As marketers we should continually study methods and techniques that will improve effectiveness in how we communicate our message to our target audience. One area that interests me is Neuro science marketing which is the field of marketing research that studies consumer behavior when presented with advertising or brand messages.
What is neuro science?
It is the study of the nervous system. Neuro science marketing is focused on the brain or the cognitive processes to stimuli or in this case, brands and products. Researchers who conduct these studies use all sorts of sophisticated tools such as electrocardiograms (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) technology to measure responses to different products, services and brands. These devices track electrical patterns in the brain for things such as anger, lust, hunger, fear, desire and excitement. They also track eye movement and changes in body temperature. This sounds positively complicated and impossibly out of reach for most small businesses and digital marketers. That would be true, however there are volumes of research data that we can use to help us with our digital marketing campaigns.
What we have learned from these studies is there are trigger responses called “cognitive biases” that predicts how people will behave when presented with certain marketing messages. We have also learned that other advertising elements such as color, imagery, video, audio and font selection can significantly influence consumer behavior. Cognitive bias is a deviation from normal judgement. We tend to draw our own subjective reality based on inferences.
How to use in digital marketing
There are 2 basic instincts that drive consumer decisions. Fear of loss and hope to gain. All cognitive bias falls into one of those two silos. How we present or frame information should be based on that guiding principle.
Here are 3 common examples of how marketers might use cognitive bias in digital marketing.
Anchoring: The tendency to rely heavily on one trait or piece of information when making a decision. Often times the first piece of information.
Example: The first price a customer sees for a product or service is the price that will affect the purchasing decision. This is the anchor. So when you see a price of $75.00 for a pair of shoes, and then you see the same shoes for $60.00 you are more likely to buy.
Anchoring is often times used by placing the most expensive and least appealing product first as in the image below. By comparison the $97.00 offer is far more appealing and the trigger is so strong that it is almost impossible not to buy.
Confirmation Bias: The tendency to search for, interpret, focus on and remember information in a way that confirms your own pre-determined point of view despite new evidence to the contrary.
Framing: Coming to different conclusions from the same information depending on who is presenting and how it is presented.
Attorneys are very good at applying the principles of framing when influencing judges rulings and jury verdicts. We can learn a lot from them on how to influence consumers in the purchase funnel.
These biases don’t necessarily work independent of one another. In fact you can use them together for very powerful outcomes. I strongly encourage you to learn more about this on your own and test in your marketing campaigns.
Some of us are old enough to remember one of the greatest marketers ever – Ron Popeil. He was an early adopter of influence selling by using many of the neuro marketing techniques just now being defined by science and research. We would do well to learn from him.