How To Use Neuromarketing To Connect With Your Audience With Roger Dooley, Author of “Brainfluence” [AMP061]

What triggers your readers to buy? How can you write better calls to action and get more conversions? Today we’re going to be talking to Roger Dooley, the brains behind the book Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers With Neuromarketing. He also writes the Neuromarketing blog and regularly contributes to Entrepreneur and Forbes about neuromarketing. What is neuromarketing, and how can you use it to connect with your audience and get better results? That’s what we’re going to be talking to Roger about today. You won’t want to miss it!

Some of the highlights of the show include:
  • How Roger defines neuromarketing, the different types of neuromarketing, and how large and small businesses take advantage of the different types.
  • Some of the principles of why neuromarketing techniques work, including social proof, authority, and reciprocity.
  • Roger’s thoughts on case studies, emotions, and the words that potential customers and marketing professionals use.
  • Why it’s important to understand your target buyer’s unconscious needs as well as their conscious needs.
  • Roger’s best tips on building trust with your audience.
  • How to turn your fans into buyers and how to create effective calls to action.
  • Roger’s advice to a marketer who is just starting out in learning about and implementing some neuromarketing techniques.
If you liked today’s show, please subscribe on iTunes to The Actionable Content Marketing Podcast! The podcast is also available on SoundCloud, Stitcher, and Google Play.

How To Use Neuromarketing To Connect With Your Audience With Roger Dooley

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Nathan: Here’s the story. You’ve heard stories worked for marketing but why is that? Let’s just not stop there. What triggers your fans to buy and how can you write better converting calls to action? Today, I’m super excited to bring Roger Dooley on the Actionable Marketing Podcast. Roger is the brains behind the book Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing. He’s also the guy behind the Neuromarketing blog, which is fantastic by the way. To top it off, Roger regularly writes for Entrepreneur and Forbes about all things neuromarketing. What is that actually and how can you use it in your marketing to better connect with your audience, increase your conversions, and ultimately get better results? I’m Nathan from CoSchedule and I’m excited to bring Roger in to share exactly how you can do it. Hey Roger, thanks so much for being on the show today. Roger: Glad to be here Nathan, thanks. Nathan: Roger, let’s kick it off. Tell me a bit about you and some of the things you’ve been up to. Roger: I am an author and a keynote speaker. My primary book is Brainfluence published by Wiley a few years ago. It is about neuromarketing and how to employ neuroscience and behavior science to market better. Online writing, I’ve got my own blog, Neuromarketing, oddly enough, as well as blogs at and That keeps me pretty busy. Nathan: You sound like you would be pretty busy. Roger, you just dropped that word neuromarketing on me. Could you fill me in on what you mean by that? Roger: Sure. Of a little question to begin with, different people have different definitions of neuromarketing. I’d like to use a broad definition that encompasses pretty much anything that we know about how the brain works and using that knowledge to improve our marketing. It’s my broad definition. Some might restrict to two more sort of active neuromarketing techniques like measuring people’s brainwaves with EEG or doing FMRI, brain monitoring and so on to see which areas of the brain are lighting up say when somebody looks at an advertisement. To me, that is kind of limiting. Also, those tools are currently really not available to entrepreneurs and even small-medium businesses. Those are mainly the problems of big brands. In all of my writing, I try and come up with strategies from science that are based on actual research but that can be then translated into actions by businesses of any size, certainly big businesses but also small and medium sized ones without having to go through the process of testing. I think at the same time, some of the neuromarketing technology out there is really interesting where if you were a signaling to do a Super Bowl ad, you would almost certainly hire a neuromarketing company to analyze different variations of that for you because you really only get one shot at airing that and you want to have the most impactful one. In fact, what I’ve seen in some big brands really aren’t making that much use of those sorts of active neuromarketing techniques partly because their businesses are digital. Just the other day, I was speaking to the guy who’s in charge of the behavior science for Walmart globally. I asked him about that. He said, “We’re able to learn from AB testing and different kinds of testing without having to use these other technologies.” I think there’s a lesson there that even if you are a small business and you can’t afford to do costly studies, you almost certainly do have the ability to run different kinds of tests in your app or on your website and see what works best. Nathan: Can you walk me through what are some tests you’ve seen other people do, maybe some things that other marketers could test out themselves? Roger: There are a million techniques based on psychology and neuroscience. I think that a good starting point are Robert Cialdini’s seven principles. It used to be six for the last 30 years. A lot of slide decks changed in the last 12 months or so. He had a number seven in his book Pre-suasion. But these are things like reciprocity where if I do something for you first, you’re more likely to do something for me in return, where there’s no quid pro quo. Social proof, when you see other people doing something, you are more likely to do that yourself. There are absolutely more. These are techniques that you often see and you may not even notice in various marketing materials. Another principle is authority. When you go to a website and you see a testimonial from an expert in the industry or a celebrity, that would be invoking authority. Social proof, things like our blog has 24,000 subscribers signed up to. That’s showing