Behavioural scientists have provided us with valuable theories and frameworks to help us understand the complexities of human behaviour.

As Daniel Kahneman famously suggested in his two-system model, we tend to prefer being in “system 1” where our mental activities are fast, automatic and intuitive, as opposed to being in “system 2” where thinking is more conscious and requires more effort.

This leads us to create mental habits that allow us to make quick but irrational decisions, known as cognitive biases.

As conversion experts, understanding these cognitive biases is important to help guide the decisions we make to improve the landing pages of our websites.

3 Cognitive Biases Influencing Your Conversion Rates

Let’s explore three biases that you should know about and a few tactics you can implement to increase your conversion rates.

Cognitive Bias 1: Picture Superiority Effect

Users often spend as little as ten seconds on a page before leaving. This means you have a very limited amount of time to grab their attention and demonstrate your value.

Websites that successfully do that tend to hold users for a couple of minutes longer.

So, what’s one of the quickest ways to communicate your main message? Use pictures!

Essentially, people tend to process and retain information better when it’s presented in images as opposed to words.

According to the dual-coding theory, this is because images are coded both “verbally” and “visually” making them easier to retrieve from memory. This phenomenon is called the picture superiority effect.

You can leverage this cognitive bias to help users absorb your content and overall message.

Hero images, illustrations and graphs are some examples of images you can use on your landing page that will instantly demonstrate your value and convince users to convert.

Cognitive Bias 2: Social Proof

In situations where we are unsure of how to behave, we tend to look towards others for social clues.

This is due to the assumption that others know more about the current situation than we do. That is why we end up trying that restaurant, which always seems to have people queuing outside it whenever we pass by.

There are a few simple ways you can use social proof on your website. One way is to show testimonials from happy customers who have used your products or service.

Social proof is a topic we’ve covered extensively in the past. For instance, this article about how you can optimise content for conversion.

Another way is to have reviews from credible third-party entities such as Trustpilot. Consumers tend to trust these reviews as they know they have not been edited, written or deleted by the company in question.

Award and certificates from reputable third parties also help to convey you are a knowledgeable and reliable company.

Cognitive Bias 3: Scarcity Effect

We tend to view things more favourably when they are in short supply as opposed to being available in abundance.

Items that are low in stock on an eCommerce site makes people believe they're particularly special and must be great if everyone is buying them.

Highlighting online-only offers elicits a feeling of scarcity as items that are only available online seem to be in shorter supply than in comparison with items that are found in store.

If you’re creating a B2B website, you should consider adding time constraints to your offers. For example, if you offer a “free trial” for a specific service, highlight that this trial is only available for a specific period to elicit a sense of urgency.

Having a trial that is too long can lead users to procrastinate engaging with the product while having a very short trial will discourage them to sign up for fear it won’t give them time to explore the product properly. So, make sure you find the perfect balance.

Final Thoughts

It’s impossible to ignore how cognitive biases have shaped the way users interact with websites, and we need to respond to these behavioural changes to increase your conversion rates.

However, by adding images, online customer reviews and limited offers you can ensure your landing pages are clickbait for any online visitor.

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