It’s time to talk about feelings. While numbers, codes and prosaic analyses are indeed the staff of life in search engine optimization, websites are really interesting for users and Google only if they are emotionally enthralling.
How the feelings of users are appealed, activated and directed in the desired direction, neuromarketing wants to answer. If you want to be successful with your website, neuromarketing offers you many insights. Therefore the seo-nerd had a closer look on the tips, tricks and recommendations that SEOs and website operators can draw from the findings of this still young discipline.
What is neuromarketing
Neuromarketing transmits the expertise of neuro-economics to marketing processes. In short, neuromarketing is the practice related sector of neuro-economics. It analyses what happens in users and customers brains when they get in touch with a product, brand or website.
The first fundamental finding of this field of study was: people usually do not act rationally. We rarely make our decisions consciously “with the head“. Most of our decisions are made on the basis of moods and emotions that are unconscious. Our gut instinct rules.
A 2004 study investigated whether warnings on cigarette packets are actually as dissuasive as they should be. Thousands of test persons were examined with magnetic resonance imaging system (MRI). A MRI can be used to trace the brain region in which oxygen is being transported. In this way it is possible to see which brain areas are particularly active at the moment. In other words, with an MRI you can see people thinking. (Other methods of neural economy.)
In this study the test persons, who were smokers, were asked whether they thought the warnings had a deterrent effect. Almost all of them agreed. In the MRI they were shown only the warnings without cigarette packets. This was enough to activate their addiction centre. According to this smokers know about the harmfulness of their addiction. Nevertheless, the very warning is sufficient to trigger the desire for the next cigarette. Well, that’s not wise – but human. That’s exactly what neuromarketing is about – the autopilot that controls us when we surf the internet.
Neuromarketing is targeting our autopilot
The reasonable acting customer (Homo economicus) is at best wishful thinking. It is estimated that about 95 percent of our purchase decisions are made subconscious (with gut instinct). Nevertheless we do not respond equal to every impulse to buy. That’s because there are different autopilots to whom we entrust while shopping (or surfing the net). Particularly interesting for onlineshops are four different types of buyers:
- custom buyers: Amazon’s Prime-Offer proves impressively how strong our autopilot is. With this customer loyalty program the internet giant accustoms his members to got at first to Amazon every time the want to order something. This becomes a habit. The original impulse to become a Prime member (free shipping, fast delivery) tales the backseat little by little.
- impulse buyers: they decide on the purchase spontaneously, because of an offer which is attractive in price or just because the just discovered and liked it.
- strategy buyers: this type appears mostly at rarely bought products like TVs, computers etc. Before they buy they do extensively researches, collect information, compare prices and study reviews.
- decision buyers: they only search until they have found what corresponds to their ideas. Once the gut instinct is right they buy.
Whether it is planned, impulsive or simply a habit: we buy to reward ourselves and to feel good. This is the second important basis of neuromarketing. Anyone who wants to sell something has to activate the limbic system of our brain, or more precisely, the nucleus accumbens, better known as the reward center.
How does neuromarketing imports emotions to the framesets of websites?
Let’s start with what it is to avoid. From a new marketing perspective, many websites simply commit too many mistakes. These pages may be beautifully designed and well-coded, yet they lack emotion. They are simply not made for the user. Common mistakes are:
- overloaded navigation trees
In this way, users can no longer decide intuitively, they are brought out of their emotional world and forced to think. The indeeded sense of well-being in shopping is interrupted.
- a solely prosaic address
Bullet points in the right place are useful, but with tales and good storytelling you reach the heart of your user. This is why, for example, ratings and reviews are so popular. They tell the story of (supposed) real persons and their experiences with a product. We simply want to know if others have already felt comfortable with the purchase of the product (or the service).
- uninspired pictures, that show the product but don’t make it come alive
We indeed want to see how the shoe looks like in detail, but this only appeals to our brain. What really interests us is: What does the shoe looks like when worn? Which style and attitude to life does the shoe represents? Will I be in these shoes, who I want to be?
- a much to complicated ordering process
Even the most simple „next“-button is a question that the user has to answer first. „Will I or will I not? Do I really need this?“ Such questions are not emotional and therefore poison for the purchase decision.
In order to make online shopping an adventure neuromarketing an (open) catalog of criteria that web developers, SEOs and web site operators can use to boost their framesets.
Activate your costumers imitative instinct
We humans are social beings. This goes so far understand the feelings of others and in fact empathize them, even we have nothing in common with that person. As soon as we see other people doing something, so-called mirror neurons become active. That’s why we cry when we see others crying (or fighting tears down), get frightened with the heroes in horror movies when the zombie comes around the corner unexpectedly, or let us be convinced by the reviews of an offer. I want have what others have! Testimonials are a simple way to trigger the imitation instinct. Other users have already bought, booked, searched or whatever? Fine! Then I can do that too.
