual to determine at least one nonconscious element of the interaction with the individual. A correlation system is situated to correlate the at least one nonconscious element with at least one identifiable demographic characteristic and output a quantity of resulting information. …

NextStage Experience Optimizer ToolNow that we have this patent, we’ll be officially releasing our NextStage Experience Optimizer (NSEO) tool.

NSEO analyzes people using any device and sends instructions back to the device (or wherever the client wants the instructions sent) on how to improve the user’s experience.

First, how does ET and NSEO do this?

NextStage's Experience Optimizer Tool 'talks' to visitorsWell, ET and NSEO do it pretty much the way you’d do it if you were talking with the person, and we mean that literally.

Imagine you’re sitting down with someone and the two of you are looking at the same thing, a restaurant menu at lunch, for example. The other person has been to this restaurant before and with other people.

Now imagine that you’re talking about what’s on the menu while you make up your mind. The person sitting with you is listening and making suggestions based on what they’ve learned from dining with other people in the same restaurant, in other restaurants and so on. Eventually you make a decision on what to order for lunch. The other person’s suggestions helped you make your decision and you don’t think of their help as help per se although you will remember the good lunch at this restaurant and suggest it to others.

NSEO and ET do much the same thing. NSEO looks at, listens to, etc., the same content a visitor’s looking at, listening to, etc., and pays attention to how visitors interact with that content. Simultaneously, it’s matching this visitor’s behavior and interactions against every other visitor to the same content, visitors to similar content, visitors to all content and so on.

Based on what it’s learned about this visitor and what it knows about all similar visitors to this content and all similar content, it suggests changes to the content’s presentation, things like “Adjust the colors”, “Adjust the font”, “Use different language”, “Use different images”, “Place the images here and here instead of there and there” and on and on and on. The amount of suggestions NSEO makes is based on the number of visitor states (described below) the NextStage client is interested in. We provided an elementary example of this to an audience in 2000 and documented several examples in Reading Virtual Minds V1: Science and History (available at Amazon and in the NextStage KnowledgeShop, and everybody should have at least two copies. Also, V2 is due out this year if you’d like to pre-order). My favorite among the examples in V1 is:

IV.2 – The Investors Heard the Music

One of the early incarnations of the NextStage Evolution website self-modified in real time based on how individual visitors were interacting with itq. Two people could be sitting in the same room but using different computers to browse the site and ET would deliver content customized to each visitor’s unique cognitive, memorization, and comprehension styles. These styles are collectively called the “{C,B/e,M} matrix”, meaning “cognitive, behavioral/effective, motivational matrix”.

The {C,B/e,M} Matrix is, quite literally a shorthand notation for how people interact with their world. What is covered is very rich and detailed and can be summed up into three basic categories; Cognitive (“How do they think? What do they think about?”), Behavioral/effective (“What do they do that demonstrates how they think?” and the way I use the word “Behavioral” has next to nothing to do with how the term is used in the industry today, me thinks) and Motivational (“Why do they think the way they do? Why do they demonstrate it the way they do?”).38,49-51,53-56,58,59,63- 65,67,69,70,106,122

Differing {C,B/e,M} matrices were demonstrated when two investors called up from their office in San Francisco. I was sitting in my office in Nashua, NH, and they had asked for a demonstration of ET.

“Have you been on our site?” I asked.

Yes, they had, of course. So?

“Are you near a computer hooked to the internet right now?”

Yes, they were. So?

“Log onto the site. Pick any page off the menu you’d like to visit and tell me which one it is, okay?”

Okay.

I navigated to the same page they were on. “I’m going to describe to you what I’m looking at. While I describe it to you pay close attention to what’s actually on your screen. You’ll notice some differences.” I started reading some of the text.

Yes, the text on their browser was slightly different.

I started describing the size and placement of images, as well as image content.

Yes, in some cases they didn’t even have an image I was describing, often they had one I didn’t have, etc., etc.

Then, while I was talking to them, their browser started playing music.

“You didn’t tell us your site had music,” one of them said.

My response didn’t make sense to them at first. “ET determined that you weren’t paying attention to the website and were focusing on an auditory stimuli, so it started playing music in the hopes of bringing your attention back to the website. It’s attempting to substitute its own auditory stimulus for the one you’re focusing on.”

“Why would it do that? There aren’t any auditory stimulus in the room.”

I remember both the emphasis and the lack of grammatical expertise on the investors’ parts. My explanation stopped them cold. “Yes, the auditory stimulus is that you’re talking to me. ET doesn’t know that you’re talking on the phone, but it can determine that some sound event — in this case our conversation — is where your attention is focused. It wants you focused on the website, so it’s playing some music in order to draw your attention away from this phone call and back to the screen. Like a child, ET wants to be the center of attention.”

I heard them click onto another page and the music stopped.

“How come the music stopped?” “Because your attention was focused back on the website. It didn’t need to play the music anymore in order to get your attention.”

A brief discussion ensued in which they expressed a great concern about my ability to access and distribute fertilizer.

And the music started playing again.


q – Self-modifying sites are what now might be called “morphing” sites. I have a challenge with the term “morph” due to the concept of Turing machines. A site, like you, should modify its behavior based on who it’s communicating with. People (and true Turing machines) routinely modify their behaviors based on who they’re communicating with, but only the psychotics “morph”, ie, become a completely different being.

Back then people couldn’t believe or understand. What a difference fourteen years make, huh?

Second, what types of instructions are sent back?

The instructions can be as simple as the individual’s gender and age (two variables), visitor “states” that NextStage’s Evolution Technology can determine at better than 98% accuracy, according to an independent validation study. Most online business can make do with our standard nine (9) states:

  1. Branding level (are they branded? Are they debranded?)
  2. Confusion level
  3. Conversion trigger (what will cause them to convert?)
  4. Curiosity level
  5. Decision maker status (is this person going to make the decision or will someone else make the decision based on the visitor’s recommendation)
  6. Decision status (where are they in their decision)
  7. Decision strategy (what will cause them to convert)
  8. Interest level
  9. Intender status (when will they convert)

More demanding requirements (security, privacy, …) can have up to ninety (90) visitor states delivered. How many states are delivered is part of the deployment discussion, and how the instructions are used is based on business rules, etc.

We offer guidance but don’t do any client coding, it’s up to the clients’ dev teams to build code around ET’s instructions and act upon them. ET will send back instructions based on what the clients’ goals are and what we’re willing to provide (if you haven’t read our Principles, now’s the time). The simplest incarnation is changing the css of a visitor’s browser session based on some simple rules.

What does NSEO cost?

It won't cost an arm and a legNextStage Experience Optimizer‘s pricing is based on amount of traffic, how often you want it to send information back, what types of information you want sent back, … pretty much the regular things. It won’t cost an arm and a leg and if your operation is a good cause, we can negotiate lots of things.

You can see a presentation, Introducing the NextStage Experience Optimizer, I gave on the NextStage Experience Optimizer for free in our KnowledgeShop (viewed best in Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and anything but IE9, evidently).

And now, a chuckle

What’s kind of amusing about this is that NSEO is actually what ET (our patented technology) was doing when we originally built it in 1999 and no one was ready (as I’ve said many times, CEOs were telling us “What do I care what my customers are thinking?”). Now the world has caught up and we’re going back to our origins.


Jan 13 14

Welcome to 2014!

by Joseph


Are you looking for the NextStage sites and wondering where they went?

Don’t worry, they’re still here, simply changing. We spent much of 2013 modifying ET and that means the backends of our sites, when the time came, were going to go through lots of changes.

Those changes are going to be put in place through much of 2014, so while the front ends may not change much (yet, they will change this year), the back ends are changing greatly. The sites will come and go as we hook in and test ET’s new abilities in real usage environments (including mobile).

In the meantime, enjoy our various blogs (and we plan on adding a few new blogs, too!).

