A Double-Edged Sword: Confirmation Bias in B2B

Confirmation bias rules the world around us. It’s the reason that people choose a political party and go to great lengths to prove to others that their party is the correct one. It’s the driving force behind countless decisions that you and I make.

Confirmation bias is defined as “the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories.”

There’s a reason that confirmation bias is one of my favorite concepts. It’s such a major player in the world we live in.

It’s also a major player in marketing. Confirmation bias is one of the biggest factors in determining whether or not you are able to sell your product. Not only does confirmation bias affect your customers, but it impacts the people in your marketing department as well. Navigating through both groups’ bias to produce a successful marketing effort can be challenging, but when done with skill, you’ll see greater sales and conversion rates.
 

Prospects and Leads

As you move people from one end of the pipeline towards the sale, there are instances where you can take advantage of confirmation bias from the very beginning.
 

The First Impression

When someone interacts with your brand for the first time, you are getting a one-time chance for someone to make an initial decision about you and your brand. In all likelihood, in the B2B space, this will be through social media or through content. Sometimes it is a combination of both.

Regardless, this is a critical moment. If your company is immediately too salesy in its online presence (or a sales rep is too pushy) then you can bet it will be that much harder to eventually sell your product. As soon as a prospect interacts with that and gets a sour taste in their mouth, they will be looking to reaffirm that poor opinion of your company.

That’s why web presence matter so much. If your company (or even individual employees) makes your company look bad, you’ll be fighting against that bad first impression. And it will be that much harder to win back their affections.

 

The Impact of Choice

After the first impression, especially a positive one, you’ll be guiding your prospect through a series of choices that will eventually lead them to the sale. The problem is, in all likelihood, you’ve forgotten to frame them as choices.

You see, a person’s confirmation bias gets stronger and stronger, depending on what choices they make. Whenever a person is conflicted about something, then makes a choice, their brain automatically goes to work justifying the decision. This reduces cognitive dissonance, or the feeling that we get when we hold two or more conflicting beliefs. It’s uncomfortable so our brains justify any decision by rationalizing it.

As a user inches down your funnel, they make a series of baby steps. If you can make each baby step feel like a choice, each time they take a step, they are reaffirming their decision to make the step. This in turn results in a person much more likely to buy, because they have already justified each interaction with your company thus far.

 

After the Sale

Even after the sale, there is room for utilizing confirmation bias. This comes in the form of customer referrals and testimonials.

Have your current customers perform either of these actions, and they’ll use it to quell their own cognitive dissonance and it will serve to reinforce their decision to buy.

Unless of course, they’re unhappy, in which case that will only reaffirm their iffy feelings about the product you sold them.

 

Internal Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias doesn’t just affect your target audience. It affects you, in your daily life and in your own marketing efforts. In fact, confirmation bias could be the reason so many companies are wasting resources on things that don’t work.
 

When Your Brain Says Yes and the Data Says No

We all make mistakes.

I can’t find the source of this quote but I see it getting passed around social media periodically.

“Don’t cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.”

And you made a lot of choices to continue making that mistake. That’s why it can be so hard to let go of a marketing tactic that clearly isn’t working. If your data shows that something isn’t working, don’t let your own bias override it. There’s a reason it isn’t working, and it won’t work, no matter how much you want it to.

Let it go.

 

Following the Pack

If you’re copying other marketing companies in an effort to achieve the same level of success as them, you should reconsider.

What works for one organization might not work for yours, no matter how much you want it to.

Make sure that your tactics follow a strategy designed for your organization. Otherwise, you’re marketing efforts will only be a crappy copy of someone else’s work. And that’s not effective.

 


 
Has confirmation bias helped or hindered your marketing? How so? Let us know in the comments section.
 


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Comments (3)

[…] readers a veritable buffet of options, it is more likely that they will click. This is because of confirmation bias. If readers feel like they have a choice, they are more likely to actually choose, because they […]

[…] likely they are to continue taking actions in favor of your brand. This is through the phenomena of confirmation bias, wherein your brain tries to justify every action to itself. It does this through a tendency to […]

[…] your audience is making decisions about how they feel about your brand. This in turn, because of confirmation bias, leads your audience down the sales […]

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