How Neuromarketing Can Make Visitors Favor Your OfferBy Kobe Ben Itamar on March 8, 2016
Reading Time: 10 minutes
Deadly serious about selling more products, getting more clients, gaining better brand recognition and improving your bottom line? Treat it like a game.
In football, baseball or soccer, the trick is to psyche out the other team. In the game of e-commerce, your goal is to apply methods researched in psychology studies that probed the human brain for what influences, guides and otherwise entices shoppers.
You can use this to your advantage when you want to convert visitors to buyers.
This tested approach to more conversions is called Neuromarketing, and it works. Psyching out your target audience uses a two-pronged approach:
- tapping into the pleasure centers in their brains
- finding their pain points, their frustrations and challenges
Using these two principles, you can design websites with a positive user experience using color and other elements that promise pleasure and positive outcomes. You can trigger pain points by mentioning scarcity and offering solutions to problems.
In the game of marketing, you deploy pleasure and pain to get customers to go the distance. When they cross the goal line, you get the sale.
The Pleasure Center
People naturally gravitate toward pleasure, just like the rats studied in a 1950 research project at McGill University. The poor rats in the study keep stimulating their pleasure centers to the detriment of sleep and nutrition, finally dropping dead.
That brings up a natural connection to the maxim “shop til you drop.” Neuromarketers use the results of brain trackers like magnetic resonance imaging, usually called MRIs, to monitor what pleases consumers. Tracking what triggers their pleasure centers can help sellers.
Restaurants, for example, might use fancy language, with detailed mouth watering descriptions to sell more food, or more of the most expensive dish on the menu.
Consumers know what they like and dislike, but have difficulty describing what influences their decisions. That’s where advanced brain scanning technology comes in.
One of its practical applications has been figuring out which songs will sell to music buyers. When listeners were asked to rate songs, their responses did not accurately predict sales.
But when two researchers at Emory University tested the teenage participant’s reactions to music by monitoring neural activity, the increased activity in the pleasure centers of their brains corresponded directly to which songs sold in quantity. For example, the song Apologize by OneRepublic struck a chord in their pleasure centers and in the marketplace.
The second big trigger for human beings is avoiding pain, both consciously and unconsciously. Businesses and neuromarketers can use this built-in human need to their advantage when trying to sell.
One place to start is by pushing scarcity in marketing materials, which triggers a pain response in consumers. People want what is forbidden or unavailable. They also don’t want to miss out. What if the grass really is greener over there? By building a sense of urgency into sales material with the use of deadlines or by limiting supplies, you produce a “buy now” mentality, driving up sales.
Another tactic is to make the shopper feel indebted to you. People are programmed to repay debts. Use this by giving your visitors a freebie that is valuable to them. Make it clear you expect nothing in return. At this point, feelings of guilt, indebtedness and reciprocity are activated. To even things out, to remove the sense of indebtedness, many will make a purchase.
The major way to use the pain principle is by offering a solution to a pressing problem. Every successful diet and fitness website uses this principle. It works whether the site is offering a no-fail diet to lose pounds quickly before a wedding or the perfect exercise plan to get rid of belly fat before swimsuit season.
Designing Marketing Materials
This information can be used by marketers when they design whole campaigns and individual ads. Christophe Morin, with the ambivalent title of Chief Pain Officer at SalesBrain, has a cheat sheet he uses in his advertising efforts.
His strategies are based on the fact that the pain center in the human brain, called the reptilian brain, is set off by the choice or “buy or fly”, the consumer version of fight or flight.
That’s why he insists that conveying information visually is essential. The eyes, the first point of contact with almost all sales material, are directly connected to a person’s reptilian brain.
It is also important to keep it simple. Complexity, intricate concepts and metaphors are totally lost on this part of your brain. In fact, the best way to appeal to it is by using lots of facial expressions in ads. Could this be the reason emoji have become so popular?
Morin says that marketers shouldn’t be afraid to use emotion in ads. It works much better than trying to appeal to a shopper’s reasoning powers. People remember messages with anger, delight, surprise and fear.
Another trick is based on the fact that the brain scans ads, remembering the beginning and the end, but very little of the middle. So be sure to use a strong closing for every ad.
Talk about what is in it for the consumer. Mention benefits, not features. And always keep it short, whether it is a commercial, a video, an ad or any type of content. Remember that you are aiming at a shopper’s lower brain, which has a very short attention span.
In addition, consumers are flooded with noise online in the form of ads, colors, graphics, photos, videos and text. Grab their attention quickly or they will be gone in seconds.
The Psychological Shell Game
You also get more sales when you appeal to subconscious motivators in your target audience. This set of tactics is based on the fact that the human brain defaults to shortcuts to make the hundreds, even thousands, of decisions demanded of it over the course of a day.
A very important shortcut that sellers can use is asymmetric dominance effect, also called the decoy effect. One of the most common ways of incorporating this in the shopping experience is to first offer two choices, one that is fairly high priced for your target audience, plus one that is much lower in price, offering fewer bells and whistles.
Your goal is to get the shopper to buy the more expensive model, product #1. But you know he is probably thinking of his budget and leaning toward product #2, the lower priced item. So to reduce sticker shock, at this point you introduce the decoy, product #3, which is even higher priced that product #1, though it has very similar features.
The decoy causes your shopper to more carefully mull over the idea of buying product #1. He will compare product #3 to product #1, while product #2, the lower priced option, gets lost in the shuffle.
Here is what this looks like in practice:
Offer a triathlete a heart rate monitor and run tracker for $1,000 and one for $500. You really want him to buy the $1,000 model, but it’s a reach for your typical buyers. Immediately introduce the decoy, which sells for $1,500. This has features which are quite similar to the $1,000 model. He will carefully compare and contrast the $1,000 model with the $1,500 model, and pay far less attention to the $500 model.
The result: you sell a more expensive item.
Make Websites Appealing
The look, feel and ease of use of a website influences buying habits a great deal. Websites that appeal enough to consumers to get them to stay on the site for longer periods have a much higher conversion rate. You get them to stick around by using appealing colors, promising fun and warmth and solutions.
One of the biggest ways to do this is by using color appropriately. There is an entire science behind this, called color theory. Big food companies employ it, which is why you see so much junk food successfully sold using a palette of colors dominated by oranges, reds and yellows.
The principle behind the psychology of color is that they evoke emotions and behaviors in people. People have an inherent attraction for certain colors in certain situations.
When it comes to burger places and taco shops, red is a stimulant that gets the appetite in gear. Yellow triggers a sense of urgency. What could be more perfect for the fast food industry?
Website designers can use the research available on color theory to grab a visitor’s attention, reduce bounce rate and make more sales.
The first way is by using contrasting color combinations that make it easy to read content on the website. When people get confused or you make it difficult for them to understand your content, they will simply leave. Make it easy to read and grasp the message on your site. Contrasting colors not only improve readability, they also make your site come across as fresh and interesting.
The second way to use color theory is by studying the research. What colors will best sell your specific product or service? Don’t just go with personal preference or what you consider aesthetically pleasing choices. Instead, make the theory work for you by studying what the experts have discovered.
Clearly, the more you know about how people’s minds work, the better you can influence them to buy what you’re selling.
These motivators, both conscious and unconscious, are being studied by scientists and psychologists, and what they discover is available for your use as an online marketer.
In the game of e-commerce, the neuromarketers are winning.
Also published on Medium.