WriterAccess Webinar Archive

Neuromarketing Science

Thursday, June 12, 2014 – 1:00 PM ET

Why do we take action on certain things and pass up other offers that defy logic? The answers are now clear.

Join host Byron White and guest Tim Ash, CEO of SiteTuners, on a wild ride through neuromarketing where decision making and logic collide. Learn about your three brains, and why your logical one is unlikely to turn browsers into buyers. Best of all, several lucky subscribers will put Tim and Byron to the test with a free website review offering conversion advice.

Learn all this and more...

  • What motivates your primitive self
  • How to profit from neuromarketing
  • Neuromarketing principals in action
  • Live website review

Slidedeck Download

The slidedeck from this webinar is available for download.

Video Transcription

Byron: Welcome to today’s presentation everyone, Byron White here, your host. I’m here with Tim Ash, Tim welcome and thanks for joining us.

Tim: Absolutely Byron, my pleasure.

Byron: Always fun to hook up with the famous, world traveling monster, Tim Ash. Thanks for that, Tim.

Tim: Well, I’m almost on the right time zone after my recent trip to Australia, and off to Chicago for my conference next week.

Byron: Gotcha. I don’t know how you work travel into your speaking plans, Tim. It’s got to get in your way.

Tim: Well, I keep trying to set it up so it’s travel only, but it hasn’t worked out so far.

Byron: Got it. Well, I know you’re excited not only for this webinar today, but the start of the World Cup, and then Brazil and their first match. What do you think your chances are with Brazil?

Tim: I think they’re a pretty clear favorite, but there’s lots of strong teams at the top, so we’ll see if my guys can pull it through. Can’t say I’m rooting for my home team Russia, because that would be kind of a snow ball’s chance in hell.

Byron: Yeah well, at least they’re there, I guess, right? So that’s a start. Same with the US, they’re kind of already admitting defeat, it seems, as they discussed publicly, their chances at the World Cup.

Tim: And I think the Australian socceroos don’t have much of a–would you say—kangaroo’s leap chance of winning.

Byron: Nice. Well, I’m super excited to take on the hosting of this topic. Let me give everybody a quick spin with what’s going to transpire today and a couple of footnotes with how this is going to work. So, I’m just going to walk people through a couple of intro slides on the topic of neuromarketing, just a few, and a few questions that we’ll be diving into today as we learn from Tim through his presentation. And then after the presentation, Tim and I are going to take on the review and makeover of a couple of sites with some recommendations based on what Tim’s going to talk about today.

Feel free to ask questions throughout the presentation, and I’m going to try to monitor along with Glen, who’s going to be with us today, our staff member in our office, our marketing team member here. So we’ll take a look at any questions you might have about the presentation, we’ll have some fun makeovers, discussions at the end and we’ll try to tie it all in to an hour and make it all work. So here’s Tim’s mug shot, if you haven’t seen him at a conference, here’s what he looks like. So if you pass him on the street in some international city or some national city traveling, say hello to him. And he will smile exactly like that if you say hello to him, I can assure you.

I’ve known Tim for a long time and he’s just a great individual. But for those of you who are not completely in tune with neuroscience marketing, of which there might be some people on the line, it’s really the study of consumers' cognitive and effective response to marketing. And the research that’s done using some cool technology really helps us learn why consumers make decisions and what part of the brain they’re using to tell them to do so. But I think neuromarketing as a science gained some momentum, if you will, because of companies like Google and Frito Lay and lots of other companies that are building labs to understand how their millions of marketing dollars should wisely be spent and how consumers make decisions. So, it’s a pretty cool topic area, and I’ve documented this for you so you can see it later. But why should I really care what consumers think?

That’s an interesting point. It certainly affects conversion, which is why Tim is on the line, and really as it turns out, consumers are driven by both emotional and rational thinking, which Tim’s going to talk about. Emotional thinking, as you can imagine, is fast and effortless and unconscious and intuitive and just sort of happens quickly. But rational thinking is a little slower and more deliberate and thought out and the question is, how do these two different ways to think and approach a purchasing decision affect one another? And what’s the mix in an individual? And how’s it affected by their mood? So, once again, Tim’s got some answers for that. So the final thing you’ll have is sort of, how can I put neuromarketing to work? And I want us to keep these concepts you see on the screen here in your mind when we’re creating rational connection, versus emotional connection.

So, think these things through. We can come back to all these things later and they’ll be in this deck available to everyone at the end, because I think there’s some interesting concepts here as you look through these bullet points, as to how should we create campaigns, and in our website copy, and in our images that fit both a rational and emotional connection. And Tim might have a third twist on all this as well, which of course he will, but then of course you will be able to get a copy of either of my books as a result of signing up for today’s webinar. Here’s a link of my new professional writing skill and price guide, which is super groovy and cool and includes some neat snap, crackle and pop stuff that I actually debuted at the Conversion Conference some time ago. That was awesome, and received really well, and of course a copy of my copy, content and road map guide which you can have as well. So, without further ado, take it away, Tim!

Tim: Well thanks, Byron. I’m going to flip on my slides here and like you said, take it away. Alright, you should be able to see my title slide at this point. So I’m going to talk to you today about neuromarketing, but before I get started, please make yourselves heard. In addition to writing questions into the Q&A pane, which we’ll try to get to at the end, as Byron mentioned, please also tweet. The hash tag, if you just want to follow the conversion rate optimization topic is #CRO, so make your voices heard. Let’s hear from you.

Alright, so what I want to talk today about is neuromarketing science, but first I want to give you a little perspective about where we’re coming from. Site Tuners is an agency that is focused only on conversion rate optimization and we can help with optimization for both large and small companies in one of three ways. Blueprints for high converting web experiences, if you’re redesigning your site or if you’re just doing a face-lift, of course landing page testing, and test plan strategy, and a lot of what we do for clients now is work with them on an ongoing basis in a conversion management role. And as part of that, we’ll typically do knowledge transfer and teach them to fish and how to do conversion rate optimization in-house, and make themselves self-sufficient. Alright, well my VP of Business Development told me I had to put that slide up, but enough of that.

