How to Use Neuromarketing to Improve Your Conversions
Along with the rise of communication technologies in the era of big data, neuromarketing has been gaining in popularity over the last decade and has now become one of the most cutting-edge research tools for business.
The human mind is a complex universe and it’s key for businesses to understand how it ticks if they want to stay ahead of the competition. The potential for understanding and influencing consumer decision-making through neuroscience is huge, and businesses are taking note. So here’s a neuromarketing 101 to get you started on using this powerful tool to improve your conversions.
In this post:
- What is neuromarketing?
- The buying decision and how to influence it using neuromarketing
- The customer path to purchase
- Areas of the brain triggered during the buying decision
- How to reach the neocortex to increase the probability of conversion
- Mirror neurons and their impact on consumer behaviour
- Applications of neuromarketing
- Should we be afraid of neuroscience?
What is neuromarketing?
Neuromarketing is a field of research that uses neuroscience to better understand how people interact with marketing stimuli and develop strategies to influence consumer behaviour. It combines techniques from marketing, psychology, and neuroscience to measure brain activity that is associated with different marketing inputs.
Neuromarketing was born in 2004 when Read Montagne, Professor of Neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine, published his neuromarketing research study in Neuron. Particularly, neuromarketing studies how the human brain processes information when making decisions, and uses this knowledge to improve marketing strategies and conversions.
By understanding the way different parts of the brain respond to different types of advertising, you can fine-tune your marketing messages to have a greater impact on your audience.
The buying decision and how to influence it using neuromarketing
It’s been long established that emotions play a key role in decision making. Studies have shown that up to 95% of purchase decisions are made based on emotions. And while rational thought does play a role in the final decision, it is usually emotion that tips the scales. This is why neuromarketing is nowadays this popular. It helps better understand those emotions and thoughts that go into a purchase decision. Why do humans feel the need for a particular product? neuromarketing can help answer that.
When a person is considering buying a product or service, they will go through what experts call the “path to purchase”. The path to purchase a customer takes depends on a number of factors, including the type of product they’re considering buying, the level of involvement required to make the purchase, and where they are in their “buying cycle”. For that reason, there is no agreement on the stages that make up the path to purchase.
However, experts suggest the customer journey to make a decision takes between three and seven stages. We will share our self-developed framework for the path to purchase that takes into account different aspects.
The customer path to purchase
A regular customer journey has the following steps:
- Purchase decision
- Loyalty development
The first step is the awareness stage or connection stage. The purpose at this level is that potential customers become aware of your product or service. This can be done through advertising, word-of-mouth, or personal experience.
At this level, the customer may not yet be interested in purchasing the product, but they are aware of its existence. First impressions are critical, and if a customer doesn’t care what they see, they may not move on to the next stage. Also, the more frequently they see your product, the more likely they are to remember it when they need it.
Once the potential customer is aware of the existence of your product, you want them to move to the second stage: interest. At this level, they start to become interested in your product or service and want to know more about it. They may do some research online or ask friends for recommendations.
This is the stage where you need to capture their attention and give them a reason to want to buy your product. The customer isn’t still thinking of acquiring your product or service, but they are willing to know more about it. They might come up with some queries such as “Why do people use this product?”, “How does this product work?”, “What makes it better than other products in the market?”.
The third stage is the consideration stage or evaluation stage. At this point, potential customers know they need a product or service like yours and are actively considering making a purchase.
The customer starts to weigh the pros and cons of acquiring it. In this step, the customer forms a perception. They will take into account their own needs and wants, as well as any external factors such as price, availability, brands, and so on.
This far into the decision-making process, neuromarketing can be used to influence the customer by providing more information about the product or service, or by appealing to their emotions. For instance, if a customer is considering buying a car, neuromarketing could be used to show them how the car will make them feel, rather than just listing the features and specifications. This is a make-or-break stage, as the customer will either decide to purchase the product or move on to something else.
The fourth stage is known as the purchase decision stage. This is when the customer finally decides whether or not to buy the product or service. This is usually based on a combination of rational thought and emotion. If the customer has been persuaded by neuromarketing techniques, they are more likely to make the purchase. In this stage, user experience is crucial.
If the purchase process is easy and hassle-free, the customer is more likely to buy the product. On the other hand, if the purchase process is complicated or takes too long, the customer may change their mind in the final stage. Besides, if the customer has a positive experience, they are more likely to buy from you again in the future.
After the purchase decision stage, there is a fifth stage known as the post-purchase stage. This is when the customer uses and evaluates the product or service. If they are happy with it, they are likely to leave a positive review or recommend it to others.
On the other hand, if they are not satisfied with the product, they may never buy from you again. This is why it is important to ensure that the product or service meets the customer’s expectations and that they have a positive experience using it. This stage is known as loyalty development.
Areas of the brain triggered during the buying decision
If you’re a marketer or work with marketing, chances are you’ve heard about the ‘old’, ‘middle’, and ‘new’ brains in relation to how we make the decision to buy a product. When making a buying decision, three different main areas of the brain are involved:
- The reptilian brain (the ‘old’ brain)
- The limbic brain (the ‘middle’ brain)
- The neocortex (the ‘new’ brain)
The reptilian brain is responsible for our basic survival instincts, such as the fight-or-flight response. This part of the brain is activated when we see something that we want or need. It is also responsible for our ‘gut feelings’ and first impressions. Marketing campaigns based on fear, such as fear of missing out (FOMO), are designed to trigger this part of the brain.
The limbic brain is responsible for our emotions and memories. It is activated when we see something that we associate with positive emotions, such as happiness, love, or excitement. This part of the brain is also responsible for making us feel good about ourselves. Marketing campaigns that focus on positive emotions, such as those that show happy people using a particular product and feeling self-fulfilled, are designed to trigger this part of the brain.
