Neuromarketing is one is the most interesting and impactful things you can learn when it comes to making money online.
You see, there are new trends, tools and tactics popping up all the time, but people never change.
Neuromarketing is all about people. Learn why people behave the way they do and you’ll be able to get better results than ever.
With neuromarketing, we can use well-known conversion principles as well as cognitive biases to enhance our campaigns.
What is cognitive bias?
It’s a limitation in rational thinking caused by our brain’s need to save time and energy when making decisions.
Being aware of these, and knowing how to leverage them is a game-changer.
With that said, let’s look at the most impactful neuromarketing tactics you can use in your campaigns, along with real-world examples of each.
One of the best ways to motivate someone and get them to take action is to introduce urgency. People are more likely to take action when they think they will miss out on something due to a limited-time offer for example.
Scarcity is similar to urgency but it is based on quantity rather than time. If stock is low for example, buyers are more likely to take action because they don’t want to miss out.
Humans are hardwired to repay favours. When someone does something for us, we want to do something for them as well so that we can ‘pay them back’.
Online we can use the principle of reciprocity by:
- Using lead magnets as a way to collect email addresses
- Giving away free bonus items
- Doing free consultations
- Providing free advice
- Making your customers feel special
Habito provides complete free mortgage advice and helps you through the process. When it comes time to decide who to choose to process your mortgage, they become the obvious choice.
Empathy Marketing uses a free marketing plan to gain the trust of potential clients and benefit from the principle of reciprocity.
We are all hardwired to respond to authority. When someone is an expert in something, we tend to listen to them and value their opinion. Even the appearance of authority is enough to sway us. Models wearing lab coats, business people in smart suits and similar symbols of authority and status convince us that someone is authoritative.
If you are an authority on something, make sure you showcase it on your ads and landing pages. Do this with images and explain what makes you qualified as well.
We prefer to buy from people we like. In fact, social bonds are more likely to make you buy than a preference for the product itself.
You can make people like you by being attractive. If that can’t work for you, then being similar, paying compliments, using humour and having a positive familiarity with your brand can work wonders.
Melyssa Griffin does a great job of making you like her. Not only does she look attractive, but she speaks directly to the reader, feels friendly and approachable and shares her values and beliefs which will make her very likeable to the right audience.
King Kong uses humour through the copy on their landing pages to make you like them. Not only that, but they stand out compared to the boring, generic landing pages most agencies use.
Consistency / Commitment bias
Humans place a lot of value on being (or appearing to be) consistent. For example, if you have previously stated something, you are likely to behave in a way that is consistent with that previous statement.
This bias causes a tendency to stay committed to something that has been done previously, even if it results in something that is not in your best interests.
In marketing, this is often exploited by offering low-cost products and services with higher priced things offered once the customer has committed to the small purchase.
Other ways that the commitment can be used in marketing are:
- long, unskippable webinar videos with a limited-time offer at the end
- Very cheap free trials
- Quizzes which take you through some questions and ask for your email to send the results
- Forms which leave the most difficult or sensitive fields until later in the form so visitors are less likely to abandon the form after committing time and effort to filling in the previous fields
This is an example of an upsell. You’ve already shown that you want to solve your problem by buying the low cost product. Surely you don’t mind spending more on the upsell to fix the problem even faster, right?
This example shows how sensitive information should be shown later on a form. Once the user has committed time and effort to filling out the previous fields, they are more likely to complete the whole form, even if they are not happy about providing certain information.
When more people support an idea, the more trust we have in that idea. In other words, we look to others for guidance when we are unsure of something. Social proof is very powerful and easy to put in place with reviews and testimonials.
This is a cognitive bias that happens when we place too much emphasis on a small piece of information rather than focusing on the bigger picture.
In marketing, this can be used to sell products and services. If we know that potential customers are likely to focus on a few key factors when making a buying decision, we can choose carefully selected features to present to them.
When showing their iPhone, Apple focus on a few key features such as how good the photos and videos are. They could show a huge list of features but they know which ones sell the phone most effectively so they focus on those features.
