Neuromarketing. Sounds a bit like a sci-fi concept, doesn’t it?
And yet, it’s a real thing. In fact, research in the area has been on the rise in the past 10 years. With the current rapid development of technology, neuromarketing shows even more potential.
But is it something that your business can benefit from?
In this article, we’ll explain neuromarketing in a nutshell and suggest how you may use it in your marketing strategy.
What Is Neuromarketing?
Neuromarketing is a discipline that relies on a neuroscience methodology to observe, study, and, potentially, influence consumers. It tracks how they react to and feel about advertising content, products, brands, and other marketing subjects.
The ultimate purpose of neuromarketing is to peek behind the curtain of the consumer’s perceived self. Its focus is on finding out how they think they feel about what they see and experience, and define their real self, i.e their genuine attitude.
In other words, it shows what brings out an authentic reaction in the audience, rather than what they project as a result of social and peer pressure.
This presents neuromarketing with an unprecedented advantage, as opposed to traditional types of market research. After all, genuine emotions always trigger a stronger response.
Neuromarketing insights can enhance marketing messages and advertising content, improve products, and ensure a business’s commercial success.
Furthermore, they can build predictive analytics models that foresee consumer behavior trends and inform data-driven decisions.
Note: Neuromarketing is not the same as psycho-marketing and psychographic targeting. Neuromarketing uses specialized technology to study neural and physiological reactions. Psycho-marketing uses insights from neuromarketing research and other psychological studies to improve targeting.
In other words, the two disciplines have overlapping areas. However, they use different methodologies to study the human mind and may have different applications.
How Does Neuromarketing Work?
The most common techniques that neuromarketing uses are focused on monitoring neural activity via functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalogram (EEG). The subjects of the study are connected to the machines that record their brain activity while exposing them to different marketing stimuli.
The goal, as we mentioned above, is to study their natural unadulterated reactions and pull relevant insights.
While many consider these methods the most accurate and revealing, neuromarketing relies on studying physiological signals as well. These include facial expressions, eye movements, pupil dilation, and biometrics (heart rate, skin conductance, and respiration).
Similar to neuro measurements, scientists monitor for changes in a particular physiological activity. Then, they correlate them with the subject’s attitude to the information they are exposed to, and the emotional response that it elicits.
Is Neuromarketing Reliable?
While nowadays, more and more private companies offer neuromarketing services, not all of these are capable of delivering the quality they promise or living up to expectations.
To successfully implement neuromarketing studies, businesses have to collaborate with a team of neuroscience professionals. Also, they need to hire the necessary equipment, and create a suitable environment.
Otherwise, they risk wasting a lot of money on mediocre and/or unreliable results.
Furthermore, to ensure reliable and practical results, the research needs to be performed on a pool of customers that are representative of the whole audience.
As, currently, most neuromarketing studies can’t be performed at scale, this can, potentially, impair their accuracy. A likely result could be putting into question whether the acquired insights apply to enough of the company’s potential customers.
In addition, the restrictive nature of most methods – i.e. the person needs to be connected to a device – limits the environment where the study can take place. It can also affect the accuracy of the measurements to an extent, simply because the participants may not feel comfortable.
Still, if marketers implement it properly, neuromarketing can provide invaluable information to the business. As a matter of fact, it has applications that directly affect its bottom line.
Is Neuromarketing Worth the Investment?
Neuromarketing is a developing field that has seen incremental interest in recent years.
However, as mentioned, research in the area requires expensive technology, scientists with proper training and interdisciplinary knowledge. This limits its accessibility to the majority of businesses and, thus, delays its development.
The question is if you can afford to invest in neuromarketing, is it worth it?
The short answer is that, more often than not, it is an investment worth considering for large corporations whose campaigns impact very large audiences.
Research can show them how consumers react, allowing them to create an effective go-to marketing strategy, which ensures commercial success. So, neuromarketing can be especially beneficial for market leaders, innovators, and pioneers of new technologies.
As the stakes are very high, spending a fortune to know how the audience may feel can really pay off.
What’s more, if you invest in this type of research, and collaborate with leading professionals, you may have a chance to develop new methods and approaches. You may even reach a breakthrough that pushes the advancement of the discipline further.
This can lead to unexpected ROI, and not only boost your reputation, but help you diversify your business.
However, you don’t necessarily need to be a large enterprise to benefit from neuromarketing.
The more affordable research methods focus on physical response. They may be useful to monitor customers’ focus on certain sections of content, websites, and/or creatives.
You can use these for testing prototypes, the usability of software solutions, and the reactions to campaigns.
Is Neuromarketing Ethical?
When it comes to neuromarketing, one of the first questions that pops to mind after the initial excitement dies away is whether it is ethical.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a straight answer.
