Neuromarketing: How to hack a brain

What do a human being and a lab rat have in common? What sounds like the beginning of a bad joke may actually be the key to better understanding our target audience. Of course, a human being is much more complex and multilayered than a simple rodent, but both have certain predictable behavioral patterns hardwired into their brains and will always respond similarly when confronted with certain psychological stimuli. This means you only have to push the right buttons in marketing to get the desired response.

This article first appeared at AWMpro #17.

Admittedly, it’s not quite as simple as it sounds. Still, the findings in the realm of neuromarketing can help us get a much better understanding of our target audience, and that can be used to generate more clicks and sign-ups and maximize success.


But what exactly is neuro marketing? It is believed that many processes in fluencing the user’s purchasing decision are largely subconscious and heavily informed by emotions. Ratonal considerations only play a minor role. Neuro marketing attempts to in fluence these processes and optimize marketing activities, applying scientific findings about the structure and functioning of the neural system – the human brain in particular. In this article, I am presenting some methods that will allow you to hack straight into the brains of your target audience.

The consumer’s joy, the consumer’s sorrow

The classic approach to marketing is to put the advantages, the bene fi ts, and the added value of a product front and center. This way, you appeal to the hedonistic part of the consumer, the part that is yearning for pleasure and the fulfilment of desires. So, the basic formula here is: Address the benefits, generate an added value, guarantee satisfaction, add a call-to-action at the end, and there you go – your sales figures are going through the roof, right? Wrong. The main focus of the consumer’s brain is not to satisfy cravings, but rather to avoid pain and suffering.

This is something that may come as a shock to marketing professionals: Pain and sorrow are much more compelling aspects than joy and pleasure. Neuro marketing experts have found that avoiding pain creates a response in the brain that is three times as strong as the response to sensual indulgence. People are veritable pain avoidance machines, that’s how strong this impulse is.


Knowing this can be a strategic advantage, all the more so in the world of adult entertainment. In this market, decisions are generally made on a more emotional level, and the consumers’ psychological stress usually does the rest.

So instead of having the call-2-action button say “Let’s Fuck” for the twentieth time, it may be a more effective strategy to address the pain points of certain users

When all cookies look the same, are they all the same cookies?

We human beings have the most interesting preferences – the less there is of one thing, the more we want it. This phenomenon is commonly known as the scarcity principle. How easily we are influenced by this phenomenon is documented in a study from 1975. Two cookie bowls were presented to the subjects of the experiment, both containing the same cookies. The only difference: In one bowl, there were more cookies, and in the other, there were fewer cookies. As it turned out, the cookies in the latter bowl were regarded as more valuable and desirable by the test subjects. And you can use this scarcity principle to boost your sign-up numbers.

Give the user the feeling that he is presented with a limited offer – be it a time limit or a quantitative limit. For instance, put a countdown ticker on your landing page, the gist being that the offer will no longer be available once the timer reaches zero.

The reciprocity principle as a marketing tool

If a person does something really generous for you – especially if he has no obligation to do so and if he doesn’t expect anything in return – how does that make you feel? Chances are that there is a feeling of attachment and gratitude. Put differently, you want to return the favor. You can use principle of reciprocity to your advantage. Many waiters and waitresses have that strategy down pat. It has been proven that customers will tip a waiter 3.3% more if there is a little extra. Even something as mundane as hard candy does the trick. Two pieces of hard candy, and the tip may increase by up to 14%.


Obviously, you can’t improve your CTR with hard candy, so you need to present your users with a diff erent kind of bonus. How about a free trial, a free e-book, or maybe even content that isn’t normally available for free? This way, you trigger that feeling of gratitude in the user, and in the medium run, your conversion rate will improve.

Controlling emotions with colors

Sometimes, there is no need for complicated processes or complex measures. The users’ emotions can also be infl uenced by something as mundane as the color scheme. That probably sounds trivial, but it has proven very effective in the past. People have very specific associations regarding certain colors.

Of course, these associations have a lot to do with their cultural or personal experience, meaning, that colors can mean one thing in the Western world and something entirely diff erent in, say, Asia


You are probably already coordinating the colors of ad tools, such as the ones provided by DatingPartner and CamPartner, to match the color scheme of your website. But you should also think about the emotions you want to create in certain areas of the site and then pick the colors accordingly. Of course, the same goes for PHP portals; for instance, the portals provided by DatingPartner and CamPartner offer many options for individual customization, including their color.


Thanks to neuromarketing, a few simple methods can reap extraordinary results. You just have to know which buttons to push in order for the gears to mesh properly. The hacks described in this article are obviously just the tip of the iceberg. New neuroscientific findings are applied to the marketing world on a regular basis, and clever webmasters implement them to be more successful. If you want to know about other tricks and opportunities, feel free to contact me!

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