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How the brain views landing pages and emails

Author: Katie Hart

Date: 21 Feb 2021


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How the brain views landing pages and emails

What makes landing pages successful?

How can you present important content in a way which is likely to increase engagement and, critically, conversions?

I was asked by Spotler UK (then Communigator) to investigate the activity within brains of people as they visit landing pages, and as they receive emails offering information.

“We wanted a bit of research that’s not been done before, and to show Spotler in a light of – I don’t really like the word ‘thought leadership’ – but doing something new, different and innovative, that helps or improves our marketing and our industry.”

Simon Moss
Simon Moss

Marketing Director


We worked together to design a research experiment, which would explore the impact of format on the brain. We used electroencephalography (EEG) to record and analyse the way the brain responded to the different layouts and formats we presented. The research was conducted among Spotler customers, and in all 87 participants (45 male and 42 female) took part from 14 different companies. We investigated 19 different landing page layouts, and 9 different email layouts. And what did we discover?

Small differences

The results of the research powerfully demonstrated that small changes create big differences within our brains. In fact, at its top level, the formats which came in first place and last place, only differed by the position of the CTA button. Everything else was identical.

Conscious vs subconscious responses

We also discovered that the layouts people said they liked, were not the ones their brains liked. Hmmmm, so we had two different responses – what they reported to us that they liked, and what their physiological responses told us they liked. But which was the true version? From the split tests we ran alongside the experiment, we could see that the physiological responses aligned with what people actually did when given the opportunity to engage with these layouts in real-world situations. This accurately reflects what I have seen on numerous occasions before, that our subconscious physiological responses are the more accurate predictor of human behaviour than what we report consciously.

People in images

We got some interesting results regarding the use of images on landing pages too. People responded differently to an image showing a male from the image showing a female. The male they found interesting and quite comfortable to look at. However, the female they found stressful and challenging. And when an image was used which contained a group of people (you know how some people do that to try and ensure they cover all bases in terms of gender, age, ethnicity etc?) the brain was focusing so much on the different people contained within in the image, that the content and effectively the marketing message, got completely lost.


Despite seeing a number of different, and in some cases very visually stimulating, email formats, the one which people’s brains liked and engage with best, was the good ‘ole standard Outlook format. However, this was not unanimous. Those participants who were more senior or had been in businesses for a longer amount of time powerfully preferred it. However the more junior workers and the interns did not. So, again it comes down to really knowing and understanding who you are trying to communicate with.

“This was a great thing to be able to do. From a marketing point of view, it’s not just that one report; it gives us a lot of content to use, over the year. We can reuse it in blogs, in webinars, videos, case studies and testimonials. It is what we call in the marketing world an ‘evergreen’ piece of content. It will last for a fair few years, rather than being a time-sensitive piece.”

Simon Moss
Simon Moss

Marketing Director

For full details of the research and to obtain a copy of the report, please visit the Spotler page.


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