With technology shifting the marketing industry, neuromarketing has become integral in influencing the decision-making processes of consumers, especially when shopping online.
When used right, neuromarketing in web design can improve customer engagement and increase visibility and sales—all done via collecting and analyzing unconscious behaviour.
This article covers the basics of neuromarketing, discussing what it is and how it works, why it’s important for your e-commerce site, and how you can use it. It also provides examples of neuromarketing from successful brands.
What Is Neuromarketing And How Does It Work?
Neuromarketing is the science of measuring how marketing and advertising affect consumers.
Traditionally, researchers used methods like surveys and interviews to understand how ads impact consumer behaviour. But the rise of technology provided researchers with new ways to do this.
By using tools like functional magnetic resonance imaging scans (fMRI) and electroencephalograms (EEG), researchers can now directly see and analyze a consumer’s neural activity while interacting with products or viewing ads. These tools can also capture the first impressions a customer has when loading a website, and how easily they interface with a site’s layout.
Neuromarketing At Work
With the rise of neuromarketing, e-commerce sites began to take advantage of the information it provides to reach out more to customers.
Here are five examples of neuromarketing applied in strengthening businesses:
- BrandingEffective branding is crucial to the success of a business. It provides an identity and makes the product/service relatable to consumers.
Often, consumers gravitate toward specific brands, because they’ve associated them with positive experiences or feelings. In fact, researchers found that strong brands elicit strong activity in our brains. Thus, companies that invested in strong branding usually win among the competition.
Branding is just as important for e-commerce sites. Brand identity can let customers know what type of product or service to expect and can encourage engagement through positive associations.
- Product design and innovationNeuromarketing is also applied to developing and innovating new products or packaging designs.
When it comes to design, brands need to strike the balance between novelty and familiarity. On one hand, novelty taps into our curiosity and desire for new experiences; on the other, familiarity provides us with confidence and comfort.
Too much novelty can be overwhelming, and too much familiarity can be boring.
These two aspects of design are measured by focusing on two things: the type of attention a consumer gives to a product for novelty, and the positive emotional reactions to familiarity.
This fits into e-commerce by matching your product with your website’s design. While your products can be novel to attract new customers or keep current customers interested, you should be able to present these in a way that maintains their trust and familiarity and won’t scare them away.
- AdvertisingEarlier, you could only measure the impact of an ad after launching the campaign and looking at the sales figures. Today, neuromarketing has made it possible to measure how well an ad campaign will perform via testing it among small groups as opposed to a public release.
For example, the National Cancer Institute made use of fMRI scans to measure brain activity and compare advertising campaigns for their telephone hotline.
Among the three ad campaigns viewed by participants, one campaign had the highest amount of brain activity in a specific part of the brain. This was then correlated to higher calls to their hotline.
- Customer Decision-makingWhen people go shopping, they think they already know what they want to buy even before logging onto online shopping websites. But neuromarketing revealed that design details have an effect on the readability and comprehension of a website, and can affect what consumers purchase without them knowing.
The online shopping experience is full of stimuli— colour, font weight, and typeface—all of which can be adjusted to influence customer decision making.
Large online retailers such as eBay and Walmart are great examples of this. Pop-up windows featuring new products or sale announcements displayed in a large font on a website’s landing page are only a couple of ways that demonstrate how online retailers use visual cues to draw customers.
- Online ExperiencesOur online experiences are greatly formed by appearance and usability. This is partly because our brains are hardwired to easily interpret visual cues; we can immediately tell if a website looks safe or easy to use.
In fact, one study found that users could form an impression of a website in as fast as 50 milliseconds. Details such as website layout, colors, and font can all affect how a potential consumer builds associations with a brand.
It’s important that your customers have an easy time accessing and browsing your website. If it takes them too much time to find what they’re looking for, or if your color or font choices are too hard on the eyes, don’t be surprised if they take their business elsewhere.