FYI, we’ll probably be making announcements along the way via any of Twitter, The NextStage RSS feed Subscribe to NextStage's KnowledgeShop's RSS feed or


NextStage Evolution on Facebook
Friends of NextStage LinkedIn Group


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Aug 8 13

If You Bug Them, They Will Come

by Joseph

Okay, the truth is, if you bug them, they’ll buy more. But that wasn’t as catchy a title.

NextStage completed a 1½ year study of whether business increases or decreases when you tickle (I originally used the word “annoy”) your customers with repetitive marketing.

What’s your guess? Tick ‘em off and they’ll book for a competitor? Are you like me and NextStage, proudly proclaiming “We only do permission based marketing because it’s more respectful to the consumer!”

Well, if you are in that “respect the consumer” camp, hopefully you’ll learn as quickly as we have.

I mean, research is research and numbers are numbers and 5,000 consumers can’t be wrong.

We studied 5,000 consumers’ habits across 4 main message vectors (email, social, phone and direct mail) in 3 industries (personal care, gourmet foods, politics). The study was specifically designed to identify that borderland where people shift from positive action ($$$conversion$$$, plain and simple) to negative action (removal from list, unopened emails, stop following, stop taking calls, recognizable drop in direct mail response, …) so that our clients would know things like periodicity, response-timing, best engagement practices, cross channel techniques, blah blah blah.

Much to my chagrin (and several others of us here. We were having one of our regular weekend getaways) we proved that regular “annoyances” increase business from 25-100%. Yes, there are several factors involved and it’s not as simple as “Spam the heck out of them!” but still, to discover that people want to be tickled? And that the simplest messages got the best results?

Essentially we discovered that we could create an itch that consumers were happy to scratch. Who knew that direct mail is hot in certain demographics? Or that certain ethnic groups favor one channel over others by 50:1? Or that some groups like regular tickles and others respond like crazy to irregular tickles?

NextStage got this project based on our past research in optimal blogging frequency (yep, people still read blogs…I hope) and email newsletter design.

So get ready. We’re planning to tickle the heck out of you.


May 22 13

Shooting the Message Because of the Messenger

by Joseph


You receive an email or tweet or TXT or some such from someone you know. Do you read the message because you know who sent it or because the subject line or first few words or glance catches your attention? Most people probably aren’t aware of their selection criteria. Let me invite you to be more aware (and let me know what you discover, thanks).

An interesting social phenomenon on the rise (NextStage has catalogued anecdotal evidence since 2007) indicates that an increasing number of people decide whether or not to pay attention to a message based on information content, not their relationship to the source.

Please note that NextStage has done no formal research on this. We do keep track of anecdotal evidence, though, and the number of anecdotes dealing with this phenomenon increased steadily albeit slowly from 2007 to 2011. It doubled in 2012 and we’ve already catalogued more in the first five months of 2013 than in all previous years put together.

The curiosity is around whether or not this increase in information-sort over social-sort is due to information bias or not; People are more connected than ever. Does that mean the value of social ties is less than in the past? Are we indeed too social to be social?

Or has the proliferation of content caused us to determine social value by information value? If so, keywords, taglines and the like are going to become very expensive because that’s all marketing will be. Consider how many commercials there are in which the entire conversation between actors is nothing more than a series of soundbytes.

This also means a message’s source can hurt the message’s success in a social system; people will shoot the message because of the messenger. More than that, the value of influencers will decrease sooner rather than later. An influencer’s information quality must remain high because consumers are sorting by information value, not information source. Eventually everyone will have the same “influencer” status within their social circle.

This is going to put a whole new spin on social and related marketing, me thinks.

Patrick McGoohan as The PrisonerI mean, the heck with whether or not you’re a free man (or woman). Just tell me your number or go away.


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May 8 13

Here Are Your NeuroMarketing Options

by Joseph

I was at a conference recently and took many turns through the exhibitors’ booths.

I took many turns through the exhibitors’ booths because I had no idea what I was doing at the conference. I’d been invited and someone else was paying my way, and I hoped seeing the wares presented would offer some insight into why some group would contact me to attend on their behalf and essentially pay me to do so.

Before going further, let me state that I don’t remember any NextStageologist saying or writing “We do neuromarketing.” It’s been said about us often enough and I’ve publicly written that I think people say we do neuromarketing (skim down to “3. What the heck is a NeuroMarketer?” in the link) because 1) it’s a term du jour, 2) they don’t know what else to call us, 3) they’ve called us many pleasant and few unpleasant things in the past and seem to think we change as do the buckets they want to put us in, …

People say “But you guys do so many things” and that’s true. Our response is “That’s because the brain does so many things. The brain doesn’t only make decisions or only control breathing or only look at pretty people or only guess about the future and if the brain could only do one thing we wouldn’t have evolved much beyond amoeba. We do lots of things because, like the brain, we have no limits.”

Okay, we have some limits.

But, as I was typing, some of the vendors did…something…at the conference. I watched. It looked a lot like what I’ve been told is traditional, historical neuromarketing. You know, traditional and historical, like the stuff going back a year or more ago?

It was fascinating.

Now before going any further, none of the people shown here claim to be neuromarketers and that includes NextStage. I merely offer these as examples of what others who call themselves “neuromarketers” do.

Here are some of your NeuroMarketing options…

Option 1 – See the Brain in Real Time

Cap Showing the Brain in 3D

The fellow in the picture above is brilliant. He and his team (if I understood correctly) have developed a cap that generates a image of an individual’s neurophysiology in real time. The medical implications of this are incredible.

But it’s not neuromarketing as I understand it. Seeing the brain work is not the same as knowing what the brain is working on. Seeing specific brain areas associated with likes and dislikes is not the same as knowing what the brain is liking or disliking. Tomograph, fMRIs, neurographs, etc., of heat and blood flow in the brain while showing a picture of a brand product is not the same as that individual wanting, desiring or avoiding that brand product. They are, at best, proxies. There may be a direct connection or they may not be. A dislike of a particular brand might have more to do with a bad memory of someone who used that brand than the brand itself, and building a campaign on such evidence is…is…a really interesting way to spend your budget.

But credit where credit is due, if I ever get a brain lesion, I want the guy in the picture above in my corner.

Option 2 – If the Device Fits, Wear It

The video below is of a young woman being fitted with a device that allows the wearer’s brain to interact directly with an image on a screen. Doing that is impressive. The device itself is nicely designed and packaged. The gentleman in the video is someone trained by the company that markets the device. He’s a trained professional. After two minutes and twenty seconds he still hadn’t gotten the device to work correctly, and he’d applied enough saline solution to make Brylcream proud because this time, a little dab wasn’t doing ya.


Fairness time; lots of people at this conference sat down to have this device placed on their heads. I talked with several of them who wanted to take part but couldn’t because the device couldn’t read their signals reliably if at all.

Option 3 – You Can Find A Company that Claims to do NeuroMarketing

A long standing NextStage client was told by his GM to go talk to the GM’s friend who had started a neuromarketing company. You could tell they were a neuromarketing company because they used “neuromarketing” on their site a lot.

I asked the client how it went. Here’s the conversation:

“Hi! I’m speaking with these guys today, …, it looks like they are taking a similar theoretical approach as you, although their execution is paleolithic compared to yours.”

Be sure to tell them that.

“The guy is a friend of the GM. The GM hears me say the word neuromarketing, this guy says the word neuromarketing, GM says lets all meet. I say, ‘Why would I let them put headbands on 5 people when I can learn way more about EVERY one visiting a site without looking like Olivia Newton-John?’ I can assure you that basically I’m going to tell them they’re in the stone ages. No reason to drive the ford Edsel when you have the rocket car sitting in the garage!”

(a few days later…)

How did it go with your GM’s friend?

“The neuro guy was a joke, an entrepreneur who saw a cool graph on a screen, no plan, no insight, no training, no business plan, not even an elevator pitch nor the brains to run it.”

