As marketers, we sometimes pay attention to the wrong stuff. We look at all the tools available to use in our different platforms and miss the basics of how the brain works and applying that knowledge to our digital marketing efforts. When it comes to how our brains works, we all have creative and logical, or right and left, sides of our brains but it’s really not that simplistic in it’s application for neuromarketing.
We also have the center of the brain where memories are formed and where emotions are experienced. We remember things that have emotional salience more so than mundane or routine things. Strong emotions are what help form memories.
The brainstem is what we share in common with other living creatures and keeps us surviving day to day. For example, we all slept last night but were not aware of it. That is the part of our brain operating below our conscious awareness and focused on our survival.
What does this brain science mean for us as marketers? Much of human behaviour is very automatic although we like to tell ourselves we are making very conscious choices about everything we do. Automatic responses are not a bad thing because we need reflexes to respond appropriately to everyday events. Making a conscious decision about every single thing such as putting one foot in front of the other when we walk is mentally taxing. Just as these automatic responses come into play in our routine lives, they also happen with digital marketing.
Think of your website visitors as the lower part of the brain. They want things to be easy with simple choices and do not want to wait for an answer. People are accustomed to having things accessible online with a click of a button which Google highlighted during Google Marketing Next recently and that simplicity is as important as speed.
The higher functioning cerebral cortex is only activated a small period of time because most things are handled subconsciously. Often these actions and decisions are not even accessible to us by language because the brain reacts instantly.
Understanding this brain-behaviour has significant applications for how we understand the traditional sales funnel. The brain first handles the automatic stuff, followed by the limbic system, or emotional/memory part of the brain, and only then does it get examined by the cerebral cortex if needed. It has to first pass through those first two filters. This is a problem when PPC experts create reasonable marketing campaigns with logic and features about the offer on landing pages that the logical part of the brain may not even be paying attention to.
When it comes to creating compelling offers on our PPC landing pages, we need to take advantage of these brain biases. Strategies marketers can use to increase conversions include the following:
The brain likes things simple with very few choices which need to be considered when creating PPC landing pages. Too much information and a multitude of options are overwhelming for the brain so it has a preference for options with limited choices. Clients who want to show all available options to their prospects are making a mistake because it is too taxing on the brain function.
Our brain can only keep a few items in non-rehearsed short-term memory, such as how phone numbers are grouped. If a PPC landing page offer is complex, these landing pages should guide people through a decision with wizards and only a couple questions at a time to walk them through the choices. Have simple questions with only a few choices to help with making a decision rather than laying everything out at once.
Barry Schwartz has a great Ted talk below on the paradox of choice, debunking the myth that more choices are better.
Make Choices Obvious
Do the images on your website and the corresponding descriptions make it very obvious what someone is choosing? Are the pictures the same for different products that force people to click through for a larger, more specific image? Instead, show the most important detail of your product in the image so people immediately know what they will get. Do not make people work to find the best image of your offering.
Our brains associate new things we see with things we have seen in the past and most of our brain has some role in visual processing. There are different receptors in the back of the eye for colors and fine detail and another part to detect motion. When we see something, our brain scans for objects of interest and creates associations based on past learning.
Too much overstimulation with multiple images makes the brain work unnecessarily hard to interpret what it sees. This exertion confuses the message of what advertisers really want the audience to see. This is why a strong image is more powerful than multiple images on a PPC landing page.We also have a visual bias for motion which will override everything else we see which is both good and bad. Using video is very helpful to get someone’s attention when used wisely on a PPC landing page. The bad can result from busy social media widgets on a PPC landing pages. Once that feed is on your page, it distracts attention from the core message because the visual bias is to look at the motion.
Manipulate Context and Order
When you manipulate content and order, you create experiences that bias what people pay attention to. When you order service plans on a page from the most expensive to the least expensive plan, the middle priced plan looks very good compared to the more expensive plans because there is context for evaluating the offers.
A great example of manipulating order to influence a purchasing decision is where The Economist presented three choices for subscriptions. When visitors compare online, print or print and online combined, it is very clear that the third option is a good offer which was selected by the majority of people.
However, when it dropped to two choices only, more people chose the first and least expensive option. It was harder to determine the better value because there was less context. Context really matters because people need something to anchor too.
What this means for you
As you creating your next PPC campaign and landing page, remember that how you present it is just as important as what you present. People look for context and need something to anchor to when they make a decision. Consider the presentations of your products or service plans. Use video, text and motion to appeal to all parts of the brain, remember that complexity generally will not close the deal.