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On Neuromarketing and Conversions – Interview with Tim Ash [+Webinar]

5 min

If you’re into conversion rate optimization, I don’t really need to introduce Tim Ash to you. But if you haven’t yet heard of him, here’s your chance to catch up – and you definitely should. Author of the bestselling book Landing Page Optimization, CEO of SiteTuners, expert in landing page testing, Tim will be the guest of our upcoming webinar on increasing landing page conversions with neuromarketing techniques.

In preparation for the webinar (more on that plus the registration link at the bottom of this post) we decided to ask Tim a few questions, which I’m sure will convince you that Thursday’s webinar is THE webinar to attend in September – that is, if you still need convincing. 🙂 But I’ll let you see for yourself – so here’s what Tim told us:

For a marketer that’s just starting out, neuromarketing may not be a familiar concept. Could you give a general overview of what that is?

Neuromarketing, at its core, is recognizing how the brain works, and applying that to marketing. You know, the traditional view of humans is that we’re rational, and we make decisions after comparing several decisions in an organized way. If you examine how all minds work, very little of that is true. We’re not rational – our irrational brains still have “bouncers” that let very little information in, and they are based on the part of our brain we share with lizards. By the way, that’s the part of the brain that asks whether you can eat something, or something can eat you – it’s not exactly primed to make rational decisions about your financials.

We don’t compare things well, especially onlineMost of the time, what our brains do is not compare option 1 versus option 2, then weigh the pros and cons. All brains have the tendency to just look at one option, do a mental check for glaring errors, then proceed. That’s known as satisficing, and even the smartest people do it – we are wired that way. Neuromarketing is the act of taking all those considerations in to improve your marketing efforts.

As a pioneer in increasing conversions, do you see any trends for 2016 that marketers should keep an eye on?

There are two core trends that are worth observing, and they’re how we as marketers react to mobile. According to the always fantastic Mary Meeker report, there were 5.2 billion mobile phones in 2014, and 40% of them were smart phones. That’s a huge segment that did not use to exist – and I’m seeing marketers react in two horrible ways.

Response number one is to ignore the paradigm shift, and still proceed as if desktop were the only game in town. Let’s call that the “dinosaur” approach – the world has changed, and they’re not adapting quickly enough to survive.

At the other end of the pendulum, response number two is from people who have misinterpreted mobile first. They took it to mean “make my desktop site look like a giant, ugly blog.” Let’s call this approach “throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

You’ve seen those sites – the ones that hide the primary navigation via hamburger menu, even if there’s a 19-inch screen you can use to display categories. Then they have gigantic text on desktop, so that you have to scroll a tremendous amount more to get what you need. Both of those are failures we as marketers should be wary of.

What are some of your favorite websites and emails, as far as optimization goes?

There’s no one web site, but I like multiple aspects of several web sites. I like Amazon for their persuasive elements, despite the fact that I hate the clutter – and my site has written about this before. I like what Obama’s campaign site did with just basic optimization tools – you know, that was a just a small group of people using Optimizely, a split testing tool, and they were dealing with ungodly amounts of money.

Emails are even tougher, because I tend to evaluate it as part of the overall experience, from the site to the subscription and purchase. I’m not going to name names, but the ones who use marketing automation software tend to get it right more than they get it wrong.

How did you make the jump, or connection perhaps, from your extensive studies in Neural Networks and Artificial Intelligence to online behavior and landing page testing / optimization? What is the most interesting aspect for you in this field?

I like to think of myself as a hybrid of “hardware” and “wetware,” and I believe it was a natural transition. With things like machine learning, some of the work that goes into building a convolutional neural network is actually based on biology, and I always found that fascinating.

We respond to stimuli in a certain way, and we think we respond in a completely different way. That gap between what we think we’re like, versus what we’re actually like, is at the heart of neuromarketing, and it’s a very interesting field.

What do you feel has been the most significant change or evolution in landing page optimization since your best-selling book “Landing Page Optimization” was published?

Well, the iPhone came out in 2007, and then Android phones started selling like hot cakes, and the mobile revolution has turned online marketing on its head. It’s been eight years since the iPhone came out, so 2015 is to the mobile experience what 2003 was for the desktop experience – not quite in the wild, wild west mode anymore, but there’s certainly a lot of maturing left to do.

If you could pick only one thing you can change to increase conversions, what would that be? Why?

If you put a gun to my head and make me name just one, it’d be “unclear call to actions.” It’s amazing how many sites still get this wrong, where what the page is for isn’t explicitly stated, and you have no buttons to get you to the next phase.

My close second, and personal pet peeve, is rotating banners. Look at any usability resource like my site or Jakob Nielsen’s, and you’ll see that this is one thing people trained in UX really tend to hate.

Tim Ash will say a whole lot more on how our brain works and how this knowledge can be put to work when creating successful landing pages during our webinar this Thursday, September 24 at 12 PM EDT. Make sure you register today – you simply can’t miss it. To sign up, click on the image below.

Tim Ash webinar

Karolina Kurcwald
Karolina Kurcwald
Karolina is a brand messaging consultant and copywriter for SaaS and B2B tech. She helps brands clearly define what sets them apart from the competition and communicate it in a way that resonates with their customers. As a career coach, she also helps people in the creative and tech industries find and communicate their value to potential employers. Catch her at: