5 Cognitive Biases to Leverage to Increase Your Brand Conversions

Brands shape and change human behaviors. Design is one of the most important factors that affect human psychology and behavior. That’s why understanding and applying cognitive biases in your brand assets, such as your website is vital to the success of your online business. In this article I want to introduce you to 5 cognitive biases that, applied properly, will help you increase your conversions. 

What are exactly Cognitive biases?

Cognitive biases are the systematic mental patterns that make us think in certain ways, help us in the decision-making process, and oftentimes affect our capacity of making a logical decision. They dictate our behavior, as consumers and in our daily normal life. 

Cognitive biases are the result of our brain’s attempt to simplify the information process or the decision-making tasks. Our brain is lazy, the main goal is to simplify and save energy. 

By being aware of the main cognitive biases you can design your pages, and brand assets according to nature. So you can help your consumer’s brains take the decision that you prefer, rather than overwhelm them and make them leave your page or not engage with your brand. 

Here are 5 Cognitive Biases to Leverage to increase your brand conversion

1. Anchoring Bias

What it is?

The first piece of visual information the user receives will act as an anchor, to which they will compare the rest of the information. This first impression will continue influencing how they experience or perceive anything after that. We interpret newer information from the reference point of our anchor. 

How it can benefit your brand?

The most common use is for pre-framing some decision-making processes such as choosing different pricing plans. You gonna frame and highlight the one that is more beneficial for you. This cognitive bias highly influences the decision-making process.

First impressions matter, is important to know in the hero’s section how you are going to pre-frame the overall feeling of your brand, and it’s going to dictate how you’re going to position your brand for the rest of the page. A remarkable visual, and a great headline + subhead that strikes the heart of your audience, can mark the difference for the rest of your brand experience. 


2. The Bandwagon Effect

What it is?

The Bandwagon Effect is the term used to describe the tendency for people to adopt certain attitudes, behaviors, styles just because other people are doing so.  Human beings tend to copy each other’s behaviors. More often than you think, we do something just because we see the rest of the people doing it, completely ignoring our own beliefs or critical thinking. 

This technique has been used since the 19th century for political campaigns and propaganda. This cognitive bias explains why influencer or celebrity marketing is so effective.

How it can benefit your brand?

One of the ways to maximize the Wandwagon effect is to show social proof, whether you are a personal brand or you own an e-commerce brand. You want to show publications you’ve been featured, reviews, testimonials, as you are showing other people that are using your products, are happy, and want to share them. People with authority recommending the product. 

For a landing page, another interesting technique commonly used is to show how many people are purchasing the product/service at the moment. 

3. The Framing Effect

What it is?

The framing effect is when our decisions are influenced by the way information is presented. The same information can be more or less attractive depending on what characteristics are highlighted.  In essence, the information is the same, however, how we frame the information can lead to completely different conclusions. 

How it can benefit your brand?

The most common framing drives the attention towards a positive gain or a negative loss associated with any decision we need to take. Generally, we tend to avoid loss. Let’s see it with the following example:

What do you prefer a 90% fat-free yogurt, or a 10% fat yogurt? 90% fat-free sounds like a benefit, a gain, it would be a healthy choice. Where the other option carries negative connotations. 

4. Cognitive Load

What it is?

There is a limited amount of information we can focus on at one time. The cognitive load is the mental effort required for us to focus and process new information. When the amount of information that we are processing exceeds our ability to get new information and comprehend it decreases. As a consequence, we feel overloaded and overwhelmed and we stop paying attention.

How this can benefit your brand?

Attention is one of the most precious assets we can have as a brand. The most common mistake is wanting to tell everything at the same time. When we are designing a landing page, or any piece of content, we need to understand this principle and simplify the information. Think of your site or landing page as a slide/powerpoint presentation. Divide the information in different “slides”, each slide has a communication goal, so every time the user scrolls down can pay attention to one piece of information, completely understand it and not feeling overwhelmed. 

Simplify the information. All. The. Time. 

There’s a finite number of things we can focus on at one time. Cognitive load is the mental effort required for us to focus on or process new information.

If the amount of information that needs to be processed is more than our ability to process it, we feel overwhelmed or overloaded.

This is an example of a BAD Practice:

This is an example of a GOOD practice:

5. Isolation Effect – Von Restorff Effect

What it is?

The Von Restorff predicts that when multiple similar stimuli are experienced the one that differs from the rest is more likely to be remembered. 

How it can benefit your brand?

Applying this principle is very simple. Identify what are the benefits or the data that is more important to your conversions and isolate it or make it stand out. Human beings remember things that stand out or are different. 

  1. Make important information or actions visually distinctive. For example, headlines, call to action, buttons…
  2. Be aware of using it in excess. When so many elements are competing for attention we may end up overwhelming the user and exceed the cognitive load. 
  3. Combine different elements to make it really stand out. Combine colors, bolder and bigger fonts, positioning… Everything so there is enough contrast.