For marketers, understanding the cognitive processes that take place in your customers’ mind when they make key decisions will help answer a variety of questions. For one, you do not want to force your customer to waste mental energy on decisions that do not really matter.
On average, we make around 35 000 decisions every day and the somatic marker hypothesis proposes that decision-making is a process that depends on emotion. There are four mental processes that influence decision-making.
- Cognitive Biases – a result of your brain’s attempt to simplify the way information is processed. This often works as a rule of thumb in your mind and help you to make sense of the world around you. Some of these are based on memory and others are based on our selective attention.
- Memories – Past experiences influence future decision making and research shows that when a positive result happens from a decision being made, future decision making will more than likely be made in a similar way.
- Reason – Logical decision making can be based on testing hypotheses using the best information available.
- Emotions – Decisions are emotional. Those who have any damage in the part of the brain concerned with emotion generally struggle to make a decision. They can explain logic but struggle to make simple decisions like what to eat as decisions are closely tied to emotions.
There are two systems in our brain. The subconscious with emotional processing and the conscious with rational processing. The consciousness enables us to be imaginative and have awareness and the two systems assist each other. Your conscious rational system needs full focus to process information and can only process small amounts of information at a time.
System two is fully automated and outside of our control. Once you apply your attention to something, the brain filters out the rest.
So how do we master the moment of decision-making?
A decision is a determination arrived at after consideration. When we are in the moment of deciding, we are not that rational and need certain triggers before we can arrive at a decision. However, we also do not want our customer to experience analysis paralysis and not be able to make a decision at all. So how do we make it easier and more comfortable for our potential buyer to decide? Here are some tips.
- Create a relaxed, non-pressurised environment
Bad decisions are the direct result of being in the wrong frame of mind and the wrong emotional and physical state. Provide a useful distraction for your potential customer with something light-hearted and fun. When you present your customer with something relaxing, their subconscious mind will tend to take over and make the decision – even if it is a tough one.
- Provide educational content
The content which you create and publish will have a significant impact on how your customers relate to your products. By providing educational content that addresses their biggest concerns or questions, you can help them overcome barriers and make more informed decisions that will keep their own best interest in mind. Educational content also has the benefit of ranking well in search engines. Make your content appealing to the algorithms that crawl your site.
- Be strategic about your costs
If you sell a service or product that is priced at different tiers – ensure you spend some time researching various psychological hacks that makes pricing irresistible. Pointing out which price tier is the most popular with your customers will prime new potential customers to choose it as well. You could also provide a subscription-based model that consists of basic and premium costs that takes the number of users into account.
The other way to price your product is by using the framing effect. This is a type of cognitive bias where customers decide on options based on the positive or negative connotations which they are presented with. A certain price point can be perceived to carry a loss or a gain and a sure gain is preferred to a probable one. A sure loss is perceived as more significant and more worthy of avoiding. Generally, people tend to avoid taking risks when a positive frame is presented through various wordings, settings and situations.
- Reviews, reviews, reviews
Many studies have shown that people read reviews and decide what to buy based on these. Some 88% say that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. If you promote commodity products, then you might want to pull reviews from an external site so you can display more of them or use structured data to get review stars from highly reviewed products into search results. Reviews can increase click-through-rates by as much as 35%.
- Flooring can influence purchasing decisions
For brick and mortar stores, a simple thing like your floors can influence buying decisions. If a floor is appealing from a sense of style or material used (think rugs, carpets, or wood), it can create a feeling of comfort and security. The way things are presented in-store influence our emotions.
- Previous positive experiences matter
If you have bought something and it works, you do not want to spend a whole lot of time researching alternatives. Make sure it is simple to understand and delivers on its brand promise the first time around.