It might feel as though our brains are constantly busy, evaluating and interpreting information so as to form relevant and valid opinions, but we’re all guilty of cognitive bias in one form or another.

What is cognitive bias?

Let’s take a look at the issues surrounding climate change as an example.  There are those who believe that the actions of humanity are creating an apocalyptic future, whereas other people are completely convinced that the changes in climate are a completely natural part of our planet, and that global warming would be happening now anyway, regardless of our actions.  Present a piece of research on the subject to both sides of the debate, and each side will cherry pick the information that supports their own theory. The chances of persuading either side that their opinions might be incorrect are negligible, as people will hold onto their beliefs even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

The same process applies to the debate surrounding Brexit, as well as to our attitudes towards politics, immigration, education and a thousand other subjects.  Consider the Flat Earth Society, for example.  Despite overwhelming evidence that the earth is round, members of the society insist that they are the ones who are correct, with a massive database of evidence to support their beliefs.

It’s human nature to seek out evidence that supports our own way of thinking, confirming that we are ‘right’ and that the other side of the debate is ‘wrong’.

“What the human being is best at doing is interpreting all new information so that their prior conclusions remain intact.”  Warren Buffett

According to a post on the Farnham Street blog, our brains are programmed for survival first and foremost.  We aren’t equipped to deal with the weight of information that we’re now exposed to, so to prevent us from becoming overwhelmed, we’ve learned to take mental shortcuts.  Information that supports our current way of thinking doesn’t cost us much in the way of mental energy, but we subconsciously shy away from accepting contradictory information, which requires much more effort.

Using the power of cognitive bias in your marketing campaign

The key to success with cognitive bias in marketing, is to create the right impression from the outset.  Ideally, you need your prospective customer to approach their purchasing journey with you, with the expectation that your products or services will provide them with that extra ‘something’ that they didn’t know they needed.

There are a number of ways that you can use cognitive bias in your marketing campaign, according to your business model.  For instance, if you’re trying to encourage people to visit a new online store, or to purchase a brand new product, then celebrity endorsement is an extremely powerful tool.  We’ve touched on this before, within our post about the psychological tricks to increase e-commerce sales.  People will accept the opinions of their favourite authority figures almost  without question, so if you can persuade a highly-regarded public figure to say that they love your product or service, then guaranteed sales are bound to follow as a matter of course.

Ideally, you want your sales pitch to really resonate with your intended audience.  Creating buyer personas is an important part of the process, as it allows you to tap into the mindset of your target audience, using language and images that speak to them directly.

‘Framing’ is another aspect of marketing that helps people to decide that they want and need your products.  This involves using the sort of language that really resonates with your potential customers, creating the impression that their lives will somehow be enhanced.  This could be due to unique features of the product in question, or it could be to do with the perceived benefits that they will gain from their purchase.  But once you’ve created an image in the purchaser’s mind that their life will be better once they’ve made the acquisition, then it’s only a short step for them to add the item to their online basket and proceed to the checkout.

And the checkout process gives you another opportunity to put the power of cognitive bias to work.  The important thing is to keep persuading the customer that they’re making the right decision.  Many e-commerce sites use a progress bar at this point in the purchasing journey, showing the customer how close they are to finalising the sale.  Encouraging messages, that confirm their good sense in buying the product, will help to speed them through the checkout process as easily as possible, limiting the chances that they will abandon their shopping basket before the transaction is completed.

Confirmation bias after the sale

So your customer has finally made their purchase, at which point they’ll most likely be congratulating themselves for choosing the best products for their needs, or for their ability to hunt down a bargain.  This is a great time to confirm that they’ve made the best possible decision, with the help of a ‘Thank you’ email.  It doesn’t have to be long, or detailed, but it needs to suggest to the customer that they’ve just made a very good decision, which will give them that ‘warm, rosy glow’ which follows on from a job well done.

You could push this even further by offering the customer an opportunity to write a testimonial, or to use a ‘star’ system to rate their experience.  This is an excellent chance to make use of the Social Proof effect, which we’ve also covered in a previous blog post.

Research suggests that a customer who has just made a purchase, and who then writes a positive review about their experience, will actually form a stronger bond with your brand as a result.  They’ll remember their endorsement of your service, making it much more likely that they’ll return to you again in the future, so don’t underestimate the power of this small, but important, step in their purchasing journey.

At Brookstone we know how to make the most of every marketing opportunity, so that potential customers will find your sales pitch simply irresistible.  Get in touch today, and let’s get started!