06 Jan 10 psychology tricks that will make you a better marketer
One of the most important parts of being a marketer is being able to anticipate how people will act. Unfortunately, behavior isn’t always as rational as we think. People can be weird, and human quirks can make it difficult to understand how to influence your consumer and create compelling content. Lucky for you, psychology is on your side.
Here are the best psychology tricks that will help you understand human behavior and all of its quirks:
Even the subtlest suggestions can even influence behavior, and being exposed to one thing can often influence your response to something else. Priming plays off of people’s associations to change reactions. A study by Naomi Mandel and Eric J. Johnson proved that something as simple as a website’s background can play a huge role in how consumers act. The researchers asked two sets of users to compare two car brands. The first group saw a version of the page with a green background with pennies, and ended up looking at price information longer. The second group saw a background that was red with flames, and spent more time looking at the safety features of both cars.
Controlling context influences how people view, recognize, and respond to your content. So once you figure out which associations you want to use, priming can help frame how people remember key factors about your brand.
Theory of reciprocity
Usually, if someone does something for you, you want to do something for them in return. The theory of reciprocity plays such a huge role in social psychology that it even influences how people respond to marketing. We’re more likely to give after we’ve received something, whether that’s a gift or an awesome lead generation tip.
That’s one of the reasons why it’s so important to make sure your content marketing is valuable to your reader. If your readers love your content, they’re much likely to do something for your brand in return, which could be anything from buying to writing a testimonial. Using the theory of reciprocity can even be a way to create your own brand advocates (as long as you give before asking for something in return).
The choice study
We all know that customers are independent and like exploring their options; but when it comes to what you present, too many options might be a bad thing. According to this study affiliated with Stanford, there’s a point when choices actually start to demotivate.
Customers might want to see all of the options available, but that’s ultimately going to prevent them from making a decision. So, when setting up a page with options or pricing, be sure to strategize and select a few.
Which brings us to the next trick…
The decoy effect
How many times have you thought to yourself, “I’ll get the large because it’s only $1 more”? That’s the decoy effect in action, and we’ve probably all fallen for it at some point in our lives. Daniel Ariely, professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University, was looking at subscriptions for the Economist when he first became aware of the decoy effect. The Economist offered three options: an online subscription for $59, a print subscription for $125, and both subscriptions for $125. Ariely wondered why they even bothered to offer the pointless middle option, and reached out to the Economist to ask. He never got a response, but after conducting an experiment with students, he found that the middle option wasn’t as useless as it seemed.
This trick throws in an extra option that’s designed to make the most expensive choice look like a deal in comparison. By adding in this decoy, companies can boost the sales of high-profit items by turning bargain hunters into value seekers. That goes to show you just how powerful perspective can be.
Everyone’s probably heard someone say “It’s not about what you say, it’s how you say it”. Well, this expression isn’t a complete cliche. A study by Ellen Langer of Harvard showed illogical reasoning in action. Langer had her research assistants attempt to cut in front of people waiting in line to make photocopies. The assistants took turns asking one of three questions:
- “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine?”
- “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?”
- “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I have to make copies?”
It turns out that versions two and three had almost identical results, with 94% and 93% of people allowing the researcher to skip the line, respectively. People were more likely to let the researcher cut if they explained their reasoning (even if the reason made no sense, like version 3). We have blind spots when someone uses “because” since it allows us to justify things even when they don’t make complete sense. That’s why it’s important to know which words are powerful when it comes to driving behavior. One word in your marketing efforts can change how people react to your messages.
The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon
Have you ever learned about a product, then suddenly start seeing it everywhere? It’s weird, but it’s definitely not a coincidence. The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon actually has two parts. It’s a combination of selective attention (when you learn about something new and unconsciously look out for it) and confirmation bias (when you convince yourself that each sighting is proof that this thing really is everywhere all of the sudden). Your brain focuses on recognizing familiar concepts, especially when they’re new to you.
As a marketer, you can encourage this phenomenon by using retargeted ads or customized lead nurturing emails to get in front of your consumer when they’re thinking about you (consciously or not).
People really hate losing things, to the point where they’re more likely make decisions based upon preventing loss than gaining. Several different experiments have proven that the fear of loss has much more power over us than the potential to win. Once people have something, they’ll try to avoid losing it; even when the odds say it’ll be better to take a risk. According to Daniel Kahneman, Nobel prize-winning psychologist, the negative feelings that come from a loss are far more intense than positive feelings that come from a comparable gain.
So what does that mean for your marketing? When trying to sell to a prospect, focus on what they may lose if they don’t take you up on your offer. Framing something as a potential loss is a much better motivator than talking about potential gains.
The halo effect
There’s a definite reason behind why it’s easier to make sales from returning customers than it is to find new ones, especially if you nailed things the first time around. If you get a product from a company and love it, you’ll be likely to buy other (and even unrelated) products from the same brand instead of searching for an alternative from a competitor. This cognitive bias is called the halo effect, and is exactly why brands like Apple have devoted followers who are always ready to try a new product. Once a customer likes an experience they’ve had with a brand, they’re likely to view the company’s entire range as good.
The halo effect easily translates to brand affinity. If your customers like you and trust you, they’re more likely to come back to you with their other needs. It’s a bit of a commitment principle. Just be careful, because this bias can also has a negative counterpart.
Illusion of scarcity
You’ve probably seen an article or two about FOMO, but it turns out that fear of missing out isn’t just an acronym to add to a clickbait headline. The concept is actually is based on the illusion of scarcity. Exclusivity is appealing, and generally, people are more likely to want things when they’re not available.
Scarcity makes things seem more valuable and causes consumers to act sooner and even purchase more than they originally intended. As a marketer, you can use limited time offerings to create a sense of urgency in your consumer’s mind, because context can make so much of a difference.
When it comes to remembering, placement tends to have the biggest impact. Serial positioning has two effects: people tend to remember the first few words in a sequence, called primacy, and the last few words, called recency. When it comes to reading or memorization, the primacy and recency effects both play a significant role in what a person remembers.
Readers scan text instead of reading word-for-word, and serial positioning can help you figure out where to place the most important parts of your marketing messaging. When writing, make sure that your first and last few points are your strongest because serial positioning reinforces what you know about having a strong opening and close. As far as video and audio content are concerned, the recency effect tends to have a bigger impact on memory than primacy does.
If you use psychology to your advantage, you’ll find it easier to make sure your marketing is effective. Now that you have these awesome tricks up your sleeve, be sure to use your powers for good.