You’re doing everything right. You’re tracking your best performing keywords, optimizing fresh, quality content, diversifying your media, and sharing your content on all the heavy-hitter social networks. Your traffic stats are even high – so why aren’t you converting?
SEOs sometimes become so focused on crunching data and playing the algorithm to facilitate strong organic traffic that they often overlook the entire reason you need traffic to your site in the first place – to convert readers into leads, and to convert leads into clients.
So, what can you do, if you can do anything? Is there a secret sauce to help you increase your copy’s conversion? Actually, yes.
By extracting a few principles from the study of neuromarketing, you can have better performing copy right now.
Neuromarketing is by no means a perfect science, and the majority of conclusions reached about its effects have come from research funded by the private industry, as opposed to academia. In order for research to truly take hold in the medical field, it must be peer-reviewed, and the pool of research on neuromarketing that has been peer-reviewed is quite small.
Most of the private industries that fund these studies refuse to publish all of their results, and we can assume that’s either because they’re uncertain of their conclusions or because they don’t want other brands to dip into their new secret sauce recipe.
Whatever the reason for this lack of literature, the problem itself will likely resolve in the next few years as the field matures, but all the same, big firms are investing in neuromarketing agencies; case in point, Nielson Holdings partnered up with NeuroFocus last year.
In the meanwhile, we can use what we are sure of to amp up your copy and boost your conversion rate. 95% of an individual’s decision making is subconscious, which means that there’s only so much you can say to directly influence a person to make a purchase. The rest is, as they say, beneath the surface.
First, once someone has navigated to your page, you need to get them to read your content. Eyetracking studies have taught us a lot about how visitors absorb content To get a visitor to read your content, you only need to get them to read the first few sentences, and the best way to coax them into that is to make the first few sentences a shorter line length than the rest of the article. The most effective means of doing that is to add a half-width image below your headline. You’ll snag your reader and you’re providing some visual stimulus at the same time.
Second, tell, don’t sell. Use stories instead of directives to engage your reader. While calls-to-action are necessarily direct, you will find that by creating a narrative context around your reader’s commercial intent (i.e. their willingness to buy), you will enhance the reader’s emotional connection and receptivity. My fondest example of this is the Wall Street Journal piece of direct mail that generated over $2 billion in revenue alone.
It tells the story of two young men who both graduated from the same college, were both friendly, ambitious, married, had children, and worked for the same Midwestern manufacturing company.
The letter continues:
But there was a difference. One of the men was the manager of a small department of that company. The other was its president.
What Made the Difference
Have you ever wondered, as I have, what makes this kind of difference in people’s lives?
The answer, the letter goes on to explain, is (of course) The Wall Street Journal.
The story was not overly-detailed or flowery, nor did it use excessive descriptors to create the scene. The image is easy to grasp and conceptualize.
Third, remember the reptilian brain. It sounds gross, but the “reptilian brain” is a reference to the oldest part of our brain, where our survival instincts are housed. It plays a dominant role in our subconscious decisions, and recall that 95% of a human decision is determined by the subconscious.
The reptilian brain is egocentric, and you can leverage this by relating the issues discussed in your content or copy directly to the reader. How does your suggestion, your content, your product, or your service help the reader? Will it help them to survive, reproduce, solve a problem?
Another question that isn’t asked enough: will it make them laugh? Research shows that smiling has an impact on memory recall, so if you can make your reader smile or laugh with your copy, you’re embedding your brand in that reader’s subconscious preferences.
Fourth, put your reader in the story you’re telling. Social personalization has provided creative and memorable opportunities to embed readers. If you can get your reader to see themselves participating in your service, consuming your product, or engaging your brand, they become more receptive to those actions because they’ve already gone through all of the psychological motions.
This is due to the principle of mirror neurons – when we witness someone else perform an action, our brain goes through the same processes it would as if we were performing it ourselves. All of the same areas of your brain will light up when you watch someone else do something. Through regular exposure, you can facilitate certain connections. Since the dawn of time, advertisers have shown people consuming products and appearing happy.
The other principle at work is known as the doppelganger effect. When we see ourselves perform an action, we are developing a subconscious brand preference. The TV shows Dexter and True Bloodhave both leveraged the doppelganger effect to their advantage through social advertisements and customizable videos.
Last summer, HBO and Definition 6 partnered together and released a video application on Facebook that would pull data from the user and some of his or her Facebook friends to render a personalized video in which characters in the show were shown communicating with and discussing people you know. This experience made fans a part of the show, and the same was true for the “Hit List” video released on behalf of Dexter, which pulled friend information and assembled the data into a news video discussing the people revealed to be on a serial murderer’s hit list from the show.
However, you don’t have use viral videos or social personalization to put your reader in the story. You can craft your copy to provide vivid, life-like contexts crafted around your intended demographic to achieve comparable success.
But what about social? We’re going to discuss neuromarketing principles in a social media context further down the road, so make sure that you subscribe to our site’s RSS feed or bookmark our blog, but in the meanwhile, keep these 2 things about social media engagement in mind:
- People go to Facebook to find out 2 things: does someone want to be my friend, and can I express myself?
- They post on Facebook to do 2 things: to get others to appreciate them, or support them.
Gamification and paid advertisement spots aside, these underlying psychological factors provide a wealth of data on how to increase user engagement.
What other tactics have you used to increase the conversion of your website’s content? Share them with us in the comments below.
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