Neuroscience has been getting rather a lot of attention recently. Like the hot new kid on the block, its ability to charm and persuade has had many of us lauding it as the new messiah for the digital age.
But (and there is always a but), when it comes to online persuasion, there are a lot of knock-offs out there, and agencies that claim to help you attention-optimise your site are practically ten a penny.
In a world of stooges and impostors, I’ve so far found one agency with the scientific and academic rigour to back all its claims – and that’s Eyequant, the agency co-founded by Fabian Stelzer.
A neuroscientist and good friend of mine, Fabian is not only a seriously smart cookie, he’s also one of the world leaders in attention optimisation. So when he agreed to be interviewed for my podcast series, The Good, The Bad and The Dirty, I knew we’d be in for a treat.
Attention is limited – spend it wisely
One of the central premises for using attention-optimisation software on your site is the fact that attention is a very scarce resource. And once it’s spent, it’s game over (Feel free to Tweet this).
If you want to convert more customers online, you have understand where they’re looking within those precious first few seconds of landing on your site. Once you understand where they’re looking, you can assess whether your message is being received, and whether you’re spending their attention wisely.
So how does it work? Well, imagine I were to give you a white sheet of paper with a red dot marked in the top right hand corner. I could predict with 100% accuracy that your attention would be drawn to that dot immediately. Why? Because it’s high contrast (in relation to its surroundings), and it is an arousing colour. These same principles also play out online.
Your brain is beautifully adapted to consciously attend to one stimulus at a time, so when you want to capture your audience’s gaze you have to make sure you’re using all the tricks in the box to make sure they’re paying attention to the right thing.
TIP: Elements such as colour, contrast, typography, faces, pointing fingers, motion and sound (among others) will all have an interactive effect on where your website visitors look, and whether your message is being successfully received.
The power of split-testing
If you want your website to persuade more visitors to take a particular action, it’s crucial that you start split-testing now. Whilst it may have served you in high-school, when it comes to website optimisation it’s no good to just start fumbling around in the dark.
“If you want to do this for real, you need to have a good strategy”
While we’re all probably quite familiar with the concept of split-testing (for example you take two versions of your landing page and see which elements generate which user behaviours), in the real world, Fabian says that only 1-2% of companies actually use it to optimise their websites. Which is ridiculous, when you consider what’s at stake.
But it also means that if you can get in there and start split-testing now, you’ll be way ahead of the pack.
So where do you start?
If you’ve never run a test before in your life, Fabian recommends that
“You should probably start implementing some best practices and test those”
There are some great case studies you can check out, and while you’ll have to be creative in applying particular strategies to your own website, having a range of ideas to kick you off will certainly help.
A particularly fun one you can explore is Which Test One, a weekly newsletter that showcases split-test case studies from a whole range of industries.
TIP: But I would always add a caveat here – every case study is context- and audience-specific, and you should never, ever take anything as gospel.
6 steps to your first A/B split test
If you want some help getting started, try this:
- Identify the main goal of your landing page (eg. Sign up to our newsletter, download an ebook, select a product to view)
- Go test your landing page (for free) with Eyequant’s tool and see where your visitors are currently looking when they arrive at your website
- Read some relevant case studies (appropriate to your industry and audience) and choose a few variables to test
- Use a tool like Optimizely to implement some changes to your homepage and test your original website (A) against an optimised version (B)
- Compare and analyse the results from landing page A and B, upload page B to Eyequant to see whether the eye-tracking pattern has changed
TIP: Read the research, make your hypothesis, and test the result. Repeat.
So… Enjoy this post? This is just a taste of what Dr. Karl Blank and I talked about. Listen to the whole recording here.
Come back next week when I’ll be writing about our next special guest, and sharing their expert advice with you on how to use the secret psychology of persuasion to increase your online influence.
Image credit: Reigh LeBlanc