Are web analytics and A/B testing nonsense?  

Well-known neuromarketing expert and author, Dr. Christophe Morin, reveals to the Mindlab Academy that he believes web analytics are meaningless and marketers should instead focus on understanding the brain and issues such as anxiety. 

It’s safe to say that Dr. Christophe Morin is not a fan of big tech companies. “There is the illusion created by Google, Twitter, Facebook and so on that they will give you all the data and web analytics you need to tell you if you are doing a good or bad job with your advertising, your website, your emails… But the data is just a bunch of clicks, scrolls and views that are, most of the time, questionable because they each have their own algorithm and it is almost impossible to understand their overly complex dashboards.”

“I am critical of these big companies because I believe that, to some extent, they don’t want advertisers to improve and succeed. They are quite happy if they are messy and also that they keep doing A/B testing under the impression they are being scientific. You can test until you are blue in the face, but if your A and B options are both terrible, they are both terrible. These companies make you think that is as far as you can go and make you addicts of click data.” 

Dr. Morin believes there is a huge opportunity to be more rigorous, more disciplined and more scientific in marketing. During the lockdown, he wrote a follow up to The Persuasion Code: How Neuromarketing Can Help You Persuade Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime. Titled The Serenity Code, it is about the neuroscience of anxiety and stress. “We quit a lot in addressing things that our lives are depending on, such as anxiety and stress, because we are not always brave enough or self-motivated enough to act. They settle in your head and what makes it more difficult is that we all have it and we all need it. The problem is when we have too much of it – we can’t regulate it.”

“Consumer anxiety is a huge driver of decisions and it can explain and predict many of our choices. Even though we won’t necessarily admit or know that we are under the influence of these drives to survive, it’s pretty obvious that we are.” Dr. Morin thinks that is why so often effective marketing appeals to the primal part of the brain, also known as System 1. “To influence and persuade, your message must be urgent for the consumer to attend to. For the primal brain, nothing is more urgent than to protect itself and avoid threats. We have a bias to pay more attention to messages that to some extent reenact a pain point or frustration so that we think, ‘Oh yes, that is something I am struggling with. It is something I need to address.’ ”

“Fortunately, I see a lot of young people who are in college taking a big interest in neuroscience and so change will happen as they move through the industry. Probing the brain will become more normal, even though it’s still not taught at business school.” 

With more than 30 years’ experience in marketing and consumer research, Dr. Christophe Morin is a leading expert in the field of neuromarketing, having written a number of well-received books on the topic including The Persuasion Code: How Neuromarketing Can Help You Persuade Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime and Neuromarketing: Understanding the Buy Buttons in Your Customer’s Brain. He is Chief Pain Officer at neuromarketing agency, SalesBrain and teaches a Masters/PhD course on The Psychology of Neuromarketing at Fielding Graduate University.

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