By knowing how the human brain processes images and information, and putting that knowledge to use, your business and your website can become more effective and engaging.
Researchers in the field of neuromarketing research are working to figure out how our hard-wired preferences affect the decisions we make. This area of research, if it had to be described in a single sentence, is, according to the Neuromarketing Science and Business Association “the systematic collection and interpretation of neurological and neurophysiological insights about individuals using different protocols, allowing researchers to explore nonverbal and unconscious physiological responses to various stimuli for the purposes of market research” or, how the human mind responds to marketing and how it affects both our conscious and unconscious behaviour.
It is important to understand how our brains process the images we see and the information we read. We all have hard-wired cognitive biases built right into us. As a species we simply can’t help it, and marketing strategies either work with or against said cognitive biases. With the competition for our readers’ and viewers’ attention being incredibly fierce, and increasingly more so in our ever more connected world, having insight into what lights up our minds and why, can give you an edge in whichever competitive marketplace your business happens to be in.
Every one of us has a primitive brain
The amygdala controls our emotions as well as our reactions, and it works incredibly faster than our rational, conscious mind. Emotions make a more lasting imprint in our minds than any rational thought, with these “gut” reactions experienced by us in less than three seconds.
In your website content, pay attention to the stuff that people see first – your article headline – or in the content of your website, make your pages especially welcoming and intuitively understood.
In email marketing, the subject line that you choose to use, as well as the portion of text that is read first on mobile devices, should grab the readers attention and speak to their emotions, their needs, their wants, and possibly their pains.
You should aim for that gut reaction and how your content looks when it is scanned quickly, simply because very few people have both the time and/or inclination to read everything in detail.
Our brains really love images
The human brain processes pictures and images much much faster than it does when reading text. Of all the data that the human mind takes in and processes, approximately 90% is visual, and we remember textual content much more when it is accompanied with visual imagery.
Make your website images special, such as real-life photos of your hotel guests, with permission of course, or funny images which make people chuckle to themselves if your business is fun oriented.
Images of faces
Research suggests humans who were more able to build close relationships with others and who were also able to quickly identify any threats, were more favoured by the process of natural selection. As part of that process we have become wired to prefer and recognise human faces (and cute baby animals) right from birth. The area of the brain that processes human faces – the fusiform face area – is next to the area that processes human emotions.
You should use images of real people in your website content, and you could consider inserting faces into landing pages, emails or any area which is designed to drive a desired action.
Eye tracking studies have shown that the human brain will first look towards faces on a website page. We also are more likely to look where the face is itself appearing to look, so consider including an image of a face looking towards that crucial bit of text or your call-to-action button.
Names can change behaviour
Our reaction to an object/product/service is affected by what it is named.
A 2013 study into how the labels of foodstuffs affects what we eat, found that when people were offered the option to bid for food items based on the named label size, participants were willing to pay only half as much for portions labelled as “half-size,” as participants would pay when the same portion was labelled “regular.”
You should carefully consider how the wording may influence your readers when you are naming products. Also, when you describe available options or customer messages, you should consider how, what the options or messages are called, could affect your customer’s decisions.
People’s desire to belong
We have an in-built craving to conform and humans are social animals that are heavily dependent on imitative learning.
You should try to remove any anxiety and build credibility with your website’s visitors by using endorsements and social proof from well known persons or associations in your marketplace, such as logos, testimonials, social media shares etc..
Use specific and inclusive language in your call-to-action buttons/text/images to signal to your customers that they are conforming with those people/companies perceived to be of high value. Consider, instead of using language such as “we are the area’s leading logistics provider”, you may think about saying “join the many satisfied clients who use our services on a daily basis”.
Colours can help to inspire specific feelings
There is much more to a choice of colour than merely what may look good on a screen. Different colours can give rise to different signals in the human brain. Research studies have shown that from 62 to 90% of a persons feeling about a service or product can be determined by the colour all by itself.
Red creates a sense of urgency (possibly why we can get impatient waiting for the traffic lights to change?), as well as passion.
Yellow can activate the anxiety centre of the brain, but can also induce a sense of surprise.
Blue is known to help build trust.
Green gives a feeling of new and fresh, as well as peace and harmony.
There is a mixture of art and science when it comes to colour choice for your website design, especially in the digital landscape when it comes to call-to-action areas of your content. The colours which work the best for your business will depend on it’s audience and marketplace positioning, and a good approach to take is to test how various colours affect your customer’s responses before going forward with any particular colours.