The Heart of Conversion Rate Optimization – ‘Net Features – Website Magazine

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This post was inspired by The Heart of Conversion Rate Optimization – ‘Net Features – Website Magazine and an analysis of Daniel Kahneman’s book, Thinking, Fast And Slow, as excerpted by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).


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thinking-fast-and-slowMy favorite book, that I have never been able to finish, is ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow,” by Dr. Daniel Kahneman. It is a thick book with small print. 533 pages in my copy, with over 191,000 words. I’m still trying to get through it.


In his review for the CIA, Frank Babetski focused on the importance of Dr. Kahneman’s work in the analysis of human intelligence operations. In previous blog posts I have tried to point out the importanceof Dr. Kahneman’s work relative to marketing.

In fact, it was the application of his ideas to marketing that earned Dr. Kahneman, a psychologist, the Nobel Prize om Economics.

It was while I was reading Tim Ash’s blog post ‘The Heart of Conversion Rate Optimization’ that I started thinking about Dr. Kahneman’s work, and how the two systems of the human brain, ‘System 1,’ and ‘System 2’ affected conversions and client engagements.

According to Tim Ash, in SiteTuners: The highest achievements of humankind are “walking on the moon, inventing written language, harnessing the power of the atom.”

Or are they?

The failure of reason.

What if I told you that all of these are happy accidents and a byproduct of the real reason that human brains evolved? Humans are in fact the most social of mammals. The complexity of the modern brain is there to manage social interactions. Robin Dunbar came up with his famous “Rule of 150” when describing the upper limit on the number of close personal bonds that humans can manage.

Imagine if someone holds in his or her head their relationship to 150 others, and their changing relationships to one another. If he or she can do it successfully, that person is able to create alliances, gather support for personal and business initiatives, and have a greater chance of achieving his or her goals (and indeed surviving in the wild).

Rational thought is over-rated. Yet because of the bias created by Enlightenment philosophers (and their predecessors back to Plato), humans have come to value logic, consistency and reason as the highest qualities of the human mind and character. After all, no one wants to be described as irrational, random, unpredictable or just plain crazy. Yet at their core, that is exactly what humans are.What’s really going on in the human head?

The brain is a layered construct in which the newest parts (literally and figuratively) rest upon older structures. The hemispheres of the modern cerebral cortex envelop the emotional mid-brain (the limbic system that humans share with all mammals), which in turn relies on the more primitive brain stem (which people also share with crocodiles and birds).

The brain is a layered construct in which the newest parts (literally and figuratively) rest upon older structures. Click To Tweet

The old parts have not gone away, and are in constant communication with each other. In fact, it would be accurate to say that the modern reasoning brain is often kept in the dark, and only gets activated occasionally when the more primitive gatekeepers allow it to get involved.

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