I’m going to give you a two-part story. The first is about your brain. Or actually, your three brains and your split personalities, and I’m not talking about any kind of clinical mental illness diagnosis among our audience members, don’t mean to make fun of that. But I want to talk first about how our brains work, and then what you can do about it in the latest research from neuromarketing, in terms of putting that to work for you on your website.

In other words, we get caught up with the shiny new objects a lot. We talk about the 140 character tweets, and java-script that, and Google glass, augmented reality--and all of that stuff’s wonderful, but you have to remember, even though the technology changes, what we’re mapping it onto isn’t changing. Our brains haven’t really evolved in the last 50,000 years, so the focus has been on hardware and software, and I want to bring it back to wet-wear.

There’s some universal things we can learn about the way our brain’s work, and brain science is the last frontier. The brain is the most complicated object in the universe, with over a hundred billion connections among the neurons in the brain, so let’s pay attention to that. There’s a lot of exciting stuff coming out. So, here’s the quick biology lesson. Most of you have heard of this left-brain/right-brain idea, but that’s only part of the story.

Yes, that’s the big part, and the obvious part, if you look at our heads from the top down, you’ve got the two hemispheres, but inside of those hemispheres, in the center of the brain, is what we call the limbic system, the emotional brain. This is where your brain stores memories, has strong associations, likes things, hates things, reacts to things emotionally, and underneath all of that is the brain stem. And that part keeps the lights on. You don’t have to think about taking a breath in the middle of the night, or how to keep your heart beating. That’s what the brain stem is there for; that’s the deep-survival brain.

Everything that we do is focused on the rational brain. All of us aspire to be rational and consistent and predictable in our behavior. In California, we have this saying: “Dude, that was totally random!” It means something was unexpected, out of the blue, strange, and we certainly don’t want that in our interactions with people. So we prize logic and delayed gratification, planning ahead and thinking things through and weighing choices rationally, and that’s all good stuff. That’s how we got to the moon and invented microwave ovens, but that’s only part of the story.

Part of our focus as marketers, because we use this part of the brain to actually make our campaigns and make our websites and drive traffic, has always been on this brain alone. But underneath it, and something we share with all mammals, is our emotional brain, and again, this is the one that feels things, that says: “ooh, I hate that,” “ooh, that tastes good,” “ooh, that smells bad.” Those strong emotions are very much bound up with our sensory impressions and our ability to form memories. In fact, one of the keys to forming strong memories is to have very strong emotions. The first time you did something, the most extreme time you did something. Your first kiss, you probably remember. Your hundredth kiss, probably not so much.

So, it’s whatever calibrates your scale in terms of both good and bad. “Oh, that’s good, I want more of it,” and “Oh that’s bad, I want to avoid that next time.” That’s a natural mammalian response, if you will. But underneath all that is the reptilian brain. This is the thing we share with all things that slithered out of the sea at some point, or some things that still live there, and again, this is the thing that keeps the lights on. The reptilian brain only cares about one thing: survival.

So it just reacts to things. This is the one that kicks in adrenaline if you’re about to swerve or get in a car accident. This is the one that basically gets that fight-or-flight system going. It’s also the one that cares about finding mates, finding food, and basic need satisfaction like that. The lower needs, if you want to look at them in an Indian-chakra sense. The point of this is that 95% of our actions are pre-conscious.

With brain imaging, we’re actually able to see that. You’ll ask someone something, and you’ll see their brain making the decision. A second or two later, they’re able to use the conscious part of their brain to verbalize and rationalize it. When the decision was made, it was a made at a gut level and pretty much instantly, but it wasn’t conscious. And we can’t attend to everything consciously. There are billions of impressions on our brain every waking day. That’s why we need to sleep and process and assimilate all of that. They think that’s one of the main functions of sleep.

So imagine: many of you probably drove a car to work this morning. How many of you were thinking about every part of the driving journey? You weren’t, you were thinking about what you were going to do for dinner tonight, or what your plans are when you get to work. We do a lot of things on auto-pilot. The other brains are in charge during that auto-pilot stage. The other brains are the ones that are making 95% of our daily activities, if you will.

So the way to think about it: the rational brain can think ahead. For the other two brains, change is the scary thing, change is the swear word, change is what they’re afraid of. And they’re going to be the balancers that keep everything from getting to the conscious mind. There’s a pretty set wiring in our brain, especially the reptilian brain. This is a very rational, logical explanation of how our irrational brain works. The reptilian brain basically has this flow chart. The first thing we ask is: it it dangerous?

If it is dangerous, then we have to deal with it. That’s your fight or flight part. Run away from it, or kill it. If it’s not dangerous, it is interesting? Is it something we’ve experienced? Now you have the emotional brain kicking in saying, is it emotionally salient? Is it surprising? Is it memorable? Is it unique in some way? If no, if it’s something I’ve seen before, again, if it’s your hundredth kiss, or if you like skydiving and thrill-seeking sports, if it's your hundredth sky dive, it’s not going to be as salient as your first. Yeah, I’ve been there, done that, check the parachute, check that it’s packed properly and the rip cord works, but it’s not going to be super exciting, it’s not going to be a “wow” kind of thing, one way or another.

So if we’ve seen it before, we kind of tune out. You see this a lot in business meetings and presentations. We’re back to being on autopilot and being on something else. But if it is not dangerous and it is interesting, ooh, ok, I’m going to kick this upstairs for the conscious exploration of my conscious, rational, new brain, if you will. The neo-cortex. The big brain, the one we traditionally think of as making up all our experiences.

So I’m sure that all of you have heard about the sales funnel, and the different steps in the sales funnel. I’m going to give you a non-traditional view of the sales funnel, and here it is. This is the real sales funnel.