Top Neuromarketing Techniques in Web Design
There are many ways that neuromarketing shaped today’s online shopping experience and how consumers interact with e-commerce sites. Most of the time, we’re not even aware of it.
As mentioned, the goal of using neuromarketing in web design is to improve conversion rates and consumer engagement through the strategic use of cognitive biases.
We’ve listed four popular neuromarketing techniques below for you to read and implement to your own business:
- Eye TrackingOne technique that is actively used in neuromarketing is eye gaze or eye tracking.
In eye tracking, you measure either the point of gaze/where your audience is looking or the motion of an eye relative to a person’s head. Basically, it tracks how a person looks at something by how long they spend looking at a specific area, or the direction one looks over an item.
This can be achieved through the use of wearable eye trackers that automatically collect and record relevant data.
Eye tracking has many applications.
For one, you can use it to analyze how users interact with your products or services. This way, you can identify potential problems in terms of UX and remedy the issues—resulting in an increase in engagement and customer satisfaction.
Eye tracking is essential in web design. A groundbreaking study by the Nielsen Norman Group found that many people using websites tend to scan websites in an F-shaped pattern. This has shaped how websites are commonly designed, with the most important information being presented in the upper left corner of the site.
However, they also found that this F-shaped pattern of scanning websites is often the result of poor layout, and indicates that users are not that interested in reading all information on a page.
- Color PsychologyColor psychology is the study of how colors affect and predict human behavior. Because sight is the most used sense in humans, color plays a significant role in influencing purchasing decisions.
For example, companies go to great lengths to test how colors can affect ads and call-to-action buttons. One study found that a red call-to-action button will more likely to result in consumer engagement compared with a green call-to-action button.
The effects of color extend beyond encouraging engagement. It can also affect perceptions, such as how food tastes or the effectiveness of a placebo pill. Colors can also convey emotions or feelings, such as how yellow or orange can be interpreted as energetic, while blue can be interpreted as calming and relaxing.
Because of the effects color can have, color psychology is used extensively in online marketing and branding. This is most often seen in how brands choose specific colors for their logos, as these palettes need to align with the brand’s personality and identity, or how retail websites choose the colors of their website design.
For example, websites that focus on selling wellness related products often go for layouts that feature soft colors and are pleasing on the eyes, such as pastel colors, or green or blue hues. On the other hand, e-commerce websites that specialize in sports or active lifestyles often make use of bright or vibrant colors in their layouts such as red or orange.
However, how well color works in selling depends on execution and audience reception. Certain colors affect a person differently, depending on factors like gender or age. At the end of the day, color psychology entails understanding your target market so you can convey the correct message.
Font weight and typeface all have an effect on the readability and comprehension of a website.The effect of font can be seen in one study, wherein the font chosen for menus affected consumer perception of how good a soup was.
Two groups were presented with menus using different fonts—one using the elegantly styled Lucida Calligraphy font, and the other using the simple Courier font. Both menus presented a soup as “rich and creamy.”
While both groups were given the same soup to eat, ⅔ more of the group from the Lucida Calligraphy menu found the soup tastier, fresher, and more enjoyable compared with those from the Courier group.
Additionally, familiar posts are also found to increase customer trust. One study by Yale professor, Nathan Novemsky showed two leaflets with the same information but different typography (one familiar, one not so) to have drastically different results.
Four out of 10 participants that viewed the leaflet with unfamiliar typography told Novemsky that they’d still think more before buying the featured phone; while only 83% of the participants handed with the leaflet with familiar typography said they’d buy the phone right away.
- Trust Seals
In the context of web design, to convince buyers to do business with you is to present yourself as trustworthy and professional.One way to do this is through social media shares. Social sharing counters show that other users are engaging with your brand and therefore, trust you as a business.
Another thing you can do is to use trust seals, such as certifications, memberships, and awards. These credentials foster trust and good reputation among consumers, further increasing the chances that they’ll do business with you.
