Web psychology and its effect on digital marketing

Written by
Ruan Heymans

So, why should this be important for any digital marketing agency?

Well, it provides us with an additional set of measurement processes or rules that help us to:

  • Design more persuasive websites

  • Write better copy

  • Understand our audiences better

  • Increase user experience (UX)

  • Draft and plan better digital strategies for our clients

From a psychological point of view, what exactly do we have to take into consideration when we want to improve or redo a client’s CI or overall digital strategy?

The Primal System

This is the part of the brain that is common to all animals. It monitors, triggers and regulates all our basic vital functions. This is the part of the brain where the “fight” or “flight” process takes place. We regulate our basic human instincts from here… such as survival.

Depending on the client brief, this allows us to generate immediate insight into our target audience before we start segmenting down to a more targeted level.

So where exactly do we start and what do we look for?

We can make use of cues for either sex, imagery of food or drink or even motion to cue a CTA. We need to focus on the “Peak-end rule” which is a psychological effect where people judge an experience based on how they felt at its peak and its end.

Limbic System (Emotional)

We move onto this stage after we’ve segmented our target audience. Now that we know who our target audience is, we can start analysing their behaviour to figure out what kind of emotional queues we would need to trigger to achieve our targeted CTA. Some key parts of the brain that play a role here is the Amygdala (Fear, relevance and trust), Thalamus (Happiness, sadness, disgust) and VTA (dopamine, risk, reward).

So what type of factors will influence our consumers?

  • Empathy (Mirrored neuron)

  • Images of faces

  • Story-telling

  • Pleasure and Pain

  • Body language

For Example:

Let’s use the limbic system in a practical scenario, putting emphasis on Empathy. The easiest way to explain empathy (mirrored emotion) would be to use the analogy “Monkey see, Monkey do”. So in other words, if the digital agency/marketer executed the initial web or app design or development accordingly, the user should be guided through the website (story-telling) and not have to look for anything themselves.

If we wanted a practical example of a website that evoked a queue such as pleasure and pain, we do not have to look far to find very good examples of this, such as NPOs looking for donations to either serve food to a village in Africa or to provide clean water to that village (This emotion can be queued by using the right colour scheme, using visual ads to illustrate the specific problem, and photos of the villagers in need to contrary the urgency of the situation).

  • Rational system

The third and last part of the brain we look at is the rational part of the brain. This helps us better understand our target audience and why they do what they do.

The rational part of the brain mainly revolves around planning, organising, problem solving, social learning and innovation, language and abstract thought.

We can trigger this part of the brain by using one of the following principles. As a brand, you can either, demonstrate a product (through a blog post with imagery or through video), listing specifications, being the authority on that specific product or provide evidence that the product/ service works.

So, what’s a quick way to create a CTA through this system? Easy, reward your users. You can do this by doing the following:

  • Positive reinforcement

  • Give away freebies

  • Give them a superior user interface and a unique user experience

Key Takeaways:

To be truly persuasive in digital marketing, you have to target all 3 of these systems. So to sum it up In a nutshell, your website needs to be:

  • Arousing

  • Emotionally effective and

  • Intellectually compelling

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