I recently gave a presentation called What your website is really saying?. I had a great time and the emails I’ve received from folks who attended my presentation have been very encouraging.
That presentation dealt with Audience Focused Optimization, something I’ve written about before (see links below) and will be covering in detail at an eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit in DC workshop and presentation. This post gives some examples of the topics I’ll be covering.
Going past “what we see” to “what we’re trained to see”
Regular readers know that NextStage taps a wide variety of disciplines in our work. This mix of disciplines allows NextStage to go beyond a) what is available to the people and to consider b) the responses that people have been trained culturally, educationally, psycholinguistically, socially, et cetera, to have.
For example: many websites have a list of advertisers on their pages. You can see this on the eMetrics site in figure 1 in the right-most column on the page:
There’s a simple modification to the page that will cause people not only to avoid looking at that right most column but actually to block it from memory. It’s a trick of the visual-cognitive system that I’ll be sharing in detail at eMetrics, and it makes use of the mind’s ability to have “negative hallucinations.” Negative hallucinations occur when the brain and mind agree something is of so little importance that they literally block it from registering in the mind’s higher cognitive functions.
The trick is a simple one to execute, a little more involved to execute properly. Here are the basic steps:
- Determine the “theme” color of your website
- Make sure that theme color is repeated in the site’s content, the more the better, such as in links, call outs, caps, things like that.
- Have some “whitespace” between the site content and the right most “advertisers” column. You don’t need much.
Readers of Want to Increase Business Traffic? Play This Game to Learn a Design Trick will recognize this as a similar visual trick to what I discussed there. The method here causes the brain to accept the site’s content as relevant information, the advertisers’ column as irrelevant. Will visitors see it? Yes. Will they easily ignore it in favor of your content? Yes!
Give them vanilla when they want vanilla
One of my mantras is to always give the customer what they want first, then sell or upsell. Failing to give consumers and site visitors what they wanted — failing to satisfy the motivation that brought them to you in the first place — is a no-win situation. I call this “When the customer asks for vanilla, give them vanilla.”
One of the easiest ways to give customers what they want is to let them know what you have. Most site designers, marketers and advertisers think they do this via their promotional copy, images, layout and so on.
I’ll agree with this approach with one slight modification: make sure your value proposition matches the visitors’ or consumers’ expectations. You can find examples of this in Reading Virtual Minds Chapter 6 “Expectation versus Satisfaction” and in the links at the bottom of this column.
Social methods without social tool costs
Eric Peterson gave an excellent presentation at the Semphonics XChange conference a few week’s back. One discussion coming out of that presentation is how to use social methods — things the brain and mind look for to let us know we’re safe and accepted — without incurring the costs of social tools and social networks.
Humans are social animals, and a good portion of our brains and minds are wired to help us understand and navigate social networks. Our minds are adapting to the rules of online social networks but not so much our brains. Our brains are still working with some 10 million years of evolutionary history.
This gap between what the mind is doing and what the brain wants it to do can be easily filled with some inexpensive website modifications that satisfy the brain and convince the mind they’re housed inside a well respected, admired, liked and loved social being.
For example, look at figure 2 (yes, that’s yours truly in the pink shirt). The foreground action (the handshake) is excellent. Me and another fellow in the background, looking off in the distance, ain’t so good. My and the other fellow’s image doesn’t add to the dramatic action – demonstrating friendship and acceptance – in the foreground. Our looking out of the image is a visual cue that something else, other than what’s happening in the image, is more important than the friendship and acceptance of eMetrics attendees. Not a good thing.
A simple fix is a picture of the handshake in the foreground with background people smiling or otherwise taking part in the foreground action. That and similar inexpensive website modifications make use of social methods to signal the brain and mind all is well, encouraging further exploration of marketing material (websites, collateral material, video and audio, booth backgrounds, et cetera).
Please contact NextStage for information regarding presentations and trainings on this and other topics.
Links for this post:
- Priming the Conversion Pump with Images
- Priming the Conversion Pump with Color
- Making Visitors Want It Now
- The Best Way to Use Color and Imagery to Improve Your Marketing Podcast
- What your marketing is REALLY saying
- Intelligent Website Design: Expand Your Market (Page 4 of 5)
- Shared Traits of Great Web Design
- Failure: a case study
- Pavlov’s Eyes: Get Users to Respond
- DC Emetrics Summit on 14-17 Oct ’07
- Society for New Communications Research Annual Research Symposium & Awards Gala on 5-6 Dec 07 in Boston.
Come on by and say hello.