Recommended Books

Consumer Behavior

Humans strive to get more choice, but paradoxically the more choice we get, the worse we are at making decisions.Shopper marketers must optimize the selections for their customers, not merely maximize the number of choices.  Sometimes, less is more.  See Barry Schwartz TED talk for a great introduction.

The science of choice and decision making.  Nudge is about all the (seemingly) small UX and psychological things we can do that influence the decisions people make.  Follow Richard Thaler on twitter at @R_Thaler.

The seminal work about the psychology of persuasion.  Cialdini covers six key principles of persuasion: reciprocity, scarcity, liking, authority, social proof, and commitment/consistency.The original edition is almost 10 years old, but the principals are completely relevant today.  He has a brand new book, Pre-Suasion as well.

Follow @RobertCialdini on twitter, and read his blog.

Most of us would like to believe that we will generally act in our own best self interest, after rationally and intelligently examining our options.  But the reality is that we are hard wired to make irrational decisions in many circumstances.Dan Ariely teaches us to recognize the circumstances under which we aren’t good at predicting our own behavior, and why it’s not always a bad thing.  This insight is critical to any marketer hoping to persuade an audience.

Follow @danariely on twitter, and read his blog.

Daniel Kahneman is one of the great thinkers in Cognitive Psychology (his research earned him a Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences). In this laymen friendly book he takes readers on an exploration of what influences decision making.

Traditionally, consumers have used “brand” as a short cut for determining product quality. But in a world in which consumers have perfect information about every product in the world available at their smartphone wielding fingertips, consumers no longer need a short cut. “Absolute Value” about which products are good and which ones are not, is replacing brand on consumers decision trees. Stanford psychology professor Itamar Simonson, breaks down this new evolution in consumer decision making.

Story Telling / Copywriting

Creating great marketing copy is becoming a lost art.  Whither you’re going to write your own, or if you need to buy copy, you need to understand what great copy looks like.  Ginny Redish has put together a solid primer on copywriting for the web, but the principals will serve you well in any medium.

There are not a ton of new ideas in the marketing world.  Most of the best practices were perfected long ago and we simply  adapt them to new mediums.  Gene Schwartz was one of the masters, and his book “Breakthrough Advertising,” published in 1966, is the bible of the marketing copywriting industry.  Unfortunately, it’s now out of print, so available copies are pretty expensive.  If you are serious about your craft, you’ll want to own one though.

How can you have a list of marketing books, without including a pick from the original “Mad Man”?  Don Drapper David Ogilvy was one of the true masters, and helped build one of the most successful advertising agencies in the world.“I do not regard advertising as entertainment or art form, but as a medium of information. When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it ‘creative.’ I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product.” – David Ogilvy

Bricks and Mortar Retail

What can we learn about shoppers by observing them through the lens of an anthropologist?  With a single stroke of the pen, Paco invented a new field of study, and completely changed how we all design stores.  I was lucky enough to be one of Envirosell’s first clients back in the early 90’s and still still use the tools they taught me every day.  A must read, if your going to work in retail.Follow the latest Envirosell news.

This book is a front row seat to a master class in visual merchandising, taught by one of the best in the business.Joseph Weishar built his expertise through 40 years of practical experience.  Joe doesn’t just do great visual merchandising for his clients, he teaches them how to do it for themselves.  This book will show you how to make the most of your store’s merchandise, and to create displays that will maximize sales.

You won’t find a lot of science or theory here, just great practical advice about what works for shoppers.  If you can track down his earlier book “Design for Effective Selling Space,” it’s well worth it as well.

E-Commerce / Internet Marketing

Don’t take the title of this book too literally.  By landing pages Tim is talking about any page on a website that receives visitors and for which there is some call to action.  That would include any page on an e-commerce site.    Optimization is about finding the lowest converting pages, identifying candidate fixes, and then testing with A/B or multi-variant testing.  This is a great primer to get you critically thinking about website user experiences and maximizing conversion.Follow @tim_ash on Twitter, and listen to his landing page optimization podcasts.

If Tim Ash has any competition as an evangelist for A/B testing to maximize web conversions, it’s the Eisenberg brothers.  This is a comprehensive guide to using Google’s free Website Optimizer tool, but it will teach you a lot about best practices even if you use another testing  tool.Follow @The_Grok on Twiiter and read his blog.

The problem with web analytics is that they often generate a huge amount of raw data, and not a lot of insight.  Web Analytics 2.0 by Avinash Kaushik teaches you how to apply analytical techniques to solve actual business problems, and identify actionable strategies.  Avinash is a data rocket scientist with the rare ability to make concepts simple and understandable to business users, that probably why he’s Analytics Evangelist for Google.Follow @Avinash on Twitter, and read his blog.

Susan Weinschenk is a psychologist that applies the latest neuro-science and behavior psychology to the art of web design.  Learn about the “three brains” and how to design web pages that work for all three.  The ancient brain that’s only concerned with safety, food, and reproduction, the mid brain that manages our emotions, and the new brain that allows for rational thought.  This is a very approachable and practical guide to web design and creating great online experiences. She has a newer book, “100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People” as well. Follow @thebrainlady and read her blog.

A very practical, common-sense approach to website design and usability testing, that has become one of the bibles of the industry.  Our brains love simplicity and stuff that is easy to figure out.If your looking for a bit more of a “how to” you might consider Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems Recommended Books instead.

Follow @skrug on Twitter.


Note:  All links include an Amazon affiliate code.  It’s not my goal to  make income from the blog, so I won’t be offended if you buy via other means.  Cheers!