Hmm…but he has money? Maybe he’d like to buy us out…?

“He doesn’t have that kind of money….”

Sorry it was so ungood. And may I quote you?

“Quote me?”

Yes, I’ve been working on a response to all the neuro blather and would like to include an anonymous note about someone who went looking for neuro solutions and came up short.

“No problem ;)”

(and here’s to hoping you, dear reader, have similar luck)

Recapping thus far

Thus far we’ve seen the need for devices that may or may not work for everyone, require a skilled professional to place on the test subject’s head correctly, are limited to subjects who basically raise their hand and say “Yes, I’ll wear one of those”, and people with pretty websites, high level friends and are a joke (so said the client, not us).

First, what happens to those people who raise their hands but can’t make the device work? How many will be satisfied with “Here’s your $20 and sorry your head’s not the right shape” or “Here’s your $30 and your brain’s not giving off any signals we can detect” or “Here’s your $50 and our equipment doesn’t seem to be working right now, no need to come back later because it won’t work for you, then, either”?

You’d probably go with a variant of that last one but then you have people walking around telling others how their incredible noggins broke your fancy-dancy mind-reading headgear.

And if people can train their brains to do what’s required, how long do you think it’ll be ’till companies start selling “Brain-Trained” individuals for testing purposes, or offer “Brain-Training” courses and all so that, when the neuromarketing goblins come a’knockin’, your results will be through-the-roof kind-of good?

And you thought buying Fans, Friends and Likes was scummy?

And do remember, none of the folks in the above images claims to do “neuromarketing”. At least they didn’t claim to when I asked (and I did ask and I did ask permission to video and photograph so I could use the video and photographs on one of my company’s blogs). I took the pictures and video because the folks shown above do things that other companies have called “neuromarketing”.

Second, the GM’s friend. Let me repeat myself. “The GM’s friend.”

Option 4 – In the Time You’ve Been Reading…

In the 1-5 minutes you’ve been reading this post, NextStage’s Evolution Technology has analyzed the behaviors of anywhere from 3-25,000 individuals. It has determined how they think, how they make decisions, what types of things convince them, whether or not they believe whatever they’re viewing, whether or not they accept whatever they’re viewing (belief and acceptance are two very different things), when they’re likely to spend money and what needs to be changed on a client’s digital property so that they, the visitor, will spend money on the client’s digital property or in their brick&mortar store. You can get an idea of what NextStage’s Evolution Technology can determine in our example NextStage OnSite reports, you can get an idea of where we’re currently being used on our NextStage SampleMatch Countries listing and you can get an idea what people are saying about everything we do in our Comments section.

And remember, we don’t do “neuromarketing”. We just give you results. From your entire online audience. There’s a lot of neuroscience in what we do, true, and there’s also a lot of anthropology, linguistics, sociology, psychology, mathematics, and other sciences in what we do.

That’s why I prefer to offer that NextStage does NeuroAnalytics rather than NeuroMarketing because we’re more interested in how to use what the brain does naturally to make your marketing work.

As one happy client wrote in my LinkedIn Profile,

I’ve been working with Joseph and his tools now for several years. As a “digital analytics professional”, there are several phrases I can use to describe the man and the technology he creates related to my field of work: game-changing, mind-blowing, visionary.

I don’t use those words lightly. I’ve seen the future of advanced analytics, and it’s the next generation technology Joseph has invented and continues to develop.

How do you measure website engagement? Page depth? Time on site? Top viewed content? Satisfaction surveys? These are proxies for what we in digital analytics think reflects visitor engagement. Now imagine a tool that you could put on your website that silently measures engagement by actually determining how visitors feel about content, without having to ask them.

Then imagine that the same tool can then alter visitor website experience on-the-fly and present more engaging content. Then imagine watching your conversion rates go through the roof.

It’s not fiction or magic. It is a real tool, it is real science, and you can use it on your website to drive real extraordinary business results.

And that’s just the tip of Joseph’s iceberg. He’s continually creating new tools, new technology, and new thinking to enable marketers to measure and enhance the effectiveness of their work in ways that haven’t even been thought possible before.

I consider myself lucky to have met Joseph, and I am continually awed and humbled by the man. If you’re in business and want to do better, I’d suggest you get to know him and his marketing toolbox as well.

If nothing else, you’ll at least get a few good jokes out him!

Ta-Da!

Apr 10 13

NextStage’s Social Interferometer Determines Candidate’s Best Position in Social Campaign

by Joseph

NextStage has been researching many aspects of social networking and related social behaviors on- and off-line since 1983. Several businesses make use of our expertise by asking us to help them create social marketing strategies and campaigns, and help them put together social marketing teams.

One piece of this work involved a three year research project to determine what social strategies were and were not successful. This research ran from 2009 to 2012 and involved monitoring the social marketing success of over 400 US and Canadian companies. The results were documented in 9 ways to guarantee a winning social campaign and 10 ways to guarantee a losing social campaign.

We quickly learned that the best starting point for a social campaign is to find the correct, best person to take on the social media/marketing campaign. Higher likelihood of success comes when that correct, best person has a team of similarly correct, best people working with him or her and that’s a completely different question that most businesses aren’t designed to answer.

There’s a lot that goes into the technical side of social marketing. Most of that can be learned given enough time.

But the social mindset side of social marketing? Does the person think socially? Do they understand either intuitively or through study how social networks function, what triggers them to act as they do, how to recognize real versus temporary influencers, …?

That was a totally different question. Companies are very good at recognizing managerial talent within their ranks and from a talented pool. Recognizing managerial talent that also has a strong social mindset is something else.

NextStage Social InterferometerNextStage developed a questionnaire based tool, the NextStage Social Interferometer, to help businesses determine what a candidate’s best position would be on a social marketing team; should they lead? would they be a good strategist? could they advise?

NextStage’s Social Interferometer is specifically designed to determine the questionnaire respondent’s best position on a social marketing team. The questions and their order is based on based on our research, studies and 1000+ interviews with people who’ve had positive ROI (their income greatly exceeded their spend) from social campaigns.

The complete NextStage Social Interferometer questionnaire takes most users 2-4 hours to complete and can be thought of as a second-level interview. Alternately, it can save social campaign/marketing job seekers people lots of pain by letting them know ahead of time how successful they’re likely to be, or what role they should apply for in a social marketing effort. We strongly encourage users to take more than one (1) hour and less than eight (8) hours for accurate results.

Enjoy!


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Aug 29 12

A Twittering (and Related Social Platforms) Update Part 4 – Twitter v LinkedIn v Facebook v FourSquare v Pinterest v … (If you invest here, do you need to invest there?)

by Joseph

NextStage: Predictive Intelligence, Persuasion Engineering, Interactive Analytics and Behavioral MetricsThis is the fourth post in a six part blog-arc about some recent research NextStage has done regarding Twitter and several other social platforms. Some of these posts appear on my BizMediaScience blog due to tone. This post is a little more researchy and we figured it should go here. We’re also wanting to spread the love a bit.

These posts will cover

  1. Followers
  2. Watches
  3. “You don’t follow anybody”
  4. Twitter v LinkedIn v Facebook v FourSquare v Pinterest v …
  5. Private v Public Personae
  6. “You rarely point to someone else’s writing”

This post deals with the reason for this blog-arc, the marketing functionality of different social networks and NextStage’s research. We first discussed these concepts during our SNCR NewComm Forum 2008 presentation, Whispering to Be Heard: The Art and Science of Buzz Marketing so you can appreciate that we’ve been looking at this for a while.

Twitter v LinkedIn v Facebook v FourSquare v Pinterest v …

NextStage is completing a study on the sociality transfer between social platforms. Specifically, we’re investigating community detection by groups and individuals, how they determine which platforms serve them best, hence marketers can determine which social platforms will serve a given audience and message best. The end goal is an equation that determines cross-pollination between social platforms, as in “If you invest here, do you need to invest there?”

