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The Frequently Asked Questions on Neuromarketing Usability Research

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What do IKEA, ING, and Heineken have in common?

Yup, there are all Dutch brands that are represented globally. However, I would like to highlight another important similarity. All these brand successfully use neuromarketing.

Neu-ro-mar-ke-ting. A news article, an item on the radio, a distant relative that has mentioned at your cousin’s wedding – you’ve probably heard about it before. Neuromarketing sneaks a peek in your customer’s brain. Choice behavior is being studies to localize the hump is the road towards a purchase. Brain data provides you with very precise insights you can start implementing the next day.

In the spotlight: Neuromarketing Usability Research

Neuromarketing can be used in different research setting. Today, we will focus on a specific research setting: Usability.

However, many companies still have a lot of questions about neuromarketing. Should we use neuromarketing research? Isn’t that expensive? And what are the deliverables? Of course, these are questions anyone would have. To answer these questions, we wrote a complete guide for neuromarketing usability research. Because we want you to know how we conduct this research, if there are reasons not to do it, and what kinds of insights you can expect. Of course, I’ll end the guide with a few nice examples of these insights.

If you’re really interested in neuromarketing research, you’ll find an encore at the end of the guide: A complete example report of a usability brain research we conducted.

Let’s start with the most complicated subject: Should everyone use neuromarketing? Contrary to what you might expect from a neuromarketing agency, we definitely do not recommend every company to analyze the brain right away for their website or app. In this blog, you’ll find out when you should and should not use brain research.

Is Neuromarketing Usability Research fit for my company?

Even though neuro usability has a huge advantage over standard marketing research, this isn’t the type of research we recommend to every company. There is a number of basic requirements you have to meet in order to really profit from neuromarketing.

The first thing you need: a specific research question. Without a research question, there is no need to hook participants up on the EEG and to hope for some good insights. Make sure you know what you are looking for. For example, do you want to discover where the bottleneck is in your order flow? Do you want to know if your website is confusing to its visitors? Or do you wonder which part of the customer journey induces desire?

Are you unsure if we can answer your research questions with neuromarketing? Ask us! Together, we’ll find the right research method for your question. Even though a large part of our choices is taken subconsciously, making brain activity a requirement to unravel the true choice process, traditional marketing research is a better fit in some cases. If your research question can be answered using traditional research, we’ll recommend that to you.

What does a typical Neuromarketing Usability research look like?

Hurray! You’ve continued reading, so you probably came to the conclusion that neuromarketing can be interesting for your brand. We’ll now tackle the next question: ‘What does a typical Neuromarketing Usability Research look like?’ Join us in our tale of a typical research day at Unravel. This way, you’ll know precisely what it means to participate in a neuromarketing usability research.

After formulating a concrete research question, we’ll find the correct research tools. Then, we can be assured that we’ll be able to fully answer your research question.

The Neuromarketing Usability Research Toolbox

Seeing and doing. Eye-tracking and EEG. Nine out of ten times, this combination forms the basis of Neuromarketing Usability Research at Unravel Research. In some cases, we will also make use of biometrics or emotion recognition. When these methods are being used, we measure physical reflexes such as pupil dilation, skin conductance, and facial expressions. However, we only use these methods as add-on to the EEG research.

So now we know the research question and the research methods. What is the step-by-step procedure per participant?

Participants enter our living room lab. This is our research area, but it does not look like a prototypical research lab at all. As you might have guessed based on the room’s name, it looks and feels more like a living room. By using a natural setting like this, our results will represent true behavior as much as possible. Next, we make sure the participant is completely at ease, by explaining the procedure and having time to answer any questions the participant may have.

Then we’ll start setting up the EEG and Eye tracking devices. This takes about half an hour. The participant is now ready to start the research and is presented with the task’s instruction. Examples are instructions like “Search and order a cookbook” or “Find out how you would like to invest your money”. The customer journey during the research resembles an actual customer journey.

The participant starts the task while the brain and eye data is being registered. Valuable insights let’s go!

After an extensive analysis of the data, we’ll deliver a concrete research report. It is concrete, as it has some clear take home points. And then it’s your turn: It’s time to increase those conversion rates.

Neuromarketing Usability Equipment

As we just said, the right method is crucial for conducting proper research. However, without the appropriate equipment, you cannot even gather the data necessary for analysis. We’ll discuss the equipment used at Unravel Research.

