Summary: No matter how much time, energy, and money you spend on your business website you may still struggle in gaining the attention of consumers and making them interested in it. Sometimes you might feel overwhelmed and find yourself buried under the analytics data to find the underlying issue and yet would still not get to peek into your consumer’s brain!
If you can relate to this, do not fret! read on to find out why and how neuromarketing could help you find your answers.
During a casual business conversation on Friday evening with Mac, one of our clients and a long-term friend, I realized he sounded distressed. When I asked him, he said, ‘Yeah, I’m almost about to fail on a recent website project’. Mac and his team started working on a health information website two years ago. They wanted to create a modern, vibrant content website that would set their company apart from the competition. Before the launch, they left no stone unturned and double-checked every small detail, from the blog image to the homepage banners to the colour and position of the CTA buttons. The team launched the website and spent significant money promoting it on social media pages, only to discover that the average time users spent on their website was only 2-3 seconds. Even after six months, it showed no improvement, let alone the organic traffic. Despite creating a variety of content , the traffic received was solely through paid advertisements. After months of research and A/B testing, they noticed that the visitor’s journey was too complicated to reach the actual content which left users confused and the website wasn’t mobile optimised too. As a result, almost entire website design needed to be changed!
So, I thought it would be worthwhile sharing this with you and write about how neuromarketing can help gain deeper insights to build a better website.
Figure 1. Heatmap showing user attention on the webpage. Source: Institute for Neuromarketing, 2022
With the advent of technology and the flare-up of the web, there are more than 1.5 billion websites on the internet today (Armstrong, 2021). The availability of free content management software packages like WordPress and Wix has made it possible to create a website at the click of a button for anyone. However, when it comes to business, websites are more than just a means of having a digital presence. For most businesses, websites are one of the most important touchpoints of today’s consumer journey. While it is easy to fall prey to the urge of creating a fascinating and high-end website, it does not guarantee more consumer engagement.
Can your website grab consumer’s attention for more than 8 seconds?
I am sure you’ve heard of the famous finding from the study published in 2015 by the Microsoft insights team in Canada: Today humans have an attention span of just 8 seconds, which is just slightly less than a goldfish!
According to the Nielsen Norman Group, the first 10 seconds are the most critical for the retention of users on the website. Keeping the consumers hooked is a problem also due to the excessive information and choice availability. The Nobel prize winner Herbert Simon has rightly said “What information consumes is the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” Grabbing and sustaining consumers’ attention and making them hit that “golden” subscribe and buy buttons are the challenges that keep marketers on their toes. (Well, I learnt it the hard way)
Having said that, gaining consumer attention is just the first half of the story. Understanding the cognitive processes in greater depth to figure out the decision-making process, consumer preferences and emotional responses during their interaction with the website is equally important for deriving meaningful insights. (Sola, 2021)
Figure 2. Neurowebsite designed page. Source: Institute for Neuromarketing,2023
Do you know what your consumers want or just what they say they want?
Both, the aesthetics, and functions of the website have a significant impact on user experience and brand perception. An accurate understanding of the preferences and expectations of the end users is not only important at the web design stage but also at the web development stage as too many iterations of the mock-ups or simulation website also incur huge costs. (Baroi and De, 2021)
Today there is no dearth of web analytics data, click heatmaps and A/B testing (an easy decision) to understand the consumer’s behaviour and these could also be combined with traditional market research methods like surveys, focus groups and Netnography etc. But the problem is they can only find answers to the ‘what’ but not the ‘why’ of the consumer’s behaviour and preferences. (Bridger, 2017) (González-Mena et al., 2022). Also, research suggests survey outcomes could be inconsistent due to cognitive dissonance, a psychological phenomenon that occurs when there is an inconsistency between the thoughts, beliefs, and behaviour of an individual. For instance, for the website of a retail clothing brand, if you ask a respondent whether the imagery of that slim & beautiful model on the homepage is what made her interested in the brand, the answer could probably be ‘yes’ but in reality, it might not be true as it might conflict with her belief about ‘inclusivity and body shaming’ (Thompson, Schaefer and Menzel, 2012) Marketers have been aware of these shortcomings, however until recently there wasn’t a promising alternative freely available. (Sola, 2021)
Peep deep into the consumer mind
To answer the ‘why’ marketers and designers will need to peep into the brain of the user. As the brain controls the body functions and regulates processes in our body, understanding the brain can help us understand the physiological implications involved in the behaviour. According to psychologist Sigmond Freud our mind is can be classified into 3 levels – Conscious, Sub-conscious & Unconscious (Boag, 2020). Traditional methods like surveys or questionnaires can give us information only at the conscious level where the thoughts and actions are within our awareness. Moreover, the human brain is lazy and relies on shortcuts called ‘heuristics’ while making decisions as doing that is effortless. Most of the time the decisions we make are also highly influenced by different cognitive biases. Here, neuromarketing techniques come to the rescue as they combine neuroscience, psychology, behavioural economics, and marketing to dive deep into the subconscious and unconscious minds. (González-Mena et al., 2022)
Boost user experience & website engagement with neuromarketing techniques
The approach of neuromarketing is to understand cognitive processes and capture reactions that happen at the ‘sub-conscious or unconscious level of mind’ after exposure to a particular marketing element such as a visual, colour, text, advertisement etc (González-Mena et al., 2022). The techniques such as eye tracking can help to evaluate the fixation point or gaze, gaze timing and eye movement between various points on a particular webpage or visual or advertisement etc. The sequence of eye movement, pupil dilation and frequency of blinking can provide meaningful insights. To go into greater depth and understand the emotional reactions the eye tracking technology can be combined with other techniques such as
Electroencephalography (EEG), Facial expression analysis (FEA), and Galvanic Skin Response (GSR). The EEG can help understand which part of the brain is activated after exposure and GSR can provide insights into physiological changes in the skin both of which could be correlated with the emotions aroused. (Sola, 2021)
For example, one of the research projects studied the effect of an advertisement on consumer behaviour for online retail shopping. The heatmap below gives a clear understanding of gaze points and areas of interest of the consumers on a specific part of the page.