I presented The Social Conversion Differences Between Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter at the Providence eMarketing Con on 13 Nov 2011 and explained that the greatest marketing cross pollination efforts at that time would be a Twitter-LinkedIn effort.

More so than any other effort. Twitter to LinkedIn and back.

The reason is due to Twitter and LinkedIn users having {C,B/e,M}s1 that are much closer to each other than the {C,B/e,M}s of any other combination, therefore a Twitter-LinkedIn campaign allowed for lower marketing costs (same material would engage both audiences) and allowed for multiple touchpoints in this single cross-audience (multiple touchpoints generate more activity than single touchpoints in a given audience).

NextStage Compatibility GaugeMore recent research was done quite differently from the above and dealt with sociality (the ability to recognize node-specific communities and a blend of community detection and recognition). If you recently received an invitation from a NextStageologist to join them on a social platform, you were part of the research. Chances are you were invited to join one of us on some social platform because you’ve generated an extensive “paper” trail — you blog, you publish whitepapers, you have more than one profile somewhere, you comment on other people’s blogs, you have an online resume, … and that paper trail could be analyzed by our Evolution Technology (most often NextStage’s Compatibility Gauge) to determine if you would or would not link, befriend, pin, tumble, so on and so forth, and what platforms you’d accept/allow contact on.

See how painless research can be?

Truth be told, some NextStageologists received a warning message from Facebook: we were attempting to befriend people we didn’t know and, evidently, enough Facebookers complained that several of our accounts got flagged. We could either quit Facebook, take back all our Friend Requests, take back all Friend Requests made to people with whom we had few friends in common, … Evidently research isn’t painless for everyone. The fact that there are people on Facebook who follow some of us on Twitter but won’t befriend us is worth a post in itself, don’t you think?

But in any case, the results are fascinating.

And if the results are all you’re interested in, click here.

Theory to Practice

One of the things we theorized, tested and put into some of our tools (NextStage ClientProspector and NextStage SocialInterferometer which are currently only available to Members (we’re hoping to make the SocialInterferometer public soon), NextStage LoveFinder which is publicly available and NextStage JobProspector (still in development) is that {C,B/e,M}s can fit together like puzzle pieces, sometimes like hands in gloves and sometimes they’ll grind against each other like gears shearing teeth as they clash.

This puzzling-glove-clash determines how messages will be communicated by smaller networks through larger networks — how groups can thrive within groups. Kind of like being part of a organization while having a group of closer friends within that organization. Everyone takes part in the organization’s activities and the closer group will engage in its own activities beyond those provided by the organization.

We’re interested (and you should be interested, too) in how messages within the smaller, closer groups get propagated through the larger groups. Let me give you an example.

Figure 1 - A network of 1Let’s say I have something I want to share. Immediately, I can only share it with myself. This is demonstrated by that one, little, solipsistic dot in the middle of the image on the right. I may have a great idea, an incredible product, a wonderful service, a great story, a good vibe, whatever. Immediately it’s just me who knows about it.

Oh, what to do?

Figure 2 - A small network of friendsWell, the first thing to do is tell a few friends.

But remember your own experiences sharing great news with others? Do you tell the first stranger you meet? Do you go looking for a stranger, someone you don’t know from Adam?2

Chances are you don’t go the Adam route. Chances are the first people you share your news with are close associates, people in your tribal network. People in your tribal network may be physically right next to you, a few feet away, a few doors down, in the next city, state or country.

What makes them participants in your tribal network is that you and they have lots of similar if not shared experiences and that you tend to respond similarly if not near-identically to anything that comes along. In other words, they’re in your tribal network because their {C,B/e,M} is either identical to or real close to yours. Because of this, you trust them to rejoice with you when you share your good news or give you solace when your news isn’t so good. This circle of friends is known as a psycho-social distance3 of 1 in social mechanics and the tribalness is called homophily.

Figure 3 - The network is growing!So you get feedback from them and it’s positive. So positive, in fact, that they want to tell some their friends and you risk sharing your joy with people just a little outside your normal social network. Now we’re dealing with people at a psycho-social distance of 2 from you and 1 from your friends.

Figure 3a - The network is growing circles!And some of those people at psycho-social distance 1 from you? The folks with similar and not identical experiences? They’re the people who’ll transmit the message to people who don’t quite know you at all (think of reTwittering a tweet). These people are more interested in the message than you, they are captured by the meme more than your personality. These people show up in the image as different colored dots.

Figure 4 - My gosh! Look at all those people you more or less know!Okay, now those people who don’t quite know you are spreading the message through their networks. These folks are psycho-social distance 3 from you. Notice that there’s more than three colors in the image? That’s because each time the message leaps a psycho-social boundary it does so by transforming a little (they don’t call it viral for nothing). The message (at this point some people will call it a meme and that’s incorrect. The message and the meme will travel together at this point and the two are different) has probably morphed slightly by going from your {C,B/e,M} through the next person’s {C,B/e,M} then through the next person’s {C,B/e,M} so on and so forth.

Figure 5 - And look what's happening to your great little thought!This is the point where marketing goodness happens. People start interpreting the original message. The source message and the meme it contains separate. The meme continues with none to very minor changes — it is the viral core of the message, that part that gives the message meaning in so many diverse markets and with so many different audiences. It does this by adapting a little bit but in ways that make big differences. Think of a virus that affects some people but not others that changes its viral sheath a bit. Now those previously unaffected are affected. Your good idea is doing the exact same thing only doing it to get inside people’s heads instead of their lungs or gut.

Those little bits and big differences appear because by now that meme has been slightly modified by everybody who hears the message. They’re all adding their little flare to it and it travels much like whispers in the childhood game “operator” (some call it “telephone”). The best known modern demonstration of this is the “spin” politicians’ surrogates put on their don’s gaffs and guffaws: they can’t control the message so at least get the best meme on it so that distortions and deteriorations are minimal and deniable. This is why the best spins are five words or fewer. Memes, the messages’ viral cores, are much like biologic viruses — the smaller they are the less stoppable they are (remember this if you’re in marketing or its close cousin, propaganda).

Figure 6 - And now everybody knows you!And if you’re lucky and you’ve done your work well and you know what you’re doing, your source message hasn’t changed all that much from its original form, has gone viral and you’re message is now making its way through groups and minds that you couldn’t imagine.

And it’s “making the rounds” because people who are now interacting with your message think completely differently than you think, their {C,B/e,M} so foreign to your {C,B/e,M} that you wonder how they learned about your message in the first place.

Now, take a good look at that last image. See that there are different subnetworks within the greater network? And that each subnetwork has its own subnetworks of different colors? That’s how small networks can propagate a given message through larger networks. The pictures from top to bottom are examples of community awareness (figures 1 and 2), detection/sensing (3, 3a and 4) and recognition (5 and 6). Without these steps your message ain’t going nowhere.

NextStage's RichPersonae Wheel of FortuneWhat we hypothesized, tested, put into some of our tools and what is demonstrated by those who linked, befriended, etc., and who didn’t is the puzzling-glove-clash of the {C,B/e,M}s that in NextStageology look like the sundial-like images in Looking for Love? Now You Can Find All the Right Places! (On the Evolution of Tools) (an example is on the right). Go to that post, look at those images and you’ll see what I described above writ in NextStage’s RichPersonae notation (NextStage’s RichPersonae are a systematic way of working with {C,B/e,M}s).

In short, the ability to predict who would connect with whom, on what platforms and in what time period.

Truly fascinating stuff (we thinks)! The ability to know who/where your viral message will get the most “push” and in what directions (kind of like viral vectors), how it will travel and where it will go!

Now you can literally pick your viral marketing targets.

