Using Anchors to convert consumers - Showtime Digital

Using Anchors to convert consumers

29 April 2016 Read 1653 times

Empirical studies allow us to understand en masse how people respond to certain stimuli. For example we gravitate to the familiar; we seek security in patterns, expressing scepticism in the unfamiliar. When we use these techniques online they don’t work all the time but in general most people, the majority of the time, are subject to anchors.

For example a bias we all experience would be when we see a green light at an intersection and accelerate away without first looking for speeding cars coming in the other direction. Or when the phone of a stranger nearby rings with the same ringtone as your own phone and we reach to answer our phone.

Our brains tell us based on the last 100 times when X has happened, Y was the outcome and the statistical probability of danger is extremely low. The brain has now found a short cut it trusts in and has rewired itself to cope with the situation. These tenets help us cope more effectively with stressful situations; it also helps us create online environments to meet these expectations.

For example when we view a webpage we don’t actually read the page like a book. It’s similar to driving a car where we attend to the most prominent objects which command our attention and leave other less relevant elements aside. After visiting 1000’s of websites we’ve created biases which say when we see A it means A and not B or C. This is called an Anchor Effect.

Anchoring Effect - our brains tendency to focus too heavily on the first piece of information.

We go into greater depth on the importance of anchors in our eBook here.

An anchor sets the tone. Whether it’s the boardroom where we set the agenda for the meeting or a face to face introduction where we shake hands. These are all anchors. The anchor effect states the first piece of information is true to the exclusion of any further information. It holds enough credibility to override our need to investigate further.

We’re going to look at some examples of how you can anchor your audience and create these shortcuts to achieve better conversions outcomes. We’ll also use our eye tracking software to see if the anchors are successfully being picked up and we’ll make some suggestions to potentially improve how the anchor is received. Maybe this will inform some changes you can do on your own landing pages. If you want to see how your own webpage and their anchors are picked up you can access an instant and free report here to get started.

Using symbols to anchor your audience


AAMI car insurance


Symbols are great for anchoring credibility in the mind of the consumer. Here we see the use of three gold coloured trust seals on a car insurance page. They’re normally used to show awards the company has won but the middle seal says, ‘TALK TO A REAL PERSON’. The third seal says, ‘CLAIM ONLINE – NO QUEUES’. Hold the phone…these are just made up!

Because we read left to right AAMI hopes the Anchor Effect will override the brains need to acknowledge the other two seals. It’s a bit cheeky and if someone actually read the second and third seals they may dismiss the page altogether because the seals are not anchored in trust.

Well known people


Yellow Brick Road homepage


Credible people can also anchor your audience in a meaningful way. The more trusted they are the more credible your offer. The YBR homepage has included Mark Bouris on the page above the fold. We realise he’s the owner of the company and he has a vested interest in selling you on his services but he’s publicly visible and credible.

This time let’s use the eye tracking AI to see which elements consumers will focus on.


Yellow Brick Road homepage perception map


What you’re looking at is how consumers see the page in the first 3 seconds. We take in 10 eye movements during this time and the brain creates a story from the page. Here the headline is an anchor, as well as the interest rate and the picture of Mark Bouris. The text below is what the eye focuses on. Highlighted text indicates more attention to a word.

YellowBrickRoad + save or we’ll pay you $300# + the big four banks + smasher home + rate + I started Yellow + management company + Australians access + quality + Mark Bouris pic.

We feel the headline is a little clumsy and maybe that’s why there’s so much attention on it (we don’t recommend mixing pronouns). However the anchor of the Mark Bouris picture is strong and consumers may have seen him on TV. It would be interesting to see if giving Mark Bouris more prominence would result in a stronger anchor and better outcomes. His comment isn’t really being picked up, in fact the further to the right you go the less likely the eye picks up the text. Remember with an anchor we take in the first piece of information to the exclusion of subsequent data.

You can see how the key words in the copy get picked up more readily and how this strengthens the anchor if the copy was written in the following manner.

Existing copy Proposed copy
I started Yellow Brick Road as a wealth I started Yellow Brick Road
management company with a goal to give all to give all Australians access to
Australians access to affordable home loans and affordable home loans and
quality financial advice. quality financial advice.


So with a couple of small copy changes you’ll see how the anchor changes. They become -

YellowBrickRoad + Save or you’ll earn $300* + the big four banks + smasher home + rate + I started Yellow + to give all + affordable home + quality + Mark Bouris pic.

The anchors on the page have become more compelling. To the sceptical this may seem trite but we’ve seen situations where one line or even one word has been changed on a page and the convertibility was statistically significant enough to change the page because of it. Perception is everything.

Imagery as an anchor


AGL Electricity and Gas


Imagery is another powerful anchor. Here’s a great example of using imagery to show the consumer A/ this is what you should do and B/ this is what other people are doing.

Unlike AAMI, AGL has some real awards from Canstar and they’ve strategically placed them inside the image and boosted the page credibility.


AGL Electricity and Gas attention map


Here the consumer visualises the following.

Energy in action + Electricity and Gas Plans + Hero image + Canstar awards + are you looking for + Electricity + Business Electricity Plans

There’s a lot of attention focused on the Canstar awards but the real value of this page is combining a bespoke image saying, ‘this is what you need to do’, with the Canstar awards which say, ‘this will be a great customer experience for you’.

We recently analysed a page which was more focused on telling the consumer how awesome they were and they forgot to engage the consumer with a compelling reason to convert (see this here). Awards have their place but consumers need to know how that’s going to benefit them. What AGL has done is shown us a very mature and confident approach to displaying an award and this will be acknowledged by the consumer at a very powerful and subconscious level.

Nailed it

You may remember our previous analysis on the Aussie Home Loans page. You can see it here. This page won a competitor analysis to convey trust for a mortgage broking company. Aussie has very recently upgraded their page so it will look different to the image you see below.


Aussie Home Loans second opnion


The page combines the anchors of a testimonial and a really strong headline. But you’ll also notice both the headline and the testimonial are missed in their entirety because they span too far across the page. As humans our peripheral vision is very poor and we tend to like groups of words rather than long sentences because of it.


Aussie Home Loans second opnion perception map


But could the anchors change by making some really small changes and could we potentially increase convertibility because of it. Imagine if the headline and testimonial were changed and written in the following manner.

Headline –

Existing copy Proposed copy
A second opinion from Aussie doesn’t cost A second opinion from Aussie
you anything and it could save you doesn’t cost you anything and
thousands it could save you thousands


Testimonial –

Existing testimony Proposed testimony
Aussie saves us $1,100 a month, Now we can save for an Aussie saves us $1,100 a month,
Investment property.” Now we can save for an
  Investment property.”


Now most of the important information is acknowledged by the eye which then transfers information to the brain. Stronger anchors and a clearer message improve convertibility. Just a simple right justify can make a huge difference.


In each situation anchors of various types help cement feelings of trust. Anchors help us work with the biases which the brain has already created, they also allow us to work within the very short window of opportunity we do have with them. If we do this right we can create a premise beyond doubt for them to convert.

Find out more about your own webpage by accessing a free and instant eye tracking report here.

Steve Palmer

Steve Palmer is the Joint Founder and CEO of Showtime Digital. Steve has been in B2B sales since 1997 but influencing people and behavioural science has been a long-term passion.

The magic he brings to his clients is in knowing how to engage their audience. His goal is to help businesses understand the deeper reasons of why consumers convert online with them.