6 Cognitive Biases Affecting Your Conversion Rates

6 Cognitive Biases Affecting Your Conversion Rates

Last updated on July 1, 2016 by Fahad Muhammad in Conversion Rate Optimization

Conversion optimization is as much about customer psychology as it is about optimization techniques. Knowing how your customers think and what cognitive biases affect their decision-making abilities helps you answer the question that matters most to you.

“Will they click on my CTA?”

What are Cognitive Biases?

Wikipedia defines Cognitive biases as tendencies to think in certain ways that can lead to systematic deviations from a standard rationality or good judgment.

Translation: we behave irrationally. We don’t just choose something because it’s good for us. We have to be persuaded that a “good” thing is, in fact, good for us.

Persuasion plays an important role on landing pages, but the act of persuading your customers becomes meaningless if you don’t understand the foundation of how your customers can be persuaded.

This can be done by understanding the cognitive biases your customers possess while making a decision on your landing pages.

We have researched the most common cognitive biases that hinder your visitor from clicking on the CTA and have analyzed how you can use the power of these 6 biases in your favor to get landing page conversions.

1. Anchoring

According to Wikipedia, anchoring is “The tendency to rely too heavily, or “anchor,” on one trait or piece of information when making decisions (usually the first piece of information that we acquire on that subject.”

Anchoring plays a major role on your pricing page. When listing prices on your landing page, it is better to start with the least expensive plan. This way your customers attach the “value for money” with your service.

A/B tests conducted on the Mad Mimi pricing page showed there was an increase in conversions when the least expensive offer was placed before the most expensive offer.


This is what Zendesk does, too.


2. The Von Restorff Effect

The Von Restroff effect postulates that, “An item that sticks out is more likely to be remembered than other items.” Customers tend to remember things that stand out, things that are different than the rest. What’s the one landing page element you want your visitors to focus on the most?

Your call-to-action button.

Your CTA needs to be prominent. The button needs to leap off the page so your visitors know exactly where they have to click to get what you’re offering.

This is not what your CTA should look like.


It should look like this.


3. The Deictic Gaze

When we see someone looking at something our brain acts reflexively and starts looking at that thing, too. Whether that’s looking at gunk stuck on the side of the road or a CTA button with an arrow pointing toward it.

The deictic gaze theory states that our eyes immediately go to where someone else is looking. So, using directional cues on your landing pages to point to the sweet spot helps.

With the help of a directional cue, like an arrow or a pathway or even a human’s line of sight, you are able to take your visitor by the hand and guide them towards your CTA button.

Usable World used an image of a baby’s gaze to see whether this would impact where a visitor would look upon arriving at the page.

The first picture is of a heat map of the page where the baby is looking straight ahead, the red spots show how much time a visitor spent on a particular spot.

baby 1

Now look at the heat map when the baby is facing the copy.

baby 2

See the difference?

4. Picture Superiority Effect

The picture superiority effect proposes that concepts that are learned by viewing pictures are more easily and frequently recalled than concepts learned by reading content alone.

Your visitors spend an average of 8 seconds on your landing page, so adding a picture that evokes an emotional response in your visitors helps you out.

Combine a picture with text, and you’ve got yourself the most memorable combination. The images you put on your landing pages need to be unique, attractive, and relevant.

Don’t use your images just for decoration purposes – give them context. This is how you’ll get conversions.

Remember, you can’t get visitors to feel anything emotionally if you are using cheesy stock photos on your landing pages. A marketing experiments case study showed that by replacing a stock image with an image of the company’s founder increased signups by 35%.

image for image

Charity Water uses the power of images the right way here.


5. Identifiable Victim Effect

People have the tendency to respond more strongly to a single identified person at risk in comparison to a large group at risk. Translation; your visitors are more likely to signup if they feel that you have identified their problem and have a solution just for them.

This is why you should always use “you” and “your” on your landing page instead of “we” and “us.” Talk directly to your customers, show them you understand their problem, and demonstrate your solution for them.

The Rate Us landing page talks to their customer this way for a strong effect.


6. Focusing Effect

The tendency to place too much importance on one aspect of an event is known as the focusing effect. Because your visitors focus on one of your features, it is better that you highlight only one of them – the one that’s most valuable to them.

The KISSmetrics landing page is a perfect example of this.


The landing page doesn’t distract visitors by listing the entire set of features they provide. Instead, they sum it up in one juicy headline, “KISSmetrics gives you the insights you need to optimize your marketing.”

When you leverage the power of cognitive biases on your landing pages, you get to make an impact on your customers.

You get them to click on your CTA.

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