Take-Aways

All in all we targeted platforms based on 2010 CMO’s Guide to The Social Landscape, the 2011 CMO’s Guide to The Social Landscape and the 2012 CMO’s Guide to The Social Landscape. if nothing else, CMO’s presentation methodology has improved. We also included some unmentioned platforms because various NextStageologists use them.

  • Facebook is best for small, local businesses because The Human Touch4 — consumers’ directly interacting with brands — is doable
  • Facebook can be used by large businesses best if they create a destination page that provides local connectivity to local brand agents for local audiences. This is simply a reframe of the above
  • LinkedIn is excellent for B-B sales and promotion (be prepared for LinkedIn to increase its Spam factor exponentially)
  • 4Square, Pinterest and Twitter are best for special offers and give aways
  • Pinterest and Twitter are best for announcements and offers
  • Other platforms investigated haven’t demonstrated any specific uniquenesses yet. They may be amazingly affective for a given business and a given audience and in the whole they didn’t rise to the levels of those platforms mentioned above.

Note that none of the above deals with {C,B/e,M}s? The above is based on the type of personalities that will respond best to those platforms, when those platforms are used to communicate the specific types of information listed.

It’s also possible to specifically target the audiences’ psychologic, behavioral-effective and motivational types that frequent those platforms but an explanation of that is well beyond this post (contact us if you’d like more info).

By the Way

If you’re reading this and would like to link to me or befriend me or whatever, please do so. I always enjoy the company. Of course, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., etc., have all largely become marketing platforms, so there you go. The audiences on all platforms are splintering as demonstrated by the plethora of platforms and into the various rapidly spawning groups that are now crowding each platform (remember those images up above? Notice that they’re similar to the growth of online social platforms? Ever hear of culture-death? All communities fail to thrive when they exhaust their resources).

But those differently purposed groups are basically my xWatches organized by the subnetworks themselves. They are self-organizing which means without a strong, central message/meme they will fail. I provide the xWatch categorizations for my messages so my audience knows how to handle the information I’m given them, which message to which interest and so on, as explained in the SNCR NewComm Forum presentation mentioned above.

Marketers beware.


1: You can learn more about {C,B/e,M}s in the following links:

2: The truth is you will tell people who don’t know you at all if the information you’re sharing either violates or is in conflict with your Core and/or Identity. You’ll share with unknown others to seek validation of the conflicting and/or violating information. You can’t go to people you know with that kind of data, they’d never believe it. The only option left is to have it validated out of your network. This allows you to start creating new networks (if you like the information) or ignore opinions (if you don’t like the information). In either case, you’re giving yourself time to integrate the new information before sharing it with those you trust.

3: You can learn more about psycho-social distance in the following links:

4: You can learn more about The Human Touch and how it applies to social networks in any of the following:

Jun 7 12

NextStage Is Awarded Patent #3 – “System and method for obtaining subtextual information regarding an interaction between an individual and a programmable device”

by Joseph


NextStage Evolution received its third issued patent in four years on June 5, 2012. In a patent atmosphere that is making it increasing difficult to patent software-based technology, NextStage Evolutions technology continues to set itself apart from the pack while establishing a perimeter around its novel system. The third patent, US Patent No. 8,195,597, is specifically directed to the psychometric link a computer user develops with the machine interface focal point on the screen (e.g., the arrow or cursor) and the body language that can be interpreted from how the machine interface focal point is positioned relative to the information presented by the computer. Demographic information, consumer interest, opinions, and preferences is translated from machine interface body language to actionable business information with NextStage Evolutions Evolution Technology.

We got Patent #3Thank you, thank you, thank you. Yes, this is an important one. Not to downplay patents 1 and 2, this is the one that I’ve jokingly described with “Every time you have a thought, you’ll owe us a nickel.” You can read the full patent on the USPTO site. It deals with how humans non-consciously communicate with devices and describes the system behind how people create community with whatever’s in their immediate environment, something I described in Reading Virtual Minds, Volume I: Science and History.

Others may want to put a focus group in an fMRI, have them wear funny hats, pay a team to follow individuals through shopping malls or put up a survey and hope the right people are answering (they’re not). All we need is your visitors to be themselves and do what they’d normally do the way they’d normally do it — no hats, no machines, nobody following them around, no annoying popup questionnaires, no nothing except your visitors doing what they would normally be doing on your digital property each time they visit.

I gotta tell you, understanding human behavior’s a lot easier when you get everything else out of the way and just deal with the humans and what they’re doing right there at that moment. You get a lot more information about your visitors when you let humans be humans and not laboratory subjects.

And again, thank you, thank you, thank you.


 

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Apr 3 12

Using NextStage’s OnSite Visitor Analysis Tool – TireKickers To Buyers Breakdown

by Joseph

This post is the first of several (we think) about using NextStage OnSite‘s many reports. The audience for this post and series is NextStage’s business clients and prospects. The goal is to provide some “connecting the dots” between reports and actions. We’re starting this series with the TireKickers to Buyers Breakdown. “TireKickers to Buyers Breakdown” is a descriptive but wordy title and we usually refer to it simply as the TireKickers Report.

Background

NextStage’s tools have been in public use for about three years now and all our tools are based on client requests. The tool that’s grown the most in that time is NextStage OnSite. That growth shows up as OnSite‘s many reports.

Visitor Age Groups for a 30 day intervalThere are currently sixty (60) different reports in the NextStage OnSite Tool. These reports span everything from visitor AgeGroup breakdowns (a 30 day report is shown on the right) to a QuickOptimizer report that provides three and only three suggestions for quickly optimizing a site. For example, QuickOptimizer suggested the following modifications for one of our clients for a recent thirty day period:

  1. Important – A blog, podcasts, a link which starts an audio feed or music from a source which matches the mood of your site.
  2. Desireable – A single image on the upper to middle left of the screen, at most 1/4 screen width and height, clearly showing your product or your service in use or a satisfied user of your product or service
  3. Critical – Having all selling points to your product or service in the center third column of your screen. Anything that does not demonstrate your product’s or service’s features should go to either side

Most clients get 25-30 reports (some they request, some we know they’ll need) and there’s a lot of information in those 25-30. Sometimes we’ll include a custom report or two among those 25-30 for clients who we believe will benefit from them.

NextStage OnSite offers clients a report palette because (we believe) using reports individually is like looking at stars through only one type of telescope — your understanding is based on only one type of light. Different types of telescopes (NextStage OnSite‘s 30 or so reports) trained on the same object provide a fuller understanding of what’s happening to and with that object.
TireKickers to Buyers Breakdown for a one day interval

TireKickers Report Basics

NextStage OnSite‘s TireKickers Report (a one day report is shown on the right. Clicking on some images opens larger images in another window) is named for the proverbial used car shopper who walks around the lot, finds a car they want then kicks the tires to demonstrate that they’re not going to get swindled.

What it reports is described in 2006′s Listening to and Seeing Searches:

What we’ve discovered is that these [report] numbers (which will vary from site to site) remain stable for each site except when something new — such as a product release or updated pages — is placed in the mesh.

  • Knowing what percentage of site visitors are serious buyers versus tirekickers is an important tool in keeping your expectations and sales forecasts in check, and for designing entry pages appropriately.

  • Visitors who are “grazing,” “tirekicking,” “talking themselves out of it” and “planning to make a decision” are still in the search funnel.
  • Visitors who are “planning on how to use it,” “talking it over,” “making a decision” and “buying” are in what most people recognize as a sales funnel.
  • The transition from searcher to buyer occurs at “talking themselves into it.”

TireKickers to Buyers Breakdown for a seven day intervalNotice in the above bullet list “…these [report] numbers (which will vary from site to site) remain stable for each site except when something new — such as a product release or updated pages — is placed in the mesh.”? Compare the 1-day report shown above with the 7-Day TireKickers report on the right. Same site, but this time reporting on the past seven (7) days instead of the last one (1) day. You’ll notice there’s not a lot of variation in pie slice size.

