Increase Conversions Rates leveraging users’ mental habits

Increase Conversions Rates leveraging users’ mental habits

Can you persuade people acting on their (conscious or unconscious) mental mechanisms? In his analysis, Bart Schutz tries to answer this question, suggesting persuasive techniques that can have a positive impact on the user’s final decision. But what are the mental habits that lead us to make a decision?
Thanks to the theories of Daniel Kahneman, a luminary of psychology, spiritual father of behavioral economics and winner of the Nobel Prize, it is largely accepted that the basis of our decisions comes out through two mechanisms:

  • System 1 > automatic, instant and unconscious (which requires little or no cognitive efforts).
  • System 2 > more conscious and rational, requiring far more mental efforts to develop a line of information and thus more concentration on the problem and longer time to reach a decision.

But how these systems interact with each other? An easy way to recognize them is the “Stroop Test”. Just try to read aloud the color of the words displayed in the figure. Probably, it will be found that our system 2 (which must first recognize and then read the color of the word) will be in conflict with our System 1 (rather more inclined to read the word instead of its color).
On this basis Schutz tries to translate the theories of cognitive mechanisms on online conversion funnel, suggesting persuasive techniques intended to speak positively to both the two mechanisms of thought, and therefore facilitate the decision-making process in favor of a conversion.
Take for example the landing page illustrated below. Among the two versions an  A/B test demonstrated that the version opening a pop-up was to generate more conversions despite an invasive element, hated by the large majority of visitors. Why such a distractive and negative element for usability can generate more conversions? The answer is right in the characteristics of our system 2, often absent and with limited capapability to control the totality of subconscious pulses generated by system 1.
In addition, the system 2 requires mental efforts. The greater the cognitive load is the larger will be the effort required to elaborate it. That is why is absolutely necessary to streamline the architecture and the amount of information in landing pages and in web content to leave space only to elements really relevant for the visitor, who will then need less mental effort to come to a decision. In the image below, for example, the winning version of the page requires less attention with fewer filters to apply, less complexity and lower information overload.
System 1 instead thinks and acts in a different way. Unlike the second, it is always on and even a few but effective visual stimuli can result in a positive reaction, as it is clear in the test below, where a simple triangular shape that draws an arrow inviting the eye to naturally follow it resulted in winning Conversion Rates.
In addition, the System 1 heavily relies on “mental monetary categories” (mental accounts) to assign a monetary value to the each products and services. This largely unconscious mental comparison process is set up to make purchase decision easier, within an intuitive cognitive process rejecting more complex evaluations. According to his spiritual father, Richard Thaler, “Mental accounting is the set of cognitive operations used by individuals and households to organize, evaluate, and keep track of financial activities“.
Therefore, when we decide to sell a product online, we should always ask ourselves in which monetary category our prospects will put it, and how we can influence this process.
Knowing that System 1 and System 2 act and overlap continuously in the decision-making process, how can we guide and persuade our visitors to buy?
Schutz tries to map the traveling consumer journey, suggesting for each step some persuasive techniques.

  1. Attraction > First you have to convince people to access our content. Leveraging simple positive key messages can effectively serve the purpose. A clear call to action may be a source of attraction: you can also create a setting with graphic messages alluding to the shape of an arrow.
  2. Landing > When the user lands on the page, the architecture of contents and simple pieces of information will help and facilitate the exploration. It can for instance be effective to separate users who have different needs to set different ad hoc navigation paths.
  3. Research > The user enters the site and begins to navigate the products / services offered. The internal site search is a fundamental and strategic path to drive purchases. It is also good to add search results with additional benefits and advantages that encourage a positive effect. For example, favorable shipping terms, bonus accumulation, positive reviews of the individual products displayed in a way which promotes positive behavior.
  4. Choice > In order to influence it find the right mix between emotional & rational components by testing different settings.
  5. Buying > As mentioned above, our mind works for “mental accounting” and economic values ​​assigned to categories of products and services. To impact on the purchase is good therefore submit a correct perception of the monetary value of our offer for the user to position it properly and without bias in its monetary mental categories.

Finally Schutz says “we’re not or barely conscious of what Determines our perceptions, memories, thoughts, emotions, decisions, and even behavior“. Testing and putting the customer at the center of our communication will be critical to create effective projects and to stimulate positive feedbacks.
In our online shop you can find the full video and presentation slides by Bart Schutz (which was the most voted by the participants in  ADworld Experience 2016 international session).
As well as you’ll find the complete recording of the 6h advanced seminar on “Persuasion and Conversions Rate Optimization” held by Bart Schutz with his colleague and business partner Ton Wesseling.

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Isabella Federico
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