Decision Triggers – Brain Science & Conversions - Andre Morys at Conversion Conference 2011

Posted by Mark Slocock on 01 December 2011

Andrew Morys, CEO at Web Arts, talked about the psychology of what makes people buy, which I found fascinating and it was one of my favourites of the event.

Andre started by looking at the web and what it is at it's core - the web is people, so to improve conversion we need to understand people and how they behave.

The current cycle that most marketers think about is, generate traffic to the website then analyise with web analytics. They are missing the person in the process, their perception, limibic system, prefrontal portex, motor control and their hand - all the things that give stimulus to someone to buy from the website - as marketers, we think we are getting the stimulus right, however most customers see things as clearly as we do.

Alot of the time people don't know why they do things themsleves, so how can we as online marketers know what will make them buy? Understanding your customers decision making process (social and unconscious) is vital to conversion rate optimisation.

Andre has built up a toolbox of rules or heurstics in order to understand how the decision process works; Contrast, Commitment, Consistency, Sympathy, Resonance, Reciprocity, Scarcity, Social Proof and Authority.

Social proof is that people do what other people do. Gave an example of a restaurant, he asked the room a question: given a choice of two restaurants in restaurant A there is a 30 min wait, in restaurant B you are served instantly - which one would you choose? Most people said B. Andre then showed a picture of the restaurants - A was packed, B was empty - which one would you choose now?

An example of social proof as a factor in conversion is the test they did on the FireFox download page - putting the number of downloads so far (79,337,067) resulted in people downloading the software (1,700,000 more).

In another experiment, one group of people were given 10 cookies, the second group were given 2 cookies, both groups were asked to rate the taste, whether they would buy them and what price would they suggest. Group 2 rated the taste better, were more likely to buy and would pay a higher price, showing that scarcity makes people want something more - in this case 21.6% more.

The second stage of the test was to run the same test with two more groups, this time, group one got 10 cookies as before, group two also got 10 but then 8 were taken away saying they needed them for other groups. The result was group two rated the taste much better were more likely to buy and at an even higher price - overall 53.8% higher that group one.

An example of scarcity as a factor in conversion is a test they ran for a photo copier company, one landing page focused on the features as a benefit, the other offered a deal only available for 48 hours, the latter landing page had converted 138% better than the former.

When looking at contrast, Andre gave the following example, giving a choice of two bottles of lager - one priced at 1.60 euros the other at 2.60 euros, 57% chose the cheaper bottle. When a third bottle was added, priced at 3 euros 63% of people choose the 2.80 euro bottle - an uplift of 12%.

Andre went on to show a number of examples where adding a third, more expensive option increased the conversion of the middle option, he also gave an example where listing the options in descending order rather than ascending order resulted in a 35% increase.

Resonance is about triggering an emotional response, in order to measure the emotional response to a design Web Arts used an MRI scan to test the emotional response to two shoe retailer websites - the first Zappos and the second Shoe Guru, Zappos has a more cluttered design where as Shoe Guru has one hero photo of a shoe and a much more simple design, the part are of the brain responsible for emotion is the Nucleus accumbens, the emotional response to Shoe Guru was much stronger than Zappos.

They ran a test for a shoe retailer in Germany where they first surveyed people to ask them what factors influenced their decision to buy, the designs tested were the orignal content but layout optimised for emotional response, content changed to focus on quailty, content changed to focus on style, content changed to focus on dominance (i.e. status, how cool the shoe is and howit makes you feel). The dominance version won the test with an uplift of 79%.

This approach doesn't only work for shoes, they tested the same approach for a product I had never heard of - armpit sweat pads - where they tested three landing pages with the same design with different copy:

  • One focused on feeling good
  • One focused on how the product will make you more attactive
  • One focsed on controlling the situation

The landing page focused on controlling the problem (of sweaty armpits) gave a 93% increase in conversion.

Andre finished with 5 tips for CRO:

1. Look outside your web analytics system, watch user behaviour live!
2. Learn about behavioural economics, consumer psychology and neuromaketing. Lindstorm
3. Find out, what motivates your clients.
4. Don't test things on the surface, test social effects and motives.
5. Don't wait for tips from somebody else, learn from you customers.

All in all a really interesting talk and one that really reasonated with me.  

View the slides.

Recommended Reading:

Next Talk: Praxeology - Lessons from a lost science by Rory Sutherland.

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