Importance of Retroactive Interference for Content Marketing

By Marianne Chrisos - Last Updated on April 8, 2019
Importance of Retroactive Interference for Content Marketing

What’s the secret to a winning content strategy? Most marketers and customers will tell you that personalization and audience segmentation are key, and this has proved to mostly be an effective strategy of reaching the right audience with the right messaging at the right time. More personalized, custom content means that businesses are providing relevant messages that help educate their customers and also provide resources beyond just making a sale. For some, the secrete behind effective content marketing is retroactive interference. Here’s why.

What is retroactive interference?

According to Wikipedia, retroactive interference is a theory about how memory works., saying, “Interference occurs in learning; it is the notion that memories encoded in long-term memory (LTM) are forgotten, and cannot be retrieved into short-term memory (STM) effectively due to either memory interfering, or hampering, one another…Retroactive interference is the interference of newer memories with the retrieval of older memories. In other words, subsequently learned of memories directly contributes to the forgetting of previously learned memories…retroactive interference may have larger effects because of the fact that there is not only competition involved, but also unlearning.”

For example, you probably remember your child’s 4th-grade teacher’s name better than your own 4th-grade teacher’s name. You’ll remember your new work password more accurately than the one you used for your last job. This is how retroactive interference works.

How retroactive interference is related to your content marketing strategy

So how does this apply to content marketing? One content blogger puts it like this:

“Content marketer has the uphill task of making people unlearn things unconsciously. For instance, following a crisis, instead of writing articles about the crisis, a company’s PR team tries to assuage the effect of crisis by regularly sending out positive articles, updates, and messages. Over time, most people tend to forget the crisis as the newly acquired knowledge takes over. This is a case of unconscious unlearning…instead of trying to make your audience remember your content, try to make them forget what they previously learned. Don’t tell them how to do it right and risk of being preachy and boring. Instead, show them how they might goof up or have already, and they will sit up and take notice.”

So the next question is obviously, “How?” How can a business be relevant enough to make them forget something and retain this new information instead?

1. Graphics

Brains love pictures. Using visual representations in your marketing is a way to get more people to remember you. Creating cartoons or infographics for your article, blog post, or other content piece makes it much more interesting to consumers (and more sharable on social, helping your brand reach even more people organically).

2. Repetition

Repeating yourself may be annoying, but it’s still one of the best ways to ensure that people remember your message. You don’t have to needlessly repeat your message in one email – certain content marketing strategies are great for less instructive repetition. If you’re launching a new product, for instance, you can send out an email that tells customers why they should even be considering a solution like the one you have. A follow-up email shares all the research, features, and benefits associated with your product. A third email directs them to the product page or to contact your company. Lead nurturing like that is a mindful way of using repetition. Large ad buys for commercials and radio are another form of repetition.

You want customers to remember you, not your competitors. It’s likely they will choose your product if your marketing was the last they were exposed to or exposed to the most. Make sure you are creating campaigns that are meant to be memorable and create retroactive interference that benefits your business.

Marianne Chrisos

Marianne Chrisos | Born in Salem, Massachusetts, growing up outside of Chicago, Illinois, and currently living near Dallas, Texas, Marianne is a content writer at a company near Dallas and contributing writer around the internet. She earned her master's degree in Writing and Publishing from DePaul University in Chicago and has worked in publishing, advertising, digital marketing, and content strategy.

Marianne Chrisos

Marianne Chrisos | Born in Salem, Massachusetts, growing up outside of Chicago, Illinois, and currently living near Dallas, Texas, Marianne is a content writer at a c...

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