Successful marketing professionals all have one thing in common: their ability to understand how people think and what motivates them to make decisions. This understanding underpins our marketing strategies and tactics; our ability to make our content resonate with audiences and convince them to make purchasing decisions dictates our success.
There are many different ways to think about people from a marketing perspective. While hard data and tactical analysis certainly have their place, it’s also helpful to examine audience behaviour through the lens of psychology. After all, marketing and psychology are both concerned with understanding and predicting how people behave in a given situation.
The theories that underpin modern psychology are a highly useful framework for marketing strategies. Read on to learn about four practical psychological principles that can guide your marketing to long-term success and growth for your business.
“Priming” is the process of using words or images that prepare audiences to be more receptive to points-of-view or calls-to-action. Marketers use priming to help audiences remember essential information about their brand and the products and services they offer.
In practice, priming can take many forms and be employed in many marketing tactics. A study conducted by Naomi Mendel and Eric J. Johnson found that individuals primed with images related to product benefits (such as cost savings or safety features) were more likely to pay attention to those benefits when looking at the product’s full list of characteristics. In short, marketers can use various tactics (including web design, creative copy, and more) to influence what their audiences focus on, and even influence buying behaviours.
Using priming in your marketing requires great attention-to-detail in all areas of your marketing and design. When making any design or creative decision for your digital marketing, consider what you want your audience to be thinking about, and how your creative choices can influence them to be more receptive to your calls-to-action.
2. The Verbatim Effect
Studies have proven that people only retain portions of the information they receive. This is called the “verbatim effect.” On a basic level, it’s simply the human brain’s way of remembering and organizing information so it doesn’t get overloaded with unnecessary detail.
This may seem common-sense, but the verbatim effect has far-reaching implications for digital marketing. This is especially true in today’s crowded online landscape; according to Chartbeat, more than half of website visitors spend 15 seconds or less on a website. What does this mean? Unfortunately, this means that a large percentage of your visitors won’t even read your content, and a sizeable portion of those who do won’t retain very much of the information.
As marketing professionals, how can we overcome these psychological tendencies and reach out to our audience? By creating content that makes a lasting impression, of course! Understanding the uphill battle your content is facing for your audience’s attention is the first step. Whether it’s a compelling headline or eye-catching web design, ensure that your digital marketing is designed to be memorable and entice your potential customers to read more. Even if they don’t remember your content word-for-word, they are more likely to recall your company than if they were to be greeted with boring, bland content.
3. Social Proof
“Social proof” is the psychological phenomenon where people look to groups they perceive as peers for cues in their decision-making process. When we’re unsure about making a choice, we tend to follow the lead of others around us and behave like those people. Terms like “groupthink,” “mob mentality,” and “peer pressure” capture the negative side of this phenomenon, but successful marketers can use social proof in their marketing without bullying their potential audiences!
The most obvious way to leverage social proof is to pay attention to customer reviews, especially public-facing ones like Google Reviews. Cultivate and share positive reviews on your website and in your marketing material to demonstrate to apprehensive buyers that your products have already helped their peers. Additionally, including “share” buttons on your website’s blog can help build up your credibility with your audience. A compelling piece of content, shared by your audience with their social networks, will increase your organization’s exposure and reach, allowing you access to an even larger audience.
Originally coined by Dr. Robert Cialdini, “reciprocity” is the idea that people are more likely to do something for you if you’ve already done something for them. It’s a straightforward concept that most marketers are probably already familiar with; at times, many of us likely take it for granted. However, the principle of “adding value” before you convert audience members into customers is something every marketing professional should be trying to achieve in their digital marketing practices.
While contests, prize giveaways, and other easy-to-spot examples of reciprocity can help your marketing, they aren’t the only way to add value for your potential customers. A highly-informative blog post that answers common questions for customers, free-to-download ebooks and other content, or even high-level personalization to help customers find what they’re looking for faster can all be seen as examples of this principle. When tactics like this are employed in the context of a high-performance search marketing or conversion rate optimization program, they can be highly effective in converting leads into satisfied customers.
Incorporating Human Behaviour in Your Strategy
Since both marketing and psychology deal with human behaviour, countless other psychological principles can be applied to your digital marketing efforts. However, marketing professionals must not lose sight of the fact that their work is fundamentally a goal-oriented practice. As marketing professionals, our goal is to convince our audiences to take a desired course of action while meeting our business’s broader objectives. Understanding our audience on a psychological level will certainly help, but it’s not our primary goal.
There are many ways to incorporate these principles into your marketing strategy. One way is to develop highly-detailed audience personas that represent your core customers. By assigning traits to your customers, you can begin to predict their reactions to your marketing material and develop marketing strategies catered to your audience groups.
Of course, psychological theories (like any other theory) are only useful if they correspond to real-world data and behaviours. While these principles may serve as a good starting point, professionals should continue to audit their marketing strategy over time to ensure it aligns with their goals.
Psychological principles are highly valuable tools for marketers to develop their marketing strategies. Combined with data-driven insights, strategic know-how, and high-performance execution, the principles noted above can be used to create a digital marketing mix that drives consistent performance for your business in the short and long-term.
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