Market to the reptilian brain

1. Optimize for system one - the reptilian brain - by presenting your customer with choices, depleting system two and leaving it in a dormant state.

You can deplete system two by providing options and forcing decisions. For example, including an option to add an item to a wishlist increased conversions, despite almost no one actually adding items to their wishlist. This is because it offers a choice, depleting system two, and causing the customer to default to system one.

2. Use proof to show how your product or service will remedy your customer's pain and improve their present and future.

Show the customer that there will be more value than cost. If you are communicating about your product in person or on camera to the consumer, use props to help them visualize what you are saying. Assume that your consumer will be skeptical and that you need to prove your claims by providing evidence. Show your customers proof by relating your product or service to something the reptilian brain is already familiar with. Increase cognitive fluency by positioning and presenting your product or service as simply and directly as possible. The easier something is to think about, the more likely we are to think about it. Use social proof and visuals. For example, show the before and after pictures, give a demo, provide a product video, show screenshots, etc.

3. Write scannable copy with an emphasis on the beginning and end of your argument.

Present your argument quickly and restate it at the end. The reptilian brain will tune out the middle of your copy. Maintain consistency when it comes to your overall argument, but pepper your landing page or copy with indications that something new is coming, for example directional cues, or the reptilian brain will tune out.

4. Use simple images that help your customers visualize the remedy to their pain.

Ask your team – and your customers via qualitative research – questions like: How do you visualize life after using your product or service? and What imagery comes to mind? A marketing agency might say a fox with glasses. A content marketing tool might say a modern library. Simplify your visualization as much as possible. The reptilian brain is automatic, so if your visualization is not obviously connected to your product or service, it might get lost in translation. Place visuals near points of friction. Balance helping your visitors visualize before they convert and protecting your call to action from distractions.

5. Use copy and design prototypes and eliminate distractions like unexpected alerts that require non-automatic decisions.

Ask yourself, What are visitors expecting when they land on this type of site? Meet those expectations to keep the reptilian brain in control. Pop-ups and on-site surveys can wake up system two, counter to the goal of keeping the reptilian brain in control. If everything seems normal, familiar, and routine, the reptilian brain will make automatic choices.

6. Reduce copy and calls to action and increase image size to simplify the experience and reduce friction.

A call to action needs a decision, and that may wake system two and take control away from the reptilian brain. Remove the call to action and allow the reptilian brain to move to the next step automatically without much thought. Expand images because images and visualization are easier for the reptilian brain to process.