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In blind faith – about our brain, conversion, and the group feeling

How do you digitally create trust?

In blind faith

about our brain, conversion, and group feeling

We can rely on our feelings to make sure no one is trying to fools us. Or so we think. But like every other sense, there are ways to consciously induce or influence confidence. It is well known that online reviews are an important and effective tool when it comes to trust. But why is that?

If we go way back to the core of our brain, it leads to the instincts that we have inherited from our ancestors. Our impulsive emotions can be reduced to two basic feelings: something feels good, or feels bad. We are programmed to always pursue the good feeling and thus avoid the bad. In prehistoric times, this could indeed mean the difference between life and death.

The confidentiality function

We all have inherited brain functions that focus on social behaviour. In prehistoric times, when we saw a tribesman fleeing, it was a sign for us to quickly do the same. Those wo stayed ran a high risk of ending as a main course for a predator. When we came across a bush with berries, that we were not sure were poisonous or not, if your neighbour was eating them without any signs of worry, you could help yourself comfortably as well. So trusting our peers has always played a crucial role in survival.

Do not forget that any intangible sensation is caused by physical processes that are controlled by the brain. The physical difference between trust and confidence is interesting, because these two psychological states are both feelgoods, yet there is an essential difference between the physical origin and consequence of the two.

Confidence has a selfish character. It is related to the neurotransmitter dopamine. This is an excitatory neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and desire. When you receive a compliment, dopamine is released. So the compliment leads to a euphoric sense of confidence, which is quite addictive. Dopamine therefore ensures that you will always long for more of that trigger.

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Mutual trust is completely the opposite. With mutual trust we mean trust in another party, a social state. The neurotransmitter that is involved in this context is mainly serotonin, but also the ‘cuddle’ hormone oxytocin plays a role. These substances are more passive than dopamine and provide a sense of contentment and harmony.

The beauty is that whereas dopamine gives a brief shot of pleasure, serotonin and oxytocin achieve a longer lasting effect. It ensures that there is a lasting emotional bond developed with the cause’. On the one hand, serotonin makes sure that you dare to put trust in the other party, while oxytocin then rewards you with a blissful feeling of togetherness.

Seeking confirmation

For marketers, this penchant for happy-substances is good news. Making a new purchase already produces dopamine. The potential customer just needs a little push, so that their choice will be your product. As consumers, we want to be tempted, and we are actively seeking confirmation that this is okay. And this is where our peers come back into play.

On the one hand, word-of-mouth is still the most effective form of promotion. But on the other hand, we use blind faith when we follow our peer’s recommendation of a product. The effect is further enhanced because people find it great to provide others with advice and even take the role of group leader (for the advice-giver serotonin comes free). It’s therefore not strange that sharing messages on social media is such a popular activity. Although we like to assume some form of authority, we also like to share a bit of our personality with the world.

Confidence in a digital age

Now a large part of our life takes place online – our peer group has become gigantic. Interestingly we are programmed to equally trust these anonymous group members as strongly as friends and family. Research from 2015 found that 80 percent of us value on online reviews as much as recommendations from friends. Authenticity is therefore a condition.

In this way online reviews take a key role in digital marketing. If you assume the fact that clients are actively seeking confirmation, you can imagine how powerful an online product review can be. And you don’t need to fear that negative reviews deter. As long as you have an adequate and visible (!) solution to the problem for the dissatisfied customers, a new prospect only sees confirmation of what he craves.

Strategically placing online reviews can instantly help increase your conversions in this way. In addition, the ratings must still be organically integrated into the purchasing process. It is also important to demonstrate that the reviews are honest. An excess, or placement on a separate page may not work in the right way.

Who is ‘the other’?

One big misconception that the trust of your potential customers can get in the way, is the repertoires of Us/Them. We are talking about mutual trust and group members. But ask the next question yourself: The other party, is that the ‘co-consumer’ or is it you as a company?

“Not online online reviews play a part.”

n your communication you have the opportunity to position yourself as a team-mate. Provide an open and relaxed dialogue. By offering reviews, product ratings and solutions when needed, you step into that role of advising fellow tribesman. Thanks to transparency and interaction with serotonin, you build a lasting relationship with your audience. You yourself become a participant in the purchasing process of the customer. And in this way you hold the key to increase your conversions yourself.

Ultimately blind faith is not a matter of naivety, but we are happy to let ourselves be tempted by it.


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