This week we’re dipping our toes into the interesting world of neuromarketing! This is an introductory article but there is lots of information available about it on the internet if you enjoy a splash of psychology in your marketing. We’ll start by exploring how neuromarketing learnings are applied in physical stores, and then consider how we can apply this to an online presence.
What is Neuromarketing?
Neuromarketing applies the principles of neuroscience to marketing, and it’s all about the psychology of marketing and buyer behaviour. It aims to get inside the customer’s brain and understand how people’s minds work. Neuromarketing focuses on how subtle cues can push someone towards making a purchase, and it relies on the idea that emotions, rather than logic, dictate a person’s buying decisions. Neuromarketing can be applied to adverts, brands, packaging, shops, websites and more.
What is Neuromarketing Research?
When a manufacturer makes a change – such as redesigning the packaging of a product – they have likely put a lot of work and research into it before coming to a final decision. Neuromarketing research may have played a big part in the designing, testing and trialling of the new packaging. How do consumers feel about the design? What holds their attention the most? If there are several designs being tested, which one do people prefer?
Neuromarketing research attempts to discover all of this and more, using instruments such as electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Heart rate, eye tracking, and electro dermal activity can be measured to test how people react to various products and environments. Of course, you could find out this information by asking people how they feel, but our bodies and brains give away more clues than we are aware of, and it is these honest, subconscious reactions that neuromarketing research is interested in.
But while the nuts and bolts of the research are very clever and important, we’re not scientists (or at least I’m certainly not), so let’s skip straight to the good stuff.
Examples of Neuromarketing
There are many ways retailers can manipulate a space in order to play to a person’s subconscious and push them towards making decisions based on emotions - a little like baking bread in a house when potential buyers come to view it, to make it feel more homely and welcoming. In a bricks-and-mortar retail environment, this could mean carefully planning the layout and ambience of a shop - including the music, lighting, and fragrance.
Consider this: have you ever noticed that in supermarkets, the more premium brands tend to be on the shelf at eye level, while the cheaper products sit closer to the floor? This is no accident, and it’s just one example of strategic placement. It’s also no coincidence that most supermarkets put everyday essentials such as milk and bread at the back of the shop – think of all the extra time you’ll spend in the shop and all the other products you’ll walk past and potentially buy on your way to getting the thing you actually need. And why is the fruit and veg at the front of the shop? So that you won’t feel too guilty to buy a tasty, more unhealthy, and probably more expensive treat when you come across them a little later.
Let’s think about advertising now. In terms of advertising and branding, ads that include people are much more effective than those that don’t – especially if babies are involved. But a baby looking straight at the camera won’t be as effective as a baby looking at the block of text sitting next to it on the page. This is because the viewer will follow the gaze and turn their attention to whatever the baby is looking at – so make sure you use this to your advantage.
How Can Neuromarketing Be Applied To An Online Environment?
Everything we’ve just said about examples of neuromarketing in shops can be applied to websites, too. Let’s go back to the supermarket briefly and think about the shelves. While stores might benefit from hiding the milk at the back of the shop, making your website visitors work too hard to find what they want won’t do you any favours. However, you can use neuromarketing learnings to decide where to place elements on each of your website pages. For example, the top left corner of a website tends to get the user’s attention when they first arrive, while text is typically scanned in an F-shaped pattern. This means that the left hand side of the page gets more attention than the right. Armed with this knowledge, you could take a look at your website and consider whether your users will notice the elements you want them to, or if they are too far away from these focus areas.
There are ways for you to gain some real insight into what people are looking at on your website, by doing some research of your own. You can measure where your visitors are moving their mouse and clicking, with heatmap tools such as Crazy Egg (take a look at Kate’s blog post, “How Hot Is Your Marketing Strategy? A Guide To Heatmap Tools”).
Here are some more web design tips from the world of neuromarketing:
If you want a website visitor to carry out a task, they should feel like it is as simple as possible for them to complete. That’s why you should use simple, clear fonts to give these calls to action. However, if you want customers to remember a short piece of text or you need it to be eye-catching, a more complex font could do the job. Large, dominant headlines can also work a treat in drawing a customer’s attention.
The different colours you use can also influence purchasing behaviour. For example, while warm and bright colours such as yellow and red are eye-catching and give off friendly vibes, dark colours such as navy blue and green suggest ambition and authority. What messages do you want your website and branding to send?
We’ve already mentioned that images containing people are more appealing than those that don’t. But did you know that a smile goes a long way, too? An image of someone smiling could affect a customer’s willingness to spend. Similarly, US store Walmart employs greeters to stand at store entrances and exits to deter shoplifters. This isn’t just because a higher staff presence increases the likelihood of getting caught, but because people are less likely to steal from a friendly face. Photos can humanise your brand in a similar way – especially if you use a real photo of your staff rather than a stock photo.
We have only just scraped the surface of neuromarketing, but I hope to revisit this topic again in a future blog post and consider in more depth how online marketers and web designers can use knowledge of consumer psychology to our advantage.
If you need a new website but you’re not sure where to start, SilverDisc can help from design to implementation, all the way through to marketing. Get in touch to find out more!