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The Psychology of the Halo Effect and The wonders it does for a Startup Business

No, a halo effect is not when the moon has a ring around it. Nor is it when friends start playing halo every Wednesday night after watching the Big Bang Theory reruns.

So, what is it?

After starting out in a garage in the 70’s and working its way to the top, Apple’s main aim was to deliver quality products and the ultimate user experience. After making a great sales impact with the Mac and the iPod, many were worried that the iPad would not have the same response.

However, most consumers bought the product simply because they trusted the brand. Soon the iPad became crazy in demand, setting a record sales of 11.12 million tablets sold by the end of 2011. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the halo effect.


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In simple words, a halo effect is when a customer forms a certain perspective towards a product on the basis of its experience with another product from the same business. Consumers form certain cognitive biases towards products, thus making them react in a certain way.

Why does it matter?

The halo effect can be taken in both negative and positive aspects. Picture this. A consumer is like a high school plastic (the totally awesome social divas from Mean Girls). When it comes to shopping, all they want to do is find the perfect product that makes their lives better and make them totally happy! Now, if a consumer buys the product and happens to like it, it thinks, “hey, this product is totally awesome. This company must make other awesome products too!”

This certain level of trust allows them to make the choice of buying other products a business has to offer based on that one product’s consumer experience. And if it doesn’t, well then you can expect them to shun the product and anything remotely linked to it and you can expect half the high school doing the same.While this may seem like a shallow thought to most people, it works wonders for those who know how to use it.


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Ever wondered why trailers for Pixar’s upcoming movies usually state “from the makers that brought you Finding Nemo, Toy Story, Whatever Other Pixar Classic Hits…”? Ever seen those movies because you liked the classic hits? If you just answered ‘yes’ to both those questions then you know what I’m talking about.

The halo effect was developed in 1920, by psychologist Edward Thorndike, in reference to being perceived by another as if having a halo around you. In his paper, Thorndike determined how the ratings of one characteristic of a person, such as personality, intelligence, loyalty, etc., has an effect on the other characteristics.

Researchers have dug deep into the phenomenon to find out why this bias exists. Some state attractiveness could play a major role in contributing towards the bias.

There are many studies that show where people think good looking persons are also nice and smart. Once, a study was conducted where most jurors were less likely to believe that good looking defendants were guilty.


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However, this stereotype also has a double standard to it. With a major thanks to White Collar, good looking people are now perceived as dishonest, vain and downright untrustworthy. But no matter how you look at things, it is true when they say a positive halo effect around your business could be very profitable.

Why do you care?

The effect causes consumers to make rapid decisions. Because they see one product in a positive way, they automatically think they know the other product too because it belongs to the same business.  The effect can influence organizations, products or even webpages. If the users like one aspect of your website, chances are they will come again because they have had a good experience.

However, if they had a troubled experience using your website then they might not revisit because they feel like it might happen again. Even if the site has been later modified and made better, they still might be reluctant to come back due to the negative impression they already have in their minds.

A very common example of this is when consumers have problems in setting up their accounts online. Once they give up, it’s highly unlikely that they will try again.

How can you make good use of it?

The trick to using the halo effect isn’t really rocket science. If you be good, people will automatically want to engage with you. It can do wonders for your business, if you play your cards right. Here’s a few tips you can use to polish your halo and make it shine even brighter.

Make your website more appealing to the reader – remember prom when all the pretty girls got the most asks and the not so pretty ones were not so much? It’s a lot like that. A good looking website will generate more traffic which increases your potential leads and helps visitors stay longer. Make it interesting, with cool themes and great color schemes.

You can personalize your site to show more about what your business is, how important it is to the world and what it does that makes it so awesome. Make sure it is neat and easy to read so that visitors don’t have a problem staring at their screens for longer than they should. Sober themes are more reader friendly. Loud themes can strain their eyes.


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Tell them how good you are – Do you do anything to make this world a better place? Help charitable organizations? Save animals? Spread happiness? Let them know! Telling people that you have done something good or are engaged in any healthy positive activities, people will like you.
Success stories are a great way of letting people know what you have done, and is great content in many areas, like the about us page or even your blog. When people see that you are a positive influence in their society, they will want to know more about your business and explore the website further. This should help generate leads.


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We recommend you post original content – Visitors are pretty smart okay. If they realize your content is even slightly copied they will run… and fast! In order to bring in more traffic you need to make sure that your content is 100% authentic and fresh.

It also helps in establishing the credibility for the business, enhances your social media strategy, improves your SEO and gets your visitor’s attention!


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There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to using the halo effect as your marketing strategy. All that matters is your business’ image in the customer’s eyes. It is better to always stay in their good books. However, the halo effect can be helpful when measuring your site.

When a visitor drops off at any point in the site it could be because of a poor impression on the visitor because of design or content or anything else, and so changes can be made to prevent it.

However,eCopyDesk can make the halo effect work for you. If you want us to help keep your site neat, attractive and real, send us an email and we’ll get right to it!

About the author / Aisha Khalid

Aisha Khalid is a content marketer who writes about conversion optimization and copywriting. Some would say she is obsessed with optimization techniques that take meh content and transform it into something that readers can gobble up. She’s on a mission to stomp out all corporate, boring speak giving way to words that actually matter.

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