The brain stem controls everything. It’s the bouncer to the limbic system, and a few things funnel down to that, and the limbic system, if it’s novel, decides to kick it upstairs to the neo-cortex for real consideration. You can see the relative importance, and this is the key to what I’m saying: is that you really have to understand who’s in control, and who’s in the driver’s seat. Basically, your rational mind is kept in the dark 95% of the time by the bouncers at the door, your other two brains.

Byron: Question, on that last slide.

Tim: Sure, absolutely.

Byron: Is that how you distinguish between something I need versus something I must have? Is that where that happens, in that spot right there, where you’re processing the opportunity?

Tim: Well, I’m not sure how to answer that, but a lot of times we’ll have things we need or must have, we’ll talk about making a “rational decision,” with cold-cognition, using our neo-cortex, our rational mind. Well, it turns out that there is research, and there are certain people who’s legions are not connected, through accidents or strokes or other effects, and it turns out that people literally cannot make a decision without an emotional component. If that part of the brain is disconnected, you can’t come to a decision. So all of our decisions are emotional, it’s just a question of, to what degree?

Byron: Perfect, thanks.

Tim: So if we think about our reptilian brain, this is the one I really want to focus on, here are the key characteristics of it. It does things the same way and never learns. If you touch a hot stove, you’re just going to pull your finger away. If you touch a hot stove again, you’re not going to go, “oh, I think I burnt it last time, I think I should pull it away,” you’re just going to do the same thing. And that’s why it’s hard to change some basic habits, because if they’re rooted in survival-level stuff, we just are going to repeat the same thing over and over. The reptilian brain does not learn from experience. It only cares about, like I said, keeping the lights on.

Fight, flight, feeding and fornication. The four F’s, as I call them. And it’s the gatekeeper or the balancer for the other brains. So there you have it, that’s the quick tour of the biology, and now I want to move on to talk about: "ok Tim, that’s wonderful, but how do I make money off of this?"

So now I’m going to give you some practical strategies so you can put this to work in your daily life. Or, in your working life, anyway. I’m going to give you four strategies, and there’s a method behind that madness. In fact, it’s the very first point I’m making. You need to make a small number of clear choices. I’m giving you four strategies, just remember that, because that’s the maximum number of items in a list we can remember, that’s why phone numbers are chunked into four digit blocks, and so on.

Alright, if I ask you the question, which is the tallest man in the world and which is the shortest man in the world in this picture, I’m sure you wouldn’t have any trouble figuring that out. "Duh, Tim, that’s obvious." And that’s really the reaction that I want you to have. It should be obvious, because we’re really good at making those type of decisions. “Wow, that guy’s really tall!” or “Wow, that guy’s really short!” It’s obvious. But if you put two guys standing ten feet apart, and one is six-foot four, and one is six-foot five, then that’s a hard decision for me to make. Which one’s taller? I don’t know. They look pretty much the same to me.

So clear choices are something we can make without getting a ruler out or thinking about it, or anything like that in terms of size, obviously. Yet we ignore this when we get online. Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re looking for promotional pens for your company, and you came to this website. In fact, it’s a real website. How would you make your decision on what pens to buy?

What’s going to determine that? I don’t know. Is it the fact that this is a single pen versus a set of four pens? Maybe it’s the colors that matter? But really, what do I make my choices on? Well, ok, is it a push on the back of it kind of pen? Does it have a pocket-way for me to attach it? How easy to grip is the pen? All of those things are things that I care about. So, if they had shown me clear choices by not showing me the dumb, tiny, thumbnail view of the pen but rather a close up of the tip of it and a close up of the back of it or the writing part, that would have been helpful. This trying to look at tiny thumbnails of the thing is not creating clear choice for me. And yet we see this kind of stuff, especially in e-commerce, with very useless thumbnails, without enlarged call-outs and things that kind of look the same. That’s definitely a problem.

Byron: Tim, does it bother you that the pens up top, the larger pens, are not down below?

Tim: Yeah, it is rather strange, I have to say. And seeing them that size would have been helpful. You can see which ones have the rubber grips, their approximate barrel diameter, and what they look like, their styling and all of that. If you had a whole page of pens that size, that would have been acceptable too. But yeah, it’s rather odd. I like those, now how do I find them?

There’s another issue here in terms of the small number of clear choices they have. It looks like they have approximately up to 36 pens because they have three pages with twelve items per page. But that’s too much choice. If you’re trying to get from California to New York, why don’t we drive you to Kansas City and you walk the rest of the way there, and page through the results? Page 1, page 2, page 3. That’s like throwing up all over your visitors and making them clean up the mess. So that’s not a good thing either. So ok.

We’re not going to criticize this website any longer, we have some live critiques we’re going to do after this, on sites that people have submitted. Ok. So in terms of strategy number one, in terms of making clear choices, making choices actually tires our conscious mind, our rational brain. And it makes it harder to make decisions, which is why in all condo presentations, first they’ll show you the pool and the club house, and then when they’re talking about signing you up for your timeshare, that happens after they’ve worn you down, at the very end of the day. That’s the best time to hit people up for money.

So actually a lot of times what you need to help people manage those choices is actually to create some guides or wizards, not some mechanical filtering. We have 40,000 things and we’re going to show them all to you or filter down; nobody uses that kind of faceted drill-down filtering navigation, so if you know what’s important about the choices you have to make, embody that knowledge in a set of simple questions, more like Turbo Tax does with their product. The whole tax code is reduced to a set of simple questions that anyone can answer. Did you live outside of the U.S. for more than six months out of this year? Yes or no? You can easily answer that.

If yes, then we’re going to show you this next question. And then they fill in the forms behind the scenes for you. I think in most situations, even with complex choices, if someone walked into your store and you’re the expert on your subject matter or business, you could ask them three or four pointed questions and get to the heart of what they need. So a lot of what’s appropriate is not overwhelming with choice or filtering, but guided experiences.