We encourage most clients to run reports for time periods of 30 days or longer unless they’re doing highly targeted or spot campaigns. For example, if you’ve just made an update to your site, introduced a new product or service, made an announcement, et cetera, check for changes over shorter periods of time.

But consider the two figures above. These two figures are similar and not identical. All charts in this post are for the same page. Only the report interval is changed (top to bottom, they are 1 day, 7 days, 14 days, 30 days). What you’re seeing is the normal variation that occurs on sites. Especially when you compare the above one and seven day cycles with the following 14 day cycle and 30 day cycle further down in this post.

TireKickers to Buyers Breakdown for a 14 day intervalOnce you get past the 20% that were buying in the one-day cycle (“Making a Decision” and “Buyers” combined. Ninety-nine percent of people who get into “Making a Decision” become “Buyers” before they leave a site or will conclude their purchase offline) you’ll notice that the seven and 14 day cycles have similar “Making a Decision” and “Buying” numbers — 13-14%. The 13% cumulative “Making a Decision” and “Buying” numbers are repeated in the 30 day cycle.

First Take-Away

These numbers haven’t varied in quite a while. This site is going to max out at about 20% total conversions and probably the online numbers will be closer to 13%.

We now have a baseline. The current version of the site is going to do 13-20% business. That’s where we are. Now it’s time to improve.

TireKickers to Buyers Breakdown for a 30 day interval

Large versus Small Populations

Consumer psychology and buying behavior are fascinating subjects to study. One thing that’s very impressive about them is that large populations are the easiest to influence. Knowing that large populations are the easiest to influence comes from social dynamics. NextStage demonstrated this with an audience participation exercise at a SNCR conference several years back during my TS Eliot, Ezekiel, Beehives and Mighty Mouse – Why “Whispering to Be Heard”? presentation.

What we demonstrated was the relative transmission speeds and dispersion rates of the same message in a large and small population, followed up with examples of how to increase transmission and dispersion. In a nutshell, large populations tend to have fewer broad reaching influencers and quorum sensing behavior rules. The large population behaves as a single body but without a lot of discretionary and (dare I suggest) intelligent behavior. Quorum sensing was pretty much the consumer psychology rule in the old media days (as noted in Why Isn’t Marketing a Science, Part II ).

Small populations tend to have much tighter social bonds and interactions. This is necessary for the smaller population to survive. The large population’s quorum sensing becomes the small population’s smart mob behavior, meaning people talk to each other more, rely on each other more, there are more influencers because the population realizes that the person who’s a great cook may not be the best harvester and so on.

TireKicker Reports show small populations as small pie segments. Instead of a small population being a “neighborhood” or “town”, the small population in these TireKicker Reports are (for example) “Tirekicking” at about 2% and “Planning to Make a Decision” at about 2.5% across all reports. Like neighborhoods and small towns, the visitors making up the “Tirekicking” and “Planning to Make a Decision” segments may not be directly talking to each other but they are talking to people who are talking to each other.

Second Take-Away

You want the Tirekickers value to be as small as possible. Small Tirekickers values indicate that all visitors (save the “Grazing” segment) came to your site with the intention of getting something done. They may have wanted to purchase or do research, but your site was their intended target.

“Tirekickers” indicates people who are killing time. They were looking for something to do and your site was what caught their eye. They may convert and it’ll be a long while before they do so the smaller this number is, the better your site is working at bringing you visitors who are actually in the sales funnel.

“Grazing” indicates people who came to your site by accident. You want that number to decrease, either because fewer people get lost on the web or because your marketing is so good only people who want to be on your site arrive there.

On these charts you’ll notice that the largest population segments are “Talking Themselves (Out of/Into) It” and “Talking It Over With (Themselves/Others)”.

What’s most important (from a consumer and behavioral psychology perspective) about these two populations is they describe people engaged in internal dialogue. Most people engage in internal dialogue and do so most often when they’re making decisions. If you’ve ever spoken to yourself out loud or just in your head, debating whether or not to do something, to buy something, to say something, going over pros and cons back and forth, you were engaged in internal dialogue.

We recognize internal dialogue is taking place because both populations are Talking (dialogue) and to or with Themselves (internal). People who are talking themselves out of/into it are the tougher sell so let’s start with people who are talking it over with themselves or others.

These are people who want to act but lack the confidence to act. They are looking for justification to act (convert) and seeking either themselves or others to provide that justification. Some times they’ll ask their peers, some times their friends, some times their parents. Browsing is still a solitary activity — we don’t often encounter masses of people sitting in the same place, facing the same device, agreeing where to navigate and what to click on — so who will these visitors seek justification from?

Readers of Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History know that the first “person” to be asked is the site itself and at this point it is time to learn what the page being TireKicked is telling them to do (the page’s form and function1).

The form and function of the page being TireKickedThe layout sans content (form) of the page being TireKicked is shown on the right. We learn from the client that the function of the page is to describe product/offering/service features. What can we do to nudge the roughly 26% of visitors who are “Taking It Over With Themselves/Others” into either “Making a Decision” or “Buying”?

We start by looking at the page’s TargetAudience. NextStage considers material’s TargetAudience as the audience that will best respond to that material. The best responding audience is the audience that shows up most often, stays and acts. This best responding audience may or may not be the audience the content creators had in mind when they published. The gulf between best responding audience and intended audience can be amazingly wide and we often suggest clients use our AgePersuader, GenderPersuader, PersonaScope and related tools to better target their content before publishing.

In this case, NextStage OnSite‘s PageTargetAudience report determined that this TireKicked page is best designed for:

Gender: Male
Age: 35-44yo (±9%)
Education: Post Doc
RichPersona: V9

  • These people are moved by what they see
  • They are drawn to the negative of things
  • These people tend to be process oriented
  • They tend to be confused by “what if this happens?” type of questions

Let’s take the above one element at a time:

  1. Gender: Male – NextStage has demonstrated an extremely high accuracy determining age and gender online. The accuracy we’re comfortable with is about 83% across all our reports (we’ve tested higher), so we can accept that this specific material is indeed oriented towards a male audience
  2. Age: 35-44yo (±9%) – This material is best designed for 35-44 year olds and could serve for 32-48 year olds (the ±9%)
  3. Education: Post Doc – NextStage OnSite makes this determination based on how much cognitive effort and life experience would be required to understand the material
  4. RichPersona: V9 – “V9″ is a NextStage RichPersonaTM designation. People familiar with our PersonaScope and Sentiment Analysis Tools have seen these designations many times. Other psych-behavioral classification systems would recognize this as “ENTJ”2

Review and Forward

So far we’ve learned the following:

  • 26% of the audience is seeking justification to convert
  • the material will best influence a mid-30 to mid-40 year old,
  • well educated,
  • males audience

Visitor Gender Analysis for a 30 day intervalHolding just that much information we can look at two other NextStage OnSite reports, AgeGroup and Gender. A 30 day visitor AgeGroups analysis for the TireKicked page is shown at the top of this post. The image on the right is a 30 day visitor Gender analysis for the same TireKicked page.

AgeGroups tells us that better than a third are under 25yo and we see on the right that there’s a fairly even male-female gender mix.

Before going any further and in a very few minutes of time (assuming some training on how to use NextStage OnSite) we’ve discovered that the TireKicked page isn’t designed for its actual audience. Remember, we’re not considering intended audience — who the site owner wants as visitors — we’re looking at who’s actually showing up and wanting to do some shopping.

The site owner informs us that the actual audience is the intended audience. Excellent! The question shifts from “How do we get the intended audience on the page?” to “What can be done so that the audience does more buying?”
Suggestions based on visitors during a previous 30 day interval

Suggestions, Suggestions, Suggestions

NextStage OnSite includes a Suggestions report (a 30 day report is shown on the right) that provides three levels of suggestions (General, Levels 1 and 2). The immediacy of each suggestion is indicated by Desireable, Important and Critical. We encourage clients to start with the General suggestions and work their way up through Level 1 suggestions to Level 2 suggestions. I, as a researcher, find the Suggestions report a deep dish of information.

