June 26, 2021
New Experiences Are Good for Your Brain
Most of us like a routine. Get up. Drink Coffee. Fire up the laptop. Routines are good. Comforting and comfortable.
But, oh, those new experiences! Tasting new food. Sipping a new cocktail. Traveling someplace we've never been before. Those experiences can light up your brain's pleasure centers like nobody's business.
"There is a connection between novelty and happiness," according to Dr. Laurie Santos, a cognitive scientist who teaches at Yale University. "Novel stimuli tend to activate regions of our brain that are associated with rewards."
And novel things capture our attention better, as well. With something new, one is more likely to notice things and be present. And, as most of us know, being present (and mindful) can improve our moods and elevate our happiness levels.
In a recent study published in Nature Neuroscience, researchers tracked humans (willing participants, of course) with their phones as they moved about over the course of their day (pre-COVID, of course) and checked in with them via text about the participants' moods. The researchers found a correlation linking more positive emotions when the subjects visited new places outside of their normal day-to-day walkabout. They also discovered that the relationship between good moods and exploration worked both ways. When the participant was happy, they were more likely to explore, and when they were exploring new territory, they were more likely to be happy.
Novelty Makes Us Resilient
The neuroscientist Dr. David Eagleman has researched how novel experiences affect our brains. Our brains are constantly degenerating, he says. And as we get older, we try to make things to make things more predictable, more comfortable. But one of the most important things that one can do for the brain is giving it new challenges. Learning new things builds new neural pathways in the brain and helps keep it in good working order. (At Biotica Healthcare Marketing, we know a thing or three about new ideas.)
So, plan a trip to somewhere new. Or install an app on your phone to help you learn a new language. Or try an exotic cuisine that you've never had before. And remember, you're feeding your brain as well as your body. Bon Appetit!
Google Delays Ban on Cookies
Eight Ways to Keep Your Big Ideas from Slipping AwayRemember that great idea in the middle of the night that was going to make you a ka-jillionaire, only to wake up and find it had evaporated with the sunrise? Or that time in the shower when you mentally composed the perfect first sentence of your version of the Great American novel only to have it slip down the drain by the time you rinsed the soap suds out of your eyes. Yeah, we've been there. More than one superb email marketing campaign idea or can't-miss or pithy social media post has slipped away into the ether because we were driving, half-asleep, or otherwise too engaged to jot it down. So, we've found a few methods to make sure the clever ideas don't get away. Try these and see if they work for you.
- Keep a pocket notebook. Sure, it seems simple and maybe too easy. But having a notebook and (this is key) pen or pencil with you can work wonders. Caveat: You must get into the habit of pulling it out and writing in it.
- Notes app on your smartphone. Okay, for all you who eschew the old-school methods, here's the digital option. Find a notetaking app you like (and find easy to use) and add it to your phone's home screen. A voice recorder or voice-to-text app makes it easy-peasy.
- Sticky notes. There's a reason everyone uses sticky notes. They're easy, convenient, and ubiquitous. Just don't let them get away from you. Compile them in a notebook or an online document at the end of the day and save yourself the mad panic of thinking you've lost that über-important message you've jotted down on one. Also, beware of fans and air ducts in your office.
- White Board. Stick a giant whiteboard up in your office or even paint a whole wall with whiteboard paint. Jot down big ideas in a big space!
- Shower marker. Keep a whiteboard marker in the shower just in case the muse strikes in the middle of your rub-a-dub-dub. Or an alcohol marker if the whiteboard marker is a little too temporary. Be sure to let your significant other know that a bit of rubbing alcohol and elbow grease will remove your hen scratching when the time comes.
- Keep a notepad and pen by your bedside. Sometimes genius strikes in the middle of the night when our brain is relaxed and the subconscious takes over. Be ready to write down any grand ideas that float to the surface while you're in your pajamas.
- Stow a notepad and pen in the car, too. You might be surprised how useful this is, not just for capturing good ideas, but for making grocery lists, games of tic-tac-toe, or for leaving the strongly worded note on the windshield of the BMW that took up two parking spaces.
New Healthcare Observances Calendar
You may have noticed that we've been testing Healthcare Calendar content in Bionews lately. The analytics are in, and it's a hit. So, we decided to make the calendar permanent. Find it here. Use these special dates to post social media content that resonates, and also mine them for promotional event ideas that could tie in with national publicity and awareness. While many of the dates won't relate to your category, the consumer will give you credit for marking an event that's important to them.
Did we miss something important? Please email your calendar suggestion to Bill Abramovitz.
10 Lessons from the Stoics
Stoicism is having a moment. Bestseller lists are full of books touting Stoic philosophy. Instagram feeds are full of pithy Stoic quotes with glorious images of sunrises and yoga poses. But what is this third-century BC philosophy exactly (and how does it apply to you in the 21st century?)
