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Goodbye 'Growth Hacking.' Hello Neuromarketing.

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Using neuromarketing, marketers can study a person's brain activity to see his or her response to marketing stimuli. Nueromarketing is not new, but has recently become even more widely adopted by larger brands. Nielsen's investment in neuromarketing research company NeuroFocus helped to increased credibility of neuromarketing, and provide additional brain power (yes, pun intended!) to bigger brands. For example:


PepsiCo: NeuroFocus tested women's responses to Baked Lays, which helped shape an ad campaign and new single-serve packaging.

The Weather Channel: Marketers implemented EEG, eye-tracking and skin response techniques to measure viewer reactions to different promotional trailers for one of its popular series.

Related: Scientists Can Identify Our Emotions Based on the Air We Breathe. Can That Help Marketers?

Ebay: NeuroFocus redeveloped a new brand identity based on tests they did with consumers by measuring emotions and brain activity.

Daimler: Marketers used fMRI research to shape an ad campaign featuring car headlights that resembled human faces, which caused a reaction that tied to the reward center of the brain.

Popular neuromarketing techniques include:

  • EEG (Electroencephalography), is a test used to detect abnormalities related to electrical activity of the brain. The test is conducted with small discs placed on the scalp, which sends signals to a computer to track results.

  • fMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) "is a functional neuroimaging procedure using MRI technology that measures brain activity by detecting changes associated with blood flow," according to Wikipedia.

  • Eye tracking

  • SST (Steady State Topography) "is a methodology for observing and measuring human brain activity."

  • Galvanic Skin Response is the response of the human body that causes electrical variations on the skin.

Related: The Science Behind High-Converting Websites

Here's what we know about the brain, and how to use that knowledge in your marketing and ad campaigns:

1. The brain is driven by emotion.

The more emotions you trigger in your ad campaigns, the more likely you'll win customers or users. This ties into the value of storytelling for brands vs. simply selling.

2. The brain's reward center can be triggered with the right content.

As noted in Daimler's ad campaign, the brain's reward center can be triggered with the right messaging and imagery. Play around with different ads to see which perform best.

3. The brain is visually oriented and responds rapidly to images.

Images are a key component to all ad, content and marketing campaigns. For instance, articles with images get 94 percent more total views.

4. The brain has a self-centered nature (because it's strictly used for survival).

Appeal to your customer's selfish side, and win massive audiences. Kim Kardashian has done a phenomenal job of this.

5. The brain responds to sensual stimulation.

Try to incorporate as many senses as possible with an ad campaign. This will help to create a more instinctual reaction. The Pepsi challenge is a great example.

Related: Amazing Brain Map Shows Where Words Are Stored in Your Noggin

6. The brain weighs gain vs. pain tradeoff.

Make sure you articulate the gain vs. pain tradeoff clearly, as our brains are wired to either seek pleasure and/or avoid pain. Kevin Hogan, author of The Science of Influence, explains that "most people react to the fear of loss and the threat of pain in a much more profound way than they do for gain."

Neuromarketing takes advantage of our subconscious decision-making power by leveraging psychological instincts, in subtle ways, that lead us into actionable decisions, which can be as simple as giving away a free T-shirt.

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