The neocortex is responsible for our rational thought and decision-making. It is activated when we see something that we know is good for us, such as a product that is well-made or a service that is good value for money. This part of the brain is also responsible for processing new information and making sure that we understand it. Marketing campaigns that focus on logic and rationality, such as those that show how a product works or explain the benefits of a service, are designed to trigger this part of the brain.
In classic economic theory, consumers make choices after considering all relevant information or arguments provided by the brand, using the ‘new’ brain (the neocortex). According to neuroscience, however, the buying decision is mostly made in the limbic system (the ‘middle one’), and our decision-making is much more emotional and much less rational than we’d all like to believe. We make decisions based on emotions and feelings at a nonconscious level, often without being able to articulate why we make the choices we make.
In most cases, brands don’t even reach the state where they can present their arguments or information (neocortex) to customers to convince them to buy. The decision to buy or not is already subconsciously made by the time the consumer is presented with the complete set of cold, hard facts and watertight logical arguments. Now we know which areas of the brain are responsible for the buying decision, let’s look at how neuroscience can measure them. There are three main methods used to measure how the brain responds to marketing stimuli and influence conversion.
How to reach the neocortex to increase the probability of conversion
To reach the neocortex, which is the part of the brain responsible for our rational thought and decision-making, information must first pass the reptilian brain, responsible for engaging our attention. Then, it must enter the limbic system, responsible for our emotions and memories.
To reach the neocortex, then, we need to create marketing campaigns that appeal to both the reptilian and limbic brains:
- The reptilian brain is engaged by attention-grabbing stimuli, such as unexpected or unusual images (either real or conjured up by the imagination), bright colours, and fast-paced movement.
- The limbic system is engaged by emotionalising our target customers. Not everyone responds the same, so we need to know our audience very well to know what will appeal to their emotions.
Once we have the attention of both the reptilian and limbic brains, we can start to engage the neocortex with our arguments and information. However, the cognitive load we place on our customers once we reach the neocortex must be low.
Complex products require a lot of information to penetrate and pass the limbic system into the neocortex. Therefore, it’s important to present this information in a simple way. This can get tricky in niche industries (like SaaS) where products require a certain level of technical skills, and the same applies to every market the brand decides to penetrate (for Spanish-speaking regions, that’s when you call Crisol Translation Services, the SaaS experts).
Mirror neurons and their impact on consumer behaviour
Mirror neurons are a type of neuron that fire both when an individual performs an action and when they see someone else performing the same action. This means that mirror neurons can help to create a sense of empathy and understanding.
Leveraging these neurons is an effective way of neuromarketing activating the limbic system and, as a result, influencing conversion. Research has shown that the activation of mirror neurons can influence consumer behaviour. When you see someone else enjoying a product or service, it activates your mirror neurons and makes you more likely to want to try the product or service yourself.
This is why social media is such an effective tool for marketing – it allows brands to show their target customers how other people are using and enjoying their products.
Applications of neuromarketing
Now that we know how neuromarketing works, let’s take a look at some practical cases of how it can be used to influence conversion.
Companies can apply neuromarketing to enhance website design and creative assets.
For example, a design that favours the natural way in which our brains scan a page and skim through the content can guide visitors to a CTA that will increase conversion. The bounce rate can also be optimised by decreasing the cognitive load placed on visitors’ brains, which favours dwell time.
During our Creative Language Conference, for example, Giulia Tarditi spoke about something very much related to this: the differing degrees of intensity with which website visitors look at different parts of a page:
She then told us how her department is approaching the localisation of each of these areas of text differently, with the most budget (i.e., professional copywriting or transcreation) assigned to key sections like headlines and CTAs, and machine translation used for footnotes and other types of texts that users don’t tend to read.
Have you ever noticed that some restaurants remove the $ sign in the pricing section of their menus? As it turns out, this tactic, called neuropricing, has the power to boost sales by up to 8%. The use of price reductions, volume discounts, special displays, raffles, and vouchers is also part of this way of applying neuromarketing to pricing.
Another example is that of companies promoting three differently priced packs for their products, with the middle one being only slightly more expensive than the first. The human brain is wired to go for the middle option, which is called the decoy effect or asymmetric dominance.
The way in which products are packaged also affects conversion and consumer behaviour. Neuromarketing techniques can be used to make products more attractive and appealing to customers.
Logo position, colours, font, and the shape and symmetry of the package are all important factors that can influence conversion, and many studies prove they can impact customers’ unconscious perceptions.
Should we be afraid of neuroscience?
Some people may be concerned about the impact of neuromarketing on consumer behaviour. Some say it is a form of “brainwashing” and that it could be used to manipulate people into buying things they don’t need. Even though this is not totally crazy, neuromarketing is not about manipulating people – it is about understanding how the brain works and using this knowledge to improve marketing messages.
However, it is important to remember that as research goes on, we have to be extremely careful about how to use neuroscience in a useful yet responsible way that is beneficial to both consumers and businesses. After all, neuroscience is an exciting field that has the potential to revolutionise the world and, if we use it responsibly, we can help not only make improvements in marketing but also in the way we relate to others, live our lives, and make use of our time.
Author: Maria Scheibengraf
Maria Scheibengraf is an English-to-Spanish marketing and SEO translator specialised in software (SaaS, martech, fintech), and Operations Manager at Crisol Translation Services, which she co-founded in 2016. With a solid background in programming and marketing, Maria has an in-depth understanding of the technical intricacies involved in software programs, websites, and digital platforms. Maria is also the author of The SEO Translation Bible.