In one other key is removing similar choices. A lot of us are proud of, especially in e-commerce, “We carry everything. We’re like the Amazon of women’s shoes.” Or whatever your tag-line is. But that means you carry everything from every manufacturer, and that’s actually a problem, because I just want suitcases. I want the big one, the little one, the really tiny one, the carry-on bag, or I want the hard-shell ones, or the soft-sided luggage. I don’t want 17 choices inside of the large suitcase soft-sided. Give me the high price, medium price and low price. That’s probably enough. Make it manageable, whatever you want me to consider.

Any thoughts or comments on that?

Byron: When you have hundreds or thousands of products, it’s difficult to do that. But your point is how you organize them, present them is—

Tim: That’s right. It just can’t be an infinite drill down, or like I said, just infinitely scrolling pages, and you’re expecting them to do the work by looking at thumbnails, or grids, or a list of products. You have to put your domain knowledge and your intelligence into the experience, and so a lot of times it’s like ok, you can give the kitchen sink version, but hey, here’s our handy-dandy wizard, let me choose, and that should be much more of a guided, holding my hand experience. And at every step of that, you give me a limited amount of choice.

So for example, we work with a custom suit company where you can take your measurements and order your suit online, and they’ll make a custom tailored suit. They’ll offer simple choices like, ok, do you want pin stripe, or not pin stripe? Do you want navy versus gray color for your suit? Do you want your lapels to be tuxedo style or notched? Do you want your pockets inside or outside? Do you want a single vent in the back, a double vent, or no vent? And each one of those is a simple step. And if you do the math, there are tens of millions of possible suits they can have, in addition to the actual dimensions, but just in terms of style.

By walking through a wizard with simple atomic operations at every step, you can get rid of that complexity.

Alright, let’s talk about strategy number two. And remember, there are four of them because we’re going to keep it to a small number you can digest.

Use a big anchor. Now, what do I mean by this? Context matters. We’re not rational beings. I hope that’s coming through loud and clear on this. Context really matters, so what we want to do is have an anchor that primes us and pre-disposes us to the experience.

For example, eye-witness testimony is notoriously unreliable, and often a good trial lawyer will lead you with the way they ask the questions. For example, “Mister White, how fast were you going when you smashed into the back of that minivan with the school children?" You probably get a very different response to your defense lawyer asking the same question which is, “Mister White, how fast were you going when you bumped the back of that mini-van?”

When you say the word “smashed” versus “bumped,” to the same eye-witnesses watching the same video in a controlled experiment, it will illicit completely different responses. So how we present the information, what proceeds it and how we prime you to recall something or make a decision really matters.

So here’s an example. We’re on a website and we’re being asked to pick from three hosting plans. Most of us, at least in the west, read from left to right and we’re looking at the pricing on this, and the first plan is $2.50, and the next plan is $4, and the next plan is $6. So the prices are going up. And by the time you get to the $6 plan, you’re thinking to yourself, “Wow, that better be a heck of a hosting plan, because it’s more than twice as expensive as the other one.”

And you’re seeing that in that order, because that’s the way it was presented. A lot of times for pricing, that’s the wrong choice. For example, let me go back to my suit example. I don’t know why I have suits on the brain. If I go in to buy a suit, “Oh Mister Ash, please try this on, test drive it, here’s our $1,000 suit. Oh, would you like some cufflinks with that, or a tie? Would you like a pair of shoes, or a shirt?" They’re always asking those up-sell questions. It’s the “would you like fries with that?” kind of approach, because after buying a $1,000 dollar suit and making that commitment, buying a $50 silk tie doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, even though it’s a big rip-off and it took $10 to make.

But if you showed me a rack of ties and said, “here’s a $10 tie here’s a $50 tie,” that’s a very different experience because I saw the $10 tie first, and I’m not going to pay 5 times as much. But if I see a $1,000 suit first, I may pay 1/20th of that to get a tie.

So for example, in our attention-wizard software, which is the software we’ve created to predict where someone’s attention is going to go on a website when they first get to it, we sell these “instant heat maps.” You upload an image, it doesn’t even have to be of a live webpage, and we’ll predict where the instant hotspots of attention are going to be on the page.

We’ll talk about that a bit more later. And as you can see, we have three plans. The gold, the silver and the bronze. $197, $97, and $27. By the time you get down to the bronze, which is the one most people buy anyway, it seems like a heck of a deal because it’s not $200, it’s $30. Now your rational brain, if it gets kicked in, and it hasn’t for any of you, I guarantee it, is going to say “well that’s about $3 for a heat map, here, this is about $2 a heat map, and with the gold plan that’s down to about $1 for a heat map, that’s the best value right there.”

That’s the one the rational brain should be buying if you’re going to be using it a lot. But that’s not how people think. They’re just going to anchor on the price and the order that they see the price makes a big difference, so we sell a lot more of these because our price scale goes down. Byron, I know that when you and I go out, you like your nice wines when you’re in a nice restaurant. On the wine list, do they put the cheap wines at the top, or the expensive ones?

Byron: Depends on which restaurant.

Tim: Ok, well, sorry, not Home Town Buffet. Normally what you have at the top is a $500 bottle of wine, right?

Byron: At the bottom of the list.

Tim: No, no, at the top, actually. At the expensive restaurants, it’s going to be at the top. And the reason they do that—

Byron: The scatter approach is the right one, isn’t it?

Tim: Well, it’s actually putting the declining prices on the list is going to be the best approach, because if you see the $500 bottle of wine, then you see the $75 dollar bottle of wine, then you go "ok, well, I’m at a business dinner with colleagues and I don’t want to seem like a cheapskate, I’ll order that, jese, it’s a lot cheaper than the $500 bottle." But the fact that you can go to Costco and buy it for $25, that would be a different kind of comparison. But in the context of a restaurant with the expensive wine first, it’s going to seem like a pretty good deal.

