How many times have you noticed that you completed a task or arrived somewhere without thinking about how you achieved it? That’s your subconscious mind in action, making fast and automatic decisions with little or no conscious awareness of the decisions we make. Why does this occur?
Our subconscious mind has a rational purpose: protect us from danger and respond quickly without depleting mental energy. People don’t consciously decide to ignore advertising banners or stop to read the copy. These are decisions we automatically make to ease the process of navigating a site. They allow us to focus on what our brain decides are the more important tasks at that moment in time.
How can you use the subconscious to optimize your conversion rate:
Avoid clutter and competing calls to action to enable our subconscious brain to focus on achieving active goals. There are too many calls to actions and a poor visual hierarchy.
Use visual cues to assist users to find content or calls to action. Avoid flat design as this lacks the cues that users have become accustomed to seeing on a website.
Follow established web conventions as these allow users to navigate from expectations set by their experience of other websites.
What directs our attention to brands?
The goals that direct much of our behavior can be activated without a person’s conscious attention or choice. Much of our cognitive processing is triggered without the conscious deliberation and control once thought to be necessary. Further, studies also demonstrate that behavior driven by goal achievement can also operate without conscious thought.
This suggests our subconscious brain is hard-wired to automatically search for opportunities to satisfy psychological needs and make decisions that are in our best interest. When our brain identifies a good opportunity it generates a positive emotion and the brain automatically seeks a decision to enable need fulfillment.
How it can help your conversion rate:
Avoid over-reliance on rational benefits as these may not get the attention of the user’s subconscious mind.
Always include implicit or psychological needs in your online communications as these grab attention more than purely rational benefits. Individual psychological goals are outlined later on in this post.
Do we buy what we like or like what we buy?
Attention, preferences, and loyalty are most strongly driven by our unconscious mind. Visual and audio clutter on a screen can disrupt this process and lead to mental depletion.
Emotions help people process information and make decisions faster and are involved in all our decisions. Communications that target subconscious goals are more likely to be effective than purely rational benefits as they tap into human emotions.
There is substantial evidence that the activation of the brain’s reward center predicts purchases provided the pain induced by price is below a certain level.
How the subconscious helps your conversion rate:
A purely rational argument may be completely ignored by the subconscious brain as it may fail to activate the brain’s reward center. Emotionally engaging messages help us process information more quickly and improve the efficiency of our decision making.
Given the subconscious mind is responsible for most of our purchase decisions it is pointless asking people to rationalize brand preferences. Too many choices and complex decisions disrupt our subconscious decision making and can result in mental depletion.