Natural Instincts Drive Our Behavior:
Guest post by Jenna Brandon
Would you believe me if I said that deep inside we are still those savages who lived in caves and walked around in leather thousands of years ago?
Of course, modern human beings are advanced and sophisticated creatures. We have iPhones and Tesla cars; we live in fancy houses and wear nice clothes (even though leather seems to never go out of style). But our natural instincts haven’t changed much since ancient times, and our brain still follows the same thinking patterns.
In fact, humans are so predictable, that there are even psychological explanations for why we buy. Neuromarketing is a relatively new science on the verge between psychology and marketing that studies consumer behavior, and it turns out there are a lot of buttons in our brain that can be pushed to make us take this or that action.
Wouldn’t you like to know about them?
Today I want to talk about 7 cognitive biases that neuromarketing can leverage and explain how to apply this knowledge in order to grow your blog.
1. Confirmation Bias.
How often do we buy certain products simply because the ad somehow repeats our own thoughts and feelings? “Oh yes, I know everything about not sleeping well. Don’t tell me about those dark circles under my eyes and tons of coffee in the morning! What is it you’re saying? Your mattress can help? Hmm, can I pay with a credit card?”
Fortunately or not, it’s no magic. It’s simply neuromarketing concept called “confirmation bias” being used by smart marketers.
“Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs or hypotheses, while giving disproportionately less consideration to alternative possibilities” (Wikipedia).
Simply put, people are more susceptible to notions that confirm or restate those that already exist in their minds, and are less likely to react positively to something new or strange.
How you can use it: Give your readers what they want and don’t try hard to change their mind. For example, create a poll on your blog and ask your readers what interests them the most. What topics would they like you to cover? Which questions do they have? It is a brilliant way to get into the heads of your readers in order to later create content that would resonate with their moods.
Another great hack is to use confirmation bias when creating various banners for your website. Start the copy with “Have you ever” or “Don’t you want” to show you know exactly what your readers are thinking. Get inspired by this amazing Porsche ad:
2. Mimicry Effect (Commonly Known as “Mirroring”).
Mimicry is an old psychological concept and rapport building trick suggested by every smart networking book. In layman’s terms, mimicry is a conscious or subconscious imitation of someone’s behavior, gestures, facial expressions, etc. Such act supposedly creates an invisible bond between two people and makes a person you imitate immediately like you (since we tend to be more attracted to people who remind us of ourselves).
According to this theory, if you want to make a good impression on someone, you have to “mirror” the behavior of this person. If he/she rubs his/her nose or smiles – do the same. You can even try to copy the accent or fashion style of this person.
How you can use it: Since copying your reader’s gestures and intonations is impossible when you have no idea how they look like (ok, ok, maybe sometimes you see Gravatars, but that’s not really helpful), the only thing that’s left is words. Study your comment section and analyze the language they speak. Talk like they talk, use exact words and phrases that they use when shooting emails or commenting on your posts. Use colloquialisms and buzzwords if that’s what your audience needs, and stick to very formal tone when jargon is not appropriate.
3. Law of Reciprocity
“If you want to be loved, love,” Seneca said. Why? Because there’s a neuroscientific law that states that people feel obliged to return favors.
In as much as we feel lucky when someone offers us a freebie, a quiet voice in us wakes up urging to give something in return. This is why various giveaways are so popular: people are thankful and feel the need to express their gratitude, so they tip more, buy more, or recommend you to friends.
How you can use it: Give’em some love first; don’t wait for a special moment. Reward your readers for visiting your blog with a free trial, e-book, or a cheat sheet. Let them know you appreciate their trust, and you’ll see how much more repeat visits, comments, and shares such approach generates. This is, for example, how Ducttapemarketing does it:
4. Power of Emotions
“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion (Dale Carnegie).” Boy, was he right! How often do we turn a blind eye to logical reasoning and get obsessed by something completely useless simply because it’s cute? Or stop at the supermarket to get some milk and end up carrying 2 bags full of products?