To measure brain activity, we used the ABM B-Alert X10 EEG headset. Why? Because independent, academic research has proven multiple times that this headset is the most fit for mobile field research like our own.

Where EEG used to be solemnly used in a medical setting, is the ABM B-Alert X10 EEG we use nowadays both wireless and high in comfort. However, it does not compromise the signal’s purity. By combining medical precision and high comfort, we fell head over heels for this headset.

What do we use from the EEG data we measure with our headset? An EEG is not able to read someone’s mind. We’re not quite there yet (luckily!). Nonetheless, these four metrics do stern from brain data.

Desire – The extent to which a store, advertisement or website induces desire as a consequence of positive emotion. This brain metric correlates with actual buying behavior.

Engagement – The extent to which (part of) a website is able to grab the participant’s attention and/or is being experienced as personally relevant.

Workload – A measure of the cognitive difficulty of the brain. The higher the workload, the more difficult the content is to process. This is undesirable. However, a too low workload is also something you want to avoid – your content should not bore the customer.

Distraction – Visualizes unexpected and confusing moments in an ad.

All four of these metrics have been validated frequently, both inside and outside the laboratory. By combining these, they are able to provide you with the valuable insights in your customer’s emotional experience.

The Eye tracker is also very important to our research. To measure where the participant is looking, we use equipment by Tobii (the X3-120 and the Tobii Glasses 2). The eye tracker measures where your customers looks, how long they look at everything, and how many times they perceive something. So, consequently, it also measures at what they are not looking. When it turns out that an essential part of your website is being overlooked, you will encounter an immediate motivation to improve your websites.

Neuro Usability Research: What will it cost me?

The short answer? Perhaps less than you’d think.

Naturally, it differs in what you would like to research. You can make research as expensive as you’d like. For an extensive, complex in-store research using the EEG, eye-tracking and a large number of participants are studies of €25.000 not unusual. However, smaller studies like an online usability research can be realized for €5.000. This is similar to the costs of a traditional usability research. However, smaller studies like an online usability research can be realized for €5.000. This is similar to the costs of a traditional usability research. Even though the results are not comparable.

Two Neuro Usability Cases

Let’s end this blog with two neuro usability insights we’ve seen in real life. This way, you’ll get an even clearer view of the value neuro usability research has.

1. The Test Effect

The effect we found in one of our studies is called the Test Effect. Do you remember the red pen your high school teacher used on your tests? This still flourishes in the digital era, especially when you fill something out incorrectly in an online form.

We discovered something extraordinary. When conducting research for a client, we noticed that a fairly strong negative reaction occurred in the participants brains when seeing a red error notification.

Schermafbeelding 2018 07 31 om 14.54.19

An example of such an error notification.

This is not strange in itself. Getting an error notification is never fun. However, why was this (negative) reaction so strong? We don’t call it the test effect for nothing. In the past, when you received your test back with a big, fat, red cross, you knew something was wrong. The color red is associated with wrong and, above all, with something you cannot correct anymore.

We advised our client to use the color orange for the error notification, to check whether it would affect their conversion rate. The result: An increase in conversion of 15%, with a 99% confidence interval.

2. Discount Pain

A second effect we discovered in the brain data was the following. At the check-out of a web shop, we noticed that the word “discount coupon” elicited a negative reaction in the brain. That’s weird, discount is something we all want, right?

Even though this is correct, not every had a discount coupon. Those who didn’t get a discount yet were confronted with the fact that others could get the same product for less felt disadvantaged. We advised our client to test these two options:

  • Make the coupon field less obvious, by making the field not directly viewable.
  • Use a different word: Action coupon instead of discount coupon. Again, this is based on an association. Everyone should receive a discount, but it is possible that not every customer partakes in an action.

The results? A 14% increase in conversion with a confidence interval of 95%.

These effects exemplify how small changes can bring about big results. In our opinion, this is what makes neuromarketing research great: Without brain data, you would never find these bottlenecks in the conversion funnel. People don’t say what they do and don’t do what they say. But the brain does tell us what we’ll do.

These are merely two insights provided by neuro usability research. On average, we deliver ten to fifteen different insights per conducted neuro usability research. Ten to fifteen improvements you can implement on the next day. Our clients often tell us the way we report these insights is unique – we like to contribute to how-to of each improvement.

I’m ready to increase my conversion!

Are you as excited as us about neuromarketing usability research? Are you ready for the next step? Contact Unravel Research. We’d like to answer all your questions on neuro usability research.

EEG Usability eye tracking