So this kind of stuff happens all the time. Is it rational? Absolutely not. So anchoring is important. I’ll show you just one more irrational example. They ask people to recall the last two digits of their social security number. So, anywhere from 99 to 00. And then they ask them what would they be willing to pay for a raffle ticket to enter this particular drawing. And here’s the funny part: with that recall task first, the people who’s last digits were 90’s, versus the 0’s, were willing to pay 60% more for their raffle ticket.

You might say, “That’s completely irrational, Tim,” but I’d say, that’s my point exactly. So basically, we anchor on the first thing we see. And what you might want to do is a strategy to add a new high-end item that you don’t intend to sell at all, just to give the decreasing price order, and the sales in of levels of compromise will increase, and even the irrational anchors can be put in the lobby of the experience before you get to the main decision. And again, do social security digits have anything to do with dollar pricing of raffle tickets? No. They’re really unrelated, but we can anchor on the irrational stuff on the way to key decisions.

Byron: Do irrational anchors essentially offer more rationalization for the purchase on peace of mind, etc? What’s happening emotionally with these irrational anchors? If I can understand that.

Tim: Basically, unless you have endless supplies of money, if we’re talking about economics stuff, again, it kicks in that first strategy I was talking about, making clear distinctions: What is big? What is small? If you just say, it’s $10 per month or $100 for the year, and I have to do math and say, “Oh, well that’s approximately a 20% discount,” that’s rational thinking. But if you say it’s $10 monthly or $50 for the year, that’s a clear decision.

So it’s kind of kicking in both the anchoring and the contrast of the big versus small.

Byron: Perfect.

Tim: Alright, let’s go on to our third strategy, and that is “be in my cultural tribe.” Just a quick aside, I view a lot of human beings—or all human beings—as kind of an overlay of our tribal identities. On the human scale, we can always hang out in small, intimate groups, but we might go from tribe to tribe. Some of these are voluntary, some are not.

For example, if you decide to cut your hair in a Mohawk, or shave your head like I do, that’s a voluntary tribe. If you’re an orphan, you probably didn’t choose to be an orphan. That’s an involuntary tribe. Or you’re a minority, or your skin color is different, or you were born in a different country and you speak with a funny accent, those are all involuntary tribes.

But choosing to drive a particular car or wear a particular type of clothes, those are all voluntary tribes. So you can think of the overlay of our tribal affiliations, whether voluntary or involuntary. The point is that, especially if you have kids or teenagers, kids don’t really care about what their parents think, they often care about what their peers think. So we’re influenced more by people in our tribe.

So here’s a website called the Oatmeal, I’m sure some of you are familiar with it. It’s kind of this irreverent, "I’m a smart intellectual but with enough sense of humor to laugh at myself." So they’re featuring this book, "How To Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting To Kill You." If you have cats, you know exactly what that means. It’s this funny website, you can see there’s this cartoonish editorial style and subject matter.

Do you think that they’re aiming for the same audience on this website? “GEARS OF WAR. JUDGMENT.”

No. It’s this dark, post-apocalyptic, violent thing going on. And I venture to guess there’s not too much overlap going on in the audiences of these two websites. The people reading the Oatmeal are not the 15 year old boys who are playing Gears of War. Now, I’ve been known to play a video game or two myself, but that’s another story. The point is, don’t be afraid to alienate people. We’re tribal, our tribes are self selected, we’re really influenced by people in our tribes. You have to look the part. That means visually, editorial tone, all of that.

And you have to communicate your values with that. This is a really important key. Don’t be afraid to alienate people who are outside of your target audience. If you have a tightly defined target audience, especially, then talk to your base. You see that a lot in politics. Politicians are saying very repulsive, extreme things. They’re not talking to you. You made up your mind already and you probably have an opposing position. They’re talking to their base and energizing their base. You hear that a lot. So don’t worry about alienating everybody else. Talk to your base if you want to be effective. Any thoughts on this strategy, Byron?

Byron: It’s difficult to motivate clients and customers to alienate people. They feel like they want to sell to everyone; that everyone should love their products. This is probably the hardest thing to do. How do you overcome that fear?

Tim: That’s a great question. If you go on our website, our name, you’ll see our logo on the upper left and you’ll see our tagline. Conversion rate optimization. We don’t say, “and pay per click, and affiliate marketing, and social media, and traffic buying.” We’re not talking about any of those things. We’re specialists. And especially in this age of ADD and infinite information in the sea of the Internet that we float around in, you have to be very specific to be remembered.

And so I think it’s a big mistake to do that “death by and” product line extension. Yeah, we sell 95% of this but we want to sell 5% of that, so we’re going to talk about that a lot. It’s a mistake. It’s better to focus down and really know who you’re talking to and what you’re talking on. Most of us are craving that “spot on, wow, where is this coming from, where have you been all my life, I can’t live without it, they really understand me, they’re talking to me.” And again, this obviously from a writing aspect, in the copy writing, this is critical. It applies to conversion more generally.

Byron: Perfect.

Tim: The power of focus, I guess. Alright, I want to leave off with the last strategy, and then I’m going to do some quick website reviews. And that is the power of visuals. I’m going to breeze through this because there’s a lot to talk about.

Without going into the wet-wear much, trust me when I tell you that half of your brain is just wired to process various kinds of visual information. That’s a lot of wet-wear devoted to this task. And it’s really good at it. So just to review 7th grade biology, in your eye you have rods and cones. One is set to detect fine detail, but only in a vary narrow range, and the other detects motion in a very wide range.

So this is really what your word looks like, just a gray fuzz. If anything is moving in that scene, you know about it because that’s necessary for survival. But then your brain jitters the eyeball around and looks for interesting things in the scene, and as it does that, at the end of that process, you think you see a full, high-resolution picture of the world. In fact, and this is kind of scary, your brain, through assumptions, creates 98% of what you think you see, and makes you think it was your visual experience. You don’t see. You only see 2%, 3% of the actual scene in front of you. The rest is filled in by your brain. Ok, so it’s really good at doing that. Let’s look at quick example. If I asked you, what does this site sell? I’d like everybody to focus on that. Most of you would probably answer, “Flat screen TVs.”

