The New Science of Web Psychology: Interview with Nathalie Nahai

Posted by Erica McGillivray

Nathalie NahaiWe all want to influence our customers and our clients to follow the path to conversion. But what if that path fails to draw them in? That’s where Nathalie Nahai, the web psychologist, comes into play. She helps nudge your audience toward the right path and make your goals in Google Analytics happy, not to mention your boss or clients.

Nathalie recently authored the new book Webs of Influence: The Psychology of Online Persuasion. We were so impressed with Nathalie that we invited her to speak at this year’s MozCon, July 8th-10th in Seattle. Get your ticket today because you don’t want to miss this:

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How’d you get your start working in inbound marketing as a psychologist?

I have a mixed background in psychology, the arts, and web design, and it wasn’t until I met some of the digi/tech entrepreneurs in East London that I even considered applying my psychology to online interaction. I became curious about how we’re influenced online and started looking for books on the subject. When I realised that there was a huge gap in the market, I decided to write the book myself. That was the real launching point.

Those of us working with data sometimes have to fight “common wisdom.” What web psychology optimization tip always shocks people?

I think the most obvious one is based around a comfortable assumption regarding website visitors, to which my response is always, “If you think you know your target audience, you’re wrong. Where’s your research?” No matter how well you think you know your audience, you should always research them, and never assume that the knowledge you have about them is carved in stone. People change — so must your strategy.

What’s your favorite social media medium to engage in?

I’d have to say Twitter, or Instagram when I’m travelling. Though recently there have been so many genuinely fascinating updates running through my Facebook feed, including my favourite, I Fucking Love Science, that a lot of my productivity has been lost to that particular black hole.

You recently wrote a post about why people troll online. How do you recommend dealing with trolls?

Honestly? I usually write a polite, reasoned response back, and if they retort with something obnoxious (which thankfully happens fairly rarely), then I ignore the thread. There’s no point fuelling the fire.

” …given that a great proportion of our communication is non-verbal [8], and that we rely heavily on facial recognition to connect with and understand one another, it may be that losing eye-contact online actually cuts out our main avenue for empathetic communication – without which we become emotionally disconnected and more predisposed towards hostile behaviour.”

Now for some fun stuff, what’s inspired you lately?

I went to an incredible gig by Susheela Raman, an extraordinary Tamil-London musician whose skill and smouldering charisma make for spellbinding, trance-inducing performances. I’ve loved her music for years, and every time I go to one of her shows, I end up on a high for days. If you ever get the chance to see her live, grab all your friends and go. She’ll blow your mind.

Susheela Raman performs “Kamakshi.”

Okay, since I know you’re a Trekkie (I’m one too), what was your favorite non-spoilery part of Star Trek Into Darkness?

I LOVED the new Star Trek!

My favourite bit was the tribble cameo. It was a cheeky nod to one of my favourite episodes, “The Trouble With Tribbles,” where someone sneaks a tribble onto the Enterprise and they multiply so fast they clog up the whole ship.

Thank you so much, Nathalie, for sharing a bit about web psychology, some beautiful music, and a couple types of geekiness with us. :)

If you’re interested in seeing more from Nathalie, she’ll be at this year’s MozCon, July 8th-10th, talking about “How Gender and Cultural Differences in Web Psychology Affect the Customer Experience.” You can also follow her on Twitter @TheWebPsych and read her book, Webs of Influence: The Psychology of Online Persuasion.

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June 24, 2013  Tags: , , , ,   Posted in: SEO / Traffic / Marketing

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