How Neuromarketing Aids Conversion Rate Optimisation

Neuromarketing and conversion rate optimisation
Honey Guofutali
Written on January 25, 2021, Last updated on January 25th, 2021
9 Mins

What Is Neuromarketing?

Behind every conversion is a series of decisions being made, thus, understanding how decisions are made is key to conversion rate optimisation. 

The Dual-Process Theory is a widely accepted theory of decision-making which posits a two-system model based on the evolutionary structures of the brain. 

The first system (System 1) involves the old, animalistic and primitive part of our brain (i.e., the Old Brain). It is responsible for making fast, intuitive and automatic decisions guided by emotions, instincts and inherited biases. 

Alternatively, the second system (System 2) involves more effortful thinking and analytical reasoning. This is made possible by the development of the cerebrum and its higher-level functions that set humans apart from animals.

Why Is Neuromarketing Important?

Though humans like to assume autonomy over our attention and decision-making, it is proposed that 95% of our decisions are made unconsciously and that our first response upon viewing a stimulus is often an emotional one. This is because our decisions are often governed by the Old Brain, which means that they are influenced by emotions and external cues outside our control. 

Given the critical role of the Old Brain in decision-making, it is therefore crucial for advertisers to understand how emotions and biases in perception can nudge customers in their decision-making processes. Indeed, it will become evident that ad copies and landing pages optimised to appeal to the Old Brain can have a significant effect on conversion rate optimisation

With that said, here are six techniques that can be easily incorporated into your marketing strategies to help you get the most out of your ad spend. 

Marketing To The Old Brain

Appealing To The Ego

Our Old Brain is inherently egocentric as selfishness is fundamental to survival. In the throes of being attacked by a mountain lion, our ancestor who fled and left his comrade behind was the one who survived. Thus, marketing strategies that appeal to the ego are more likely to see higher conversion rates. These include:

Understanding your audience personas.

Identifying your customers’ values will allow you to choose the right language to appeal to their value systems. 

For instance, Nike sells shoes, but they never talk about shoes. Instead, they honour athleticism. Similarly, Apple sells computers, but they advertise innovation and breaking the status quo instead of the model of hardware used.

Tapping into your audience personas helps your customers understand who you are and how their values align with your products and services. This consequently helps your brand make a more lasting impression on their egos. 

Selling benefits. 

Selling product benefits rather than product features is an important way of highlighting to your customers how your products or services can benefit their quality of life. This taps into the selfish nature of the ego and consequently makes your products or services more appealing.

If you are a mattress retailer, sell better quality sleep rather than soft mattresses. If you are an electronics retailer specialising in washing machines, sell laundry days made easier instead of what model the machine is. 

Additionally, use “call-to-values” rather than “call-to-actions”. Below is an example of a “call-to-value” used by Lyft, a platform connecting drivers with clients who need rides. As evident, Lyft uses “Become A Driver” as a call-to-value to highlight what their business can do for their customers.

Using second-person pronouns. 

Addressing your customers directly puts the spotlight on them. Consequently, this helps them identify with your ads and relate to your message.

 

Contrasts

Judgements are often made by comparisons. Thus, contrasts are particularly useful when engaging with your customers to make your message stand out. 

There are two main ways in which you can implement contrasts in your marketing strategy:

Before/after pictures. 

Before and after pictures highlight how purchasing your products or engaging with your services can improve your customer’s quality of life.

This tactic kills two birds with one stone: it makes the effectiveness of your products and services stand out whilst appealing to the ego by suggesting the benefits of your products. Indeed, this tactic is often found in adverts for fitness plans, skincare products and beauty treatments. 

Colour contrasts. 

The contrast ratio is the ratio of the luminosity of the brightest colour to the luminosity of the darkest colour in a display. 

Choosing a colour for your call-to-action button that has a high contrast ratio with the main colour palette of your landing page can help your call-to-action stand out. 

As explained by Oli Gardner from Unbounce, contrasting colours are great visual cues that direct your customer’s attention to your call-to-action. 

The Colour Contrast Checker is a handy tool that can be used to check the contrast ratio between your call-to-action button and background colours. Below are also some examples of good contrasting colours that you can use to optimise your landing page experiences.

 

Tangible input

The primitive part of our brains is not particularly qualified in understanding and processing language and words. Rather, it needs physical, recognisable and easily perceptible value prepositions. Therefore, to make your message more coherent and digestible, you should use tangible input such as: 

Simple, actionable phrases.

Phrases such as “Less Money”, “Easy to Use”, or “Free Trial” are more likely to resonate with the Old Brain than more descriptive solutions. 

Images. 

Humans are up to 60,000 times faster at processing visual information than texts. Thus, don’t be afraid to use images to convey your message where possible and appropriate. 

 

The Beginning & The End

More formally known as the Serial Position Effect, human beings are better at recalling things placed at the beginning and the end of a sequence… and we pretty much forget about everything in between. 

This is because things placed in the beginning are seen as more important (i.e. the Primacy Effect) and those at the end are freshest in our short term memory (i.e. the Recency Effect). 

Therefore, the structure of your landing page, menu lists and even where your ad appears on the SERP can have significant influences on your conversion rates. 

To take advantage of the Serial Position Effect, make sure you:

1: Place important products and call-to-actions at the beginning or end of your landing page. 

2: Place links that you want people to click on at the beginning or end of your drop-down menus.

3: When making a sales pitch or marketing blog, place important information in the opening and wrap it up nicely with a solution to your customer’s needs. 

