The subconscious mind has a lot to answer for when it comes to consumer behavior and understanding how it works can unlock a huge benefit for marketers.
Consumers may like to think that they are happily clicking along the virtual aisles, looking to make purchases that that they put some “thought” into, but in reality – they’re at the mercy of their own psychological triggers.
What’s ending up in their shopping cart has a lot more to do with clever “neuromarketing” than a conscious choice. This does not mean that they are being hypnotized against their own will, but rather that digital marketers have learnt how the human brain works and are giving consumers the perfect solutions that will ignite their psychological triggers.
After a shopping spree, a consumer could be asked to justify the choice of the products in his or her cart. He or she would most likely spout loads of different plausible solutions to explain the purchases. Perhaps the consumer has always had that brand or that the product just seems better than the rest. But in reality, the “neurodesign” of the product is what has ignited that consumer’s desire to buy.
So as a consumer, your brain is getting expertly massaged by powerful visuals, textures, odors, colors, shapes and sounds to assist you with your final choice. Each of these elements talk to a different part of the brain and illicit completely different reactions.
Our first impressions are made by sight. We make up our “minds” really quickly (in a half a second).
Using These Triggers to Get Consumers to Buy
For marketers, understanding the elements of this new science will reveal how using certain psychological triggers will result in higher conversions. First, let’s start with visual triggers that are essential to marketing:
Visual Triggers That Activate the Buying Impulse
Our brains are constantly trying to make sense of the visuals captured by the eye. If we understand what makes us look and where, we can use this information to entice the eye with visuals that can be easily processed.
- Where should I look first? – The brain creates a kind of an algorithm to steer our visual focus. You can help the brain by giving it contrasting elements. For example, you can provide a large, bold, bright colored button that is strongly contrasted with its background and you can be sure it will have the visitor’s attention. The same principle applies to products sitting on real life shop shelves. Contrast is king.
- Look left, read right – If you have an image that you want a customer to take notice of, it should go on the left side. For some reason, our brains favor processing images on the left first.
- Bulls eye – When faced with many images we look first to the middle of a configuration if it has an obvious center point. If no clear center, we’ll look top left first.
- Mirror neuron mimetic – If you show an image of someone touching, holding, interacting or picking up a product – we naturally want to do it too. This is known as mimetic desire. We are mirroring the effect we are witnessing. This entire process can take place entirely in the mind. We don’t have to actually pick up the object in reality, we are just inspired to want to pick it up and so we simply must buy it for ourselves.
- Keep it simple – Unpack the most amount of info with the simplest visuals. It’s why we love infographics so much. Our minds process “simple” as “familiar” and we have an outright bias to anything that feels “familiar.”
- Make it fast – Make sure your visitors can view your page’s content as fast as possible. This means optimizing your website from a technical standpoint so it loads quickly and your visitors aren’t waiting.
Pushing Our Emotional Buttons
Our eyes are feeding all of these visual images to the brain and we’re making our buying decisions on the spot. Or are we? What about those emotional triggers, the psychological aspects that push our buying buttons?
Here are the psychological triggers that we are all hardwired to respond to:
- We like to side step any pain and somersault into pleasure – However, the snag here is finding out what your particular customers associate with their pain and pleasure reactions. Ultra marathon runners endure hellish physical pain to experience the intense pleasure of making it across the finish line in record time. This is not a pleasure for everyone’s palate but you get the idea. We are apparently even more motivated to avoid pain. If you highlight the potential dangers and possible pain spots a customer could be experiencing in life and then position your product as their own personal ninja warrior that will do battle on their behalf so nothing ill befalls them, you’ll make the sale.
- We love the new – We all get a rush of dopamine to our brains when we experience the unfamiliar. Newness feels like a lovely, big reward. Let your customer know about the “new” upgrade or product model coming up and they will be lining up to take advantage of your new promotion.
- We are all searching for meaning: Don’t just tell your customer about your product, but explain why they should invest in buying it and what they will get from it. Come to the event BECAUSE… (fill in the sentence and you’ll be giving them a reason to attend)
- Story time lights up our emotional brains: Stories transport us into another world where the brand is the heroine. Our emotional brains respond to the power of a great story well told.
- We exemplify the law of least effort: We’re all a little bit lazy. It’s okay, we’re all the same in this regard because we gravitate to the easiest option to fulfill our desire. The shortest root with the best possible outcome. If the product can make our lives faster, simpler and easier, we’ll jump on board for the easy ride.
- We like to gang up on the bad guy: We will rally around a product that links us with a community that is doing “battle” against a common “enemy.” Not an actual person, race, religion or political opponent but rather a concept like “a power hungry boss” archetype or the “rat race.”
- We love our curiosity to be tickled: We like filling in the gap between our knowledge and the unknown. That gap, and our desire to close it, gives us immense pleasure.
- We listen to other people: We are social creatures who like to take advice from our communities on what actions could serve us. We’ll peruse reviews, testimonies and social comments to determine if a product is right for us. We make our decisions through the filter of others experiences and perspectives.
- We want to feel important: if a company makes us feel valued we’ll give them our business with ease.
- We value scarcity: If there are only a few items left and it appears that you will not be able to get the product again, the more you will want it.
- We like a little controversy: Some polarizing and definite stances on issues can make us more engaged and enlivened by a product, especially if our anger is stimulated. We can feel prompted to buy the product to take a stand or align with a cause.
- We like it when people do things for us: When someone offers us something first, we feel obliged to reciprocate and return the kindness by buying the product or engaging with the service.
- We like to see something 7 times before we buy: We need to be exposed to a product at multiple points so we can get familiar with it. If the information is all housed in one place it won’t stick at the first read. We like to see the love spread across the website we are visiting. We’ll pick up the product information from everywhere – the sidebars, headers and footers, the home page as well as social media advertising. We like a little shadow to follow us around so we can get to know it better before engaging.
- We buy when the context is right: We buy popcorn at the cinema, ice-cream at the beach, corn dogs at the game. We like it when products go hand in hand with a specific environment. If we like where we are online and the context presented makes perfect sense as a frame for the product offered, we’ll buy it.
It’s good to know how we all respond naturally to these psychological triggers. When you translate this understanding to your business’s marketing efforts, it will lead to more conversions because you are speaking directly to the subconscious desires in all human brains. You don’t need to guess at anything because you know what people want and how to give it to them.
More Conversion Tactics
- 3 Proven A/B Testing Tactics to Skyrocket Your Conversion Rate
- Top Design Mistakes Killing Your Conversion Rates
- Double Your Conversions with a User Journey Map
- 7 Psychology Principles Web Designers Must Know
Jay Douglas is a web guru with nearly a decade of experience building and hosting websites of all kinds. He is founder of How To Get Online – an educational resource geared towards helping small business owners and entrepreneurs learn how to build a website and get their business online.