5 Ways to Leverage Psychology in your Digital Marketing Strategy

by Frankly Frank July 31, 2017

TL DR:

  • Social Proof: a psychological phenomenon where people assume the behaviours of others to be the correct thing to do.
    Leverage it by:
  • Always striving to get as much engagement as possible on your social media posts. The more engagement you get, the more valuable your posts will be perceived to be.
  • Scarcity: We all have scarce resources, whether it be our time or our money – it is in limited supply.
    Leverage it by:
  • Promoting your offers on social media, state clearly how long the offer is on for.
  • Persuasion Architecture: is the strategic creation of a website (or other platforms) to encourage conversions

          Leverage it by:

  • Including a single clear call-to-action.
  • Reciprocity: is commonly used by marketers to gather data from customers or to get them to take a particular action.

          Leverage it by:

  • Ensuring that the reward that you offer is perceived as valuable. This can be done by emphasising exclusivity e.g. if they sign up to a mailing list mention that they will be the first to hear about offers.
  • Anchoring: involves individuals basing their pricing expectations on past experiences.
    Leverage it by:
  • Advertising the both the normal price as well as the promotional price.

Introduction

The behaviour of the digital customer is very different.

When traditional forms of marketing prevailed, a TV or newspaper ad was convincing enough to make us think, “gee, that product being advertised must be great – I’ll go ahead and purchase it next time I go shopping”.

Those days are over.

Customers are empowered as they have access to a wealth of information at their fingertips. The Internet.

Before purchases are made, a lot of online research is conducted, they:

  • Watch reviews on YouTube
  • Listen to the opinions of their favourite online influencers
  • Read blogs of people’s experiences with the product
  • Search for before and after pictures

This change in buyer behaviour demonstrates how vital it is that you as a marketer deeply understand your customer’s mindset and behavior when online so that you can assist your customers throughout their journey to purchasing your products, and increase the number of successful conversions.

Psychology seeks to understand the mindset and behaviour of individuals. I am going to explain 5 actionable ways that you can leverage psychology in your digital marketing strategy – so without further ado, let’s get started!

#1: Social Proof

Social proof is a very powerful concept.

In fact, we use social proof to determine a lot of the actions that we take.

For example if:

  • A charity box already has some change in it, we feel more inclined to add to it compared to if the box was empty.
  • There are two similar products listed on Amazon, and one has an average 5-star rating, and 100s of reviews and the other has no ratings or reviews, we are more likely to opt for the former.

Why?

Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the behaviours of other to be the correct thing to do, so they follow suit in, without second guessing it.

Examples of social proof online:

This is a screenshot of the stats taken from a viral YouTube video.

Without even watching the video, it’s pretty safe to assume that the content is of value, whether it is entertaining, informative or thought provoking – if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t have amassed so much engagement.

Even though I may not enjoy or perceive the content to be valuable after watching it (like the 1 million+ who gave it a thumbs down) this example demonstrates the power of social proof.

Example 2: Amazon

Say if I needed to buy a new lawnmower.

I’ve never purchased a lawnmower before, so when searching on Amazon, as well as considering the price and the features, I would consider the reviews and ratings.

 

Here are the top three results that are returned when searching for “lawn mowers”.

1 and 2 are listed as best sellers, and both have 4.5-star ratings, however, 3 has a slightly lower rating but 1,201 reviews.

Whilst I would conduct more in depth research and consider many factors social proof is one factor that would be silly to ignore. Especially if a product had several negative reviews and ratings.

Key takeaways for your business:

  • Always strive to get as much engagement as possible on your social media posts. The more engagement you get, the more valuable your posts will be perceived to be.
  • Ask your delighted customers for a review of your products or services, and make those reviews public.
  • If you have an e-commerce store, flag the items that are best sellers, and consider showing customers what others frequently purchase with each item.

#2: Scarcity

Scarcity is a fundamental principle that underpins economics.

We all have scarce resources, whether it be our time or our money – it is in limited supply.

Scarcity forces us to make a decision.  

As human beings, we strive to avoid the feeling of pain and intensify our feelings of pleasure.

Considering the fact that the majority of us have a limited amount of disposable income, we naturally want to make wise purchasing decisions – a pleasurable experience.

