Research shows that 95% of purchasing decisions are irrational, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t influence them. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Marketing psychology is the art & science of taking what we know about human behavior and applying these psychological principles to marketing campaigns. Understanding how your consumers think, feel, and react helps you create nuanced marketing tactics that motivate your leads to buy.
In this article, we’re sharing five best psychology-driven digital marketing tactics you can use to turn your potential customers into loyal fans for life.
→ Psychological marketing isn’t about manipulating your consumers or exploiting them. It’s about ethically influencing their decisions and compelling them to buy. There’s a big difference between using psychology in marketing and lying.
1. Use the Anchoring Bias to Your Advantage
Anchoring bias is a psychological phenomenon that describes people’s tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information they’re presented with, regardless of how true or accurate it is. This first piece of information creates an “anchor” that the person uses as a reference point to make all future decisions.
For example, potential employers sometimes set an initial wage for negotiations at a low amount so it becomes an anchor. Let’s say you get offered a wage of $60,000/year and negotiate it up to $65,000. It feels like a win, but the employer was actually ready to offer $70,000. Having $60,000 as the anchor makes $65,000 appear more valuable than it actually is.
So, how can you apply the anchoring bias to marketing?
- Show savings: Businesses that sell subscriptions often show how much you’d save by choosing their annual plan over their monthly plan. This establishes the cheaper annual plan as the anchor and makes your leads more likely to purchase it even though they have to pay more upfront.
- Mark down prices: If your product or service is on sale, showing its original price vs. its current price can compel your leads to make a purchase because they’ll perceive it as more valuable.
Anchoring bias is one of the best digital marketing tactics out there, but it’s important to stay transparent. Don’t include numbers that are not real and use savings & prices that are actually true. Otherwise, you’re risking losing your target audience’s trust.
2. Pay Attention to Your Customer’s Level of Awareness
To make a sale, you need to send the right message to the right person at the right time. To do that, you need to pay extra-careful attention to your customer journey and how much your leads know as they go through each of its stages.
Customer awareness refers to the degree your leads are aware of the problems they’re experiencing and the solutions that exist for these problems. There are five stages of customer awareness:
- Completely unaware: At this stage of awareness, your customer doesn’t know that they have a problem to begin with. As a result, they’re not looking for a solution (aka your product/service). If your customers are at this awareness level, you first need to open their eyes to the fact that they have a problem that they need to solve.
- Problem-aware: Your customer knows that they have a problem, but they don’t know what kind of solutions exist to help them with this problem. To convert leads at this level of awareness, show them that solutions exist and position yours as the best one.
- Solution-aware: Your customer knows that there are solutions to their problem, but they don’t know about your service/product and why it’s the best choice for them. You don’t have to spend time on convincing your leads that a solution exists and instead can focus on establishing your solution as the best one.
- Product-aware: Your customer knows about your product/service and is choosing between you and multiple alternatives. At this awareness stage, it’s important to show why your solution is unique and overcome customer objections.
- Fully aware: This customer has done their research and is almost ready to make a purchase. They just need one last nudge!
If you don’t understand your customer’s level of awareness, your marketing strategy will fall flat. If your leads are only problem-aware, you need to take your time shifting their perspective and opening their eyes to the possible solutions instead of jumping straight into selling them on the features of your product/service. But if they’re product-aware, spending too much time building up to the discussion of your service/product will bore your customer and likely result in missed sales.
3. Trigger Emotion with Power Words
Power words bring out strong emotions in your customers and can improve your conversion rates. Buying is an emotional decision, and using power words in content marketing & on social media can help you appeal to the part of your leads’ brains that is responsible for emotions.
Positive words, such as “phenomenal,” “epic,” and “extraordinary,” can encourage and uplift your readers. Negative words, such as “hate,” “useless,” and “corrupt,” can make them curious. For example, here’s an example from SmartBlogger:
For most people, business jargon is not on the top of the list of interesting topics, but this headline makes you want to know more, doesn’t it? Human brains are psychologically wired to respond to emotionally-charged words, so use them on your landing pages and in your email marketing campaigns to have your leads’ interest soar.
→ You might also like: The Mind-Blowing Science Behind Storytelling Copywriting
4. Make It Exclusive
People naturally crave things that they can’t have. Our brains want things that are difficult to obtain & that not everyone has access to — in other words, exclusive things. It makes us feel important and boosts our self-esteem, so appealing to this psychological peculiarity is a great digital marketing strategy.
Here are some things you can do to make your product/service appear more scarce and the purchase more urgent:
- Infuse your messaging with exclusivity: Make your customers & clients feel like they belong to a members-only club. Emphasize that your brand isn’t for everyone, and that’s a great thing.
- Appeal to FOMO: The fear of missing out, or FOMO, is something that most people have experienced at least a few times in their lives. It refers to the feeling of not wanting to be left behind, and can be a powerful marketing tool. Time-limited deals, early bird pricing, and limited availability are all examples of FOMO marketing.
- Do product “drops”: If you’re selling products, experiment with releasing them in small batches — or “drops” — to emphasize their scarcity. It can motivate your target audience to make a purchasing decision faster because they’ll be scared that you’ll run out of inventory. For example, Liv & Dom is a homeware brand that releases products in small batches on specific dates that are announced in advance.
If you’ve been wondering about how to use psychological tactics in marketing ethically, the most important thing is to keep your promises. If you’re offering a time-limited deal or emphasizing exclusivity of a certain product/service, make sure that it’s actually true and don’t break your audience’s trust.
5. Keep Options to a Minimum
Have you ever heard about the paradox of choice? It refers to a psychological phenomenon of the human brain not being able to make a decision when faced with too many options. For example, you may have a hard time deciding on which movie to watch online because there’s an almost endless number of options.
The paradox of choice stands true in marketing, too. If you give your target audience too many options to choose from, there’s a high chance that they’ll be attracted to your product/service at first, but won’t actually make the purchase because they’ll feel too stressed out by all the decisions they have to make.
For example, in one marketing study, supermarket shoppers were presented with a variety of jam samples to try. On the first day of the experiment, they were given six different jams. On the second day, they had to choose from 24 different jams samples. What do you think happened? On the first day, 40% of shoppers tried the jams and 30% ended up buying. On the second day, 60% of shoppers tried the jams but only 3% ended up making a purchase.
Even though giving more options boosted the initial interest (40% → 60%), the sales dropped drastically (30% → 3%) when the shoppers had to choose between 24 different jam options instead of six.
So, don’t give your target audience too many decisions to make. Keep your service/product options to a minimum and prioritize a clear buying experience to make more sales.
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