April 12, 2021

How Our Brains Read, See, and Feel About the Landing Pages and Emails We Receive

new neuroscience study has finally revealed the most effective way of engaging with customers online.

In the first study of its kind, AI-powered marketing automation software company Spotler used neuroscience technology to discover the most effective format and style for web landing pages and emails.

Working with research partner Rhetonic, which specialises in neuromarketing, Spotler used EEG (electroencephalography) to find out what was going on inside the brains of people who receive various marketing materials, to try to understand why some are more effective than others.

Simon Moss, Marketing Director at Spotler explained why this study is so different from anything else that’s been done previously.

“Split tests enable marketers to determine which layouts perform better in terms of actions, but they tell us little about the ‘why’,” he explained.

“Conventional market research cannot provide these answers either, as few people know the true basis of their decisions and choices as many of the most influential elements are often subconscious. This is where neuromarketing steps in.”

Eighty-seven men and women from 14 companies across the UK took part in the study which tested 19 different web page layouts and nine different email formats. The responses produced within the brains of the participants were analysed using six different “performance” metrics: engagement, excitement, stress, relaxation, interest, and focus.

The results showed the Outlook email format performed the best, with everyone apart from marketing professionals recording high scores for engagement and focus. These figures could be because it is the one most people are familiar with, but it is powerful information to have.

Commenting on the results Simon said, “People might be surprised to hear that the Outlook email format, without any images, funky colours or branding, performed the best in terms of engagement.

“As a company we have always advocated our B2B customers to use Outlook so it’s nice to see the neuroscientific study proved what our previous surveys have shown. This could be because in a business setting, we see it every day and we are more comfortable with it.

“This hypothesis is further evidenced by the fact that the group who liked Outlook least were the interns. These were the youngest people in the group of participants, and so would be likely to have had the least exposure to emails in this standard format.

“For marketers this format really goes against everything we’ve been taught as there are no images or logos but these nearly always get blocked by spam filters anyway, especially in the B2B sector, which is another reason for using the tried and tested Outlook format.”

Regarding webpages, interestingly the formats which performed the best and the worst were identical apart from the location of the squeeze text box. In every other way they were the same, and yet by moving the box from the left of the page to the right, very different responses were produced within the brains of the participants.

Neuromarketing expert Katie Hart from Rhetonic said slight variations can have a massive impact.

“More and more businesses are choosing to invest heavily in their online presence,” explained Katie. “This is of course all directed at trying to get customers to visit their websites, engage with their content, provide valuable details (like email addresses and renewal dates) or simply to part with their money.

“However, the industry is waking up to the fact that very small changes in the design of their online presence can significantly impact the results achieved.

“For example, in 2014 Google changed the shade of blue used for their advertising links, resulting in an extra $200m a year in ad revenue (according to their UK Managing Director, Dan Cobley).

“This is why studies like this are extremely helpful to the marketing sector and I applaud Spotler for investing in this ‘first-of-its-kind’ study using the latest EEG technology as it reveals results which previously we would not have been privy to.”

The study entitled The Experiment: Insights from the Inside is available to download here.