How Neuroscience Powers Marketing
Can a product or business name boost or limit sales? How does the brain prefer simple instead of complicated information without conscious awareness?
One study looked at how three-letter company stock symbols performed within the first 6 months. Researchers found that easy-to-pronounce letter combinations, like KAR, did better than unpronounceable symbols like XBR. The brain recognizes combinations of letters as words and struggles with hard-to-pronounce combinations.
Fast vs. Slow Thinking
Princeton psychologist Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize winner in Economics, has narrowed the decision-making process in the brain to fast and slow thinking. That makes things easier to grasp and use when considering marketing strategies. Marketing is all about persuade customers to make favorable decisions.
The human brain is incredibly complicated. It is made up of multiple subsystems that interact to enable everything we do and think about. Understanding consumers’ decision-making has a direct impact on marketing products and services. It reveals the secrets on how we decide what to buy. Fast thinking takes place unconsciously, while slow thinking engages reasoning and analysis. A purchase decision depends on both ways of thinking. Understanding when and how these two ways of thinking are activated is essential.
- How Does the Brain Make 95% of Decisions? – When making most decisions, we act almost instantly and unconsciously. The part of the brain involved with that is called the limbic system. It involves several parts of the brain, including the brain stem, hypothalamus, amygdala and hippocampus. These, along with the cerebellum, make up the most primitive part of our brain. The limbic system is essential to our survival. Emotions, instincts, automatic body functions and our deepest memories are handled here. 95% of our daily decisions are made by fast thinking unconsciously, without our realizing it.Most impulse buying is dictated by this thinking mode.
- How Does the Brain Reason and Calculate? – The cerebral cortex, the largest part of the human brain, is what separates humans from other mammals. While all mammals have a cerebral cortex, it is far larger and complex in humans. It communicates with the limbic system. Anytime we actively think about decisions or weigh options, we engage this way of thinking. This complex part of the brain has areas that perform a wide range of functions. As we think, compare, calculate, and reason, we call on memory, visual cues, our senses, and our logical processes. Slow thinking is used when our intellects guide us.However, the human brain only switches to this thinking mode when it has to. When consumers purchase a high-priced product or service, it takes the slow, analytical thinking to make the decision, which can come after days, weeks or months.
MRI Reveals Secrets of the Thinking Brain
Recently, functional Magnetic Resonant Imaging or fMRI, lets researchers visualize parts of the brain while making decisions. Neuroscientists use fMRI to visualize what parts of the brain are active in different situations. More active portions of the brain light up on fMRI displays, due to increased blood flow. What has been discovered during decision making in the brain has revolutionized our understanding on how consumers choose what products and services to buy.
- What Important Clues Did fMRI Research Reveal about Decisions Involving Money – In one example of this, scientists studied brain function in a situation where subjects could decide to receive a small amount of money immediately, or possibly more money later. The immediate reward activated fast-thinking. Calculating the later rewards activated slow-thinking. The more complicated the calculations required, the more likely the person would decide to take the immediate reward. This demonstrates that fast-thinking is active when immediate action is taken and shows that people often act to choose the instant reward. The marketing lesson is that getting people to act quickly should use simple cues that trigger the fast-thinking process.If calculations are required, slower thinking comes into play and delays the decision.
- What Your Customers See on Your Website Affects What They Buy – Eye-tracking technology is used to research behavior when people look at information on a computer monitor, mobile device or other display. It records eye movement to create an image showing where people look and how long their eyes linger on specific areas. Eye movements reflect unconscious brain activity. The distinctive patterns that were observed again and again offer crucial clues for how a website should be designed. Neuro web design, guided by eye-movement patterns, can immediately catch new visitors’ attention.Unless web designers know about and use this insight, they can’t take advantage of our neuroscience knowledge in marketing.
- What Messages Do Consumers Respond to Most Strongly? – By creating experimental situations and conducting surveys, it’s possible to determine whether fast or slow thinking is used to make a wide range of decisions. How do consumers respond discount offers? Is “$200 Off” more enticing than “20% Off?” How does a “Free Offer” active the pleasure center of the brain? Why do customers buy more than they need just to have the “Free Shipping?” How does emotion affect buying behavior? How does the color scheme of your website influence its lead generation? What cues trigger more confidence in your future customers? Neuroscience takes the guesswork out of what works and doesn’t for online marketing.
Applying Neuroscience in Web Design, SEO and PPC
Although much has been learned about how the human brain makes decisions, interpreting that scientific research isn’t simple. Just using a few tips found on a neuromarketing blog won’t get effective results. Instead, consumer neuroscience concepts must be used throughout websites, SEO, social media and PPC marketing campaigns. Major internet corporations hire experienced neuroscientists and psychologists to guide implementation of neuromarketing. Finding a neuromarketing company that specializes in neuro web design, AdWords PPC and search engine optimization will make your business stay ahead of the competition. An internet marketing firm operated by neuroscientists can help any company use these strategies to dramatically increase lead generation and sales.