Other Neuromarketing Hacks You Should Know About
- Scarcity CuesScarcity cues such as “Almost Sold Out” or “Limited Edition” advertisements create a sense of urgency. It makes a consumer feel that they must buy the product right away to avail the offer before it runs out. These appeals take advantage of a person’s fear of missing out.
Research has shown that these appeals work on two types of personality traits: specifically, a low need for uniqueness (making a person more likely to conform to a group), and a high need for uniqueness (making a person more likely to exhibit self-distinguishing behavior).
“Almost sold out” will appeal to those who want to conform, while “Limited Edition” will appeal to those who want to be unique.
The trick to taking advantage of this is to find out how your customers classify themselves in terms of these personality traits. Depending on your data, either highlight the low number of stocks or the rarity of an item.
Online retailers do this often by displaying “Few Stocks Left!” next to the price tag of their items. If ever these items do run out of stock, they often follow it up with “Limited Restock Planned Soon!” to keep customers interested.
- AnchoringThe anchoring effect is a cognitive bias that makes you rely too heavily on the first piece of information that you receive. As a result, you make decisions based on comparative values, rather than the objective value of different options.
This is because humans tend to make hasty decisions based on their current circumstances and current situation, as opposed to making a rational decision based on the overall situation.
Businesses take advantage of this tendency all the time.
Imagine shopping online for a new pair of shoes with a budget of around $40. However, while shopping, you come across a pair of shoes that in all aspects is perfect, except it costs $80—twice your budget.
Then, as you’re removing it from your cart, you find out that the pair is on discount for only $60. Although $60 is still out of your budget, you compare it to the initial price you were presented with ($80), and come to the decision that $60 is an okay price to spend. You end up buying it.
If your business is in retail, you can apply this by making use of discount coupons to create appealing anchor prices.
- Pricing PsychologyPsychological pricing is a marketing strategy that’s based on the idea that specific prices can have a psychological impact on buyers.
An example that buyers are all familiar with is the use of pricing at $19.99 rather than $20.00.
This is because buyers associate these prices as lower than they really are, rounding them down rather than rounding them up.
However, finding the right balance of pricing your goods or services can be difficult. While prices that are too high can easily drive potential customers away to competitors, prices that are too low can make potential customers question the quality of what you sell.
Oberlo lists pricing strategies that you can use to stay competitive, such as making use of pricing tiers, offering bundles, and pricing at market value.
Brands That Have Embraced And Mastered Neuromarketing
As neuromarketing rises in popularity among businesses, there are many companies that are already ahead of the curve in terms of its strategic application. Two such companies are Amazon and ThinkGeek.
Amazon is one of the most well-known online retail websites, and its brand is synonymous with online shopping. The company uses many of the neuromarketing techniques listed in this article, but because it focuses on retail, two of the techniques that they use the most are anchoring and scarcity cues.
First, Amazon uses anchoring in many of their product pages. They lists their products in ways that highlight discounts by listing its regular retail price, visually crossing it out, and listing its new discounted price. They highlight this even more by showing the percentage you’d be saving by making the purchase at its current price.
Second, Amazon also shows shoppers when items are low in stock, tapping into a shopper’s fear of missing out. This scarcity cue encourages shoppers to buy before the items are out of stock.
Given Amazon’s success, it’s clear that these neuromarketing techniques are working.
ThinkGeek mastered neuromarketing by being one of the top websites that comes to mind for the geek audience. Aside from having a brand identity strong enough to appeal to a niche market, its advertising, product innovation, and online experience all cater to their customers.
ThinkGeek makes use of geek lingo, color psychology, and a well-designed website to maintain their brand’s identity (green and gray) while highlighting their products and current deals (large fonts and bright colors like yellow).
Their website also uses pricing psychology by listing their prices rounded down to $.99, as well as anchoring and scarcity cues.
Neuromarketing has provided new avenues for measuring and understanding consumer behavior. As a business owner, using this science to build your brand and connect with your customers will keep you competitive and relevant.
Stay on top of the competition using the different techniques listed here, and let us know how it went for you in the comments.