Can Science Affect Your Content Marketing Efforts?

Christy Walters


October 26, 2021 (Updated: January 23, 2024)

cartoon people connecting multi-colored puzzle pieces to create the image of a brain to show how science affects your content marketing

Social media has developed since its creation to put a hyper-focus on video, images, and animation. The constant visual stimulation people encounter online means brands are always vying for consumer attention among their competition. With over 95 million photos and videos shared on visual sites like Instagram every day, how can you make sure consumers see yours, react positively, and make conversions? By understanding science. Today, we’re discussing a few scientific concepts that affect how and why certain brands succeed in content marketing.

sgt. grey from ABC's the rookie saying you have my attention to discuss how science affects your content marketing

Image via Giphy by @abcnetwork

The Science of Visual Attention

The science of visual attention focuses on what makes something exciting (or boring) when you view it. For content marketing, this can help you determine what visuals get engagements, clicks, and conversions. It can also tell you which pieces get scrolled past and ignored. There are two principles and content rating scores that help make these decisions.

Cognitive demand is the rating of how easy or difficult it is for someone to understand visual content. Pieces with low cognitive demand are easy to understand quickly. Think about a dance video on Tik Tok. There’s not much to take in, just someone dancing to a song in front of the camera. You can understand it without additional context. Content with high cognitive demand means people have to spend a lot of time figuring it out. They may not want to do this, so they relegate your content to the infinite scroll.

Image via Giphy

Clarity is the other principle. It can tell you about the key visibility areas of your content, such as your product image, ad copy, and call to action. A low clarity score means it’s difficult for viewers to find these elements within your content. A higher score means they’re easy to find. Visual content with low cognitive demand and high clarity gets the most views, engagements, and conversions because they’re easy for consumers to comprehend within seconds of seeing them.

Consumer Science

Consumer science is the practice of learning how and why customers make certain choices when shopping, and what preferences or biases contribute to them. This social science is a popular category for middle school science fair participants because it’s easy to analyze and fun to explore. Companies and brands target shoppers with consumer science every day, maybe even without their knowledge. Do you buy brand-name cookies even if the generic tastes the same, for half the cost? Do you have a preference for paper towels even though they all serve the same purpose? That’s consumer science at work.

Consumer science can help marketers, content creators, and product designers when they’re developing actual items and the marketing materials to go with them. These professionals use surveys to help them figure out what people want and what they like. Research studies into consumer science can tell us a lot about how people act when buying items and spending money. Some principles learned through this type of research and experimentation include:

  • Using words and phrases like “free” or “limited stock” entices people to buy when they might not otherwise. These words evoke the fear of missing out (FOMO) if they don’t act immediately.
  • Color may affect up to 90% of judgments when people are trying to make purchasing choices. Color theory, a science all its own, also evokes emotion and can have benefits or drawbacks beyond creating an aesthetically pleasing website or feed.
  • Consumers use their figurative guts when making purchasing decisions rather than relying on statistical facts. Content that gets an emotional response through nostalgia, fear, guilt, or joy may be three times more likely to create a conversion than one full of proven research and data.
  • Our self-identity influences how receptive we are to the persuasion of marketing campaigns. Demographic factors such as age, gender, and geographic location play a role, but so do things like socioeconomic status, political affiliation, and peer popularity.

Image via Giphy


Neuroscience is the study of brain anatomy and chemistry. It’s often discussed as an introductory psychology topic in school. You have to know the parts of the brain before you can understand why it does the things it does. The specific lobes and sections of your brain may actually affect how you perceive content, such as the:

  • Frontal lobe: Controls your personality, behavior, emotions, planning, judgment, concentration, and self-awareness
  • Parietal lobe: Controls your spatial and visual perception, interprets language and words, and interprets signals from your five senses
  • Occipital lobe: Controls how you interpret visual aspects like color, movement, and light
  • Temporal lobe: Controls your memory, hearing, understanding of language, and organization and sequence

Image via Mayfield Clinic

Content Marketing Science

Yes, according to Izea, there is such as thing as Content Marketing Science. The organization defines it as the data behind the content. It’s the strategy that you use to get your desired results and the research and information that helps make informed decisions. Content marketing art and science work together to create the best campaigns.

The artistic side makes content pleasing to the eye, while the scientific side makes it easy to read and understand all the words and visuals. Content marketing tools like the Hemingway editor, which gives you a reading level score based on your word choice and sentence structure, are examples of content marketing science.

Image via Giphy by @paramountplus

These are just a few examples of the type of science and research that affect how we market our content to the world. Following principles suggested from years of research and experimentation can help your content break through the monotony of feeds and find the right audience.

Author Image - Christy Walters
Christy Walters

CopyPress writer

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