Brighton SEO: Jeroen Maljers – Hidden Messages: The Psychology Behind PPC & SEO

With so many thought leaders from the search marketing industry present each year (including our very own CEO Guy Levine!), Brighton SEO always offers a wealth of invaluable insight and opinion. We’ve already covered several of the talks that took place at the 2018 edition, and now we turn our attention to the psychology which lies within PPC and SEO. This particular topic was covered by Jeroen Maljers, CEO of PPC reporting tool Swydo, with some enlightening conclusions.

The Concept of Subliminal Advertising

Subliminal advertising is essentially a method of influencing audiences with stimuli that is imperceptible to the conscious mind. One of the most prolific and longstanding examples of subliminal advertising is product placement in TV and movies – but times are changing. As audiences become wiser to the marketing world with every passing era, techniques become more varied and sophisticated.

Pareidolia, a psychological phenomenon, refers to the mind responding to stimuli by perceiving non-existent familiar patterns. This is an important concept for marketers as it represents the speed at which the human mind processes information. Therefore, time is of the essence when it comes to marketing messages. Adverts must be presented in such a way as to save time for the human brain and elicit an immediate and accurate response.

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Producing Effective Content: Factors to Bear in Mind

In order to influence users, ad copy and content must get straight to the point. It must be efficient in its purpose, correctly delivering the intended message to the user and persuading them to take the relevant action. These are some of the points to consider in doing so:

The Decoy Effect

Decoy products can be used to influence consumers into buying something else of greater value. This was proven in a study by National Geographic in 2016, which involved carrying out an experiment to see whether cinema-goers would choose a larger, costlier size of popcorn if they perceived it to be of better value than the smaller option. Businesses can replicate this tactic when advertising products to make users feel they are getting more for their money. In PPC campaigns, for example, the same rationale can be applied to price extensions.

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Fast Thinking

Fast thinking is another concept crucial to understanding customer behaviour in advertising. It is characterised as automatic and intuitive, which becomes the natural browsing state for search engine users. Time is of the essence in capturing the attention of search traffic and content needs to engage, engage, engage. Fast thinking is reliant on the mind’s immediate reaction to stimuli, so ad copy and meta descriptions need to quickly direct user attention to the most crucial information. Succinct, impactful headlines and relevant, persuasive calls to action are key here.

Slow Thinking

Slow thinking, on the other hand, is more conscious and involves a higher amount of analysis. Here marketers are dealing with more deliberate thought processes, which kick in after the quicker decision to land on a website has been made. Therefore, content at this stage needs to deal with user queries and concerns. Longer-form content backed by keyword research is crucial to satisfying these queries and meeting user intent.

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The Stroop Effect

Widely used in psychology since the 1930s, The Stroop Effect is defined as a “demonstration of interference in the reaction time of a task”. It is exemplified by the human brain taking longer to name the colour of a word, if the word itself is the name of another colour. This interference can cause the information to be incorrectly processed, denoting the need to ensure ad copy and content is as clear as possible to avoid misinterpretation. Words with dual meanings are a prime example of how messages have the potential to be misconstrued.

How Can Subliminal Advertising Work for You?

Incorporating subliminal advertising into your marketing campaign is all about capturing users early in the buying journey. It relies on there being an existing user demand for a product, but rather than explicitly directing traffic to specific products from the outset, planting subconscious messages at the top of the funnel and building brand awareness. This method should make the consideration period as smooth as possible for users and easily guide them into the next phase of the journey. PPC ads are a prime example of being able to plant subliminal messages into the minds of users while they are busy browsing for other purposes. When done currently, subliminal advertising should result in improved engagement with your ads, and increased traffic as a result.

Need help with incorporating subliminal advertising into your PPC campaigns? Our paid search team are here to help. To find out more, get in touch with us today.

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