Brands attach great importance to the presentation of their logo. But that’s not how it works for consumers and user. In a study (again with smokers) their addiction centre was more likely to be activated by pictures that only subtle remind of smoking, e.g. cowboys or red Ferraris. The stimulation decreased when on the same pictures the Marlboro logo was shown. Note: Subliminal messages are better. If advertising is too obvious, users become more watchful and thus more suspicious. This insight can also be applied to advertising with eroticism. Sex sells less well than often claimed. The reason: eroticism distracts too much from the product. Only if it comes to a scandal about too slippery advertising, this might work. However, since almost everything was already shown, a brand would have to go quite a long way to be successful.
Appeal as much human senses as possible
What we feel physically remains in our memory. You’ll always remember that a stove is hot, because you touched it once in your childhood. Luckily other lessons are imparted more gently. Nevertheless: we remember things better when we can see, touch, hear or taste them. Sure, websites often limited here. However, neuromarketing suggests at least the use of video. By the way, you also collect valuable user signals with videos and improve your chances of a good ranking.
You think you should also send your newsletter by post? From a neuromarketing point of view the answer is clear: yes. Do this. A printed letter on paper can be touched and read. The synergy effect is thus greater. If you now also add something like a perfume sample (if this fits your product or your statement): Bingo! With such actions, you have good chances to stay in the memory of your customers.
You think of using music on your website? Then you may be interested in the fact that slower songs encourage bar visitors to stay longer. Surprisingly, more sad music intensifies our buying pleasure (presumably we want to treat ourselves).
Brands should always offer the same – only differently. Martin Lindstrom, who became one of the gurus of the neuromarketing scene with his book “Buyology”, (in the continuation of his Neuromarketing saga “Brand Sense”) even recommends to dismantle brands. However only in clearly recognizable parts. As an example he calls the airline Air France, who greets every guest with a glass of champagne, produces itself not just as a French brand, but also creates associations of pleasure, service and luxury.
Illustrate your brand with religious fervour
Legendary brands, such as Apple, Harley-Davidson or Ferrari, are almost worshiped by their fans. Customers believe in their brand. Noticeable at such brands is that they have established many rituals and stories around their products.The uncrowned champion in this discipline was certainly Steve Jobs, who announced every new Apple product in the style of a Holy Mass. If you buy an Apple device, so the subliminal message, you become part of a parish. This in turn triggers the imitation instinct, already described above. At best, the fans (in forums, circles of friends and social media) are themselves marketing the brand. Neuromarketing studies have shown that the same brain regions are activated by images of such brands which are also triggered by religious images.
Determinate feelings with shopmarks (neuropricing)
„Cheap – I know you like it!“ This slogan applies only to the very least of us. Neuromarketing specialists dissuade from using the word „cheap“ and recommend terms like „low-cost“ or „keen“. To most people “cheap” has always meant “of inferior quality“.
Studies show that most people do not want to pay too much, but not too little. If a customer has the choice between three similar products, he usually buys the medium-priced. This it is a good idea to put price anchors on a product side. Therefore display two more items to the selected product, which may correspond to the customer’s request: one cheaper and a more expensive one. This helps the customer to feel comfortable with his decision.
Why we love high prices
A similar effect can be achieved on category pages by the phenomenon of adaptation. This means that we humans always adapt to situations. If we see a product group for the first time, we have to learn the prices first. Our brain comprehends quite quickly „how the wind blows” and calculates an average value, which is then the reference point towards further surfing (yes, there is a little math-genius in each one of us). It is therefore a good trick to display rather costly products on the first category page. Everything then appears less expensive. In addition: a wine we savor in blind tasting tastes better immediately when we are told that it is more expensive. And we do not just imagine that. An expensive wine simply appeals more to our reward center.
Why we nonetheless are looking for hot deals
However, words such as “special offer” or “discount” also directly appeal to our brain. Such stimulus words promise the reward we all look for when buying. Similarly, the “buy three, pay two” offerings. We always take the third product as a gift and are pleased about it. Such a gift also has the advantage that the recipient would like to revive. Therefore, he likes to come back for the next purchase and / or recommend the shop.
Conversely, round prices make us always suspicious. The shirt for 50 € appears expensive, at 48.48 €, we assume a bargain. The same also applies to 49.99 € – however, .-99-prices can also arouse the suspicion it is a matter of inferior quality or no longer a fresh good. 43 € in turn is completely unsexy. Then better pay 49.99 € (and everyone is happy).
Neuromarketing is based on two key findings:
- When buying people do not act rationally.
- When we buy something, we activate our reward center.
Neuromarketing therefore primarily aims to address the senses of users and customers in order to infiltrate the emotions of the visitors. The slogan is: more subliminal marketing, less direct advertising. Advertising often makes customers distrustful, while neuromarketing is “under the radar” of consciousness, triggering emotions. Most customers do not buy because the purchase is reasonable, but because the purchase makes them happy. If users have experienced this at an onlineshop, they are more likely to return and continue to show loyalty to the brand.