Attentional Bias – The Marketing Power of Repetition
What gets your customers’ attention? Can you help website visitors focus on their goals? The attentional bias is all about what people pay attention to. The fast-thinking tends to focus first on things that we think about again and again. It also focuses its attention on images, words and concepts that are repeated often. In online marketing, this tendency can be used to capture and direct attention to your message.
Everyone who has purchased a new car discovers that they suddenly see that type of car everywhere. That’s because their purchase sets up an attention bias in their brain. There are no more of those cars on the road than before, but they suddenly seem more visible. Similarly, a person who has started dieting, suddenly becomes more aware of images of food, since they have bcome a new focus.
Neuromarketing and Attentional Bias
Psychological studies show that the attentional bias can either create a stronger recognition of images and words or interfere with that recognition, depending on emotional responses. Neuromarketing can make use of this common cognitive anomaly to influence people’s attention. It can subtly affect decision-making in several ways.
- Repetition Can Establish an Attentional Bias – In web design, the use of the same image and slogans at the top of all pages sets up an automatic recognition response in viewers. Images that elicit specific emotions and words that tell a recurring story establish your identity. That’s why major brands’ logos are so universally recognized. Eye tracking studies show that those pictures and words are typically the first thing seen on every page.
- Avoid Distraction from Too Many Choices – Study after study shows that people presented with too many options choose none of them. By limiting the selection, you make it easy for the brain to focus its attention and decide. That’s one reason that specific landing pages convert better than more generalized pages. Also, if one of the options has been viewed before by a visitor, it’s more likely to be chosen over unfamiliar options.
- Avoid Creating Anxiety at Decision Points – All consumers have longstanding attentional biases. Focusing on eliciting positive emotional responses can encourage more action. The Stroop test, which measures reaction times by asking people to identify the text color of a word, shows that words that create negative reactions slow down response time. Attention is focused on the emotional response, distracting from the color naming.
- Familiarity Encourages Action – Everyone recognizes familiar brand names like Amazon, Nike and Coke. Billions of dollars are spent establishing and growing brand recognition. People trust them and use them. On a smaller scale, you can make your own brand more familiar. Repetition is a crucial factor. Using the same images, logos and slogans across all internet marketing reinforces your brand.
- Accentuate the Positive to Stimulate Sales – Potential customers and clients respond to positive feelings by converting. Focus their attention on glowing reviews and testimonials to motivate them. Using social proof is a great way to catch attention. Locate these cues near your calls to action and you’ll increase sales. Display high consumer ratings, awards, and associations with trusted brands.
- Divert and Redirect Attention – During presentation of marketing materials, losing the customer’s attention is always a risk. Include content that repeats important information and reminds guests about items they have already seen. Use graphical elements to encourage scrolling to new information. Make links obvious and compelling. Don’t let people’s attention lapse. Keep them focused on your story.
Understanding Cognitive Biases Can Boost Sales
The attentional bias is related to the confirmation bias. Both are based on beliefs and how they affect decision-making. Most cognitive biases have connections to others. The fast-thinking, intuitive brain is influenced by all sorts of logical errors and tendencies. Balancing the need to tell a marketing story against feeding the brain the triggers it needs is complicated. Neuromarketing takes all cognitive biases into consideration, along with the goal of achieving maximum conversion rates. As the only neuromarketing services company in the Twin Cities in Minnesota, we help our clients navigate that maze and achieve their goals.