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5 Cognitive Biases Even Marketing Superheroes Are Susceptible To!
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marketing-superheroWhen you’re on LinkedIn, you’re bound to come across a lot of Online Marketing ‘experts’: they’ll be happy to tell you what trends are coming up in 2016 or what the Internet is going to be doing. Interesting, considering that even the founders of such companies as Amazon or Google don’t presume to make these kinds of predictions…

The question I find myself asking is:

“How can we ever call ourselves ‘experts’ in a world where everything changes every 3 months, or even every 3 weeks?”

This is particularly true of Online Marketing and to truly succeed in this sector it’s necessary to both possess a certain amount of humility as well as to have the capacity to continually question our own knowledge. Without these we can quickly become victims of our own self-presumed ‘expertise’.

One of the lessons I learnt almost 20 years ago now was that Progress is Inexhaustible. Ever since, I’ve made the effort to “unlearn things”, to never take knowledge for granted as still being relevant and to not be afraid to keep asking questions when I’m not sure I have the right answer.

However, the study of Neuroscience and consumer psychology shows us that it’s very easy to become biased on a daily basis even when you’re trying not to!

There are a lot of cognitive biases (Wikipedia has compiled a very comprehensive list) that influence our daily decision-making without us even realising.

If you think that consumers are ‘weak’ and that Marketing Experts are completely in control of their own decisions then perhaps you should consider these following biases:

  1. Confirmation bias

    This act of favouring information that is consistent with our existing preconceptions and ideas (without considering how much actual truth there is to them) and/or to give less weight to theories that go against our conceptions.

 Do you verify all your theories by conducting significant statistical testing? ??

  1. Congruence bias

    Our tendency to want to exclusively implement and test one single idea, without testing any alternatives.

Do you always test several ideas before making changes to your website? ??

  1. Conjunction fallacy?

    Our tendency to believe that specific situations are more representative and plausible than general situations.

Are all of your decisions based on figures and facts rather than your intuition (or that of your CEO)? ??

  1. Conservatism bias

    Our tendency to give too much importance to old statistics and to underestimate – or even ignore completely – the importance of new data.

Do you regularly review active improvements that were made to your site more than a year ago???

  1. Choice-supportive bias

    Our tendency to retrospectively attribute positive features to a choice that we have already made.

Are you willing to recognise and learn from the fact that some of your choices were not necessarily the right ones??

If you answered YES to all of the above questions then well done! You’re obviously capable of acting rationally and are in full control of your emotions. However, I would perhaps suggest that you read The Honest Truth About Dishonesty by Dan Ariely…

Whatever your answers, the above should help you to recognise that the human psyche is susceptible to a number of cognitive biases that can translate into many optimisation opportunities for online marketers. Knowing how the brain works will not only help you to reconsider your own preconceptions but also to optimise on the behaviour of visitors to your website.

So what would you do if you knew what was hidden in the minds of your visitors?

Philippe Aimé

by Philippe Aimé

Philippe is the CEO of Convertize. He is based in London. Philippe created his first website in 1998, and has worked many years as a Cost Optimisation Consultant for several important groups. He now heads a team of Conversions Optimisation consultants.