How can Content Marketers Leverage Neuroscience?

Nov 21st, 2016 Marketing, SEO

No matter the target audience – potential customers, the press or the analysts – a content marketing campaign is always hyper-focused on leaving a lasting impression. You surely remember Coca-Cola’s timeless "I'd like to buy the world a Coke" ad, or the more recent, but nevertheless classic “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign. Both of these ads reveal one thing – the need to be as memorable as possible is key driver of creativity in our little industry.

Unsurprisingly, the latest research in behavior and neuroscience is helping marketers and content creators around the world produce content that increases engagement, conversions, and most importantly – be memorable. But capturing someone’s attention (even mine and yours) is now harder than ever. You see, the attention span of the notoriously ill-focused goldfish is around 9 seconds, however, according to new findings from Microsoft, humans now lose concentration after only 8 seconds.

The Atkinson–Shiffrin Model

But no matter how short our attention spans are, you can still captivate your audience, but in order to do that you have to understand the mechanics of memory building. And while memory creation is still arguable, most discussions, however, revolve around the Atkinson–Shiffrin Model. And this model contains four distinctive phases:

Phase 1 - Perception

In the first phase, a person experiences the world and the environment at the moment and any stimuli a person gets enters the memory for a brief period of time. That short-termed memory either ends here or evolves to the next step.

Phase 2 - Working Memory

If a person is able to keep a thing or two in mind for more than a few seconds, their mind is using its working memory. Way back in 1956, psychologist George Miller discovered that this lets people memorize up to 7 random digits.

Phase 3 - Consolidation

Interestingly, most of us can store different thing for later recalls in our long-term memories. Many things impact this, for instance, how long can we keep things in our working memory, how frequently an experience occurs, and how comparable it is to our other memories. 

Phase 4 - Retrieval

Finally, this is the process of remembering something – a person does this either actively (remembering where you left your phone) or at the prompt of retrieval cues (if you ask someone for the name of the first president, George Washington” will probably come to their mind).

Using Simple Fonts

This point is rather intuitive – articles and headlines that are harder to read, require more focus, something that most of your readers do not have, as we established earlier. When readers find something harder to engage with, they are simply less likely to connect with it. A study from the University of Michigan reveals that there are underlying psychological effects – most readers associate a font’s readability with the text itself. So when something is easy to read it basically becomes associated with ease-of-use. So when users are presented with a hard-to-read font, they associate the article with inaccessibility.

Attention-Grabbing Headlines

When writing a headline, most writers like to play on common figures of speech – for instance, instead of “Home, Sweet Home”, when writing about the Internet of Things, some writers would use a phrase such as “Home, Smart Home”. If you start writing those kinds of headlines you have to make sure that the wordplay is at the end, because it is more likely to grab the reader’s attention.

There are numerous tools out there like BlogSpot’s Topic Generator that can help you with generate topics. On the other hand, you can hire a content marketing agency, work closely with their writers at the beginning of your campaign and learn from them.

The Beginning and the End

Once you captivate your audience with a powerful headline, you need to focus on a couple of key points at the very beginning of your article, and then reiterate them at the end. A great example of this is a Super Bowl’s “Little Darth Vader” ad from five years ago. 

If you watch the video, you will immediately notice that at the beginning, the ad grabs the viewer’s attention with a kid dressed up as Darth Vader. But the ending is the icing on the cake because the little Vader actually believes that it was him who started his dad’s car.


The main goal of the so-called neuromarketing is to predict which advertisements will get a better response and lead to most sales, before they are even released on the market. In some cases, neuroscience is just used as an empty ploy aimed at consumers.

For instance, you have a 2015 Porsche ad that seemingly showed an experiment, which suggested that our brain reacts similarly to driving a car and lying a fighter jet. However, it was later revealed that all pictures were computer-generated, that the scientist was an actor, and that all measurements were simply impossible

The reality is – this is still too close to science fiction. But this is also a serious research area and there is much to be gained by paying attention to the brain of your consumers.

Just remember, although neuroscience is a complicated field, some studies can help you understand how the brain works, and help you create more memorable content. And even simple things like font selections and headlines can lead to more engagement, views and even more sales.

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