At the core of every marketing campaign is what drives consumers to react the way they do. Neuromarketing looks at the neuroscience behind customer responses to particular efforts. Sometimes, the way people say they respond to marketing is not the same way they do subconsciously, and this process assesses these differences.
U.S. businesses spend around $104.8 billion per year on advertising — more money than in any other country. Small companies might not have as big of a budget as the largest spender in the country (Comcast). However, they must ensure their money is spent wisely if they wish to see results.
Neuromarketing gives you a chance to look at the thought processes of your buyers from the inside. It uses specific tools and data gathering techniques to better you know your target audience. This makes it easier to market to them.
Tools of Neuromarketers
There are some specific tools available to marketers that allow them to study the brains of consumers. You’ve probably read about eye tracking studies, which show what part of a website humans look at first and where they spend most of their time on the page. Other neuroscience indicators include functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), facial coding and the electroencephalogram (EEG).
Practical Neuromarketing Efforts
Even though using advanced scientific efforts to figure out what consumers think is advantageous, it is also expensive and time-consuming. Fortunately, there are some more practical ways of implementing neuromarketing into regular efforts without spending a fortune.
1. Use Current Research
When you can’t afford to conduct your own research, you can learn from that of others. For example, pull up eye-tracking studies conducted by researchers and learn about the placement of certain elements on your website for the best user experience (UX).
If human eyes always track to the upper left of the page first, this is where the most important information should be placed. Most western readers look at a page in a Z pattern, starting in the top left corner, moving right, skipping diagonally down the page and then reading left to right again. Figure out the best visual hierarchy for each page of your site, placing important information in hot locations.
2. Find Alternative Methods
You can learn a lot about the way people think by studying their behavior patterns. Heat maps allow you to see where the user hovers on your page, which shows the person is stopping and considering that feature. It doesn’t tell you exactly what the person thinks as they study a logo or a Contact Us button, but it shows which areas are hovered over most.
Study internal links as well. Which ones do users click on, and which ones do they avoid? Can you replace unpopular links with better choices or remove them to narrow the selection?
3. Try Sensory Marketing
In retail establishments, marketers utilize sensory marketing and influence shoppers through the use of touch, sound, smell and sight. Smelling a candle, for example, creates an emotional connection for some people as they remember their favorite day at the beach or Grandma’s apple pie. Small changes in a store also impact the shopping experience, such as the type of music you play or even the lighting on different displays.
It’s difficult to know what works for different types of shoppers. Your best bet is trying out various methods you think might work with your typical customer and then adapting the sensory stimuli over time.
4. Use Psychological Tricks
Part of neuromarketing is figuring out how the mind works and using techniques to tap into your target audience. For example, with pricing, remove the dollar sign and use a smaller font for displaying prices. Experts recommend you use a couple of tactics on the same item and see how well they work before adding other elements, such as ending the price in a nine, adding visual contrast and bundling the cost of several related items.
Other tricks play on the way the average mind works and guide consumers toward the behaviors you want. You can stay up-to-date on the latest research by searching “neuromarketing studies” on Google Scholar and subscribing to magazines on neuromarketing. The psychology of marketing shifts from year to year, so stay updated on changes and try different techniques as they make sense to your brand.
5. Create Content From the Heart
Studies show stories told from the heart create an emotional connection for the reader, and they respond to your call to action. In one study, researchers looked at audio versus video to see which created more user engagement. The study showed users reacted more strongly to the narrative story than the video, feeling almost as though they experienced the event in the storyteller’s place. However, tapping into the buyer’s emotions requires more than simply reciting words. You must tell a story the user cares about and get into personal details listeners relate to.
6. Become Trustworthy
Users process your business model through their brain and make an immediate decision on whether you seem reliable or not. However, the trust factor works on a subconscious level they may not be aware of. Some of the things users consider before deciding whether or not to trust you include how professional your site looks, what types of payments you take, and if there is detailed contact information and any form of guarantee.
In one case study of payment methods, researchers used MRIs to see neural effects as participants make online purchases. They found people believed secure payment methods were far more trustworthy than simply sharing debit card information or checking account info. If you want to be seen as more trustworthy, ramp up your website’s design, add trust authentication — such as membership in the BBB and contact info — and add multiple payment methods so users have a choice.
Where Neuroscience Takes Us in the Future
Neuroscience already shows marketers the unique way the human mind works online and in retail stores. As scientists perfect how they understand shoppers’ thought processes, expect more businesses to use neuromarketing. In the meantime, gain a lead on the competition by tapping into the way your target audience thinks and giving them what they want in your advertising methods.