The Science of Unforgettable Marketing Content

Marketers work hard to create engaging marketing content, and you always want to believe your assets will have an impact. But in our recent industry survey, 87 percent of respondents told us they were unsure or did not believe their audience acts on their content.

They’re right to feel unsure.

Our research shows that in the process of making a decision, your brain predicts the rewards of a choice based on past memories, and then uses that information to make the most favorable decision.

In other words, people act on what they remember, not what they forget. So, if you want your marketing content to inspire action, it must be memorable.

There’s just one big obstacle.

People Will Forget Most of Your Content

People remember, on average, only 10 percent of the information they consume after 48 hours. This percentage might vary—sometimes, they may remember three percent, sometimes 12 percent. But on average, it’s a tiny portion.

To make matters worse, the small amount of information people remember is completely random.

With that in mind, what can you do to make sure people remember your most important message after they interact with your marketing content?

Control Your 10%

Think of the small amount of information people remember as your metaphorical “10%.” Thus, the most important message you want your buyers to remember from your content is called your “10% message.”

Your 10% message should be actionable and repeatable. It should also be linked to something your audience finds rewarding.

One simple way to make your message actionable, repeatable, and rewarding is to replace your mundane table of contents page or agenda slide with a more concrete, action-oriented phrase that promises the audience something of value for consuming your content. Then, direct them back to that message throughout your content.

Present your 10% message with no more than 3-4 specific and actionable supporting points. And then use those supporting points to organize your content. When you win your audience’s attention in this way, you also win a place in their memory.

Repeat Responsibly

If your content is too abstract, generic, or unfocused, your buyer might get the gist of your message, but their memory won’t be precise enough to influence their decisions later on. One way to combat this kind of “random memory” is to repeat your 10% message throughout your marketing content.

If you repeat your 10% message often enough, people are more likely to remember it—but only if you use repetition responsibly; that is, in a way that is useful rather than annoying.

In a recent study, we invited two groups of B2B participants to watch a five-minute business presentation. Participants were asked to imagine they were executives at a company looking for a digital transformation solution.

Each group watched one of two presentations:

memorable marketing content research study

Presentation A: A typical business message was mentioned only once.

Presentation B: A focused 10% message was mentioned six times.

The results?

89 percent of people who watched Presentation B remembered the 10% message, with precision, immediately after viewing the presentation. And this percentage only dropped to 77 percent when we tested the participants’ memories 48 hours later.

Clearly, using a focused 10% message and repeating that message made the content more memorable.

Why? Because when you repeat your message in this way, your buyer’s brain starts recognizing a pattern. This pattern indicates that the information is important and should be retained for future decisions.

Establish a Pattern

Marketing is often tasked with explaining highly complex concepts in manageable ways. As a result, you often hear people say you need to “simplify complexity.”

But science shows that complexity isn’t the problem. In fact, the brain needs some complexity to pay attention and process information. The real problem is randomness. Most business content is too random and too unfocused. Marketers aren’t structuring content in a way that makes complex information easy to consume, digest, and remember.

In our research on this topic, participants remembered and enjoyed a presentation more when that presentation included more slides and more complex visuals.

You don’t need to simplify your content—you need to give your audience a recognizable set of rules to follow. The pattern created by those rules allows your audience to process and make sense of complex information more easily.

So, as you structure your marketing content, establish a pattern using your 10% message as an anchor. Resist the urge to stray from that message because it will only add randomness.

As your story unfolds, you can introduce new information to your audience in a manageable way, always returning to the core 10% message you want them to remember.

Make Your Marketing Content Impossible to Ignore

If you want your marketing content to fuel buying decisions, you must make it memorable.

Do this by creating a focused 10% message, thoughtfully repeating that message in your content, and establishing a pattern for your audience to easily follow.

Get our new research report, Making Marketing Memorable, to learn more about these studies and how you can create science-backed marketing content that drives buying decisions.

In this article series, you’ll discover new research and marketing skills to guide your buyers’ decisions in your direction.

Read the other articles in the series:

Next up: Can Your Audience See the Difference in Your Marketing Visuals?

Leslie Talbot

SVP of Strategic Marketing Programs

Leslie Talbot, Senior Vice President of Strategic Marketing Programs at Corporate Visions, has spent her entire career helping organizations tell better stories to sell more effectively. A consultant, author, and content aficionado, Leslie leads the Corporate Visions marketing and sales enablement teams while also delivering messaging skills training to global B2B marketing organizations.