Neuromarketing presents lucrative opportunities, and it’s a safe bet that many large corporations are likely to invest in it. This is likely to fast-forward the technology’s progress, and make it more accessible.
As the ethics of the method strongly depend on who uses it and how, its democratization raises concerns about its potential abuse.
If companies use the research to improve their products and their advertising creatives by impressing their audience and eliciting an emotional response, it’s more or less safe.
However, if they try to use it to manipulate the emotions of their customers on a subconscious level in order to convince them to make a purchase, it’s definitely not ethical.
Unfortunately, at the moment, there are no official legislations that regulate how privately-owned companies can implement their research in the area, and to what end. This means that, behind closed doors, a lot can happen.
A good example of this is Facebook’s emotional cognition experiment. The social network allegedly tested whether they can effectively change the mood of their users, and how this affects their behavior.
Still, in its current state of development, neuromarketing is not yet advanced enough to pose a serious threat to people’s personal lives and private space.
However, if you decide to use it in your strategy, make sure to be transparent with your customers. Only undertake actions that you won’t be ashamed to go public with.
And, we can’t stress this enough, but always ask for consent, even when conducting a noninvasive method that can be implemented without the customer’s knowledge.
How to Use Neuromarketing?
While most businesses can’t afford to buy/hire an fMRI machine and assemble a dream team of neuroscientists, there is, still, a lot you can accomplish with more basic and accessible neuromarketing techniques.
1. You Can Improve the UX of Digital Products
You can use eye-tracking technology to create heatmaps and see how your customers perceive your website, product interface, and/or creatives.
By monitoring their eye movements, you can better understand what parts of the screen/visuals they notice first. This way you can find out how long the different parts of it retain their attention.
Together with pupil dilation analysis, the study can also provide insight into how users feel about what they see.
Use this information to rearrange content, CTAs, and visuals so that the most important parts that you want the customer to see are where they pay the most attention.
Furthermore, you can reduce confusion, and ensure that the UX design follows the user’s natural eye patterns.
You can use these techniques on your website, app, or software solution.
They can also be applied to ad and marketing creatives, and other important visuals such as logos, packings, and whatnot.
2. Enhance Creatives and Product Design
Studying the biometrics of your customers while they interact with your products can help you better understand useful information. For example, you can see how certain features affect them, how easy they are to operate, how engaging the creatives are, and how attractive the packing is.
Furthermore, you can implement A/B testing to see how changing different factors affect the way people feel.
This way, you can find the optimal design for your solutions that evokes the strongest emotional response and may affect the customer’s willingness to purchase the product.
Of course, the goal here is not to use creativity to convince a person to buy something that they don’t need. On the contrary, the idea is to adjust any factors that may prevent them from purchasing something they may otherwise love.
3. Eliminate Annoying Ads
We all know how much people hate ads.
However, one of the main reasons for this is that most of the ads we see are simply not that great. They are annoying, not worth our time, and/or use cheap tricks that make them even more frustrating.
From a marketing perspective, the worst thing about these types of ads is that, first, they are a gigantic waste of money. Also, they can also change the customer’s overall attitude toward the brand – and cause even further losses.
Using neuromarketing techniques can help you to eliminate the ads that are likely to annoy the customer and drive them away, and focus your efforts (and resources) only on those that have a meaningful impact.
4. It Helps Build a Connection to Your Audience
By studying your audience’s responses to different types of visuals and marketing messages, you can better understand them. You can find out more about what moves and inspires them, what they like and dislike, and how they really feel about the world around them – your brand and product included.
This information can be used in your branding and marketing campaigns and can contribute to building a stronger relationship with your clients.
Furthermore, this not only allows you to create a brand identity that they identify with on a deeper level, but you can demonstrate that you both care about the same things, share the same values, and have a lot in common.
What’s more, neuromarketing techniques allow you to peek behind the curtain and see the customer without pride and prejudice, and fear of judgment.
Consequently, you get an opportunity to point out their unique qualities. This way, you can encourage them to be more like themselves and less like what society expects them to be. Aim to find new ways to help them grow and develop.
This will provide you with a powerful competitive advantage as well because most brands focus on exactly the opposite.
Simply put, you can use your brand to make an impact. And this is something so much more than just advertising.
Neuromarketing is a fascinating topic that businesses should follow with keen interest.
While the more complex methodologies are still out of reach for regular companies, there are still a lot of ways that the industry can benefit.
That said, the ethical concerns surrounding the discipline shouldn’t be underestimated.
Hopefully, there will, soon, be more clarity on how to best regulate research in this field. Until then, if you decide to try out neuromarketing, make sure to stay on the light side of things. In addition, don’t do anything that you wouldn’t like to see on the first page of Google.
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