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The Pros & Cons of Confirmation Bias for Marketers

January 15, 2020   |  
Posted by
Carolyn Lyden

If you’ve logged on to any social media account not too long ago, likelihood is you’ve seen affirmation bias in impact. Online political arguments with your loved ones apart, affirmation bias is all over the place these days although it’s possible you’ll not all the time see its results immediately.

Because affirmation bias is an inherent half of the human mind, there are components of it that may profit entrepreneurs and customers. However, with something, there’s a potential for it to cloud our advertising and marketing selections and deal with our potential shoppers poorly. Keeping affirmation bias on the forefront of our decision-making processes is important to being each an efficient and moral marketer.

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What Is Confirmation Bias?


Confirmation bias is the human tendency to interpret any data as a verification of your current beliefs. Essentially, affirmation bias is the inside “yes man” who agrees that everything you think is true and all evidence proves it.

For example, say you believe that all artists are carefree and whimsical. When you meet a carefree person who happens to paint, your brain will say, “Ha! I knew it. All artists are like this!” Not solely does affirmation bias have an effect on how we interpret data, nevertheless it additionally performs a job in how we observe and recall conditions, individuals, locations, and so forth.

“People who support or oppose a particular issue will not only seek information to support it, they will also interpret news stories in a way that upholds their existing ideas,” says Kendra Cherry, MS, an author, educational consultant, and speaker focused on helping students learn about psychology.

Confirmation bias has the potential to shape our whole worldview.

How Can Marketing Benefit from Confirmation Bias?


TV Brain Output

As marketers, we are in the unique position to help inform our target audience’s beliefs around our products and services and then supply the evidence that confirms those beliefs. It’s why we believe that big brands are fancier than store brand generics. It’s why even though studies prove that most vitamin supplements are useless, we still buy and take them.

Find Pain Points & Highlight Your Solution


In one example, Rich Harshaw points to how the Holiday Inn Express drew attention to the typically mundane showerhead in their hotels. Harshaw points out that, in any other hotel stay, he never would have noticed the showerhead–just gone in, taken a shower, and gotten ready for bed. However, because the hotel chain’s advertising sang the praises of this one, very small feature, Harshaw made sure to check out the showerhead, try out the different settings, and appreciate the shower experience even more:

“They let you know their showerhead is the best factor since sliced bread. Then while you truly get within the bathe, you not solely discover the showerhead (when below regular situations, it could go utterly and completely unnoticed), you additionally interpret the proof (giant dimension, connoisseur sounding settings, excessive strain) as proof that it’s certainly nice.”

In advertising and marketing, we’re capable of deal with particular ache factors that prospects might not even know they’ve. Bringing to gentle how our services or products is the answer to this problem for them. It’s a standard chorus in product growth and advertising and marketing circles that nobody knew they wanted an iPad, however right here we are actually utilizing tablets in our day by day lives.

Reinforce Brand Image


Similarly, as soon as we’ve achieved a degree of model consciousness, we will use affirmation bias to strengthen what customers “already know” about us. Most people associate Amazon with quick delivery of everything they need–from toothpaste to furniture and more.

So even if Amazon’s shipping delays a consumer’s package by a day or two, they’ll likely still make purchases from the online retailer because confirmation bias tells them that it was a one-off or that delivery is still actually very quick–even when we could have gotten a product faster by going to a store.

People Associate Themselves with a Brand


If you’ve ever tried to convince a Mac user to try a PC or a PC user to switch to a Mac, you’ve likely experienced this phenomenon. Once people begin to associate their identity with a certain brand, they adopt the confirmation bias assumption that they can never switch brands.

Why is this? According to Aaron Brooks, “It’s as a result of they affiliate an element of themselves or the particular person they aspire to be with stated model.” If somebody identifies as an outdoorsy particular person and buys footwear, jackets, and backpacks from REI (even when they haven’t gone climbing or kayaking of their lives), advertising and marketing to their supreme selves may help cement that connection–regardless of the dissonance that happens between their actions and beliefs.

These components of affirmation bias in marketing–telling potential shoppers what their points are and the way we’re the primary resolution to resolve them–can be mutually helpful. However, there are components of affirmation bias in advertising and marketing that we needs to be conscious of in our day by day work.

