Terry Corbell, The Biz Coach
By Terry Corbell
Business Consultant

Web Site ‘Priming’ – 6 Tips That Will Help You Succeed



If you want to increase your odds for Internet success, you might consider priming your Web site. Priming is a method to motivate users to make decisions when they visit your site.

I gather the term was coined by the inventor of a testing tool that enables Web-site owners to obtain reactions to their sites.

Writing in Website Magazine –  Paul Veugen, the CEO and founder of Usabilla – indicates site priming provides users with “direct and indirect cues online that can unconsciously nudge them into making different decisions down the line.

“The next time you visit the supermarket and see a product from an ad, these positive memories are triggered and they leave you with a positive attitude towards the product,” Mr. Veugen writes.

Laptop at meeting Free Photo“If you need to choose between a hundred different types of yogurt brands, you are most likely going to go for the one that gives you a positive feeling,” he adds.

“Priming does not work by forcing a decision upon your customers, but you can use it as a means to effectively support their decisions,” he explains.

Interesting observation.

Here’s an edited version of his six suggested primes:

1. Colors

Colors have different meanings and can be used to prime emotions. You can color your background or only specific elements like buttons or content areas, for example.

Be aware of your target group and their understanding of colors and the emotions they elicit.

For more information, see the article Marketing Psychology: Choose the Best Colors for Online Sales, which includes a great infographic with 40 facts on the psychology of colors.

2. Text

Text can also be used as a prime, of course. Include the exact wording of your menu items in your content and build a nice story around them, for example.

Then when customers look around your site, the primed menu item will lead their thoughts back to your story — which makes elements of the story accessible.

“Priming does not work by forcing a decision upon your customers, but you can use it as a means to effectively support their decisions,”

3. Metaphors

Use metaphors that refer to information to help your customers make a decision. For example, imagine you try to sell vacation trips.

You could use the metaphor of a shell to trigger positive emotions like sun, beach, palm trees, ocean, waves, relaxation, etc.

4. Images

Use pictures to prime your customers. These pictures can either be in the background or a central element of your webpage.

You can prime emotions that come with the purchase of your product or you can prime a desirable action that requires the purchase of your product, for example.

Both times, you trigger memories that might only be distantly related to your product, as a way to guide your customers’ decisions.

5. Video

Use videos to prime a whole process of actions. Showing the sign-up process with the different steps involved will make it easier for your customers to sign up, for example.

Different memories related to a sign-up process will be accessible that help to make the right choice.

Besides, when your customers see the sign up button, the process of signing up will be more accessible to them than it would be without the prime.

6. Audio

Include audio on your website to prime any action you want your customers to engage in.

Make sure that you don’t tell your customers what to do, but rather give them the idea that they figured it out themselves.

“The emotional perception and elements that refer to emotions are important primes when it comes to the perception of your site,” Mr. Veugen explains. “And for the rest, be creative! Anything that activates information in the minds of your customers can be used as prime.”

He writes priming and subliminal messages aren’t synonymous. “The two are related, but subliminal messaging includes ‘hidden’ primes and is considered by many to be an unethical marketing practice,” he asserts. “Besides, not much research can be found to prove that subliminal messaging really works.

“…Priming includes visual or at least sensible primes that can be identified, such as pictures or odors. These primes should be context-sensitive and part of your website design.”

To see more about Mr. Veugen and his offerings: www.usabilla.com.

From the Coach’s Corner, suggested reading:

Why it’s Never Too Early to Plan for Q4 E-commerce — It’s never to early to get ready ASAP for Q4 online sales. Why? A study of e-commerce released in 2012 covering from November 24 to December 24, 2011, discloses some secrets you might need to know. MerchantTribe.com reports shoppers are buying more items daily in the holiday shopping season, but the size of the typical order soon decreases significantly.

How Small Businesses Can Profit from Cyber Strategies — Yes, it’s become important for small businesses to capitalize on cyber strategies for profit. Small and even regional retailers should be cognizant of three realities.

SEO and Other Strategic Tips for a No.1 Rated Blog — To own your blogging niche, you must understand the evolving process — important basics in search engine optimization (SEO) and other strategies. If you’ve been blogging for awhile, you know success doesn’t keep come automatically. Blogging is arduous work.

11 Sales Strategies to Outsell Your Big Competitors — Big companies have obvious advantages over small businesses. Their brands are well-known. They can afford sales training, sales-support staff and customer-relationship management software. On the other hand, there are good reasons why Cyber Monday has become big.

“In business you get what you want by giving other people what they want.”

-Alice MacDougall


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.