When we think about ways to improve our content strategy, we likely don’t think about neuroscience marketing; but, we should.
Content strategy is the development, planning, and management of content through various mediums. It is an important field in the design of user experiences and draws from related fields such as business analysis, information architecture, and technical communication. Neuroscience, sometimes also known as neurobiology, is a multidisciplinary branch of biology that encompasses the scientific study of the nervous system, the neurons, and neural circuits.
Two important aspects of the job of marketers and advertisers is figuring out what potential customers want and how to make people want their product, or turn their product into something that people want. Here are some ways that neuroscience marketing has made an impact on content strategy.
1. Use of emotions to stimulate the brain
When people are affected by intense emotions, brain activity greatly increases. If the emotion is positive, the brain wakes up and kicks into high gear so that we can enjoy the pleasure provided by that experience. If the emotion is negative our brains alert us so that we can determine how to best protect ourselves from the negative experience.
Marketers are making use of content that triggers strong emotions, both positive and negative so that the brain becomes more active and makes the customers more likely to pay attention to the content that is presented.
2. Feed into familiarity
The brain has a desire to derive comfort from situations that are consistent and familiar. The brain releases the pleasure-inducing chemical dopamine when we are presented with patterns that are familiar and desirable to us.
This is part of the reason why branding is so important and powerful in marketing: when your brand becomes familiar to people, the brain can provide pleasurable sensations. When creating content, marketers will make use of colors, fonts, images, patterns, and graphics that are recognizable to customers.
3. Play word games
Brains are built to process content quickly by basically predicting what comes next by tapping into the words and sentence constructions that we expect to be used next. This is why people can skim through information while still absorbing the central message of it.
So, when creating content, marketers want to manipulate language through unexpected phrasing, word choices, and sentence construction. When customers encounter strange phrasing in an otherwise familiar sentence, the brain “wakes up” and piques the interest of the reader. Marketers should play word games every now and then to leverage this aspect of the brain.
The easier it is for the brain to take hold of something when processing information, the more readily people will believe it and remember it. The use of acoustic encoding, better known as rhyming, is a great way for content marketers to tap into this natural ability.
Rhyming is a well-known method to enable memorization. One example of this is the ABC Song. When the sounds or words in your content rhyme and repeat, they capture the attention of the user and make it easy for the brain to store and recall them to memory. Not only that, but rhyming has been found to make people think statements are more believable. Such acoustic encoding has a great impact on people.
5. Pessimism bias
One of humanity’s innate behaviors is that of fearing and preparing for bad things to happen or pessimism bias. This innate tendency was of great benefit to our ancestors as they needed to protect themselves even more so in the savage past.
Although predatory dinosaurs and other prehistoric beasts are no longer something we must contend with, people’s brains still inherently overstate the likelihood of the possible impact bad outcomes in our lives could have so that we can prepare ourselves for them. Marketers make use of humanity’s natural pessimism in content marketing. Although you might wonder whether optimism is also a good trigger, it is actually less effective than pessimism. Having something bad happen packs more weight in the mind than something good.
In fact, these sentiments originate in opposite sides of the brain and cannot coexist in our brains at the same time. Advertisers continue to make great use of pessimism bias to tap into customers’ fears so that they are more motivated to take action.
6. The power of pain
One of the most interesting discussions in neuroscience is based around the discovery that people will respond more to pain, or the alleviation of it, than to pleasure. Traditionally, marketers have been urged to highlight the beneficial features of a product or service to motivate consumers to buy.
However, neuroscience shows the brain has a reaction to pain that is three times stronger than the reaction to pleasure. Customers are likely to be more attentive to something that would cause them pain than they would to that which would cause them pleasure. This shows that the best practice in marketing content would be focusing on how a service or product could prevent pain instead of sharing benefits.
Neuroscience has shed light on many aspects of human life. Now that it is being applied to content marketing and content strategy, marketers will be able to reach customers and potential customers at a more organic level.