Contrary to what some might think, the human brain does not like making logical decisions. Over time we have developed cognitive shortcuts to save mental energy. People use these shortcuts for decision making more than they think and are usually unaware they are even using them. Decision science is the practice of understanding these shortcuts and structuring offers and processes to take advantage of them. The key take-away for me from Nancy Harhunt’s impressive session at SXSW 2015 was that consumers are not always rational and that decision science provides valuable insight into the choices people make.
5 Science based tactics for more persuasive marketing:
1. Offer “social proof”
The actions of others inform what decisions you are comfortable making. You’re more likely to buy something you see someone else buying as you take this as evidence that the value, quality or utility are good. Shopping malls create a social environment that surrounds you with social proof — scores of other people buying in general, and more specifically buying the same brands or products you are considering. Replicating this phenomenon with your online sign-up or e-commerce purchase processes can positively effect conversion rates. Provide plenty of social evidence by including customer testimonials or emphasizing the number of people that have already signed up or bought from you.
In a past post at FLIPP.ca I explained the opportunity of providing “social proof” through using curated crowd sourced product images on your e-commerce pages.
2. Loss aversion
Psychologists have proven that people are more motivated by the desire to avoid loss/pain than by the desire to achieve gain. Pain is twice as psychologically powerful as pleasure. The most effective marketing messages often emphasize the downside of life without a product or service, rather than emphasizing the benefits of life with them. Consider showing the other side of the coin in your campaigns. The miserable, empty, new jean free side of the coin 🙂
3. Emphasize the new and novel
For survival, humans have evolved to detect novelty and change. What is different about the immediate situation that could be a threat? Even though all the saber-toothed tigers are gone decision science shows we are still primed to dedicate attention to the novel.
Eye-tracking tests confirm that we’re automatically drawn to words that suggest a change like: “new,” “now,” “announcing,” “introducing,” “discover,” “finally,” and “soon.” You can significantly improve your click-through and open rates by using these words whenever reasonable.
4. Keep it simple
“Cognitive fluency” is the notion that people prefer things that are easy to understand and judge them to be more accurate. When you want people to feel comfortable making decisions, remove the cognitive clutter. Keep marketing messages and creative concepts single focused. Communicate one thing then give a clear and complimentary call to action.
5. Commitment consistency
A common mental short cut is to keep doing what you are/have been doing. Once you’ve said yes to something once, even a small request, you are more likely to continue to act in a way that is consistent with that commitment. This phenomenon is the basis for the foot in the door sales technique where an initial simple ask like signing up for a newsletter or accepting a free trial can get a prospect moving down the path to becoming a customer. Try it.
This is one of five posts which were also published at FLIPP.ca on the some of the top insights I gleaned from SXSW 2015. More to come tomorrow. Read the rest at here.
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