The affect heuristic is a bias that describes how we often use emotion to make decisions, instead of concrete information. Whilst emotional decisions allow us to make decisions quickly, it means we don’t take important information into account. This can lead to impulsive decisions.
This example shows how the bleak statistic that a child loses a parent every 22 minutes creates a strong emotion that can help the decision to get life insurance.
Attention bias refers to how we can be overly influenced by certain information. This shortcut allows us to make decisions quickly. We need to be able to do this because our attention and energy are limited, but we often make hasty decisions by leaving out important information.
In marketing, we can address attention bias by recognising that potential customers will only be able to give their attention to a limited number of elements. This means that landing pages, ads etc should focus on the most important aspects of your product or service and anything unnecessary should be removed.
Also, repeating important information is important (such as CTA’s throughout the page) because we know that some elements may be missed initially.
Look how this design from Sunny repeats the call to action and keeps the design clear and simple. This means that it is very easy for the user to see the most important information on the page and identify the call to action.
Humans pay close attention to the gaze and line of sight of others when we look at faces. We can take advantage of this by using pictures of faces in ads and landing pages. If the faces are gazing towards calls to action, then this can help us to direct visitors to the elements on the page that we want them to notice.
Paradox of choice
This is a phenomenon where people who have too many choices available find it harder to make a choice.
Keeping websites clear and concise will help your potential customers make decisions. If there is a lot of data to consider, just use the most important information first with an option to expand and see more information.
In the example below, Monday shows their features and plans. There is already a lot of information here so the complete feature list is hidden to avoid overwhelming the visitor which would make choosing a plan more difficult.
When a message tries to create the emotion of fear, it is called a fear appeal. Fear appeals can work because they can cause us to react emotionally instead of making rational decisions.
Fear appeals are best used subtly. Look how a fear appeal for growing older and not achieving your goals is used here. A powerful motivator.
Here is another example of a subtle fear appeal. The statistic that 20% of advertising budget is wasted is a powerful motivator and it gets your attention.
We tend to value things that we own more highly than things we don’t. This means that we can be irrational when pricing our own goods and services.
The endowment effect is even more apparent when pricing things that have sentimental or emotional value.
In marketing, this bias can be exploited by offering free trials or vouchers that expire. When users feel like they own something they will be more motivated not to lose it.
Stitch Fix benefit from the endowment effect by sending customers clothes to try on. Customers are more likely to keep more of the clothes than they intended to once they’ve tried them on and they have seen how good they look and they feel like they already own them.
Eyeconic have a virtual try on service which allows you to see how glasses look on your face. More ecommerce stores are embracing augmented reality features that allow you to see how products would look in your home. Features like this can make you feel like you already own the product so you’re more likely to buy.
This heuristic refers to how easy it is to recall information. For example, when choosing a brand you may be likely to buy the one you recall the easiest, even if there are better brands available.
You can take advantage of this heuristic in marketing campaigns by making your brand and landing pages memorable, and by giving potential customers a vivid reminder of what they can have by getting your product or service.
For example, use explainer videos, product walkthroughs and images that help customers imagine themself using the product. Keep product names easy to remember and understand. Use retargeting to keep your product fresh in the potential customer’s mind.
Look at this example from Lusha. Lusha’s name is easy to recall. They have a strong brand and they have high-quality videos to demonstrate the product and help you remember them.
This is when exposure to one stimulus influences a response to a following stimulus at a subconscious level. This stimulus could be a word, image or sound. In other words, the first thing that is presented affects how we respond to the second thing. Priming has been used in marketing a lot, and we’ve all been influenced by it.
Images and page content on landing pages and ads need to be carefully considered to prime visitors. These elements will make visitors form subconscious expectations about the landing page/ad. If the expectations are met, their experience will be better.
Look how this ad for Athletic Greens primes the customer to think of the brand as a health drink supplement. The brand is perfectly suited to the product. The green colour of the brand makes you think about health and green food – ‘It must be healthy’.
Priming can also be negative. For example, many option forms put a message like ‘We promise we won’t spam you’ near the call to action. However, the word ‘spam’ primes the visitor to think about all the negative experiences of spam. This can actually lower conversion rates.
