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October 25, 2011

Emo CRO: Get the Conversion, Go for the Gut

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There are now officially 7 billion people on the planet. It’s taken our species tens of thousands of years to get to where we are now. An advanced civilization reliant on technology, we’ve reached an era where our artificial intelligence can quibble over who’s more powerful, as evidenced by the latest silly Facebook circular:

All-powerful technology

And yet, not much has changed at all. At our core, we’re still predictably emotional humans who like to cuddle and are afraid of the dark.

As marketers, we use psychology to our advantage to persuade consumers to buy our chocolate or use our floral service. Despite how far we may have evolved, humans remain comprised of id, ego and super-ego. A successful appeal to the id, that animalistic, pleasure-seeking instinct, is comparable to an “inception” ━ implanting an idea in the unconscious mind. And while we like to think of ourselves as in control of our decisions, there are primal forces at play beneath the surface of our consciousness.

Science, testing and data are very important as we analyze strengths and weaknesses of any business’s conversion process. But first we must understand the emotional affect of our marketing. When optimizing for conversions, consider these three ways to aim for the emotional target that underlies so much of the decision-making process.

Logic Raises Inhibitions, Emotion Lowers Them

When you compare the emotional appeal and the intellectual appeal side by side, which comes out on top? What about in an ad campaign? The findings of a recent study on how the brain processes advertising suggests that “non-rational influence” (emotion) is more effective than logical persuasion. While logical ads activated more areas of the brain associated with decision making, areas of the brain responsible for inhibitions were also more active. Meanwhile, the non-rational ads were found to modify behavior without “conscious recognition of a message.” The message of ads evoking emotions weren’t as likely to be questioned.

Compelled by the Human Face

It’s relevant to note here that the non-rational ads in the above study used attractive people to seduce the viewer. Would you believe that including images of human faces has been shown to double conversion rates? Whether its a stock photo of people in an ad, authors’ photos on the blog, or staff photos on the site, a human face front and center can help form a personal connection and drive a viewer down the conversion funnel. For one of the most powerful weapons in the battle for influence, you need look no further than your own face.

The Ancient Appeal of Stories

At the end of the 19th century, silent films captivated audiences. During the 1930s, families would gather around the radio to listen to woven tales. A generation later saw television bring moving pictures into living rooms. But long before technology brought people together, campfires and cave walls were all that were needed; no matter the tool, the story would be told. Humans are compelled by stories. Use stories to charm your audience and gain trust. It follows that brand trust and loyalty can lead to conversions.

If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.Last week I wrote about Google’s new encrypted search. I aimed to explain the technical background in an easy-to-understand way, but I found it quite challenging to understand the mechanics behind SSL. I was frustrated; I thought I must be dumb not to have picked it up by the third explanation. And then I heard this story:

I used to have a boss named Rock. Rock had earned a degree in astrophysics from Cal Tech and never had a job in which he used his knowledge of the heavens. Once I asked him whether he regretted getting the degree. “Actually, my degree in astrophysics has proved to be very valuable,” he said. “Some things in this world are just hard. When I am struggling with something, I sometimes think ‘Damn, this is hard for me. I wonder if I am stupid,’ and then I remember that I have a degree in astrophysics from Cal Tech; I must not be stupid.”

I was instantly calmed. That’s the power of the story. It sparks connection. It kindles trust. It arouses emotion. Use it to your advantage and transform a passive observer into a passionate customer. Tell a story featuring a real human face to evoke emotion toward your brand.

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2 responses to “Emo CRO: Get the Conversion, Go for the Gut”

  1. Andy @ FirstFound writes:

    Thanks for this Virginia. Nice to see someone focusing on the human interactions, rather than the latest set of social media coding updates!

  2. Virginia Nussey writes:

    Thanks, Andy! :) I figured there was something worth exploring if I tapped into my own emotional wellspring.



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