More than ever, your prospects and customers rely on digital content to learn, form opinions, and decide whether your solution will help them meet their business goals. But if the goal is to create content that persuades buyers to choose your solution, why doesn’t most content drive decisions the way it should?
Ongoing research from Corporate Visions and DecisionLabs shows the primary factor that drives decisions is memory. Your buyer interacts with your content in one moment, but they decide to act later on.
Before you can persuade people to make a decision, you need to get them to remember you first.
Every process that involves thinking, understanding, planning, and making a decision involves short-term memory, or working memory.
Working memory is the process of temporarily holding information in your mind until you complete a cognitive task. It’s a form of cognitive workload because it impacts how many things you can keep in your mind at any given time.
The problem is, working memory has capacity limitations.
People can only hold so much information in their minds at once. And if you want to make your content more memorable and actionable, it’s important to counteract these limitations. You need to help your buyers make sense of what they’re seeing and understand what they should do about it. If you can accomplish that without taxing their cognitive workload, they’re more likely to remember your content (and act on it later on).
Recent brain study research from Corporate Visions’ Chief Science Officer and cognitive neuroscientist Dr. Carmen Simon studied how people react—on a subconscious level—to various kinds of digital content. Her studies reveal two specific and surprising takeaways that will make your content more memorable and motivational.
Use Concrete Visuals
From a neuroscience perspective, the visuals you choose for e-books and other content should ease your buyer’s cognitive workload and help them make sense of the information they read. Unfortunately, most content is full of generic, predictable stock photos and abstract visuals that don’t relate directly to the text. This makes it more difficult for readers to understand what they’re reading. The message should be the focus, but the visuals get in the way.
According to Dr. Simon’s research, using concrete visuals that relate directly to the text (as opposed to abstract or purely decorative imagery) serve as more effective cues for people to continue reading or revisit the text.
When visuals complement and enhance the content, readers process the information faster and more efficiently. Abstract images, on the other hand, are just distracting. They make people’s brains work harder to understand the context.
Infographics can be cognitively taxing as well. If you use an infographic, make sure it’s simple to understand and connects to the most important information you want people to remember. Keep the labels simple, so your reader can understand the information at a glance.
Add Motion to Presentations
Slide presentations provide the opportunity to add motion to your message. And while most companies seem to agree that adding movement will improve their slide decks, just over half (56 percent) said they still use primarily static slides, without any movement, according to a DecisionLabs survey.
Dr. Simon’s study shows that incorporating more movement in the presentations you create helps build trust and motivate decisions. Animation can help your presenters control focus by revealing information gradually. But annotation, which is more uncommon, makes a significant difference in how your audience takes in the information.
When slides include both animation and annotation, the audience will know precisely where to focus and what it means, even if they have no prior knowledge of the topic. Plus, when presenters draw and write directly on slides, they appear more spontaneous and authentic.
These techniques also help the audience feel relaxed and engaged—signals that they trust what they’re seeing.
Build animations in your slides, but leave space for presenters to annotate. Avoid dark backgrounds so annotations will be clearly visible, and include cues and suggestions in your presentation scripts, so presenters know what and when to draw versus click. The audience will be more likely to remember what they see, enjoy the presentation, and feel more motivated to act on your message.
Make Your Digital Content Memorable and Motivational
Your buyers are using digital content to discover, understand, and narrow their options before they make a buying decision. And while you can’t always control when or how they find your content, you can ensure that they’ll remember you when they do.
Make it easy for buyers to understand, remember, and act on your message by following these two science-backed tips.
Get Dr. Carmen Simon’s research report, The Neuroscience of Digital Content, to find out what makes digital content memorable and persuasive.
A version of this article first appeared on productmarketingcommunity.com.