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5 Cognitive Biases To Boost Your Content Strategy

Written by luciafallavena

On June 29, 2020

Chances are, you’re aware that our brains don’t always work as logical machines. In fact, our decisions don’t always make complete sense. Our brains have “bugs”, called cognitive biases.

They are tendencies to think in certain ways, and their role in consumer’s decisions is substantial. Consequently, using biases is a major tool used to increase conversion.

However, among hundreds of biases studied so far (check the entire list here), which ones could be easily implemented to improve your copy?

I’ve curated a shortlist of 5 prominent biases that are particularly relevant to digital marketing and copywriting, based on CXL’s training about Digital Psychology.

4 Cognitive Biases That Help You Boost Your Conversion Rate

1) Loss Aversion | Engaging with the fear of losing

People get terrified by the idea of losing something. What a lot of marketers don’t know: their pain of losing trumps their desire of gaining. Behavioral Economics named this response loss aversion. This has tremendous implications for marketers.

Being aware of what engages people best helps you increase your copy. Start by framing the pain points of your audience in terms of losses.

Customers love the feeling of owning a product or service without spending money on that. That is also one of the main reasons why SaaS achieve such a great success using Loss aversion as one of its main strategies.

➡️ You can use loss aversion to prevent people from canceling your services. That’s one of the simplest and yet extremely effective ways to revamp your retention copy. I love the way Canva framed that:

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Using explicit loss aversion expressions (don’t’ lose and miss out), Canva turned its cancellation page a powerful tool for reducing churn rates.

2) Confirmation Bias | Don’t Prove Your Customers Wrong

People look for and trust information that agrees with their existing beliefs. In other words: they tend to reject arguments that counter their own experience.

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Therefore, if you’re trying to educate customers about a new concept, they will likely be open to your ideas if you use data that they agree with. It’s like our brain sees challenges to your beliefs as a threat. That’s why exploring new angles in your copy might backfire.

➡️ Use the information your audience is likely to agree with when writing your copy. Seek for confirmation of your target audience’s pre-existing beliefs.

For instance, let’s say you identify your potential customers who have strong beliefs about data security. Precisely, they see great danger in exposing their data to the world. Then your copy could confirm those beliefs. You could mention the risks people take when signing up for companies known for poor management of data. Just remember that very recently being Zoombombed in a private call was a thing.

3) Fluency Bias | Simpler Content Means Higher Truthiness

One of the most enlightening biases to explain why copy should be simple.

Big words don’t make your look smart. On the opposite: unnecessary words make you seem less intelligent and less truthful.

If you can make things easier to process, people tend to find them more believable. Do you want to see a practical example? Let’s compare these two guarantee claims.

Which one do you think performed better in terms of conversion?

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The shorter version outperformed the longest: it had a 14.5% higher retention rate. That’s probably because people could easily process the information when it was simply put.

➡️ The key takeaway here is: strive for fluency! Ensure that your copy and marketing campaigns contain:

  • Easy language
  • Easy to Use (UX)
  • Simple Fonts

These will guarantee that your user experience will be as smooth as possible.

4) Authority Bias: When Authorities Provide Higher Trust

A powerful and yet simple way to influence consumers is using leveraging authorities when writing your copy. Just picture Warren Buffet advising anything.

Would you trust the information more because it was said by one of the most successful investors worldwide? I bet you would. Leveraging this bias means finding relevant people in your industry to speak on behalf of your brand.

However, even a not-very relevant expert can support your claims.

One of the most successful examples of this bias in motion in the George Foreman’s grill. Thanks to the authority bias’s influence, the epic athlete sold 120 million grills around the world.

5) Narrative Fallacy Bias | Using Storytelling To Convert

We all have secret emotional desires. The most effective copy reinforces them. That’s where storytelling comes into the picture.

If you can write your content through storytelling, chances are it will be more successful. Stories lighten up our brain. The most powerful way to craft a narrative that can boost your conversions? Using testimonials.

Testimonials are not only amazing as a social proof tool; they work wonderfully to support your value proposition. Airbnb, for example, writes very well crafted stories about how their platform recreates a sense of community among guest and hosts:

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When you have the chance, don’t just write a short testimonial: try to build a story that can create a much deeper rapport with customers. You’ll notice a huge impact for longer stories.

Conclusion: Cognitive biases are reflected in the digital world, so a thorough understanding of them is an invaluable tool in setting our online marketing strategies. Keep digging for more cognitive biases to leverage. Your customers will surprise you.

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