We’ve all been there: You’ve been dating that special someone for a few weeks or even months, and it’s time to have “the DTR talk.” That’s right, it’s time to “define the relationship” and choose exclusivity, or communicate the parameters of your relationship. These conversations can be difficult if you are unsure of what you want, or the other party is unable to express his or her feelings. How you feel about the other person will often outweigh logic.

Emotional Decision Making

Not unlike a DTR conversation, a conversion decision is reached after a variety of emotionally charged factors are taken into consideration: What does the product say about me as a consumer? How does the product appeal to me visually, aesthetically, and personally?

Much like physical attraction and mate selection, we as consumers choose a product based on how it excites or appeals to us. Finding personalized ways to pique our potential clients’ interests in not unlike crafting an online dating profile. Targeting visitors’ specific interests, preferences, and values is the next step in “defining the relationship” and achieving a lasting partnership.

Trust and Reputation

Relationships are built on trust. If you’ve ever dated someone with a “reputation,” you know what I’m talking about. Having information about a person’s history in previous relationships can make or break our decision about whether to invest in them relationally or not. Likewise, potential customers’ attitudes toward our product will be influenced by what they know about us before we are able to speak for ourselves.

Sometimes reputations are shaped by ill-gotten information; other times, reputations lend voice to the positive experiences of other satisfied customers. Our job is to find ways to articulate our trustworthiness through testimonials, useful content, personalized support, and value-packed products.

How do we build a trustworthy reputation? By harnessing the word of mouth of our most satisfied customers. In the information age, where we’re bombarded with ads and boundless information, aren’t we most likely to try a product based on a friend’s (or influencer’s) recommendation? Back to the relationship metaphor: If a friend knows something important about a potential date, we’ll take their opinion into consideration. If our existing customers are talking about us, new prospects will come knocking. Word of mouth is not just one of our most potent allies, it’s also free.

Benefits and Value

Now, if we think of a conversion decision as if it were based on a series of “dates” (targeted ads, optimized landing pages, personalized content, a compelling check-out process, etc.), we need to imagine how much effort our customers are willing to expend before defining the relationship. Rather than including superfluous or confusing information, use precise language highlighting the key points you assume your “date” is most interested in. And don’t forget to target their emotions.

Consumers, like dates, are compelled to invest in us if we are clear about our objectives, our vision, and the long-term value we can offer.

That Spark

With the current shift from traditional ad spaces (billboards, television spots, and print) to smartphone and tablet technology, we have less time and space to relay our message. With attention spans shrinking every year, more and more consumers are making decisions based on momentary perceptions. Back to that date: Sitting across the table from someone, are we more interested in compatibility or that “spark”? Most of us would agree the “spark” consistently trumps the less tantalizing questions of compatibility.

Today, digital marketers have tremendous opportunity at their fingertips, a chance to integrate personal data into emotionally stimulating content. By building trust through positive user experiences, clearly defining your immediate and long-term value, and putting some “spark” in all our interactions, visitors will be all the more likely to look for commitment when we reach the DTR conversation.