Four ways to create instant customer connections

Scientists have conducted research for years to unlock the secrets of the human mind – and marketers are increasingly starting to pay attention. Simon O’Day shares four ways you can incorporate proven psychological elements into your marketing strategy to better cut through the clutter and achieve big-time results.

 

Simon_O'Day_A_1801. Tell a story – quickly and concisely

Gut reactions happen in three seconds or less, and marketers have about that long to get someone scanning their inbox to notice and open their email.

Subject line word choice is key. Outbrain found headlines that promise convenience and efficiency (featuring keywords like ideas, tricks, quick, etc.) have click-through rates 22% higher than average.

And once customers click, one of the best ways you can create a connection is to tell a story. Storytelling allows marketers to make an emotional appeal to consumers, and to use that emotional reaction to influence behavior.

In one study, a Stanford professor asked each of her students to give a one-minute pitch. Only one in 10 students told a story in their pitch, while the others created pitches rooted in facts and figures. The professor then asked the class to write down everything they remembered about each pitch. Only 5% of students cited a statistic, but a staggering 63% remembered the story.

 

2. Grab attention with visuals

Humans are hardwired to be visual creatures: 90% of the information that comes to the brain arrives via our optic nerve, and that visual data is processed 60,000 times faster than information received in text form.

Marketers are quickly realising that they can take advantage of this by creating and pushing out effective video content. A 2014 Outbrain report found holiday headlines that promised video content had click-through rates 27% higher than average. So when you add product videos, testimonials or fun behind-the-scenes vignettes to your emails, be clear that it’s a video in the subject line.

No video to promote? No worries. Our brains also light up in reaction to images – and we comprehend and remember pictures with text more than text alone. The primitive brain is especially drawn to images that show sex, danger and food – a picture of a skydiving model eating a cheeseburger is perfect if that works for your brand.

Don’t forget infographics – a great way to illustrate complex data or concepts in a visual format. We love them because they’re easy to understand and highly sharable: Google reports an 800% increase in searches for the term ‘infographic’ in the last two years. Plus, the hashtag #infographic is used 342,000 times per month on average.

 

3. Appeal to our emotions

To survive their harsh and dangerous environment, early humans had to rely on the brain’s most primitive instincts when avoiding predators and interacting with other humans.

The part of the brain in control of these primal urges is called the amygdala. Even after a few millennia of evolution, it’s still in charge of our initial decision-making process. The amygdala is also still responsible for our desire to connect with other people.

Human beings love to look at faces. Images of faces grab attention, build trust and trigger the brain’s emotional receptors, even when viewed in an email or on a website.

If you use images of people in your email marketing, it stimulates the amygdala and grabs the viewer’s interest. For added punch, use images that visually direct the reader to the most critical part of your message. For example, select a photo of a smiling model with his or her eyes pointing toward the call to action. The amygdala will pick up on this facial cue and cause the reader to look where she’s looking.

 

4. Choose the right color

There’s a lot of theory behind our reaction to colour, and we know that colour alone plays a pivotal role in decision-making. It can even help nurture positive or negative attitudes about a brand.

A mind-blowing 62% to 90% of a consumer’s feeling about a product is determined by colour alone — and different colours actually send different signals to our brain.

Yellow activates the anxiety centre of the brain, which is useful if you’re trying to motivate a reader to take urgent action or create a ‘don’t miss out’ mindset. Blue builds trust, which explains why it’s the brand color of choice for many banks and financial institutions. Red stimulates the fight-or-flight response and can actually increase blood pressure and heart rate. Plus, it focuses our attention, which makes it a great choice for point-of-sale CTAs to motivate people to buy.

Of course, every audience is different but implementing the four strategies outlined above is a good place to start. Test a combination of these brain tips to see what works best for your audience.

 

Simon O’Day is head of global at Emma Inc.