I’m an intern here at Noisy Little Monkey, but also spend a considerable amount of my life pondering the inner workings of human brain boxes for my psychology degree. There’s a great deal of research out there about how human memory picks and chooses incoming information to retain. I think this research can be applied to online marketing campaigns. There is no point making a campaign if it doesn’t STICK, if it just hits the metaphorical window into your reader’s brain and slides down it like an unlucky wayward pigeon. Here’s how current research can inform your online strategy to make your campaigns memorable.
Rule 1: Distribute.
Spreading information out over a longer period makes it much easier to remember. Science types have tested this when people are learning a new language. They found that when people try to learn new foreign words over 13 sessions spread out over 8 weeks they remember much more than people who squashed 26 similar sessions into a 2 week period. Thinly spread things get retained.
For your online marketing
Rather than barraging your audience in the lead up to an event/ campaign/ launch, feed them snippets over an extended period. Forward planning is therefore essential to ensure a ‘spaced out’ campaign.
Your content should also be varied. ‘Study phase retrieval theory’ is the idea that the initial memory/ core message from your campaign will be re-remembered whenever relevant but different information is presented. This means that once you’ve got your main message out there (be it through paid advertising, or a few spammy posts) then there’s no need to keep churning out the same ad.
Rule 2. Vary.
Variety is indeed the spice of life, and also of online marketing. When we remember stuff, we link it to objects within the environment as we are remembering, then when we see these things out and about, it can trigger the memory. These objects are known as cues. Cue Overload Theory suggests that if one cue is linked to too many ‘bits of stuff’ (that’s the scientific term) to remember, that cue will not be strong any more so won’t activate the memory linked to it. If we have an extensive variety of cues that link to that single piece of information the cues will be much stronger, meaning that it is more likely to be remembered.
For Your Online Marketing
You should vary your social media and (to put it nicely) come at your customer from all angles. Each different platform has a different set of cues, such as site logos, which your audience recognise. This will make lots of little brain links between your campaign and all the related cues. It’s also worth considering bringing your campaign offline and out into the big wide world. Varying the method you use to talk about your brand also helps memory. Use a mixture of written, aural, and visual media for maximum effect.
Rule Number 3. Elaborate.
People remember things best when those things are linked to information already stored in their long term memory. When Derren Brown goes on about his ‘Memory Palace’ he actually has quite a good point. Linking unrelated and hard to memorise information to objects and places which we know well commits these irrelevant tit bits to memory.
This works especially well when the information is linked to yourself. It is known as the ‘self reference effect’. Information is stored most effectively when the self is implicated and sticks much better than facts unrelated to yourself (hence you can recite the details from your driving licence to a bouncer even after inhaling the best part of a bottle of tequila).
For Your Online Campaigns
Engage your customer by forcing them to elaborate. Don’t just sprout facts about your business. Not only will this make your social channels an absolute snore-fest but will lead to your campaign slipping out of your audience’s memory like grains of rice through a colander. If you link your campaign to things already high in your customer’s mind it more likely to stick there (like pasta swirls). This includes recent news stories, weather updates, seasonal events and the like.
Ditto with the self-reference stuff. Make your readers link your business to themselves. How did our business help you? Send in a picture of yourself with our product. Tell us what you think. All these work to give a personal touch to your channels.
If you do all these things, I cannot guarantee your campaign will stick completely, but it will hopefully cling on and fare a little better than those of your competitors.