the reader that they’re not on their own, that there’s already a lot of people who have said, “Okay, this is valuable.” You can go on and on from there but those are some common things that are easy to test and if done right will almost always work. For social proof for example, if you have some good social proof for your product, whether it’s the number of customers, the number of people who have liked it or whatever the case might be, it almost always helps your conversion rate if you incorporate that information. Once in awhile, maybe 1 time out of 20, adding that social proof isn’t going to work for some reason. It’s going to depress the response. That’s why you test. Nathan: That’s really interesting. Roger, this is kind of off base but I’m wondering if I can get your perspective on case studies. Do they work? Why would they work? Why would they not? Roger: Case studies are great, in particular if they’re done in a specific way and that way is to turn that case study into a story. There’s a huge amount of neuroscience research and psychology research showing that stories are very powerful, that they’re more memorable, they hold people’s attention for much longer. My favorite experiment, put one person in an FMRI machine and monitor their brain activity. You will see that when they’re listening to a story, the motor areas of their brain will be lighting up as if they were carrying out the actions that they’re hearing even though they’re immobilized in this tube. The other experiment that I started talking about was where they had two FMRI machines, each with a subject. One person began telling a story to the other one. What they found was within a few seconds, their brains synchronized. You can actually see the brains sort of flickering if you will, or the activity flickering in concert. If you want to exercise mind control over somebody, the easiest way to do that is to tell them a story. Back to the case study question, there’s different ways of using the case study. You can have the dry thing of, “Yes, this company used our product and they increased their results by 37%. Here are the details of their application,” or something like that.” Or you could start off with a story of how the marketing manager in this organization had a problem and described his dilemma and then go into perhaps some of the things that they tried and didn’t work, and then finally get to the payoff that shows that the product you’re promoting in that case study actually solved the problem. And how if possible, if that person’s life changed in any way, do they get a promotion? That would be an extremely engaging story that would be I think far more effective than a dry case study. Nathan: It’s almost like there’s a lot of emotion involved in that. I want to ask you about that. Do you have any experience with finding the words that people use and using those words in your marketing, how all of that works? Roger: I think the one thing that’s important whether it’s for writing content or for SEO is to choose those words that your customers use. Often, the vendors in a particular industry use different terms than the customer's use for the product, particularly if that product isn’t all that important to the customer. If it’s something that’s a key part of their operation, they probably use common language. But often, they may use a totally different term. Whether you’re trying to write content that the user pays attention to or whether you’re trying to appeal to what people might be searching for in Google, you simply have to use those same terms that the customers are using. You mentioned emotion too. I think that if you can build emotion into your appeal in some way, then that will typically work better. There’s definitely some science behind emotional appeals being more powerful than rational appeals. Depending on the product, you can always do that but when you can, it’ll work. Nathan: That even ties into what you’re saying with the case study. Someone got a raise, that seems really personal as the benefit instead of we increased revenue by 37%. Why might that be a more successful play as far as neuromarketing goes than just the typical business growth? Roger: I created a little framework called The Persuasion Slide. One of the four elements of the slide is what I call Gravity. It’s based on a children’s playground slide. It sort of models a persuasion or conversion process. Gravity is what makes a slide work. Gravity in the framework is what the customers comes to you with. That’s their needs, their wants, their desires. Often, there are both conscious and nonconscious elements. In fact, in every element of a slide, there are conscious and nonconscious elements. That person who’s purchasing the product may have certain conscious needs. They’ve got a particular problem that has to be solved whether it’s in their factory or in their content promotion department or whatever and the product or service that they’re buying has to meet those objective characteristics. But also, there are unconscious needs that the buyer probably is less concerned about a 37% revenue increase unless that person is the owner of the company or a significant stockholder and is more important about keeping their job, getting a raise, getting promoted. To the extent that you can show that you’ll be meeting that person’s interior needs, their needs that they’re not necessarily vocalizing when they’re talking about their product or their product needs. Then, you’ll be more successful. Nathan: I love that advice because I think if you think about business to business, a lot of people forget that. It’s still business to consumer in many ways. I don’t know if you want to touch on that. Roger: I totally agree, Nathan. Every time I give a speech in some place, I get somebody who says, “Okay, all this emotion, irrational stuff is fine for consumers but I’m a B2B marketer. My products are bought totally objectively.” If you’re buying a nuclear powerplant or something, obviously, there’s a huge amount of objective data that has to be met there so I wouldn’t argue with that. But I think that what you have to remember is that you are dealing with humans is part of that process. Often, when there are multiple people who could fit the objective need, it’s the one who is filling the emotional need better that will be successful. Nathan: