9 principles of psychology for powerful marketing campaigns

Using particular language or hues in your marketing messages and online content can convert the average reader into a loyal customer. Here’s what you must know.

Image by Ky via / CC BY 2.0

Marketers are in a new world.

They have to spend time learning the most current technology; they worry about SEO; they analyze all of the research data; and they search for new markets.

All of these things are important in today’s marketing world, but one thing has not changed: the psychology of marketing.

Purchases are 85 percent emotional and impulsive—and based on basic principles of psychology.

With all of the hype about content marketing strategies, marketers often forget these basic principles. In some places, they are not even taught anymore. Here are nine psychological principles you should have in your tool belt:

1. Give to get. This is known as the reciprocity principle. When people are given something—or when someone does something nice for them—they have a psychological need to repay that “gift.”

Zappos employs this principle well. When a purchase is made, they automatically give, as a surprise, next-day delivery for the same shipping price. The result: Brand awareness in its simple form.

2. Use color to appeal to emotions. The chart below shows the emotional appeals of several colors. Marketers should use these hues to their advantage, dependent upon customer personas.

3. Promote exclusivity. People want to feel that they are part of a special “club.”

When you offer something for a short time—or only to the next 100 subscribers—you are more likely to gain subscribers. Figure out what you can offer—special pricing, a free trial or access to a helpful digital guide.

4. Highlight emotions. People are emotionally stimulated by poignancy, positivity, shock, fear and humor. A study by Wharton School of Business looked at the content that was most read and shared, and found that it appealed to these basic emotions .

Highly shared content tells stories that “connect” emotionally with readers. Headlines and first sentences that shock, amaze, elicit laugher from or intrigue the reader really do work.

5. Promote urgency. Amazon does this all time. You look at a product and are told immediately from each vendor how many are left. What do you do? You buy, so you don’t lose out on the item at that great price.

Your customers are no different. Create that sense of scarcity—a free trial or special price that is a limited-time offer.

6. Get your foot in the door. Once your foot is in the door, it’s much easier to convert a reader into a customer. Offering a free trial is the most common and the best way to do it. If you can add additional appeals, even better.

First is the emotional fear of chaos—no one wants that. Then you offer a free trial, which gets your foot in the door. After that, tell the reader how many companies have signed up in the past week. All of these tactics appeal to target customers.

7. Cut down on options. A supermarket study shed light into an interesting psychological phenomenon. When shoppers were offered 24 different samples of jams, some bought, while others just tasted. When only six samples were offered, 20 percent more samplers made a purchase.

Understand the psychology of confusion. Offer fewer options, and sales will be greater.

8. Get them on the bandwagon. This tactic is also called “creating a tribe,” but in the psychology field, it’s known as “social identity theory.”

Everyone wants to belong to a group. Make your customers a great group. Extol their intelligence and how much fun they have, and feature them in your content.

9. Educate yourself. Though not a psychological marketing tool like the others, it’s solid advice.

There is much to learn about the psychology of marketing and neuroscience that reveals what stimulates certain parts of the brain that control emotions.

If you are feeling less educated than other marketers, you don’t have to go back to school. Online webinars and courses can keep you current on the latest psychological marketing strategies that are building customer bases successfully.

Human nature has not changed, though our understanding of it continually evolves as we learn.

Understanding the long-standing psychological principles that affect reader engagement can help you use principles of psychology—and newer tactics—more effectively.

Benedict Brychta is an MBA student from San Jose, California. A version of this article originally appeared on Spin Sucks.



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