CXL Digital Psychology and Persuasion Minidegree — Week 3 Review

Kristina Shands
5 min readApr 12, 2021


Introduction to Neuromarketing Basics

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

This week’s been a bit intense with three days of a virtual copywriting conference packing more information into my brain than space available. Unfortunately, I don’t think the new stuff was able to kick out all those 90s pop lyrics still in there so I’m glad I took a lot of notes.

I’m excited to dive into more of the science of neuromarketing during Week 3 of the CXL Digital Psychology and Persuasion Minidegree program.

Ready to learn? Here we go.

This week we focus on frameworks and methodologies to appeal to your user’s entire brain, and this lesson sets up why exactly that is needed now more than ever.

Roger Dooly (author of Friction, Brainfluence, The and Persuasion Slide) refers to the statistic from Gerald Zultman of Harvard, who says that about 5% of our decision-making processes are conscious and 95% are non-conscious, which begs the question…

How much of our customer’s brain are we marketing to?

There are several tools used by neuromarketers nowadays to peer inside their user’s brains, everything from EEG, core biometrics, facial coding, eye tracking, and self-reporting, but the meat method is to combine technologies for the most accurate results.

Sure, it would be nice to be able to look at someone’s microexpressions and know exactly what they are going to do, but it doesn’t work that way.

So how do we know if this is all bullshit?

Here’s how.

  1. Use established science
  2. Test, test, test. Test everything whether you are using commercial or academic research or anything else.

Yep, neuromarketing can be effective if done properly, but it isn’t the only thing you should be focused on.

What I love most about this week’s lesson is being introduced to two brilliant experts: Roger Dooley and Andre Morys.

Andre talked about why we should never believe A/B test studies, that significance is not validity (confirmation bias), and if we want a high uplift, we have to change people’s decisions.

Andre also introduced the ROI Pyramid.

I have to buy it.
Brand, habit

I want to buy it.
Behavioral economics, neuromarketing

I am able to buy it.
Usability, accessibility, visibility

The biggest question you have to answer is: Why should they buy here?

I also learned two new concepts:

  • Mere Exposure Effect — Things that are perceived more frequently are rated more positively and trustworthy — repeat elements everywhere
  • Loss Aversion — People’s tendency to stronger prefer avoiding losses to acquiring gains.

Andre talked about all that does right on their website — from bandwagon effect (only 5 rooms left) to social proof

There is so much that I can use with my own clients. I can’t wait to test a few things.

Andres’ key insights included:

  • Never believe A/B test case studies — they only show a part of the truth. Without absolute numbers it’s untrustworthy.
  • Something that you can’t see can’t change the behavior of your users. Test stuff that has the power to fundamentally change user behavior.
  • Statistical significance is not validity — don’t stop the test once you reach 95% significance. Make sure you have enough sample size and long enough test duration.
  • Your website is a salesperson, understand the biases that you can use –List of cognitive biases
  • Growth System = Goals + Ability + Culture

One of my favorite things I learned is the Persuasion Slide from Roger Dooley. (And yes, I did immediately order his book).

This framework increases conversions on your site by reducing friction, increasing nonconscious motivation, and creating triggers or nudges.

Element 1: Gravity

The first step in the persuasion slide is increasing Gravity, or the inherent motivation the user has to engage with your site or buy your product.

Customer’s Initial Motivation

  • Needs
  • Wants
  • Goals

Messaging must match what they are coming to your website for. Your messaging should be consistent and fully aligned with the needs and wants of the customer.

Conscious Motivation for Car Buyers

  • Transportation
  • Fuel economy
  • Reliability
  • Resale value
  • Capacity

Nonconscious motivators for Car Buyers

  • Need for status
  • Sex appeal
  • Signaling — values (hybrid)
  • Fantasy

B2B Gravity includes:

Conscious, stated

  • Price
  • Features
  • Delivery
  • Quality
  • Service

Non-conscious, unstated

  • Job security
  • Promotion
  • Boss approval
  • Relationshio
  • Risk Aversion

We almost always want to use both conscious and non-conscious motivation.

Element 2: Nudge

Get attention, start persuading. This is the push at the top of the slide.

Nudges are things like sales calls, popup boxes, alarm and countdown clocks, phone calls, search ads, call-to-action buttons, emails, …

Nudge must be seen and in order to start the process. A nudge without motivation is ineffective.

Element 3: Angle

The motivation you provide — conscious and non-conscious.

Once you’ve enhanced natural intrigue in your product, Step 2 is to ask (or Nudge) your user to do something. This is the first step, however small, that encourages your user to complete the desired action or purchase.

Conscious motivators

  • Benefits
  • Features
  • Gifts
  • Prices
  • Discounts
  • Specifications

Non-conscious motivators

  • Emotions
  • Psychology
  • Biases

You want to include both, although non-conscious motivators are free and some cases more effective.

Great example: Amazon includes social proof, # ranking, star ratings,reviews, only # in stock, free shipping, hidden text so not too much description is showing and they have to click to find more information, authority in commentary from other authors and experts.

Step 3 involves using motivation (conscious or non-conscious) to create the angle of the slide. Without motivation or a steep angle, no movement could possibly occur.

Step 4: Friction

Roger shows a number of positive and negative examples of reducing friction via incorporating default choices.

Absolute ZERO friction on Amazon — 1 click for Amazon Prime.

“When you reduce friction, make something easy, people do more of it.” — Jeff Bezos

The difficulty is real and perceived.

Real friction

  • Form fields
  • Steps in checkout process
  • Instructions
  • What am I supposed to do?
  • ANYTHING in Conversion Sequence

And the last lesson of the week…

Cool study on the names of roller coasters and prescription medicines.

The more difficult the name to read/say, the more risky people considered the ride/medicine. The easier it was to say, the safer it was perceived.

Minimize perceived friction with simple fonts, short text, and easy-to-read design.

If it’s not motivation, then it is friction.

Minimizing friction almost always costs less than increasing motivation.

That’s it for week 3. You can find my other reviews here:

CXL Digital Psychology and Persuasion Minidegree — Week 1 Review
CXL Digital Psychology and Persuasion Minidegree — Week 2 Review



Kristina Shands

Launch strategist and copywriter for spiritual entrepreneurs on a mission to heal the world.