But I as a business person? That’s an awful lot to swallow.

The difference between research and business person is one of constraint. Researchers love knowing all possible suggestions because they usually have the freedom to select what constraints they’ll work under as part of their experiment’s design. Business and online analysts usually are given a list of constraints based on corporate requirements and policies regarding color palette, logo placement, images, text and so on. As one business client said, “Design is finding solutions within constraints.”

The specific business constraints for this TireKicked page are:

  1. Adjust the copy within the body area of the page
  2. No changes to the design or placement of navigation
  3. Adding “nav-looking” links on the right is acceptable
  4. Creating a number of “orphan pages” where navigation between the pages is via breadcrumbs is acceptable

Knowing constraints ahead of time is excellent as it allows us to know which Suggestions we’re able to work with. For example, one of NextStage OnSite‘s Suggestions for this TireKicked Page is

Desireable – Provide (more) visitor-participatory navigation so that visitors become consciously aware of their navigation decisions.

Not sure what “visitor-participatory navigation” is? Not a problem. NextStage OnSite‘s Suggestions report tells you:

Visitor-Participatory Navigation – Menu style navigation is replaced by a single question in place of the standard menu. The question has several answers (that are themselves based on traditional menu options) and one of the answers is the option to return to a traditional menu system. Further, each loaded page includes BreadCrumbs so visitors have a clear understanding of where they’ve been on a site.

Why Training Is Important

Live training on any NextStage Tool goes beyond “click here, click there, now click that and get your report”. Live NextStage trainings cover human behavior, communication, behavioral psychology, consumer psychology and the like in depth. This is obviously true for our listed trainings and is also true for our tool trainings. Tool trainings focus more on how to use tool recommendations and results to cause the desired human behavior, et cetera, and students still learn a great deal about how humans interact with their environment and each other3.

In this case, a little social and behavioral psychology provide some obvious solutions.
What We're Allowed to Modify on the TireKicked Page

Form to Function

The image on the right is the form of our TireKicked page. The area we’re constrained to is bordered in red. Because the actual audience is young we’re going to make use of how youthful minds (under 25 years old) demonstrate social cognition, mirroring and group identity. Remembering that the client has told us this TireKicked page’s purpose is to demonstrate product/service/offering features (and by the numbers):

  1. Adjust the copy within the body area of the page
    • Any feature-descriptive text must indicate how this product/service/offering will create or continue connectivity between friends, peers and related others. Write anything about TXTing, sharing video, et cetera, content with friends and family and you’ve scored a success.
    • Include images of groups involved in some activity (walking in a downtown setting, biking, but stopped, et cetera) with two or more group members using the product/service/offering
    • Any banner offer image should show two or three peer group members demonstrating enjoyment due to their use of the product/service/offer.
    • If the audience is too young to make independent purchase decisions (they require parental approval), modify the banner image such that a single peer group member is on the left of the banner, the parent is on the right of the banner and make sure the parent is smiling or otherwise demonstrating acceptance and agreement.
      • The audience is fairly evenly mixed male/female so use a female parent image. Use a male parent image if the audience starts to skew and stay male.
    • Use short, decisive sentences to list features, use images to demonstrate features (two of NextStage OnSite‘s suggestions were “Critical – Use language which emphasizes understanding and logic, and demonstrates present capabilities” and “CriticalUse simple, concise language to differentiate items“. Other suggestions were along similar lines)
  2. No changes to the design or placement of navigation – The Suggestions Report offered several modifications, none are applied at this point in time
  3. Adding “nav-looking” links on the right is acceptable
    • Several NextStage OnSite suggestions apply to where “nav-looking” links should take visitors (remembering that this page’s purpose is to demonstrate or list product/service/offering features)
      • Critical – Include a video demonstrating the endgoal of the visitor specific to the current page. Make the video informative, educational and entertaining. Example: a video of someone in the target audience using the product, good or service specific to the page. The video demonstrates some simple and common operations using the product, good or service.
      • Important -Any “self-help” pages should have an image montage of the any steps involved. The image montage is synched to an audio feed explaining each image, its purpose, et cetera. The visitor must be able to control the image/audio progression.
      • Important – Use images which demonstrate your product or service being used 1-2 seasons ahead to do specific tasks.
  4. Creating a number of “orphan pages” where navigation between the pages is via breadcrumbs is acceptable
    • This is one of NextStage OnSite‘s suggestions, as noted above. Combine breadcrumbs with the product demonstration and self-help suggestions above and the redesign work is done.

What We Did Within the Business ConstraintsA rough mockup of some suggestions (for starting point purposes only) is shown on the right.

Summary

Any tool is going to require some training in its use and some tools will require users to incorporate new information, new ways of thinking and problem solving methods.

This post has gone through one of NextStage OnSite‘s thirty reports — TireKickers — and demonstrated how to use it to increase conversions.

The next post in this series will pick up with the other big visitor population chunk, that 22.5% that are Talking Themselves Into/Out of converting.

Third Take-Away

One NextStage client was boasting about the 35%+ gains they received based on various NextStage tool recommendations at a recent conference.


1 – Normally, NextStageologists (our consultants who help clients) look at site pages as a last resort because the moment someone looks at something they form an opinion and that opinion changes the observer and what is observed forever. Our own prejudices, likes, dislikes and personal requirements are the last thing clients need when they ask us to help them redesign their pages.

In the case of NextStageologists, we actively guard against our unknown biases and prejudices affecting our understanding of the reports or what they’re reporting on. We may ask about form and function but rarely content.

2 – V9 is one of NextStage’s RichPersonaeTM designations. NextStage’s RichPersonaeTM do not necessarily map one-to-one to other psych-behavioral systems.

3 – NextStage also offers client specific and customized trainings. Contact us for information.

Dec 7 11

Looking for Love? Now You Can Find All the Right Places!
(On the Evolution of Tools)

by Joseph


The NextStage LoveJones ToolI published What Kind of Lover Are You (And Can You Improve)? on That Think You Do and introduced The NextStage LoveJones Tool (NSLJ)1 last Friday (2 Dec 2011).

History

There’s a bit of history behind that tool, some of which is documented in How Do You Define ‘Love’?. In a nutshell, several years back a personals site asked if we could produce a tool that would determine if people would fall in lust. They called it “love” and when we talked with them at length their greater interest was lust.

Lust — or Erotic love — is immediate, tends to be satisfying due to its extreme psychosensual and endorphin stimulating nature (sex is good exercise in case you didn’t know) and — the best part as far as personals sites are concerned — lustful relationships tend to be temporary. Participants tend to tire of each other quickly because once you get past the magic whumpa whumpa there’s not much holding the relationship together. I should also point out that there’s lots of studies indicating 17-30yos primarily want this kind of relationship (sometimes called “f’ckbuddies”) and an analysis of TXT traffic in this age group bears this out. This generation’s momentary pairings purely for tension release make my generation’s barhopping look lame.

The goal of most personals sites is to have people return frequently to queue up for their next go-round. Long term relationships don’t generate a lot of income for personals sites. Yes, they advertise successful long term pairings because the majority of people frequenting such sites are in a state of “hope”, hence market to that hope.

The reality is that such sites profit when people fall in and out of lust or like and definitely not love. The personals sites’ goals, in other words, is to have people make long term commitments to the site, not to people they’ve met through the site because such sites don’t profit if you find the love of your life, they only profit if you find the love of your night, week or month at best.