Missing a great offer that is only on for a short period of time is something that can only be avoided if we decide to make a purchasing decision quickly.

Most marketers know this – and use it to their advantage in their marketing strategy.

Let’s look at an example:

 

In this example, notice how instead of saying “offer ends today” it specifically states that there are 6 hours left of this offer. This forces the prospect to make a rapid decision, or even an impulse buy.

Key takeaways for your business:

  • Anything that is scarce is perceived to be valuable: diamonds hold so much value because they are perceived as scarce. If you sell products that are low on stock, make it clear on your website to speed up prospects’ decision making. If you can, state exactly how many are left in stock.
  • When you promote your offers on social media, state clearly how long the offer is on for.
  • Highlight products that are seasonal and won’t be available for a while once stock runs out.

#3: Persuasion Architecture

Persuasion architecture sounds like a complex concept, however, put simply, it is the strategic creation of a website (or other platforms) to encourage conversions – this may be purchases, email sign ups, visits to a landing page etc.

A key finding in consumer psychology is: in order to get someone to do something, make it as easy as possible for them to do it.

Digital marketers have acknowledged that:

  • Our attention spans are getting shorter.
  • We don’t read, we skim.
  • We don’t want to be interrupted by aggressive ads.

We want convenience and always opt for the path of least resistance.

Let’s look at an example of how companies use persuasion architecture: to increase conversion rates:

Human beings have an incredible ability to recognise faces. When we look at someone, we often times look them in the eye. The screenshot above is a great example of a directional cue.

As soon as you look at the lady you instantly notice she is looking away and your natural instinct is to follow her gaze – Which takes you to the section to register for course information at Capella University.

Key takeaways for your business:

  • Include a single clear call-to-action.
  • Make sign up instructions as clear and as short as possible.
  • Consider using directional cues this can be more subtle than the one in the example by using arrows for example.

#4: Reciprocity  

One way to encourage someone to do something for you is to offer them something in return.

Reciprocity is commonly used by marketers to gather data from customers or to get them to take a particular action.

Take a look at this example: It’s asking page visitors to join the mailing list by providing their email address, and in return, the visitor will get informed of the latest product launches and seasonal trends.

Notice how you can still submit your data and uncheck the box to not receive email updates – regardless of whether the person gives consent to be sent email updates, the customer’s data is still valuable to Wilko.

Key takeaways for your business:

  • Ensure that the reward that you offer is perceived as valuable this can be done by emphasising exclusivity e.g. if they sign up to a mailing list mention that they will be the first to hear about offers.
  • Be explicit about how your customers can show reciprocity e.g. ask them to follow you on social media.
  • If a customer reaches out to you publicly via social media with positive feedback/comments, always keep the conversation going.

#5: Anchoring

Naturally, when we are faced with something new, we rely on information and experiences from the past to make decisions and assumptions.

When it comes to shopping, if for example, you purchased a washing machine in the past and you were looking to purchase a new one with similar features, you would have a rough idea of how much it will cost, or at least an idea of how much you’ll be willing to pay for it.

Marketers know that customers do this, and use it to emphasise promotions.

Look at this screenshot again:

The bundle of Elemis products is usually worth £173.50, for people who are familiar with the product range, that is the price anchored in their mind that they would expect to pay if they purchased all of the items in the bundle separately.

However, the whole collection is on offer for £60, so the customer would make a considerable saving.

Likewise, if you are not familiar with the product range, to know that the bundle is worth £173.50 implies that the products are of a certain quality and are perceived as valuable.

Key takeaway for your business:

  • When products are on promotion, advertise the both the normal price as well as the promotional price.

Conclusion

The truth is, offline, consumer psychology is used influence buyer’s decision making.

Supermarkets, for example, spend a lot of time and money on implementing changes suggested by consumer psychologists, It’s no coincidence that many supermarkets have a bakery on site, milk is always placed away from the entrance and promotional offers are placed at the ends of the aisles.

Everything is strategically placed to increase sales.

As the customer journey becomes increasingly digital, it is important that you leverage psychology by incorporating proven concepts into your digital marketing strategy to enhance buyer engagement, increase conversion rates and ultimately grow your business.

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