“If I Only Had a Brain”…How We Respond to Content on the Web

Everyone has wondered what another person was thinking at one point or another. In fact, many marketers would say this would be the Holy Grail for knowing exactly what customers want and how to provide them with it (i.e. get them to “buy” or “convert”). While neuroscience doesn’t focus on mind-reading, and marketers can dream on, it does reveal how and why parts of our brains respond or become activated by what we are doing, seeing, or feeling, among other senses and cognitive functions.brain_2569045.jpg

You may have heard about The Premium Experience: Neurological Engagement on Premium Websites, a report created by NeuroFocus based on the results of a study that was co-sponsored by Facebook. Devices were used to measure the brainwaves of test subjects when visiting websites to establish how they responded to websites and website ads. Maybe marketers can read minds after all…

As described in a Search Engine Land article, researchers evaluated the reactions of test subjects, an even amount of men and women between the ages of 21 and 54, to the Yahoo! homepage, their personal Facebook news feeds, and The New York Times homepage. The main goal of the study was to identify how a website’s structure and ad campaigns influence how users react to a site as a whole. The specific reactions measured were attention, emotional engagement, and memory retention.

The results of the study are far too extensive to dive into here; however, in a nutshell, as outlined by HubSpot, The New York Times produced greater levels of attention and memory in the subjects than the other two pages, but lower levels of emotional engagement. The Yahoo! homepage produced greater levels of emotional engagement than The New York Times homepage, but lower levels than the Facebook page. With regard to all of the three pages, Yahoo! had the lowest degree of memory activation. On the other hand, test subjects looking at their personal Facebook news feeds had greater levels of activation for attention, emotional engagement, and memory.

Marketers can make several conclusions from the results of this study. One of the biggest takeaways is that a website or social media site that creates a personalized experience for a visitor by making interacting with the brand easy, engaging, memorable, and worthwhile is the key to conversion (getting new clients), maintaining clients, and making a name for yourself in your field among your peers and even your competition. How a website looks and what it contains (content, images, video, etc.) matters. You can have an awful site that offers nothing to write home about to visitors that ranks #1 on Google, but you will most likely have very few clients.

A great place to start for creating an experience online that captures the message of your company and provides visitors with something personal, meaningful, and helpful, is with content. Write it like you mean it and say what you know people need answers to.

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