What Should Marketers Avoid with Confirmation Bias?


Brain Tightrope Walker

While affirmation bias can work in our favor as entrepreneurs, there are components of the phenomenon that we must always all the time be cognizant of. Not solely can it have an effect on how nicely we carry out our jobs, however it may stifle innovation that stops us from rising and experimenting.

Targeting the Imaginary Audience


In his 2017 article “Your Brain is Lying to You,” Michael Aagaard talks about one of the easiest confirmation bias pitfalls that marketers fall into. Aagaard says that it’s a marketer’s job to truly understand their target audiences–how they feel, what they want, what their biggest pain points are, etc. However, we have to do the work to really understand what those feelings, wants, needs, and pain points are.

Oftentimes, marketers assume based on their confirmation bias that certain issues matter to our target audiences–when they actually don’t. “If we aren’t cautious, affirmation bias can get the most effective of us, and we will find yourself advertising and marketing to an imaginary target market made up of our personal assumptions and biases,” says Aagaard.

As a end result, you’ll be able to miss vital advertising and marketing components which can be main ache factors for your consumers–based on assumptions alone. It’s essential to truly converse to your goal audiences to study what issues to them and the way they discover options for their issues.

Stifling Marketing Innovation


Along with lacking the mark in concentrating on our audiences, affirmation bias additionally stifles advertising and marketing creativity, innovation, and testing. According to Will Burns of Ideasicle, “Confirmation bias is the force we apply to our reality to maintain it, keep it from changing and make us feel better for it.”

Confirmation bias is the small voice in the back of your head that says, “No must A/B take a look at this. I do know which one will carry out finest.” Oftentimes, these checks DO show us fallacious and present us that our assumptions aren’t all the time true. Or the one which tells entrepreneurs to solely embrace the optimistic metrics of their reporting. Those unfavorable metrics could also be attempting to let you know one thing!

By attacking affirmation bias head-on, we’ll be higher entrepreneurs, attain extra of our goal audiences, and drive higher outcomes.

How Can Confirmation Bias Harm Consumers?


String Puppet Holding Head

The latest Netflix documentary “The Great Hack” touches on how confirmation bias in social media marketing was a huge part of the 2016 election. Using people’s data-rich psychological profiles from social media, Cambridge Analytica categorized people by their beliefs and demographics and showed them ads that furthered their existing prejudices and assumptions about others.

The strategy was to create a social media echo chamber that reflected people’s already established biases about their “opponents.” The end result was that the technique pushed the opposing facet even additional aside by preying on their affirmation bias.

Not solely is it important for entrepreneurs to remember of their very own affirmation biases, nevertheless it’s vital to ponder the ethics of utilizing affirmation bias as a dangerous advertising and marketing tactic. Because affirmation bias is one thing innate in all of us, the one method to strategy it’s to brazenly acknowledge that it’s there.

Confirming Our Conclusion


Minds Under Construction

“The first step in dealing with confirmation bias is to admit it’s there. All the time. And it’s likely affecting our decision-making on a daily, if not hourly basis. So being aware of it might just loosen its reigns on us,” says Will Burns.

Confirmation bias is an innate perform of our human brains. It helps us rapidly synthesize data which will in any other case take up an excessive amount of brainpower and waste time. However, this evolutionary trait combined with the weather of trendy advertising and marketing has the potential to go very proper AND very fallacious.

It’s important that, as entrepreneurs, we’re conscious of ways in which we’re utilizing affirmation bias with our goal audiences and in our day by day jobs–both to optimistic and unfavorable results. Ask your self the scary questions that problem your views or make you uncomfortable with change. By conserving affirmation on the forefront of our advertising and marketing selections, we’ll be higher entrepreneurs and drive extra affinity with our goal audiences.

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About The Author

Carolyn Lyden

Carolyn is the President and Lead web optimization at Search Hermit.

She helps established women-owned companies enhance their digital presence via web optimization and content material technique that drives sustainable enterprise progress and creates a stronger on-line presence.

You can discover her on Twitter because the admin of #SEOChat each Tuesday at 1 PM EST.

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