Another thing that you’ve written about and something that I hear all the time is that people buy from people they know, like, and trust. Could you tell me about some of your best tips for marketers and how they can build trust with their audiences? Just tell me about that topic. I’d love to hear your perspective on it. Roger: To some extent, trust is earned. There are certainly some things that you can do in gender trust. We talk about social proof and authority. If somebody’s encountering you for the first time, using those kinds of symbols or terminology can really help you because they don’t know you but if they see that an industry expert is recommending you or if they see that you have a large base of customers already, then that’s going to build trust right there. There’s one rather amusing example that I saw where a small addition of wording to an advertisement caused the trust in that advertiser to jump significantly. You’re almost going to laugh at me when you hear this, but the phrase that had this remarkable increase, it was like a 30% increase in trust and 28% increase in confidence, I don’t know the exact numbers but it was a rather significant jump. It was an ad for, I believe, an air-conditioning supply or like an HBC company, a contractor of some kind. The words were, “You can trust us to do the job for you.” It seems like they’re telling me that they can be trusted but nevertheless, reassuring customers with that verbiage had that effect. That’s something to try too. Nathan: Are you diggin what Roger’s sharing? I’m a big fan of his thoughts and if you are too, would you do me a favor? We’re looking for some help from you to get some reviews on iTunes to spread the word about the Actionable Marketing Podcast. Post your review then take a screenshot and send it to our podcast at, along with your physical mailing address. I will hook you up with some pretty sweet swag. Alright, let’s get back to that convo with Roger. That’s really interesting. Roger, you mentioned the word confidence there too. Tell me a bit more about that. Roger: I guess it relates directly to trust. When you start off with somebody, particularly in a B2B setting but even in consumer settings, they are likely to be a little bit distrustful. They don’t know you, they don’t know your brand so what you’re trying to do is give them reassurance in various ways. You can’t incorporate 43 elements into your ad because then, it ends up just being a mess. You’ve got to choose those things that seem to work best. You can perhaps find those in part by intuition, maybe by simply talking to people but also by testing. Once you get it down, try different wording for social proof. One interesting example is if you can use social proof that is based on emotion rather than fact if you will, it’s more persuasive. Imagine that you had a choice of buying a product that had been ordered by 23,000 people or had been liked by 23,000 people. You would say, “Anybody can like it but they put their money where their mouth is.” That would be much more persuasive. In fact, the opposite is true. When people are told the same number of people preferred or liked the product versus bought the product, the emotional expression, the preference, was more persuasive. The same thing played out in videos where they showed sort of a fake YouTube search result and it showed either the video had 53,000 views or 53,000 likes and again, the emotional preference caused a much higher clickthrough rate. Nathan: That’s fascinating to me and probably a big reason why I read your blog all the time. Roger: I think the way that you can leverage that too is even putting a sort of factual social proof of the number of customers you have into more emotional terms I think would help. Sort of saying, “We have x number of customers, putting x number of customers prefer our product to the competition which if they’re your customer, they probably do,” would be a better way of phrasing that. Nathan: Let’s continue that. You wrote an article for Forbes about some of this stuff too, maybe it’s slightly different. But how to turn your fans into buyers, can you walk me through that advice? How could I use that advice? Roger: This article is based on a conversation I had actually on my podcast with my friend Ryan Holiday. He’s been a very successful author and a very innovative marketer. He’s got multiple New York Times best sellers. His newest book is called Perennial Seller. It’s about how to create a product that lasts forever. It’s a fun book. I recommend it for anybody. A lot of examples are about writing in books. He generalizes it to all kinds of products. I think one of the key takeaways, and this is something that I’ve heard played out for other marketing experts too, is that the most important way to convert your fans into customers is to get them on your email list because as many followers as you have on Twitter or on Facebook, you can only get to a very small fraction of those people with your message without paying a lot of money. The more you want to reach, the more you have to pay. You’re also at the mercy of those platforms because they change the rules. We know that Facebook keeps changing the rules and usually making it difficult to reach those people who said that they want to follow you or that they like your stuff. I think that the example that Ryan uses, if you have say 100,000 Twitter followers, when you tweet something, you’re going to reach perhaps just a couple thousand of those. If you have 100,000 people on your mailing list, you will reach all of those. They may not all open it, but they will all at least see your email, see the headline. That reach is much more powerful. Also, you have a chance to craft the message in exact format, the way you want it, you don’t have any distractions of cheesy ad surrounding your message and so on. That is the number one thing I’ve talked. So many experts listen to people too. As an author of, what would you do differently now and about 95% of the time the answer is, “I would have started building my list earlier.” Because I know that even with my first book, when it came out, I had a very small email list. I realized in the run up, getting it published that it was awfully small and inadequate, after that, I focused on that topic more. I found that same category of people who are so focused