What is Human Choice Optimisation?
HCO is a new approach to designing marketing messages, especially for professionals.
Human Beings like to think they are rational:
sensible, informed and logical.
But psychology research shows time and again that we have some irrational biases built in.
These unexpected influences are hard-wired into human brains, and we can't turn them off. It's possible they may have helped our species survive over the millennia.
The simplest examples are the illusions: the eyes 'tell' the brain wrong information. (Actually it's usually the other way round: the brain misinterprets the data from the eyes.)
To describe a few examples of built-in biases in short sentences:
- We will all do more to avoid losing something than we will gain the same thing.
- We are more influenced by social proof than we will admit, even if it is negative.
- We prefer a wider range of choice, but we act more decisively if choices are restricted.
Nudging Human Choice
HCO works with both rational and feeling aspects of human psychology.
We aim to improve the emotional connection between the reader and the products/services offered. This starts a rapport-building process, which often involves explaining things - perhaps in unusual detail. The style in which this is done is critical however: where encyclopedias are informative, they are not actively engaging like a story book is.
We aim eventually to shape the options presented to the reader so as to make their decisions easier.
Some areas of optimisation work with websites include:
Avoiding likely 'alarm' biases
- First impressions – loading speed, familiarity of surroundings, relevance to search
- Quality of presentation – ease of reading, spelling & grammar, use of metaphor and humour
- Reducing concerns – accept 'issues', testimonials & reviews, warranties & guarantees, etc
Nudging known 'want' biases
- Boost motivations – offering incentives, describing urgency & scarcity
- Encouraging a human bond – interactivity, person-to-person point-of-view, explicit greeting
- Focussing attention – by clear navigation, avoiding distractions, telling a story
Overall, we aim to increase enquiries, instructions agreed, repeat business and improve reputation with minimal complaints, returns or queried payments – reliably and cost-effectively.
It is important to note that with HCO, our writing to encourage certain outcomes may result in messaging that the impartial observer will think curious. This is because observers do not have the desires that potential clients have, and so remain unaffected. However, the small changes recommended will not bring disfavour as they are carefully considered to be respectable and within ethical bounds.