Stoicism is a school of philosophy of personal ethics informed by a system of logic and its views on the natural world founded in Athens. Evidently, in ancient Greece, lots of folks had time to sit around and contemplate things. This was, of course, before the Internet, Netflix, and podcasts.)
"Don't explain your philosophy. Embody it."
– Stoic philosopher, Seneca
According to Stoicism, the path to happiness is found in accepting the moment as it happens and by not allowing yourself to be controlled by the desire for pleasure or by the fear of pain. You must use your mind to understand the world and to do your part in nature's plan. And you must work together with your fellow human beings to treat them fairly and justly. Golden Rule, anyone?
Stoics decided on four virtues that would guide their principles: Wisdom, justice, courage, and moderation. A road map, if you will, to help you get your happy place.
Here's a (very partial) list of some Stoic "rules" that can provide some signpost for our own personal journeys.
- Memento mori. Remember, we all must die. Before we, as a society, decided to convince ourselves that we are immortal, taking all manner of supplements to postpone the inevitable, it was common practice to think of our time as finite. Deadlines have always been key to productivity.
- Focus on what you can control, including how your respond to things. The world is going to turn whether we say yea or nay. But we can control how we respond to situations and circumstances.
- Value time more than money and possessions. And spend a lot of that time with those you love and who love you.
- Remember, you have two ears and one mouth. Listen twice as much as you speak. My kids have heard this chestnut from me, ad nauseum, but that doesn't make it any less true.
- Don't compare yourself to others. Comparison is the thief of joy, as they say.
- What's bad for the hive is bad for the bee. We (okay, most of us) live as part of a larger society. We are social creatures and should act as such.
- Your ego is not your friend. This is a theme in most of the world's religions and philosophies for good reason. Want to be a good person? Dial your ego back.
- Practice forgiveness. Pure and simple.
- Don't make your difficulties worse by complaining about them. This is another nugget we are constantly sharing with our kids. (And one I frequently remind myself of, too.)
- Find at least one thing that makes you wiser every day. Always keep an open mind and be ready to absorb all the good stuff we come across daily.
A/B Tests Knock Out the Rules of Email
There are dozens, maybe thousands of articles about ways to motivate consumers to open your medical emails and click on them. Some of the advice is solid. And some of its BS. It's left up to the reader to separate the wheat from the chaff. Going with your gut works out sometimes, and even the rules – keep your subject line short, the first story should echo the subject line, stick to one topic in the subject line – can keep you out of hot water.
If you consistently want to pull better results, you need to conduct A/B or multi-variant tests that pit different subject line variations or content against each other.
Consider all the factors that play into earning that all-important open click, such as the from address, day-of-week, time-of-day, major sporting or entertainment events, and holidays. All the email newsletters we send are optimized for opens and click-thrus differently. Orthopedic surgeons have different email habits than Ophthalmologists. And Ophthalmologists handle their inbox differently from Optometrists. To sum it up, "it's complicated."
Using ourselves as an example, we'll give you an inside look at how we approach email optimization for opens and clicks. We'll be clear about what's conjecture and what is opinion.
Bionews is Biotica's monthly email newsletter (take a sec and signup below!), containing five to eight feature articles and other shorter items. With every issue, we A/B test subject lines and different versions of the content. Content changes may include button sizes and copy, design, headline sizes, link colors, story order, and much more. Bionews aims to drive qualified traffic, from the teaser in our email to the article on the blog. So, the primary metrics we follow are traffic that we've tagged Bionews, the value of that traffic measured by engagement, and the likelihood that the user also visits another page. All in all, we track 15 to 20% of total web traffic from email.
Most of the best practices recommended by the industry work okay, but we squeeze additional results through our A/B tests. On average, our A/B tests can increase the number of clicks from 2 to 31%. Pushing the extra engagement is particularly important for a company with niche markets. Keep testing on a parameter, say button color, until the A/B improvement is just incremental. Plus, if you value engagement the same as search ads, you can show this improvement on your bottom line.Over ten years of designing, writing, and coding emails, we have a few rules of our own that seem to test out repeatedly. Here are a few examples:
- Don't write ambiguous subject lines or headlines for stories. When in doubt, use the straight, less fluffy one.
- Order stories based on what you think will generate the most clicks. Note, this is generally not a message from the board of directors.
- Place the most compelling words at the front of a headline. For example, "UFOs sighted in the Rocky Mountains" Vs. "Rocky Mountains are possible home to UFOs."
- Test the type size on any clickable copy.
- Learn about the words that trigger spam filters.
- If you get a great result, test it again for confirmation.
- Don't learn rules. Invent the ones that work for your specific application and audience