 

Visual Stimuli

As you already know, humans are significantly better at processing visual than verbal information. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that visual stimuli are important for lead generation. Indeed, research has found that articles with visuals receive 94% more views. 

Some simple ways that you can incorporate visuals include: 

Infographics

Images can be used to explain your story and the benefits of what you are trying to sell. Similarly, graphs and tables can be used as visual representations of your statistics. 

Pictures of people. 

Photos help customers connect with your brand. Moreover, research has shown that humans tend to follow others’ gaze direction such that using an image of a face gazing towards your call-to-action could direct your customers’ attention towards the same call-to-action to subsequently encourage conversions. This phenomenon is more formally known as Gaze Cueing

The effects of Gaze Cueing has been empirically supported by various studies, including an eye-tracking experiment of a landing page with a baby. In this study, it was found that when the baby looked forward, viewers were more likely to direct their attention towards the baby and ignore the text. 

Eye Tracking Experiment

Subsequently, when the image of the baby was shifted to face the text, viewers first looked at the baby and then followed the baby’s gaze towards the text. 

Eye Tracking Experiment

Therefore, Gaze Cueing can be a powerful tool in conversion rate optimisation. 

Videos. 

Whether it be how-to videos or explainers, videos are engaging, entertaining and easy to digest. They also make your brand appear more intimate and trustworthy. Indeed, research has found that including videos in your landing pages can boost conversion rates by up to 80%! 

 

Though visuals can be useful, it is nevertheless important to remember that adding unnecessary visuals or videos as decoration will do more harm than good. This is because unnecessary visuals can distract your customer’s attention away from your call-to-action. Therefore, as always, be smart when using visuals and only include ones with a purpose. 

 

Emotions

According to the Somatic Marker Hypothesis (SMH) emotions guide and bias decision-making. Indeed, advertising campaigns which encourage purchase-decisions using emotional content have been found to perform about twice as well as those with only rational content.  

Here are a few ways to capitalise on your customer’s emotions to encourage conversions:

Declutter your landing page. 

A cluttered landing page increases cognitive load, which consequently requires analytical thinking (i.e. System 1) to decipher your content. When your customers engage with your content using System 1, their emotional and instinctive decision-making processes will be blocked. Not only does this mean that it will be more effortful for them to make a purchase decision, but it also means that your products will seem less trustworthy, as trust is an emotional response. 

To make your content appear more tangible and trustworthy, decluttering is key. Include only the most relevant information on your landing page and arrange them in a logical manner. 

This rule of thumb can often be seen in not only in the physical stores of luxury brands but also on their landing pages to convey class, trustworthy quality and reputation. 

Example of a decluttered landing page

Use colours. 

We’ve already discussed how contrast ratios can act as attentional cues. However, colour also plays a major role in emotional marketing as explained by the science of colour psychology, which alludes that colours are often associated with emotions.

For instance, yellow has been found to connote joy whereas red has been associated with anger and lust. Similarly, darker shades such as brown, black and blue are often related to masculine features such as dominance.

The principles of colour psychology posit that using colours associated with your brand values can trigger similar feelings within your customers. This consequently helps your customers identify with your brand which makes your products and services appear more endearing and relatable. 

For example, red is one of the most inspiring colours for passion, excitement, and energy. Consequently, Coca Cola has been using red in its marketing campaigns since the 1890s. Aren’t we all familiar with the feelings we get when we see this iconic shade of red?

An example of coca cola using red in their ad campaign to tap into customer values

Capitalise on fear. 

Fear is a powerful marketing strategy as people are inherently loss aversive. This means that the fear of losing something is often a greater catalyst for behaviour change than the motivation of gaining something else. 

Consequently, fear-inducing call-to-actions that highlight what the customer will be losing if they don’t purchase your products or engage with your services can often boost CTR and conversion rates. 

A great example of fear marketing is WordStream’s experiment with positive versus negative ad headlines. They found that their negative, fear-inducing ad headline had a 70% higher CTR and an 18.8% higher conversion rate than their positive ad headline. 

Positive Headline:

Free Google AdWords Grader – Get the Most Out of Your Ads

Negative Headline:

Stop Wasting Money in AdWords – Use Our Simple & Free Tool 

Similarly, Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) refers to the psychological anxiety stemming from the fear of exclusion or ‘missing out’. It is also a powerful emotion that can be used to nudge purchase-decisions and can be channelled through:

1: Attaching a time frame to your offer to create urgency on loss aversion. 

2: Displaying the availability of your products or services, so that customers are urged to take action before they become unavailable.

3: Including testimonials or reviews from other customers as people are more likely to want to do something when they know others are doing it.

 

Though fear is a powerful marketing tool, it also needs to be used with caution as incorrect fear-inducement could at best be ineffective and at worst damaging. 

When channelling fear, it is important not to go overboard and to give your audience a solution to their fear. This can either be something that the customer can do to relieve themselves from the uncomfortable emotion, or it can be balancing your fear trigger with a message inducing positive emotions. 

For instance, in WordStream’s negative ad headline, their fear-inducing message was followed by a reassurance of how their product can provide safety. 

 

Conclusions

As Patrick Renvoise once said in his Ted Talk, “We are all reptiles”. Even if you are a firm that sells B2B, you are not advertising to a business per se, but to a human being at that business.

Understanding how to nudge your customers in their purchase-decision is key to any firm with a product to sell. Aligning techniques used to appeal to the Old Brain with your marketing goals is a sure way of encouraging your customers to act and purchase. Therefore, it is ultimately important to consider these strategies in your next marketing campaign to boost conversion rates and get the most out of your ad spend. 

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