In fact, we are more human than we think. Ads that appeal to emotions are proven to be more effective than rational ones, but only if those emotions are positive, not negative. People are more willing to buy when they subconsciously associate the brand with feelings of comfort, safety, pleasure, or joy. This is why many marketers bend over backwards to create sentimental commercials and funny billboards. Needless to say, it works.
How you can use it: Obviously, emotions you put in your writing influence how your readers treat your blog. If you want to get positive and thankful readers, you should first feel that happiness yourself (law of reciprocity). If there’s no inspiration in you, chances are high that your writing will not touch or motivate your readers.
Apart from approaching your writing with the positive mindset, you can also use various neuro-linguistic tricks to pull the right emotional levers. Here are some of them:
5. Hot-hand effect
Nobody wants to hang out with losers, let alone buy from them. Therefore, it is absolutely crucial to establish yourself as a successful and prosperous brand, and the hot-hand fallacy tells us that it is enough to win once to make the world think you’re a champion.
According to Jeremy Smith, “the “hot-hand fallacy” (also known as the “hot hand phenomenon” or “hot hand”) is the fallacious belief that a person who has experienced success has a greater chance of further success in additional attempts.”
If you achieved something once, many people would presume that you are sure to win next time as well. And, of course, everyone wishes to go with the winners. This is how you get more customers and Facebook followers.
How you can use it: A good way to establish credibility is to add logos, trust badges, awards, and stuff like that to your blog. Such things look really impressive and help to build a reputation of a winner, since your readers associate your brand with other successful companies, and a part of their good reputation automatically gets assigned to you.
Another thing that helps to join the big leagues is guest posting and influencer marketing. This one sort of goes hand in hand with logos, certificates, and trust badges, since if your partner with the big fish, displaying that on your blog will have a HUGE impact on your reputation. This is an example of how you can do it:
6. Ambiguity Effect.
As Simplicable states, “The ambiguity effect is a tendency to avoid choices that involve uncertainty.” In simple words, people like knowing exactly what will happen if they make this or that decision. What they don’t like is risks, unpredictability, and complications.
The more customers know about certain products, the higher are the chances that they will buy, even if there are cheaper or better alternatives, but certain information (e.g. country of origin) is yet to be found. Most people won’t Google. They will simply buy what they already know.
How you can use it: Remember all those readability rules that teach us to write 25 word sentences and 3 sentence long paragraphs? Well, it’s definitely time to remember them. Do not confuse your readers with long, complex sentences and bulky paragraphs, use plenty of whitespace, avoid jargon, explain complicated concepts with the help of metaphors. In other words, make your content as clear and understandable as possible.
Apart from that, offer one clear call to action and don’t give your readers too many options to choose from. Instead of helping to make a choice, it will cause “decision paralysis” and make them completely unable to decide. The problem is that choosing among more than 2 different options makes readers work hard and think, and working hard is the last thing they want to do when reading blogs.
7. Processing Difficulty Effect.
This one sort of contradicts the ambiguity effect, but, on the other hand, it even complements it. This theory (or rather a scientific fact) states that the harder it is for us to process the information, the better we remember it.
It happens because we spend more time thinking about this particular piece of content, and thus it sticks in my mind for a longer time. The more effort we put, the more precious the information becomes.
How to use it: This doesn’t mean, however, that you should ignore all the readability rules mentioned above and write complicated articles that no one can understand. Instead, write longer, more informative, and actionable posts that would stun your readers and give them some food for thought. Aim at no less than 2000 words and cover your topic in as much detail as you possibly can.
If you own a blog, you definitely want it to become a number one resource in the industry. And, you probably spend your days (and nights) writing in-depth posts, checking if you’re already on the front page of Google, and writing outreach emails.
However, I hope this little glimpse into what’s going on in your readers’ heads will make your life easier. Have you ever used any hacks like this? What else do you recommend? Let me know in the comments down below!
Author Bio: Jenna Brandon is a blogger, copywriter, and digital marketer at Writology.com. When she’s not busy writing articles and studying modern marketing trends, she cooks pizza or goes hiking with her friends. Jenna is also an avid traveler, and she is secretly Italian at heart.