The best books to understand human behaviors that drive conversion rate optimization

The Books I Picked & Why

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

By Robert B. Cialdini

Book cover of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Why this book?

In Influence, Robert Cialdini pioneered the popularization of psychological and behavioral principles that are practical and can be easily applied for marketers. It breaks down human behavior into 6 key principles of influence (and, more recently 7, in his updated version). It details why we as humans decide to say "yes" when prompted with an ask or decide to take a specific action that is directly applicable in our everyday work as experimenters. 


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Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

By Dan Ariely

Book cover of Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

Why this book?

In Predictably Irrational, Dan Ariely proves why the customers-know-best approach is romanticized and not coherent with how people think and act in the real world. The book opens our minds to how individuals can be complex in our decision-making, and how our behavioural and psychological complexity can make us both irrational and predictable at the same time. Most importantly, you can practically apply the theories and concepts in your digital marketing. Incorporating more insights from this book can inform better testing strategies that holistically understand the customer mindset, creating more aligned and better customer experiences.


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Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice

By Clayton M. Christensen, Taddy Hall, Karen Dillon, David S. Duncan

Book cover of Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice

Why this book?

Every company wants to innovate, but it's not always clear how to do that in practice. Competing Against Luck highlights the importance of understanding what "jobs" your customer "hires" your product to do. The ‘Jobs to be Done Theory’ is one of the best frameworks I have seen to drive toward innovation and product-market fit. In the CRO world, we typically think about optimizing experience, but optimizing the product-market fit is equally as important.


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Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability

By Steve Krug

Book cover of Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability

Why this book?

I love Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think because it does a great job of explaining how users look at websites in a fun, understandable, and applicable way. Steve does a great job of putting you in the perspective of the visitor to your website and challenges your own perspective as a professional working in marketing/web design/website management. This is truly required reading for any website designer or manager.  


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Thinking, Fast and Slow

By Daniel Kahneman

Book cover of Thinking, Fast and Slow

Why this book?

I recommend Thinking, Fast and Slow because it's essentially the encyclopedia of behaviour science. While it may feel very distant from the technical digital-first world of CRO, the root of how we think, behave, and make decisions as humans (read: users) are universal. More specifically, Kahneman’s theory of System 1 and System 2 thinking is a great lens to view human-computer interaction design through. It should at the very least help you consider your user interfaces and experiences through the lens of your user’s mental state.


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