Neuromarketing, Emotional Content Strategy, Influence, and Interactive Design Review

Ashley Neal
6 min readOct 8, 2020


This article is part 3 of 12 reviewing the CRO Minidegree at the CXL Institute.

Photo credit: Giphy

Read more reviews in this series! 1|2|3|4|5|6|7|8|9|10|11|12

This week’s courses focused on investigating how the brain works in marketing, creating an effective emotional content strategy, and tactical web design strategies for optimizing conversions.

Intro to Neuromarketing

Many marketers fail to focus their efforts on appealing to the nonconscious brain.” — Robert Dooley

In this course, Robert Dooley takes us on a journey of the conscious and nonconscious brain where we learn various persuasive techniques to appeal to our customer’s brains.

There are several technologies that are utilized to have a look inside the brain including:

  • fMRI machine — 3D images of the brain in real-time as people view content
  • EEG: Multiple sensors placed on key brain regions to measure emotional motivation, memory activation, and attention processing
  • Core Biometrics: Measuring heart rate changes capturing the emotional journey
  • Facial Coding: Facially expressed emotions shown discreetly, such as surprise and confusion, happiness and sadness
  • Eyetracking: Determine the level of visual focus on content, including specific areas that attract the most and least attention
  • Self-report: What consumers say, think, do, or plan to do

Overall Dooley highly recommends using established science and test, test, test!

Next, the course has a view of an event video presented by Andè Morys where he shares five neuromarketing tips to help dominate the market:

  • Never believe A/B test case studies — they do not show the whole picture and are not always trustworthy.
  • Something that you can’t see can’t change the behavior of your users. Test the things that have the power to radically change user behavior.
  • Statistical significance is not validity — Be sure you have a large enough sample size and a long enough test duration.
  • Your website is a salesperson, understand the cognitive biases that you can use
  • Growth System = Goals + Ability + Culture

In the final stretch of the Intro to Neuromarketing course, Dooley walks us through The Persuasion Slide framework for optimizing for conversions on your website by:

  • Reducing friction
  • Increasing non-conscious motivation
  • Creating triggers (or nudges)

The very first step on the slide is to increase the motivation or gravity the user has with engaging in the site.

The next step is the nudge or how we get our website visitor’s attention with persuasive techniques. The nudge asks the user to do something that encourages them to make a purchase or complete another desired action (sign up, popup, PPC ad, sales call, etc.).

In step three of the slide both conscious and nonconscious motivation should be used to create the angle of the slide.

Two Kinds of Motivators

  1. Conscious
  • Benefits
  • Features
  • Gifts
  • Discounts
  • Specifications
  • Prices

2. Nonconscious

  • Emotions
  • Psychology
  • Prices

The final step in the slide is friction. There is real friction which pertains to technical errors or problems (disabled autofill, the requirement of super-strong passwords, quick automatic logouts, Captcha, etc).

Dooley also reminds us to check every step of the conversion process looking for hidden friction in the user experience.

The last kind of friction to assess is imaginary friction. Make sure that all perceived friction is minimized. Use simple easy to read fonts, short text, and easy to read designs.

Developing & Testing an Emotional Content Strategy

Photo credit: Giphy

This course is taught by Talia Wolf, here she shares her foundation for exploring behavioral and emotional triggers that customers experience during the decision making process.

In this lesson, Wolf introduces the concept of emotional targeting. She also heavily emphasizes that every decision we make is ultimately formed by emotion. When we understand our consumer's emotional trigger points we can create better landing pages to resonate with site visitors and produce higher conversions.

Wolf also points out that there is a huge disconnect with converting on mobile devices. She shows us how to make mobile site visitors feel secure by focusing on their emotions.

We are reminded that we literally only have two to three seconds to convince someone of something and that people on mobile need a different user journey because the overall experience is different than desktop users.

The Emotional Competitor Analysis is introduced for building a strong emotional content strategy. Wolf instructs us to look for at least 10–15 competitors to assess:

  1. Message
  2. Colors
  3. Images
  4. Emotional triggers

The two key things we are looking to understand are: where the market is emotionally and where we fit in.

After we have crafted an emotional content strategy we must test, test, test (a recurring theme throughout all of the CXL Institute’s CRO mini degree courses😉).

