Your website is attracting attention and gaining traffic, but visitors are not taking the next step to become customers. Now what? Neuroscience may have the answers. There are countless articles and best practices about Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). However, did you know that improving your understanding of the brain, particularly the unconscious brain, can help you reach even greater success?

You live your life 95% unconsciously. Let me say that another way. You are only conscious of 5% of your actions and decisions.

What does this mean? Well, for instance, research has proven that if you nod your head up and down during a negotiation, the other party in the negotiation will, unconsciously, react positively.  If you give someone your resume on a heavy clipboard, you will be perceived, unconsciously, as “weightier” and you will become a favored candidate. If you give someone a warm cup of coffee, they will, unconsciously, think you are a warm person. All of these things will happen without your conscious knowledge.

If you have read Robert Cialdini’s famous and important book, “Influence,” you will know that we can be persuaded to do things through six paths (of which we are mostly unconscious): social proof, commitment, reciprocity, authority, liking and scarcity. If I give you a gift, you cannot resist giving me something in return (reciprocity). If 100 people have bought your product, then it must be good (social proof) and I should buy it. And, if I say that my offer expires at the end of the day, you will feel a greater urge to buy it. And so on.

In website development, we use unconscious influence to improve conversions as follows:

  • Price: Show high-priced items first to increase spending.
  • Reason Why: Tell the customer why you are making this offer at this time.
  • Reciprocity: Give the visitor something for free, such as an e-book download, valuable knowledge or insight, or some feeling of membership, participation or social good.
  • Calls-to-action (CTAs): If you ask the prospect to take a large step and they decline, they may be more likely to take a small step after that.
  • Commitment: If you ask the visitor to indicate their intentions, such as through an informal online poll, they are more likely to actually take that action at some point.
  • Social Proof: Common online representations of social proof can include testimonials, logos of satisfied customers, reviews, numbers of units sold, etc.
  • Relatable People: We like people who are like us. By “like us,” I mean how we see ourselves–not necessarily who we really are. Website photos, videos and illustrations should depict people who are attractive and relatable, who make eye contact with us, who seem kind, honest and intelligent, and who seem cooperative.
  • Authority: The more an organization is perceived to be an authority on a topic, the more likely it is that visitors will comply with the action requested in the CTA. This can also apply to organizations that display a “seal of approval” from a trusted third-party authority.
  • Scarcity: Fear is a powerful motivator. Is time running out? Is supply running out? If so, tell the customer that.

>> Want to learn more? Register for our upcoming Neuromarketing webinar. <<

If your website visitors aren’t doing what you’re asking them to do, try employing some of these techniques. Every business is unique, so test them one at a time or A/B test to see what works. You might be tempted to survey your visitors, but unfortunately you will not likely determine why they do or do not take action on your website. Why? Because they don’t know why they do the things they do. Everything they tell you is likely to be after-the-fact rationalization.

As a result, if you are running customer surveys but not considering neuroscience and evolution when you create your website pages, you are lucky to make connections or conversions. For example, does your website depict any women alone? If so, you may be making a mistake. Throughout evolution, women gathered in groups, social groups, while men went hunting. The men went alone, hid themselves and said nothing, not wanting to be noticed and possibly eaten by the prey they were hunting. Women worked together and built great social and empathetic skills. Men, of course, competed to bring home the most game and to get the most attention for mating. (Does this sound familiar?)

Women and men do not all act according to these stereotypes, but we cannot deny evolution.  We must pay attention to it and the thousands of years of brain development. Women have a greater facility for language and for connections between the hemispheres of the brain. This cannot be denied. Men react differently and must be approached differently if you want them to convert. For instance, men cannot multitask the way women can. Men are mostly single-minded. Literally.

Does your website reflect these realities (and there are many, many more)? If not, then your conversions are potentially the result of a crapshoot. You have too much invested, and too much at stake, not to verse yourself in neuroscience and neuromarketing (as well as an understanding of evolution). If you ignore neuroscience and neuromarketing, you will not take full advantage of your conversion opportunities. Tune into the brain today.

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About the Author: 

Edward Barr, author of Your Lizard Brain is Calling You, is one of the nation’s foremost authorities on neuromarketing. His experience as a professor and researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, and as a global marketing executive in for-profit and non-profit organizations, gives him a unique perspective on the emerging science of neuromarketing, along with a practical understanding of how to put this knowledge into action.

Barr has taught at Carnegie Mellon for 25 years. He also served as Chief Marketing Officer for a CMU for-profit, iCarnegie, which sold CMU learning around the world. Before that, he was VP of Marketing for Allegheny University Medical Practices, a network of 82 medical offices in western Pennsylvania. Barr has traveled for business and taught extensively in China, India, Mexico, Panama, Colombia, Brazil, London, Amsterdam, Turkey and Kazakhstan.