At the recent convert.com webinar “Understanding the Brain’s Need for Novelty and Shortcuts,” SiteTuners CEO Tim Ash talked about how the brain filters and processes information. With the reptilian brain in charge, Tim identified four ways you can break through the evolution-built natural barriers and give your messages the extra push they need to deliver.
1. Create a small number of clear choices
The short-term memory can only hold a small, finite number of information at any given time. As visitors can only remember about 3-4 chunks of information at any given time, you need to optimize how visitors “spend” their working memory. Narrow down the number of choices, and make sure the choices are clear and distinct. Users shouldn’t have to understand subtle differences in content – stark contrast works best for content skimming. When some complexity is unavoidable, use wizards to walk visitors through the process.
2. Use a big anchor
Your visitors “anchor” expectations on the first thing they see. The expensive option should be presented in a way that makes the “best value” deal you’re optimizing for dead simple to choose. Showing decreasing price points helps you push drive sales for the best deal. Putting the most expensive option first makes the cheaper ones look sweeter.
3. Be in your target audience’s “cultural tribe”
People are inherently tribal, and we have a high tendency to self select. There are varying degrees to which we do this, but it’s important that you understand that basic nature. What that means for visitors is you can’t possibly speak everyone’s language – your visitors will care about people similar to them. You should take the time to study your users and understand the core group you want to speak to, the core set of users who can make or break your sales funnel. Communicate with them in mind, and use headlines, writing style, and imagery that work for them.
4. Optimize your visuals
If there’s ever been a shortcut to someone’s attention on the web, it’s motion. If something on your page moves and the rest of it is static, you can guess pretty efficiently where the visitor will look. Note that that’s NOT ALWAYS a good thing. You want to direct your visitor’s attention to the key Call to Action, not the supporting point – and that’s typically what your video or moving element is. Unless you have a very good reason to embed and autoplay videos, use a thumbnail that launches a lightbox instead.
The other thing that automatically catches attention is faces. Use people deliberately – have them where it’s absolutely essential that the visitor looks, and have the face pointed towards the call-to-action to help sculpt attention.