on the product, they hadn’t focused on building up their list. Regardless of whether you’re a product or a service company or an author or a consultant, it doesn’t matter. You need to work on getting people who are interested in what you do on your own email list. The other interesting article is something called The Lindy Effect. It may not be something that most people are familiar with but how they describe it as basically [00:20:48]. It was coined by an economist. He named it after a deli in New York called Lindy’s that is continuously in business, continuously open since 1927. Apparently, they don’t even have locks on the doors because it’s been open forever and they never close. The Lindy effect is that the longer your product is out there selling, the longer it will continue to do so. If your product is selling after a year, then it’ll probably last at least another year. Obviously, there are exceptions and there are disruptive changes in marketplaces and so on but your objective should be to first of all, to create a product that is worthy of lasting, in other words, that people want and will use and it does the job for them for whatever it is but then also to promote it in a way that it gets off the ground initially. He’s got a lot of great examples of books and other products that did not get off the ground, that maybe after the author’s death, achieved some success but it’s too late then. So a, get it off the ground, and then b, keep that momentum going because the longer you can be successful, the longer you will be successful going onto the future. Nathan: This might seem like a completely coming from left field but I think in order to do some of this stuff, marketers need to think about a call to action. I just really want to pick your brain on this. What have you learned from your years of experience in neuromarketing and doing all these stuff, what makes for a very powerful call to action? Roger: I think lesson number one is that this isn’t so much neuromarketing as common sense, although I see it not done all the time, it’s to make the call to action clear and visible. If a reader or visitor has to figure out what they’re supposed to do, then you failed at making your call to action visible. It needs to be right there so that one person says, “Hey, this stuff is pretty good. I want more. I want to learn more,” or whatever, it is immediately apparent. Often, based on the general conversion optimization, the knowledge that you acquire, that involves contrast with the rest of what it’s surrounded by. If it’s a web page, if you’ve got a predominantly blue web page, perhaps an orange call to action button or in some way if you’ve got a longer call to action let’s say maybe some lines of text, some way making that really stand out from the rest because otherwise, it won’t happen. Obviously, a simple call to action like “buy now” button is fine but sometimes, you have to have a little bit more complex call to action. If you do, then putting it in terms of the customer is generally more effective. In other words, instead of getting more information, start saving now or something in that nature that relates to the customer’s needs. The nice things about call to action is that they’re one of the easier things to test using some of the content testing tools that are out there. There’s a million of them. Many of them are free for smaller customers. Simply set up an AB test where you think you’ve got the best wording but test something else and see what happens. I don’t know how many conversion optimization experts I’ve spoken with but they all emphasized that they are frequently surprised by the results of AB tests. In other words, they think they know what’s going to happen because whatever they’re testing, one is the best practice and the other is, they think, worse. But frequently, that best practice doesn’t work out in real life for whatever reason. That’s why I mentioned social proof doesn’t always work. It works most of the time but once in awhile it doesn’t. If you’re selling a luxury product, you don’t want social proof, you want that person to think that they’re the only one in the planet that has it. Nathan: Alright Roger, I’ve got one last question for you. For someone who’s looking to use neuromarketing in their strategy, where should they start? Where should they focus? What would you recommend for a beginner here? Roger: I think that looking at some sort of very basic science of influence and psychology, behavioral psychology in particular, is important. Those are the things that don’t cost the money to apply. In other words, you can change the text on your website or in your brochure without incurring a lot of expense and often, they don’t have a huge impact. My book, Brainfluence, I’ve got 100 chapters in there but my blog Neuromarketing is well over 1000 posts already. Just about all of those are particularly techniques that might apply in one case or another. For instance, how to make your profile photo that is in use in social media or in your About Us page look more competent, more trustworthy, more attractive and so on. There are a bunch of research-based things where scientists go in and they evaluate in very specific ways even down to things like the size of your pupils in the photo that nobody consciously processes but they can have an impact on how people perceive you. Just start using some of these tools that are so easy to accomplish but often get overlooked because people want to talk about their product. They want to talk about the features, and how great it is, and how it’s better than competition but they ignore those things that are going to influence their customers to actually make a purchase. Nathan: Roger, I think that’s awesome advice and the perfect place to end this episode. I just want to say thanks so much. It’s been fun chatting. I’ve been following your blog forever. Everyone else should do the same thing. Thank you. Roger: Well, thank you Nathan. It’s been a blast.Subscribe to the Actionable Marketing Podcast  
About the Author

Jordan Loftis is the founder & head of manuscript at Story Chorus. He loves the nitty-gritty on topics like video marketing, copywriting, and waffle making—the latter being most key to his work. When not creating content or breakfast food, he likes to mountain bike, play music, and travel with his family.