Photo credit: Giphy

Metrics for emotional targeting:

  • Emotions
  • Elements
  • Words
  • Visuals
  • Colors

Finally, Wolf shows us how to analyze our own emotional targeting content against our competitors using a chart. She also shares two case studies to aid in validating her framework.

Influence and Interactive Design

Photo credit: Giphy

In this course, we learn Dr. Brian Cugelman’s framework for breaking down research on behavioral patterns from neurochemical and evolutionary psychology perspective. He also shares a number of tactical design strategies to keep customers repeatedly engaging.

We learn the seven desired outcomes that should serve as the foundation of our marketing plan:

  1. Concentrating (aware)
  2. Learning (informed)
  3. Desiring (motivated)
  4. Deciding (intent)
  5. Trusting (confident)
  6. Acting (short term)
  7. Maintaining (long term)

Dr. Cugelman then shows us how to use directing attention approaches such as pre-attentive processing (a design tactic that manipulates patterns and directs viewers' attention to a particular focal point).

Next, we learn that educating customers puts them at ease by establishing trust, understanding, and credibility. The ultimate goal of educating them is to simulate the experience of using your product or service the best that you can to get them closer to making a decision to purchase.

During the educating process use a combination of both features (technical specs) and benefits (marketing) to get your customer's attention. Dr. Cugelman strongly emphasizes:

Features tell but it’s the benefits that sell!”

Next, he shares his methods for motivating people via loss aversion (things we avoid) and incentives (things we desire).

Websites are literally judged in less than a second it is vital that our website gives off the halo effect (positive traits that influence the judgment of others). This helps to gain trust. Partnering with an expert and always using integrity in your messaging builds credibility with your audience.

After giving user motivation a boost, it’s time to focus on providing a clear frictionless path to checkout.

When customers need to be re-engaged use motivation and ability to draw them back in.

My thoughts

For Intro to Neuromarketing, this famous quote immediately comes to my mind:

“The mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

But so many marketers waste their customers’ minds by not learning how to properly tap into them. I appreciate this course because it helps to really make marketing make sense on a cerebral level. The Persuasion Slide is an excellent CRO concept that I’m glad was introduced to me in this course. The only downside I have about this course is that there are no additional resources (presentation slides, links to more resources, templates, etc).

In Developing & Testing an Emotional Content Strategy Talia Wolf does a great job of teaching us how to effectively put together an emotional content strategy that will strongly resonate with your customer audience. I loved that this course is brief and to the point. The only con is that there were not any additional resources (presentation slide deck, templates, links to more resources).

In Influence and Interactive Design, I appreciate the tactical design strategies that Dr. Cugelman shares to keep customers coming back for more. I also appreciate the brevity of the course. The only con I can share is constant with the other two I courses reviewed above (no presentation slide deck, templates, or links to more resources for further study).

Even without all the ‘bells and whistles’ that I strongly prefer (and have been gifted by professors in other CXL courses I have previously reviewed). These courses have a wealth of information and knowledge that every digital marketer should be utilizing — but they are not!

Would you like to join the top 1% of digital marketers in the entire world?

Check out more of my in-depth reviews of CXL Institute’s CRO Minidegree courses:

  1. Intro to CRO and Best Practices Review
  2. Intro to Conversion Copywriting, Product Messaging, Psychology, and Social Proof Review
  3. Neuromarketing, Emotional Content Strategy, Influence, and Interactive Design Review
  4. Google Analytics for Beginners Review
  5. Landing Page Optimization, Conversion Research and Using Analytics to Find Conversions Review
  6. Google Tag Manager for Beginners, User Research, Fast and Rigorous User Personas Review
  7. Heuristics Analysis Frameworks for CO Audits, Google Analytics Audits, How to Run Tests
  8. Testing Strategies, Statistics for A/B Testing and A/B Testing Mastery Review
  9. Optimizing for B2B, Customer Value Optimization, Digital Psychology, and Behavioral Design Training Review
  10. Advanced Experimentation Analysis and Applied Neuromarketing Review
  11. How to Design, Roll Out, and Scale an Optimization Program; Evangelizing for Optimization in Enterprise Review
  12. Building Your Optimization Technology Stack and CRO Agency Masterclass Review



Ashley Neal

Queen👑of CRO💖 Conversion Rate Optimization Let's make even more money!