Anyway, determining such things was beyond ET’s2 ability at the time. However, developing ET-based tools that determined people’s suitability for each other seemed so doable that we kept returning to it through the years.

aHA! Moments

NextStage OnSite Visitor Analysis ToolEventually we figured it out. We didn’t realize we had figured it out at first. We got our first inkling that the problem was solved when we released our NextStage OnSite3 (NSOS) demo. Normally NextStage OnSite reports on visitor activity en masse. The breakthrough was in isolating and reporting on unique visitors.

aHA!Isolating and reporting on unique visitors wasn’t a breakthrough so much as it was a remembering of how ET was originally purposed; to help individual students better understand course material. That form of ET monitored some highly specific aspects of memory and cognition of individual visitors/students. It was while modifying those ET elements for a specific NSOS client that we had our aHA! moment.

We had lots of data (both our own and from a variety of other researchers) on how the brain maps “love” to specific regions, to what degree, at what levels and so on. All that was necessary on our end was to develop the neuromathematics that translated those neural firings to psychomotor behavioral cues (both gross and fine) and then test test test.

Meanwhile, Back at the Barn…

NextStage SampleMatchWhile this was going on, we released our NextStage SampleMatch Tool4. Whenever we release a new tool we get lots of emails about how that tool could be used, specifically how it could be used in ways we never thought of.

Case in point,

Can your SampleMatch tool show me where I’ll find people I’ll like, maybe even someone to fall in love with? …

Well…that wasn’t what it was designed for, and…hmm…yes, it could.

More accurately, it could give you an idea where you’ll find like-minded people, people you’re most likely to get along with.

So while we were testing testing testing the NextStage LoveJones tool we also realized some it’s outputs could be used as inputs to our SampleMatch tool and, as they say…

…the Quest Was On!

NextStage PersonaScope reveals details about individual thinking patterns, behaviors and motivationsOne of the things NextStage LoveJones determines (although it doesn’t report it) is the user’s RichPersona5. RichPersonae are reported by NextStage PersonaScope (NSPS).

Using myself as a test subject, I ran an earlier version of this post through PersonaScope tool to get an idea of how I was thinking, behaving, responding, what was motivating me and so on. NextStage’s PersonaScope tool indicated that I was a V9 RichPersona (Personality Type). This is also known as an ENTJ in some psych profiling systems.

NextStage's PersonaScope thinks evaluated me as a V9 Personality TypeBut a V9? I know a lot about V9 RichPersona/Personality Types because PersonaScope tool tells me a great deal about such things. Basically, at that moment in time and based on what I’d been doing at that point in time, I wasn’t a pleasant person to be around6. Note: We suggest PersonaScope users prevent one bad piece from dominating an analysis of themselves or others by gathering several pieces together into one file, say some emails or blog posts written over several months, maybe 7-10 total, then put them through PersonaScope.

NextStage's RichPersonae Wheel - Click for larger imageMoving ever onward, the next step was to take a look at NextStage’s RichPersonae Wheel. Not quite a Wheel of Fortune and perhaps close in this case. (Note that the image on the right is a simplified version of our RichPersonae Wheel)

For the purposes of using SampleMatch to find a soul mate, life partner, significant other, special someone, …, the next question is “Do I believe Likes attract or do I believe Opposites attract?”

This question is significant because Likes versus Opposites indicates where you should look on the wheel to determine the RichPersonae of those significant others.

Likes Attract - Click for larger imageLet’s say for our example that you learn you’re an A19 Personality Type and you believe Likes attract. You should look for people with A18, A19 and A20 Rich Personae. People with Rich Personae further and further away from A19 are increasingly less likely to make an A19 personality type happy.

Opposites Attract - Click for larger imageUnless, of course, you believe that opposites attract. Opposites attracting allows our A19 personality type to select from a V6, V7 and V8 personality types.

Therefore the next question in the queue is “Is this user a like or opposite type of person?” That’s actually determined in the RichPersonae. My (at that time) V9 RichPersona was very much an opposites attract type of person. Our A19 example is a likes attract type of person.

The Need to KISS

Possible Attractions - Click for larger imageAt this point we sat back a bit. “Okay, we need the visitor to first use PersonaScope to determine their RichPersona, then they need to know if the response indicates a Like or Opposite personality type, then how to map the response to either a “Likes” or “Opposites” on the RichPersonae Wheel, then what? Are we going to ask them to breakdance on their tablets while singing the Oratorio from Carmen? Backwards? In Spanglish?”

We realized that yes, requiring users/visitors to navigate such a solution path violated our own rules and observations regarding how people use tools (not just ours, everybodies’). The best way to get the largest number of people to use anything is to KISS, the “Keep It Simple, Smeadley” rule that’s on each of our tools as Use: Pure and simple, you login, [either upload a file or enter an URL], click on submit and get your result. Clean, quick, simple and neat because we like it that way.

Eventually we decided that ET could figure all this out and without asking the user any questions at all, simply report back the most likely geographic locations where the user might find compatible life-partners. No questions, only results.

And the Winner Is…

Introducing The NextStage LoveFinderSo we developed The NextStage LoveFinder (NSLF) that automatically performs all the steps outlined above. Literally, all you need to do is login and it determines where on the globe you’re most likely to find compatible life-partners.

So if you notice any mass migrations over the next few years…

And we’re also waiting to see if there are certain places where anyone is most likely to be lucky.

The above, by the way, is how tools evolve here at NextStage; either clients make a request or ask a question and we’re off, or sometimes we just go exploring because we’re researchers and that’s what we like to do.

Currently we’re working on two new tools, one directly requested by a NextStage member and the other hinted at by another NextStage member (although they didn’t know it at the time).

And we continue to improve all our existing tools, too.

Busy us, yes?

True TriQuatro

Beta tests and current use of NextStage LoveJones are indicating that culture plays a great role in how people interact with their partners. Fascinating stuff, this, we thinks!


The NextStage LoveJones Tool1 – The NextStage LoveJones tool measures a bunch of factors and determine what, if anything, the user could do to improve their relationship with their life-partner(s).

2 – If you’re new to this blog or NextStage in general, ET is Evolution Technology, something we designed and developed, now being used in over 70 countries worldwide, and is capable of determining and responding to human thoughts through any human-machine interface.

NextStage OnSite Visitor Analysis Tool3NextStage OnSite is a site visitor analysis tool that provides qualitative and quantitative information about visitors well beyond traditional analytics. OnSite even evaluates bounces and lets you know why visitors bounced. OnSite requires only that a simple JavaScript tag be inserted between the </BODY> and </HTML> tag on each page you want monitored. The basic version consists of thirty reports that determine various psychological (“{C,B/e,M} matrix” or “cognitive, behavioral/effective and motivational”) factors about visitors, all of which provide suggestions for improving site conversion. You can learn more on the NextStage OnSite About page.

NextStage SampleMatch4NextStage SampleMatch (NSSM) analyzes NextStage OnSite data collected worldwide and determines the RichPersonae of geographic regions. Clients use this location specific RichPersonae information to insure their marketing material is designed correctly for the available audience.

NextStage PersonaScope reveals details about individual thinking patterns, behaviors and motivations5 – “RichPersona” is the high level concept of an individual {C,B/e,M} (Cognitive, Behavioral/effective, Motivational) matrix. People are always demonstrating how they think (“Cognitive”), how they act based on how they think (“Behavioral/effective), and how how they think motivates (“Motivational”) them to behave as they do. NextStage currently indices 144 RichPersona for most cultures although that number can be significantly higher for specific audiences (east Asian audiences, for example). NextStage’s PersonaScope (NSPS) tool analyzes material and reports RichPersona in depth.

6 – It’s probably worth knowing that we eat our own dog food here at NextStage, so to speak. I took a moment to determine if I really was demonstrating V9 characteristics and yes, I was. Okay, time to put things down or away and go take care of myself so that I would be a better person to be with for both myself and those around me.

I realized my schedule at the time was somewhat harried and that I was putting demands on myself that were both unnecessary and excessive, nor was it making life much fun for everybody else. I took control back and feel better for it (and I’m told so do those around me).