You should still tell the user you value their privacy, but word the messaging in a positive way like ‘We value your privacy. Your data is 100% safe’.
A final example of priming is using promo codes during the checkout process. Even if the customer was right about to buy, seeing a promo code box can prime them to leave your website and look for promo codes so they can get a better deal. It would be better to automatically apply discounts and tell them, or have a text link which makes the promo box appear.
This example from Vanity Plant shows how discount codes can be automatically applied so that negative priming is avoided.
We tend to judge an experience based on how we felt about it during its peak (the most intense point) and the end. This means that you can delight your customers by making their journey through your funnels and touch points memorable during the peak and the end.
Exploiting this phenomenon can really pay off. Delight your customer using the peak-end rule and you can get more loyal customers and raving fans who will tell others about the great experience they had.
Look how Mailchimp adds fun to the peak of one of its user flows. When they launch a campaign, they get this cool high-five animation to add some delight to the journey.
This example shows how e-commerce stores can delight visitors near the end of the purchase journey by giving them a free gift that they were not expecting.
Domestic country bias
We tend to favour products and services from our own country and have a bias towards foreign ones.
Balabanis & Diamantopoulos (2004) found that Brits favoured British products when it came to DIY tools, food products, furniture and toys.
This does not apply to all products though, so be careful how you use this bias in your marketing. Balabanis & Diamantopoulos also found that Brits did not care as much about TV’s, fashion wear or cars.
Look how much Printful emphasises the country or origin on their UK site. They know how important the domestic country bias is in this scenario.
This image shows how Manly Bands proudly states that their products are handcrafted in America.
County of origin effect
This principle refers to how our perceptions of different places can affect our buying decisions. For example, Chinese products are considered cheap, Swiss ones are considered precise, German ones are considered reliable and so on.
This means that you should keep in mind how much the production location matters in your customer’s mind. You can highlight where your product is made if you know that location is associated with a positive attribute.
In the example below Tissot makes sure that you know that the watch is ‘Swiss made’.
It is common for us to mimic the behaviours of others – usually unconsciously. We do this because mimicry has benefits for us. It allows us to bond and develops better relationships. This can lead to liking, which is a great way to make more sales.
In marketing, we can employ mimicry by researching our customers and speaking the same way they do. Use the same tone and jargon and you can build trust and make them like you more.
Look at this landing page from Arbtech. Looks pretty normal right? Actually, the title ‘Ecological Consultants’ is dynamic text. It changes based on the words the visitor searched for in Google.
They could have searched for ‘Ecologist’, ‘Ecology Consultant’, ‘Ecology Expert’ etc. By making the title exactly what they searched for, there is no doubt at all that they are in the right place.
In this example, the copy has clearly been well-researched and the writers are well aware of the issues the readers are facing. By repeating back, the same issues found during research, the reader feels like they are speaking directly to them and they know how to solve their problems.
This is a cognitive bias that makes people likely to prioritize instant rewards over future rewards. In other words, people are impatient and want things as soon as possible.
A simple example is when a group of people are offered $100 now or $120 in a week, most would choose $100 now.
Examples of hyperbolic discounting include tactics that let the customer have what they want now even if it can cost them more in the long run. Loyalty programs, free shipping when you reach a certain cart value and payment on credit are all good examples.
In the example below, Shop Pay and After Pay are added as payment options so the visitor has a chance to get the product now but pay later – which could end up costing more.
Simply put, we tend to recall the most recent information we’ve encountered more easily than older information.
This can be applied to marketing easily. End post posts, ads, landing pages etc with the most important information your visitors need to know. The biggest benefits, the transformation they will achieve etc.
They don’t only need to be stated at the end though. You can use them at the beginning too, but make sure to repeat the most important things near the end so that they are easily recalled.
This landing page repeats the benefits of signing up next to the call to action at the top and the bottom of the page. This means that the benefits are fresh in the visitors mind when they decide to sign up or not.
