Why Irrational Works in Marketing

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In conversion rate optimization (CRO), you measure things with testing and statistics. However, CRO has a lot of qualitative aspects as well – user serving, usability, and direct response copywriting. These have more to do with neuroscience and psychology than testing and statistics.

As a marketer, you need to know how people are persuaded,so you’re not testing random things on your web site. As SiteTuners CEO Tim Ash says, “Your test is only as powerful as the ideas you put into them.”

The first step to learning how to influence people to act on the web is to get to know the brain.

3 Brains

Paul MacLean, former chief of the Laboratory of the Brain and Behavior at the United States National Institute of Mental Health, theorized that the brain is divided into three distinct layers that evolved to address our needs. According to his model, each layer dominates different brain functions.

The Neocortex

This brain is the most recent to develop and is only seen in primates. It governs self-regulation and planning ahead.

The Limbic System

This system is responsible for pleasure seeking and pain avoidance and is the seat of emotion-charged memories. It decides whether you like or are repelled by something.

The Reptilian Brain

This kind of brain is responsible for physical survival and maintenance. It is automatic, controls basic survival instincts, and takes over in fight-or-flight situations.

It is important to understand that the reptilian brain filters what gets through to and gets processed by the other types of brain. If the reptilian brain perceives something as dangerous, it will deal with it either by fighting or fleeing. If it sees something as novel, then it explores it. If something is neither dangerous nor novel, then the reptilian brain will ignore it.

When something does get past the reptilian brain, it is then judged by the limbic system. In digital marketing, this means that web pages are judged on the emotional gut reactions that they evoke. The neocortex merely rationalizes the value judgment decision.

If you want to learn how to get through to and appeal to your customer’s brain, join Tim Ash at Interactive Day San Diego 2014.

Tim’s session:

“That’s Irrational! Why Trying to Persuade the Logical Brain Won’t Get Results”

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

event website