Ok, if I ask you again, what does this site sell? Most of you would probably answer, “Vacuum cleaners and other junk.” If I ask you again what this site sells, you’d answer, “Appliances of different kinds.”

If I asked you again, you’d probably say, “Xboxes and gaming consoles.”

And if I asked you after seeing this screen, you’d probably say, “The shame of not owning a smart phone.”

Now one thing I have to ask you, you’ve all just seen several screen folds and the banner at the top was always changing, my question is, what was the product in the lower right portion of that screen?

There was a product. I’ll bet you none of our listeners—feel free to correct me if I’m wrong through the chat window—could answer what was in that lower right corner.

Byron: A camera.

Tim: Oh, Byron, you’re good. You’re the first person that has—

Byron: I’ve seen this presentation before.

Tim: Oh, unfair. You’ve seen this presentation before. Ok, so if we go back, what we’ll find is that it was indeed the Olympus Tough camera, which is actually a great camera, you can drop it in the water, take it skiing with you, drop it in sand and it still works. So, it was there in a previous screen.

Byron: While you were going through this, I was actually focused on the four things on the bottom. So you say, "What does this site sell? What does this site sell?" Because those were the things that remained stable on the bottom of the site.

Tim: Well, you see, you’re a freak of nature and you’ve seen this presentation before, perhaps too many times, no but, joking aside, we cannot react to motion. Remember what I was saying about having a really wide, like 220 degree field of view for motion? The reason that was there, if there’s some really big thing coming from my left at a certain speed, I need to know about that now. It’s not the same as, “ok, I’ll look at this berry, see what color it is, determine if it’s poisonous, take my time with it. That kind of fine discrimination can be done and I’ll take my time with it."

If there’s something big moving from my left, I need to know about it. So we’re always going to be triggered by motion. Which is why I hate animated sliders or motion or video or anything like that that’s not being used for a constructive purpose. It resets our attention. We literally can’t not look at each one of those frames as they go by every two seconds. We’re forced to look at it.

Byron: Let me ask you a question. Would you rather see on the homepage of this Best Buy site some sort of visually interesting, artistically inclined representation of the diversity of the products they sell, which would be easy to drill down into. For example, a tree, and instead of leaves on the tree, the products they sell. A visually interesting architectural view of the whole site. Would that work better?

Tim: Yeah, for an e-commerce site you should have a category of images that are collages that show the diversity of stuff in that category, but static images. Like B&H Photo Video does a great job on their homepage and in the body of their page of having category-level navigation.

Byron: And is that reinforced in the mobile platform as well?

Tim: Yeah. There’s no reason to create motion. Ok, so we talked about motion. It’s deadly. Let me be clear. Don’t use motion unless it directly supports a call to action. It’s like dropping a hand-grenade in the middle of your page. Nothing will survive in the blast radius. Think of it this way: there’s a hierarchy of motion, graphics and text. And if there’s something in motion it’s going to interrupt or override anything more subtle going on in the page. We can’t read text in the presence of moving images. We can’t view images in the presence of motions or visual distractions like that.

So that’s the hierarchy, if you will, but even for images, there’s a hierarchy. So if you’re looking at this page, what are you looking at? I can tell you right now, you’re looking at Smiling Guy, you’re looking at Sideways Bald Guy, and then after a while, you’re going to look at Gray-Haired Distinguished Guy with Blue Tie. As you’re looking at these folks on the screen, what you’re not doing is reading any of the text, am I right?

Has anyone looked yet at what the site does? No, because you’re looking at the pictures. And especially with human faces, there’s a special part of our brain designed just to pick out human faces. We will pay attention to them. They are a rich source of information in our environment. Just the nuances of someone’s expression tells us a lot about their intent and for survival reasons, that’s kind of important.

Sometimes it can be used deliberately. So here’s our website, and that face there on top is there to draw you to our secondary call to action, which takes you to our “contact us” form. In the body of the page, you see how it’s boring and stripped down, but you see the picture of the sports car to anchor your eye there, and draw your eye down below to the main call to action in the body of the page.

So by contrast, this is a very deliberate use of graphics. But if you just sprinkle your page with graphics, stock photography especially—call that business porn—unless it directly supports a conversion action, it shouldn’t even be on the page. And this is a case where it does, but the previous page is an example of how not to do it.

And there are lots of sites where the graphic designer just goes, "God, we’ve got to dress this up somehow, it’s so boring." Well, think about controlling attention on the page and boring is actually good in most cases. Let's go on. Video: same thing. This is the old Conversion Conference site. You can see we have a little embedded video to view over there. Once you pop that open, if you want to have the full page experience, then what happens is you get to see it in a light-box popover and nice, high-res viewer.

One of the worst things you can do is embed a kind of half-assed video player on the page, which makes it kind of hard to design around it, and it’s still not a very good video experience.

Same goes with a combination of video plays and walk-on video spokes people. Sometimes people recognize it can be very powerful to play with that; video will get our attention. But how you represent video on the page is also important.

For example, this Camtasia Studio page, which is video editing software. I challenge you to find the video player button on this page. It’s not actually the pictures that draw your visual attention. That right there is the main call to action on the page, a little gray button.

So, how you represent video, whether you auto-play it or whether you show it embedded in the page or make it clickable, or make the clickable thing as a thumbnail or a button, all of those things really matter and I would experiment with that.

So basically, there’s lots of ways to predict visual attention on the page, from eye tracking headgear, to mouse moving recording, to algorithms. Of course, eye tracking is expensive, and it gives you a rich world of information. Mouse tracking is kind of the poor-man’s eye tracking, I call it, and it’s helpful as far as it goes, but you still need live people on the page. And then the software I was talking about, our attention wizard software, is a way too. We know a lot about visual processing in the brain. So you can upload a static image or a mock-up, it doesn’t even have to be a live page, and we can predict and create a heat map of where the attention is going to go.