The halo effect
The halo effect is a cognitive bias that changes our perception of things or people based on a certain trait, even though it is completely unrelated to the traits we are evaluating.
Attractiveness is one of the most obvious ways the halo effect is seen. Attractive people are perceived as being more successful, more intelligent and more popular.
In marketing campaigns, this bias can be exploited by using attractive people in your imagery and videos.
The halo effect is not just related to attractiveness though. Celebrity endorsements, beautiful designs and association with big-name companies have the same effect.
We tend to be more sensitive to losing what we already have than potential gains. This can be used to your advantage when someone wants to cancel your service. Make the benefits that they will be missing out on clear.
Abandoned cart emails are another common loss aversion trigger. The customer is so close to purchasing and they will lose the cart contents if they don’t act quickly.
Pain of paying
This phenomenon is related to loss aversion. We love holding onto our hard-earned cash and feel discomfort when we let it go – even if we’re sure about the purchase. Reducing the ‘pain’ your customers feel when paying can increase conversion rates.
To do this, make paying feel less like paying. For example, give the option to pay using services like Afterpay, split big purchases up into smaller ones and use low cost trials that rebill at the full amount.
Siteground reduces the pain of paying by massively discounting the initial term for their hosting.
Rebel provides different options to allow the shopper to pay later which reduces the pain of paying.
This is our tendency to do things, simply because others are doing them. In marketing, we can easily exploit this effect by showing social proof. Display user-generated content of people using your product. Gather reviews and show them off. Show how many likes or subscribers you have on social media (if you have a lot).
Humans are curious creatures. Our need to resolve problems and find answers is one of the traits that helped us evolve to where we are. The curiosity gap refers to creating curiosity. It is when you present some information to someone but leave out a key part of the information so they feel compelled to find the answer.
The most obvious thing that springs to mind when you think of the curiosity gap is clickbait. We’ve all seen headlines including phrases like ‘You won’t believe what happens next’ on social media. These work, but nobody like clickbait and they can harm brand reputation.
Headlines can still be used to trigger curiosity, but be careful not to fall into clickbait territory. Another great way to use the curiosity gap is in storytelling. We all love a good story. Make your website visitors stay engaged and read your content by telling well crafted stories that create curiosity.
King Kong are great at copywriting and uses curiosity well. Look at this headline for example:
This is how Million Dollar Group Method uses storytelling to keep the visitor reading their copy. Notice the curiosity triggering in the headlines.
Desire to belong
The need to belong is a fundamental part of the human experience.
In fact, people who lack belongingness are more likely to suffer from mental and physical health issues.
This need arises from the fact that humans evolved by cooperating with each other in small groups. When they belonged to groups, they were safer and more likely to survive.
You can tap into the desire to belong by creating a genuine connection with your customers. Make them feel like a part of the tribe and you’ll be rewarded with repeat customers and lifelong fans. You can emphasise that your customers are not just buying something – they are becoming part of a collective that supports each other.
As a brand – show your values and beliefs. Show your potential customers that you are just like them to form a connection with them so that they want to join you.
Look how Ship30for30 uses the desire to belong to emphasise that you don’t have to do things on your own. They invite you to join their large group and get support so things become much easier.
Carnivor MD uses to desire to belong to invite you to sign up for his newsletter. You’re not just getting a newsletter – you’re becoming part of the tribe.
Trained by JP to use the authority of names associated with the website to create a desire to belong to the community.
We tend to prefer options where the probability of a favourable outcome is known over outcomes which are unknown.
When marketing our products and services, we can remove ambiguity by avoiding vague claims and being very specific. Tell the customer exactly what will happen next. Use guarantees so the customer can get their money back if they don’t get the result they want.
These examples below remove ambiguity by telling the visitor exactly what will happen next.
Self-efficacy refers to a person’s belief in their own competence. The more capable of completing a task we think we are, the more likely we are to complete the task.
Use this principle to motivate website visitors to complete actions by telling them how easy the tasks are (and making them easy to complete) and by providing instant reassuring feedback when they move closer towards their goals. Show testimonials and user generated content from other users who have completed your goals (bought your product, signed up etc).