Figure 3. Heatmap showing user attention on the luxury webpage. Source: Institute for Neuromarketing,2023
Another example of the application of neuromarketing could be the e-commerce giant, Amazon. Amazon successfully uses neuromarketing techniques such as showing personalised recommendations based on earlier searches and purchases, highlighting star reviews and exhausting stocks, and using words like ‘free shipping or returns’ etc. to improve the shopping experience, and customer engagement and boost sales. (Baroi and De, 2021)
Neuromarketing techniques can provide inputs on what stimulates the responses and the kind of memory patterns it forms but what is more important for a marketer, or a concerned professional is to understand its quality and impact on the overall engagement of the consumers (Sola, 2021)
Overall, neuromarketing can help professionals to steer clear of biases unlike traditional methods, play on the right emotions to grab attention and better understand the psychology of design and colours.
Nonetheless, as with any other research, neuromarketing has its limitations, but it does provide more reliable insights that, when combined with your experience and cognizance, can be translated into better actions, and save you from numerous trial and error and substantial futile marketing expenses. Afterall, that is what distinguishes us as expert professionals from the bots!
Charged up to know how we solve our client’s real-world marketing problems?
So, if I was able to engage you till this point, I am sure several questions are cropping up in your mind out of curiosity to know more. Get in touch with us and we can tell you (or to be more precise ‘show you’) how we have solved the marketing problems of our clients!
Baroi, I. and De, S. (2021). A Novel Application of Neuromarketing for Designing User Interface Mockups to Enhance User Experience in Software Development. 2021 IEEE 2nd International Conference on Technology, Engineering, Management for Societal impact using Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Talent (TEMSMET). doi:https://doi.org/10.1109/temsmet53515.2021.9768683.
Boag, S. (2020). Conscious, Preconscious, and Unconscious. Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences, pp.858–864. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-24612-3_1370.
Bridger, D. (2017). Neuro Design: Neuromarketing Insights to Boost Engagement and Profitability. London, England: Kogan Page.
González-Mena, G., Del-Valle-Soto, C., Corona, V. and Rodríguez, J. (2022). Neuromarketing in the Digital Age: The Direct Relation between Facial Expressions and Website Design. Applied Sciences, 12(16), p.8186. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/app12168186.
Sebastian, V. (2014). Neuromarketing and Evaluation of Cognitive and Emotional Responses of Consumers to Marketing Stimuli. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, [online] 127, pp.753–757. Doi: HTTPs.
Sola, Dr.H.M. (2021). How Neuroscience-Based Research Methodologies Can Deliver New Insights to Marketers. International Journal of Social Science and Human Research, 04(10). doi:https://doi.org/10.47191/ijsshr/v4-i10-41.
Thompson, J., Schaefer, L. and Menzel, J. (2012). Internalization of Thin-Ideal and Muscular-Ideal. Encyclopedia of Body Image and Human Appearance, [online] pp.499–504. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-384925-0.00079-1.
Other online sources:
Armstrong, M. (2021). Infographic: How Many Websites Are There? [online] Statista Infographics. Available at: https://www.statista.com/chart/19058/number-of-websites-online/
Nielsen, J. (2011). How Long Do Users Stay on Web Pages? [online] Nielsen Norman Group. Available at: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/how-long-do-users-stay-on-web-pages/.
About The Author
Rashmi Dhake, MBA
Rashmi Dhake (MBA, MSc Consumer Behaviour) is an experienced marketer passionate about consumer behaviour and healthcare marketing. She brings valuable knowledge to the table, having earned her MBA in marketing, a bachelor's degree in pharmaceutical sciences, and a decade of experience in product management. Additionally, she’s currently studying for a master's degree in consumer behaviour at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom! With innovative skills such as digital marketing and neuromarketing, she is an invaluable asset to any team using neuromarketing techniques to stay ahead of rapidly changing consumer health behaviours in today's digital climate.