Three heuristics every marketer should know

As advertising becomes ever more targeted and online experiences more personalized, it’s increasingly difficult to succeed as a marketer without a deep understanding of how people make decisions.


At Qubit we’ve found that one of the easiest ways to get a handle on the psychology of decision-making is to think of it in terms of heuristics - little mental algorithms that our brains use every day to find efficient solutions to the variety of problems we face. We’re launching our latest research on the role of heuristics in customer experience at a breakfast event in San Fran on June 1st (details here), and to give you a taste of what we’ll be discussing, here are three heuristics that our clients have found particularly useful.

The Self-Relevance Effect

This mental shortcut explains a lot of the underlying power of personalization. Put simply, our comprehension and retention of information increases the more personally relevant we perceive that information to be. Whether it’s something as simple as acknowledging if a visitor is new or returning, or a more complex personalization based on their location, browser cues or what they’ve bought previously, increasing the perception of self-relevance will increase the willingness of visitors to engage with your products and services.

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The Bandwagon Effect

Human beings are social animals, and generally prefer the safety and security that comes with being part of a group. This is no less true when it comes to making purchase decisions than with any other set of behaviors. Social proofs, reviews and indications of scarcity all provide us with the reassurance that others have previously made the same choice we are considering, and increases the likelihood that a visitor will find the confidence to become a customer.

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The Availability Effect

The brain can be pretty lazy when it comes to making decisions, often preferring to judge based solely on the information that comes most readily to hand. This makes it imperative to provide as much useful context as possible when presenting products. Organizing clothes into complete ‘looks’ or adjusting imagery to match current seasonal or climatic conditions can help visitors easily evaluate purchases, and increases the likelihood of positive outcomes.

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If you’re an ecommerce business and want to learn more about the power of heuristics like these, come along to our San Fran breakfast event on June 1st, where we’ll be explaining our latest research into this fascinating area of optimization.