So, visuals are crucial and understanding them is very important, so here’s what you need to know before I wrap up. Visual processing is very powerful and quick. You will be drawn to visual signals, so we really need to make sure we use faces and people carefully, to support calls to action. Avoid unnecessary motion and animation, and definitely test all aspects of how you use video on the page.

So here’s a summary of the four strategies I gave you: create a small number of clear choices, use a big anchor, be in my cultural tribe, and understand the power of visuals. All of these things are deeply rooted in our physicality, in our bodies and our evolution. This stuff is universal. It applies everywhere. So start paying attention to the wet-ware and not the hardware and software so much.

For those of you who are in the Chicago area, we’re having our last 2014 Conversion Conference in the US on Tuesday and Wednesday. I’m going up there tomorrow. But for those of you who are not able to make it to Chicago, I invite you to our big once a year format that we’re moving to May 14, in Las Vegas, and Byron, you’ll probably be there.

For those webinar listeners here, you can go to our website, ConversionConference.com, and sign up for just $499. That's a fully transferable pass, so if you can’t make it, you can pass it on to somebody. But you have to do it by next Friday. Alright, Byron, we have some sites to look at. I want to also shout out, if people like the site reviews, you can get a single page or a full website review from us, and jot down the promo-code “WRITER” to get $100 off by next Friday. All you have to do is go to ExpressReviewOffer.com, and use the WRITER promo code.

Byron, I think we’re going to move on to some live sites that people submitted, and we’ll tear them apart for a few minutes.

Byron: Right on, let’s do that and then see if we have any time left after for some questions, but I know some people are really excited about the reviews, so let’s go at it.

Tim: Alright, well, I think we’re going to find some common themes in the violations we’re talking about here. So here’s Craig Travel. I know you’ve looked at some of these. So, shoot.

Byron: I always like starting with the Tribe content, the comment, “in my tribe.” So when I look at this website, I see some motion here, and, I don’t know, “Experience our world?” I want to travel the world. But what is "our world?" Is "our world" a company? I’m a bit lost with the value of that.

Tim: So, what’s the tribe? Is there any focus to this? Or what you’re saying, is this generic? We’ll do anything for anyone, we’ll take your money if you give it to us.

Byron: Yeah, my tribe is lost from the headline. “Distinctive journeys for the mature traveler.” What does "mature" mean? Is that the elderly population? is that the experienced traveler?

Tim: By the way, you’re an eagle eye because you saw that tagline up there. That should be a page title. That’s great positioning. And if this is for older folks or retired folks, call it what it is. You don’t have to use euphemisms. But the point is, that should be a page headline. And the editorial tone should be showing older people on camel back and older people on a riverboat and older people at the top of the Eiffel tower, so get that editorial tone, both with the headline and visually.

And I think you have to have that tight positioning, I don’t think you can just be “travel” because when I think travel, I think Expedia, I don’t think “Craig Travel,” no offense.

So you have to stand for something.

Byron: That’s the beauty. You go down the punch list. I was looking at this website thinking, "Ok, what’s emotionally appealing, what’s rationally appealing to a target audience?" What’s emotionally appealing is: the biggest room in a corner at the hotel, or a free upgrade, or the best gig, or secret spots that you’re only going to learn of with us, and not Expedia. So, that’s emotionally appealing. What’s rationally appealing is great rates, best experience, best price.

Tim: Yeah, it doesn’t have to be rational, but the question is, is this the right site for me? And by the way, if you are aiming at mature travelers, the journeys by land? I don’t remember any old folks doing cattle drives or mustang drives lately. So be really careful of the stock photography images you choose. They really need to be well represented and well though out, not just wallpaper. Which goes to the biggest beef of the page: the rotating banner is just really distracting and prevents me from consuming any of the other content.

Byron: Yeah, and I think that companies can get away with this if their target audience knows who they are already and they’re just putting up a nice brochure, but the game with conversion starts with turning new browsers into believers and unbelievers into buyers, people who don’t know you or your brand.

Tom Peters has a great book that he actually never published. I have a copy of it, it was published as a test. It’s called: “Brand Me” and that’s really what we talked about today is: who is your tribe, what is your brand?

Tim: Yeah. Who do you stand for? Who are you? Super tight, laser focus. Not death by “and.”

Byron: To bring in another great author, Seth Godin, "Purple Cow." What is your Purple Cow?

Tim: What makes you unique, and really distinctive and memorable?

Byron: Yeah, exactly.

Tim: Let’s throw up another site. This is ReadyArtWork.com. And again, in terms of visuals, I’m just going to react on a neuroscience level.

That red is just obnoxious. It’s such a strong color of red, it’s a very very powerful color, and you can use it as an accent or a main call to action color, let it enter into your logo a little sparingly, but red areas all over the page, in the header and in that form, and combined with motion, I don’t even know how to consume this page. This is like visual assault, this is like somebody shooting me in the face with an Uzi at point blank range.

Byron: Well, it is a bright beautiful red, Target can get away with a red, we can talk about reds, I mean, people build identities around different colors, we get that. Honestly, the confusion here is that Ready Artwork is kind of a difficult big old brand name, and what exactly does that mean? Is this artwork that’s already made? Is this a web design and development company? I don’t really understand what this company does. Do you?

Tim: No. It’s a little ironic I must say, and thanks for submitting your site and letting us trash it, but you are a web design marketing firm, and it’s not clear what you do. It’s ironic. If we hadn’t looked at this site in a lot of detail and tried to tune out your rotating design and commercials, well, we dig down and it says that "graphic design is an important part of branding and marketing," and it is, and I think you’ve done an over-the-top crazy job with that. I think it’s going at cross purposes with what you’re trying to do.

