Boost Sales by Appealing to Customers' Unconscious Minds

Did you know you can market to neurons, or create happiness with a small surprise?

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By Alicia Lawrence

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

With the advancement of psychology, marketers are quickly finding it's the incognito messages that have the greatest impact in sales.

There are a whole slew of unconscious factors that affect why we buy. Below are four factors that influence human behavior and how to utilize them in your process.

1. Marketing to your neurons. In the mid-1990s, a group of researchers were experimenting with how neurons controlled physical movements. The team had implanted electrodes into a monkey's brain to monitor its brain activity for the project. During the study, one of the researchers was eating an ice cream cone when he noticed the monkey watching him had a spike in its neural activity. The monkey appeared to be having a physical experience just by watching the researcher have his own physical experience by eating the ice cream.

Related: How to Get More Visitors to Click, Buy or Promote on Your Site

How to apply it: What the researchers discovered are called mirror neurons, a cluster of cells in the brain that mirror the feelings you see, read or hear. When putting together your graphics and videos, keep in mind what people see will resonate in their brain as if they did it themselves. Consumers will be more likely to perform an action if they are already subconsciously thinking about doing it. The role of emotion in advertisements plays an important part in marketing, and it works because of these mirror neurons.

2. The missing piece to your call to action. Howard Leventhal conducted a research study where he handed out two different pamphlets explaining the horrible effects of tetanus disease. Only one of the pamphlets had a call to action (CTA). Even though the follow-up instructions were vague, those who received the pamphlets with the CTA were 25 percent more likely to get vaccinated compared to the group whose pamphlet simply had the effects of tetanus disease.

How to apply it: People need more than just urgency to get them to take action. The action of getting a vaccine might seem like common sense after reading the dangers of the disease, yet sometimes people need to be given instructions to take action.

Clear instructions plus urgency equals action.

3. What's the magic word? Here are two studies that show how simple word changes can impact your conversion rate:

A study done by Carnegie Mellon University involved changing "a $5 fee" to "a small $5 fee" in their description of an overnight shipping charge on a free DVD trial offer. With the small change in wording, the response rate increased 20 percent.

Related: 15 Psychological Triggers to Convert Leads Into Customers

In an experiment published by Science, researchers found human choices will differ depending on how the options are framed. See the graphic below for the experiment. Even though the offers were the same, more subjects (62 percent) decided to gamble when the option was phrased with the word "lose."

Image credit: Alicia Lawrence

How to apply it: Both studies endorse the strategy of using the right words, as insignificant as they might seem, to make a large impact on your conversion rate. Minimize consumers' perception of payments, and use their fear of loss to persuade them to purchase before it's too late.

4. Small surprises can make a big difference. In 1987, Norbert Schwarz conducted an experiment to see how much found money it would take for a person's attitude to be changed. Schwarz discovered it took as little as 10 cents to affect a person's attitude.

How to apply it: When it comes to customer service, a brand builds loyal customers through the little things. Schwarz's experiment found the formula to create loyal customers: Surprise plus human nature to reciprocate plus tiny delight equals loyal customers.

Use these four psychological studies and the lessons they teach about human behavior to strengthen your sales strategy.

Alicia Lawrence

Entrepreneur and Content Coordinator at WebpageFX

Alicia Lawrence is a content coordinator at WebpageFX, an Internet marketing startup in Pennsylvania. She's a frequent contributor to PR Daily, SEMrush and Spin Sucks.

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