You don’t need a crystal ball to reveal how people may react to your marketing efforts. A few insights from neuromarketing just might do the trick. But there are really no tricks involved.
Neuromarketing consists of research, testing, and tools that help break down the science behind why people engage with certain brands, content, and campaigns — while totally ignoring others.
This article gives you a rundown on:
- What neuromarketing is.
- Its evolution.
- How to use it to give your brand a boost.
What Neuromarketing Is
In the simplest terms, neuromarketing is the measurement of various neural and psychological signals that help you understand why people behave the way they do.
- What motivates them?
- What do they tend to like and dislike?
- How do they make decisions?
Traditional marketing research methods attempt to discover how people make decisions from a conscious viewpoint, using self-reporting tools like surveys. Yet self-reporting is not always accurate, especially when people aren’t always sure why they make their decisions.
Neuromarketing goes deeper, relying on a variety of different tools and technologies that observe brain activity and other signals to examine physiological responses to marketing efforts. These can include:
- Biometrics, like heart rate and respiration
- Galvanic skin response (GSR), which indicates the intensity of emotion based on changes in sweat gland activity
- Eye movement and pupil dilation
- Facial coding, which measures emotion through facial expressions
- Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) measures brain activity based on the increased blood flow to the brain areas experiencing activity
- Electroencephalogram (EEG) imaging, which measures the neuronal activity of the brain
As noted by Insight Demand CEO Michael Harris: “The decision to buy is made subconsciously, and these subconscious decisions are based on a deeply empirical mental processing system that follows a logic of its own.”
Part of neuromarketing’s goal is to get to the bottom of those decisions.
Neuromarketing first hit the scene around 2002, although it wasn’t taken all that seriously until several years later. While some marketers may have been quick to cheer about the practice, the academic world refused to hop on the bandwagon until serious research emerged.
The research has since become plentiful. So plentiful that it’s all too easy to get pulled down the neuromarketing rabbit hole, drowning in a deluge of information from academics and practitioners alike. A highly condensed neuromarketing timeline looks something like this:
- 2002: Early definition of neuromarketing and rundown of its possibilities and limits provided by Ale Smidts in an inaugural address at Erasmus University.
- 2008: Neuromarketing field stabilizes.
- 2012: The term “consumer neuroscience” is introduced as a possible replacement for “neuromarketing” to help emphasize the science involved in some of the approaches.
- 2022: The terms “consumer neuroscience” and “neuromarketing” are often used interchangeably, without the former negative connotations clouding the latter. Neuromarketing practices have become second nature for many marketers, accepted by academia, and even the focus of advanced degrees at universities across the globe.
How to Use Neuromarketing in Your Content Marketing
When it comes to using neuromarketing in your own content marketing, you’re certainly welcome to invest in tools, testing, and technology to conduct your studies. Or you can implement suggested marketing strategies and tactics based on existing research — which is definitely the easier, faster way to go.
It can also be one of the most effective ways to go if you get your tips from experts who are passionate about the impact of behavioral science on marketing. HBT Marketing cofounder Nancy Harhut is one of those experts, and these tips come from her “ABCs of Persuasive Messaging” presentation at WriterAccess Academy.
She notes how the human brain has developed decision-making shortcuts or automatic, instinctive responses that help us deal with the massive amounts of information we’re forced to process every day.
Content marketers can trigger those automatic behaviors, resulting in higher levels of engagement, conversions, and sales. While her presentation dives into details behind 26 different tips, we’re delivering a quick rundown on 10 suggestions.
We’re taught to respect and obey authority from an early age, and savvy marketers can use this to give their products, services, and brands a layer of credibility.
- Get testimonials from experts in your field.
- Ask an authority to back your product or service, such as the U.S. Ski Team wearing your ski apparel.
- Have an industry leader write the intro for your book or a review for the book jacket.
Power words are golden in marketing, stirring up a response more often than not. Two of these words are:
- Because: Gives people a reason they should do something (and often has them agreeing the minute they hear the word before even knowing what the reason is).
- Guarantee: Takes away the risk, removes a major point of friction.
Eye Magnet Words
Eye magnet words draw the human eye like a magnet, making people look without even thinking about it. They include:
The less available something is, the more we want it. It’s human nature. It’s also the reason the word “secret” is an eye magnet word. We’re excited — and persuaded — by the idea of the information that has limited availability.
When things are available for a limited time or in limited quantities, it creates a sense of urgency. We just have to have it now!
- Create limited-time offers: For a short time only.
- Mention limited availability: Only three left and it’s in two people’s carts.
People are more motivated to avoid the pain of loss than they are to achieve the pleasure of gain. No kidding. That’s because we feel losses twice as hard as we feel gains.
- Use phrases like: Don’t miss out!
- Remind people their loyalty points, coupon codes, or special deals are expiring soon!
Speaking of pain, deals help alleviate the pain of shelling out money, and the brain says the pain is real. The same part of your brain that’s active when you’re in physical pain is the same part that’s active when you have to pay out money.
- Avoid words like: cost, pay, price, spend.
- Be careful where you put your coupon code box at checkout.
When people are purchasing a product and see an obvious coupon code box — and they don’t have a coupon — they often end up leaving the purchase page and never coming back.
New and Novel Things
We humans absolutely love new and novel things. When we find something we think is new, it activates the pleasure center in our brain. That’s why we’re constantly looking for the next new thing — the next bright and shiny object.
- Highlight anything new in your organization.
- Find a new slant, a new way of looking at an old thing.
- Use words that stir up fresh excitement: new, now, introducing, announcing, finally, soon.
People are more interested in and persuaded by things that remind us of ourselves. And nothing reminds us of ourselves more than our own name. As Nancy mentioned in her presentation, people are more likely to donate to a hurricane fund if the hurricane’s name has the same first letter as their name.
- Personalize email subject lines and salutations
- Add personalization to the body of the email
- Use a person’s name as well as their location and other details that make them feel special
Questions pull people in, especially in headlines and tweets. Just make sure you don’t ask a simple yes or no question or you risk immediately losing anyone who answers no. You can also use questions to approach topics that people typically don’t like to think about, like saving money.
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how badly does your marketing suck?
- How many people have opened a retirement account by your age?
The first question goes beyond the simple yes or no. The second opens a tough conversation about saving money by arousing curiosity.
Rational and Emotional
Neuromarketing tells us that people make decisions for emotional reasons and then later justify it to themselves and others with rational reasons. That’s why savvy marketing delivers a mix of both the emotional and sensible.
- Tap into emotions with phrases like: Be the presenter everyone listens to.
- Deliver the rationale with phrases like: Being well-prepared to give a polished presentation keeps you composed and ready for any audience at any time.
Summing It Up
Neuromarketing is not only intriguing, but it’s also becoming more important for the modern content marketer. As it becomes tougher and tougher to compete for attention amidst all the noise, it’s essential to find ways to engage your audience. Paying attention to the brain’s decision-making shortcuts and other automatic behaviors may be one way to keep that engagement alive.
And if you’re still not sure if it works, try putting one of the handy tips into use with the next piece of content you write. Don’t miss out on these savvy tactics. You owe it to your brand to give them a whirl because they could really boost your marketing. Another way to boost your content marketing is with the talent, training, and tools on the WriterAccess platform. Explore them now with a free trial.