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As I was navigating the interwebs… I encountered a computer virus that acted as one of the best marketing campaigns or user experience campaigns I have ever witnessed. Here’s what happened.

Great Marketing and Great UX is Instinctive – A Computer Virus Analysis

A little while ago, I was on a social messaging platform where it’s pretty common for users not to have a dedicated profile picture yet. As I scrolled through the messages I was having with a group, I received a pretty run-of-the-mill message from someone without a profile picture.

I was kind of curious as to who this was, I figured it might have been a person that I just mentioned in a comment. I start reading through the message and I think that the link I’m about to click means one thing.

I almost instinctively click the link out of our habit in the 2D metaverse of clicking links on our phones. As I start to read more of the message I realize I’ve just been sent something pretty obviously malicious.

All of this happened within 3 seconds.

Great Marketing comes from Instinctive User Experiences.

Almost instantly, a Trojan Horse invades my computer, buries itself deep within my windows subsystem, installs itself as a separate boot drive, hijacks my c drive, and over the next week my CPU starts to suffer.

I procrastinated for nearly a week getting rid of the Trojan horse but made sure to disconnect it from my internet so as not to infect other users.

By the time I was able to get a couple antivirus software and wipe a few drives, my main SSD was beyond average Tech enthusiast repair and required a professional wipe.

Marketing Lessons to learn from my Computer Virus Mistake

There’s an easy lesson to share about my experience. Don’t click on links from foreign unknown sources, turn on two-factor authentication for everything you can, use complex passwords, and make sure that all of your data is backed up so that when you do have to wipe a drive like I did, it doesn’t turn into the end of the world.

Because I had multiple backups, I was able to look at this as a learning experience of how did this happen to me, and could it have happened to somebody else?

The simple answer is yes. Trojan horse hackers rely more on social engineering than computer engineering to get your computer infected with their malware.

There are a few other nuances to this story that I haven’t shared, but I want to focus on what got me to click the link…

Photo by David Cassolato on

Modern Marketing is about Getting Users to Click a Link

Many aspects of our marketing careers in the day-to-day boil down to how do I get someone to click my link. Many times we resort to quick fixes like a 50% off discount code or a well-placed digital advertisement.

But when it really comes down to it, what gets us to click is instinctual. Inside we have a voice of reason constantly telling us why we shouldn’t listen to that 50% off discount code or pay attention to the advertisement in Google search history.

But if you can hijack the part of the brain that doesn’t allow you to think, the right brain, the aspect of our personalities that makes decisions we can’t rationalize.

How to Protect Yourself from being Hacked Using Psychology.

I acknowledge it was stupid of me to click on a random message link from an unknown source. But the beginning of the message seemed authentic, my instinctual thought was to investigate a little bit further and my left brain wanted to do it now.

If you’re unfamiliar with the left brain / right brain concept, our right brain tends to handle more emotional connections and things emotionally while our left brain is more focused on structure and providing logical reasoning for why we should do things.

Your right brain tells you “this message seems kind of cool, what if it’s from that person that I totally owned in that Twitter feed” Your left brain tells you “no wait, we can’t do this.. we have to vet this person!”

How to use Psychology to Hack your Marketing

The good news for marketers is the right brain always speaks first if there is an emotional connection to your product, your clients will immediately feel a connection to it. It is your job as a marketer to lift all barriers of entry that the left brain places upon them in order to touch your product.

So one piece of advice I give to every new marketing professional I meet is to treat your website and marketing campaigns as if you’re trying to speak to someone in a way the left brain has no objection to. Alternatively, you can create such an appealing right brain-case, that the left brain is willing to relinquish its power over the mind.

Your left brain wants validation, confirmation, love, treats, and instant gratification. The more you can lean into granting those guilty pleasures of the left brain, the more successful your marketing will be.

I encourage you to start looking at your website with your right brain. Ask yourself what’s boring. Ask yourself what’s getting in the way of your customer-pleasing their right brain.

Because if you can’t convince the right brain, the left brain will convince them that you’re pricing is too high… Your website is too poorly designed… Your brand isn’t trustworthy… And you’re not worth their time.

And since most studies show that the average time a consumer spends on the website is increasingly getting shorter, you can’t afford a single moment to concede to the left brain.

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