Byron: It’s powerful. Another thing I wanted you to comment on, Tim, don’t you think that you have to kind of earn someone’s trust before you demand that they fill out a form and get a quote?

Tim: Yeah, that’s a little too in-your-face with your call to action. Let’s date before you ask me to marry you. On the positive side, you are using people. Unfortunately, it’s rotating in the little right area. But you are using real pictures of your staff, so you’re making an emotional connection. Those are the real people that work for us.

If you had a nice picture of your staff, professionally done, not like, “we’re on a snowboarding vacation here,” or something by the lodge, or not properly lit, or showing your butts by the door there, nice butts, by the way. The point is to have one nice picture of your staff. If you’re delivering any kind of professional services, and what they’re buying is you the person or you the team, that’s often a great thing to put on your site. That’s why we put my bald head on top of our pages, because I’m one of the faces of the company.

So that’s good, it just needs to be not rotating, not in the corner, and professionally done.

Byron: You know, this is the type of company that should do twenty versions of their website and test them all. Guess what? They’re in the business to do that. And what a great showcase that would be for their other clients, saying hey, testing is a great way to determine what works and what doesn’t work. And by the way, Tim’s opinion, my opinion, they're all subjective. What you hear good conversion people like him talk about is to take the subjective opinions out of it. Let technology determine what’s the best.

Tim: If you have enough traffic. Now, I’m afraid that my company for example, or these guys, we don’t have enough traffic to test, it’s not like we have thousands of form fills a day. Companies that have big data or high data really are in the catbird seat because they can even settle stupid bar bets by testing. But some smaller businesses can’t, unfortunately, so, alright, let’s go to another site here.

This will probably be our last one. NexVue. "Expect more." Oh, there’s rotating motion in the upper right, with that palm tree. Now in the upper left. Now the motion shifts to the bottom. Big Bear. And in all that time, I’m watching the really stunning graphics, I’m not even watching the icon things below, much less reading the text.

See, we have massive visual assault, medium visual assault, and lesser visual assault. Text, graphics and motion. And you might as well not have the lower two-thirds part of that page, because the motion is just going to blow everything out of the water. Nice production quality, seems like a well put together site, but just—

Byron: Yeah, I just don’t think these visuals lower cost. I’m pretty sure that’s Lake Louise, up in Canada, although I might be wrong, but I don’t really see the connection.

Tim: Yeah. This is the business porn I was talking about. It’s stock photography. We can all go to the same stock photo site and buy images for a buck, and in fact, your competitors did, and it’s on their websites as well, it has nothing to do with you. If you’re trying to make accounting software sexy, sorry, pictures aren’t going to do that. You’re talking to a business buyer who’s going to make a huge decision and they need to know you’re serious.

Byron: Right. Again, so I can just see the owners of this company, making these decisions, wanting to be novel, wanting to be exciting, and I get why they would gravitate toward images like this, to be more novel, to stand out from their competitors who might have even more boring stock photography than that. I mean, it could be worse.

Tim: Unfortunately, we’re missing the clear choices. We’re missing any anchors to understand what you do. And if you just took away that whole top section and just said this is the four choices you have, present it in a way that it can be considered in parallel, that right there would be a better page, just take out those graphics.

Byron: But what does this company do for me? I mean, I don’t get it. You know? I don’t see what the value proposition is for me. I’m not motivated. So tell me what you do, probably tell me what you do again.

Tim: And the headline is good in the sense that it’s functional. I mean, the tagline sucks. "Expect more," that doesn’t tell me anything. But "Transforming RP into organizational productivity," that’s a little aspirational though. I’d like you to say: "RP accounting software for midsize manufacturing businesses." Period. Just functional. Not this marketing happy-happy talk about transforming anything into productivity. Because I’ve got to put my bullshit filters on for that.

Byron: Yeah. Really fun. You want to try to do one more?

Tim: I don’t think we have time. We’re on the hour.

Byron: Well, I want to thank everyone for taking the risk to let Tim and I chat about what we see going wrong with these sites. We’d like to hear if there are so many things going right in these sites that we’re completely wrong in our assessment, because that could be the case. Who knows? These could be leaders in their industry. Don’t listen to us, but do listen to testing, if you can.

Tim: And the jist, the one key takeaway, if you can, these are the universals of our biology, our bodies and our brains. They are the things you should be focusing on. Ground yourself in the evergreen, permanent insights you get there. Learn more about the brain and decision making and psychology and the latest research and how that relates to marketing. Don’t focus on the technology, focus on the biology.

Byron: And I’d say, focus on the wants and needs of the readers, and discover what those wants and needs are within your own tribe. Cause that’s the secret, that’s the hard part, don’t you think, Tim?

Tim: Yeah, defining your tribe and having the discipline to articulate it, only for them.

Byron: Yep, and testing it with them, and getting their feedback, and seeing if it resonates well and engages, this is the hard stuff, for sure. Well, listen, I want to thank you Tim, for tuning in with us today, no pun intended.

Tim: My pleasure, Byron.

Byron: It’s always a pleasure with you, Byron, great job, thanks very much. Just a reminder to everyone that we’ll be sending links about Tim. We'll be sending the special offers to everyone who registered as well, so you can take advantage of an opportunity to get a live makeover, comments and suggestions through that fantastic deal that Tim offered to everybody. And catch Tim at the conferences. I’ll be at the conference in Vegas, you can count me in. I’ll be there with my wife I’m sure, because she won’t let me go without her, she’s missed too many travel trips to places like this, and so she’s already demanded she go. So we’ll look forward to that show, Tim.

And thanks for tuning in, everyone—we really appreciate it. You’ll get an email from me with links to download the deck and to sign up for all this stuff, including the books, so stay tuned for that, in probably a couple of hours. I’m sure Glen will be right on it. So thanks again, Tim.

Tim: Absolutely, Byron. My pleasure.

Byron: Right on. Until next month, everybody. We hope you’ll have a more conversive plan between now and then, thanks for tuning in. We’ll see you.