Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid: Getting in Touch with Our Inner Lizard to Drive Conversions


When considering the killer copy for our next ad, landing page, or title for a piece of marketing content – we are faced with many questions:

--What are the main messages we should articulate?

--What are the key words we should use?

--What will make them click?

The answer lies in our ‘reptilian brain.” Our . . . what?

The best copy for our ad, blog or eBook title, or any lead driving content, is copy that will convert. And if conversion is about decision making, then the best copy is driven by what drives our reptilian brain.

Namely, decision-making is a complex process that requires the orchestration of multiple neural systems, particularly, the areas that deal with emotion and memory.

The area that primarily deals with emotion and decision making is the amygdala, our ‘reptilian brain,’ also referred to as the ‘primitive brain.’ It is the oldest and smallest part of our brain, the size of an almond, lodged right in the center. It evolved hundreds of millions of years ago and resembles the brain of present-day reptiles, hence – 'reptilian brain.’

So what does this have to do with great copy and conversion? Well, if we deconstruct the decision making algorithm of the amygdala, we can extrapolate from there the makings for great, converting copy.

Namely, when making decisions the amygdala kicks in first, before the logic driving parts. Since during the early beginnings of life, nature developed the amygdala as a defense mechanism for animals, to drive them into action whenever they need to make a decision – for example, ‘flight or fight’ when faced with a threat.

While the reptilian brain is most famous for this ‘flight or fright’ coping mechanism, and is often synonymous with fear, in fact there is more to this almond shaped brain part than meets the eye.

The amygdala is said to drive three powerful areas of the human experience, which we can leverage for CRO driven copy, i.e.: fear (as we mentioned), but also pain and emotion. If we tap into one or more of these areas, we stimulate the reptilian brain to make the decision, which, in our case is to click.

Let’s take a look.

1. No pain, no gain. It’s the start of the standard marketing message framework: what’s the pain? If there isn’t a problem, there’s no need for a solution. Put a spotlight on the pain point, and then offer your solution. And make sure this is articulated by your copy.

2. Get in touch with your feelings. At the core of our decision making process is emotion, the gut, the ‘feeling.’ It’s only after we engage our emotions that we engage logic. Kodak and their ‘moments’ played on this, as does every Hallmark commercial. Though sappiness is not the only emotion out there. Humor is another one that works very well to engage and differentiate. If you can make them laugh, they’ll remember you, and will be more likely to engage with you.

3. Be afraid, be very afraid. Fear is another very powerful impetus for action – it’s primal and it’s very convincing. Why do you think we’re so addicted to our social media feeds? FOMO! Fear of missing out. Fear can be tied back to pain. What is the pain point and its consequences? The fear of consequences can and should be worked into your copy/content.

Want to explore the great copy that will convert your readers? Get in touch and let’s do great marketing together >>