At the Marketing Science Conference earlier in the summer, Shaina and I took in the Neuromarketing session. The session was very good, with 3 really great presenters out of the 4.
I learned several important reasons why people make the choices they do. For instance, I saw it empirically proven that self-control is like a muscle: you can hold a certain pose for so long, and then that muscle gets fatiqued and weak. Then you can’t hold it for any longer and you break that pose. It’s a very attractive causal variable for periodic consumption and lapses in self-control. Prospection – the ability to think of the future – when combined with anchor-and-adjust tendencies, cause discount-rate curves to deviate from what classical-economists would predict. This has important implications for trial-bonus marketing.
So many breakthroughs in behavioral economics and marketing science are originating from neuroscience. It’s exciting.
Meanwhile, the great people over at Next Stage Evolution are making advancements in making neuromarketing accessible. You don’t need a degree in neuroscience to use their technology to make things better and get benefits.
Take for instance, web analytics. Right now, in a majority of fortune 500 and fortune 5,000,000 companies, managers and web analysts are making decisions on how to improve their site based on numbers most of them assume they really understand. In fact, it’s a relatively recent development that the Web Analytics Association has worked with vendors to really define what most of those numbers really mean. Among the most misunderstood include “unique visitor”, “time spent on site”, and the actual definition of what a “bounce rate” really is. It doesn’t matter. They don’t have to understand to know that more unique visitors is ‘good’, time spent on site is ‘interesting’, and a high ‘bounce rate’ is generally ‘bad’ – so long as there’s some baseline education and comfort.
You don’t have to understand how an airplane flies to be a passenger on one, no more than you need to know how a light bulb really works to derive benefit from it.
There’s always going to be skepticism and fear whenever a new technology comes about and it starts to be adopted. Electricity and soap were once feared. Flying was too. We’re starting to see some of that around web analytics this year.
That’s not to say that people who aren’t curious about how neuromarketing is done shouldn’t explore and ask. The curious should.
So, when I assert that you should offer visitors with browsing pattern X an offer of $50 paid out in 3 months if they sign up now and visitors with browsing pattern Y an offer of $20 instantly if they sign up now, you might challenge that. Good. Then I’ll explain for 15 minutes about the hyperbolic discount rate curve and prospection tendencies of different browse paths. Then, if I’ve done my job correctly, you’ll trust the science just as you would trust a pilot or trust a light bulb. Abstraction can be a wonderful thing. Getting there is a longer process.
You don’t need to understand it all to use it.