Last updated: 20th March, 2019
Using the word ‘psychology’ together in a sentence with ‘marketing’ probably has you questioning how it relates to your job.
You’re a content marketer –someone that uses the power of words to communicate with your ideal audience. It’s not our job to conduct studies on how the brain works, right?
Well, get ready for a truth bomb:
You should be combining psychology and marketing if you want to make sales from your content marketing strategy.
That’s because content is online communication. We can’t persuade people to buy things without using words to tell them why they should, and you can’t attract people to your website without a reason for them to do it.
Here’s how you harness the relationship between psychology and marketing to boost your content efforts:
5 Psychology Principles to Boost Your Content Marketing Strategy
Ready to psych-out your audience with proven principles that’ll make them buy?
Follow these five psychology principles, and learn from brands who’ve experienced the benefits first-hand:
1. FOMO: “Am I Missing Out?”
People don’t like feeling left out. (Even you, I’m sure.)
FOMO, or the fear of missing out, is feeling that drives a customer to make a decision or purchase.
Have you ever bought a makeup product because everyone you knew talked about it?
Perhaps you’ve made a restaurant reservation because it seemed everywhere you looked, someone mentioned the place.
Or maybe you watched a movie because of its 5-star rating on every entertainment blog you’ve read.
If you’re not trying it for yourself, you’re missing out, right?
That’s the basics of the FOMO principle.
Despite it sounding like something you’d see on a #highschoolproblems tweet, FOMO is real.
In fact, one study found that 69% of millennials experience FOMO, and 60% make reactive purchases because of it–making it a fantastic reason to use psychology and marketing in conjunction to drive sales.
To start using this principle, you’ll need a group of people to rave about your product in order to make Joe Bloggs feel like they’re missing out by not getting involved.
The simplest approach to doing this is: Make your content exclusive.
Exclusivity is one of the marketing psychology tactics that bloggers have used for years, and happens when people need to do something in order to access your content–even if that content’s free (like a blog post).
Think about lead magnets, gated content, or resource libraries: You have to enter an email address to gain access, which makes it exclusive to fans.
And, because people who hand over their information are likely to be super interested in what you have to say, they’re loyal–and more likely to enjoy the content and share it with their friends.
That’ll lead to the same type of #FOMO that caused you to sign-up to a Facebook group when you saw your friends raving about it.#FOMO is a fantastic psychology tactic to harness in your content marketing strategy, says @elisedopson Click To Tweet
The Content Marketing Academy. are a great example of how to build FOMO into a marketing plan. Their company has a regular blog, but uses FOMO in their membership scheme which takes content exclusivity to the next level.
They’ve listed six benefits of joining their community–including the added bonus of a support group–on their signup page:
You’re likely thinking something like: “Wow – this community isn’t just a one-to-one relationship with the business; I can talk to other like-minded people…And not miss out on any juicy advice I could use to grow my own brand.”
You want to be a part of their exclusive community, right?
Boom… You’re hit with a serious case of FOMO.
eReceptionist also cover the topic more directly with the landing page they’ve built around the FOMO feeling:
2. Social Proof: “Well, These Guys Are Doing It…”
Following on from FOMO, I wanted to talk a little bit more about how customers use other people’s influence to make purchasing decisions.
FOMO happens when a group of people do something, and you feel like you need to do it too.
…Even if you don’t know them.
Social proof is along a similar vein to referral and influencer marketing, and is a bit different to FOMO in the fact that it uses people you know to endorse products.
If people you know and trust are using this product, why shouldn’t you?
That’s the question you want your ideal customers to ask. But in order to do that, you’ll need to partner with the people they’re influenced by.
The simplest way to use social proof on a large scale is to partner-up with an influencer. These people are already recognized in your niche, and already have tonnes of engaged followers that could be influenced to buy your product.
Not only does that expand your reach, but it caters to the 30% of consumers that are more likely to buy a product recommended by a non-celebrity blogger.
So, because I’m a freelance writer in the marketing niche, I could reach out to these influencers:
These guys have spent years building their audience. They’ve got a fantastic reputation and a community of people who trust what they’re saying.
Wouldn’t it be great if they endorsed my writing services?
Well, it’s not impossible. In fact, you could give influencers in your space free access to your product or services in exchange for a testimonial. Then, once you’ve got that, run with it. Share it on social media, add it to your checkout page and let people know you’ve been endorsed by someone they trust.
3. The Information Gap: “I Really Should Know This…”
The Information Gap theory was developed by George Loewenstein in the early 1990s, and is commonly used to bridge psychology and marketing. The theory itself is pretty complex, but this is what you need to know about it:
This marketing psychology tactic closes the space between what people already know, and what they want to know.
The good news is you can use it in your content marketing strategy pretty easily.
The even better news? You probably are already, without realizing.
If you’re writing content for your blog with the aim of educating someone, you’re already using the Information Gap theory. You’re closing the gap between what people know and what they want to know, but let’s take that a little further.
While you might already be creating the content you’ll need for this marketing psychology tactic, you can supercharge its effectiveness by altering the way you create headlines.
I’ve previously said that headlines are the biggest (and most crucial) blog post element. After all, it’s the biggest influence in whether someone will read your article or skip past it in their social media feeds.
We can use the Information Gap theory in blog post headlines to drive more clicks, site traffic, and sales through these simple headline formulas:
- Why Do…?
- Why Don’t…?
- X Things You Didn’t Know About…
Here’s a great example of how Time.com has used the Information Gap theory in their blog post headline: “Why Do We Procrastinate?”. If you’re unsure about why you procrastinate, the Time post bridges your Information Gap and educates you on the topic.
But even if you already know why you (personally) procrastinate, aren’t you intrigued to find out why other people do?Top tip: Bridge your ideal customer's information gap by using these proven headline structures. Click To Tweet
4. Loss Aversion: “But I Could Avoid This If I Purchased…”
People strongly prefer avoiding losses more than they do receiving gains. That’s the basics of loss aversion.
Let’s put it into practice:
- If you hire me to write for you, I’ll create awesome content for your B2B website.
- If you hire me to write for you, you don’t have to let your competitors’ content strategy draw-in your ideal customers (and miss out on sales).
Which of these are you most affected by? Chances are, it’s the latter.
Even though you’d love awesome content, the fear of losing your ideal customers to a competitor (AKA “the loss”) is more powerful.
Using loss aversion in marketing is more of a copywriting technique than it is marketing. It happens when you change the wording of your sales content, promoting what your customers will lose if they don’t purchase or upgrade.
It’s great for SaaS brands to use on their pricing pages. Why? Because people visiting this pricing page already have an interest in the product you’re selling. but they might not be ready to invest more cash into your software if they don’t know it works for them.
Take a look at how DocuSign use loss aversion on their pricing page:
Yes, you could sign-up to their basic plan for £8/month… But for another £12, you could upgrade and avoid losing out on reminders, notifications, and personalized branding.
Telling potential customers they’d lose out on these features makes them think: “I could avoid the stress of manually sending email reminders for my clients to sign their contracts.”
And that, my friends, is how loss aversion psychology can help you sell more of your high-end products.
5. Reciprocity: “Well, You Have Done This for Me…”
Hands up if you’ve ever heard the phrase,“treat people how you want to be treated.”
That’s the basics of reciprocity. If someone does something for you, you’re more likely to reciprocate and do it back.
But that’s not just used in day-to-day situations.
Or to justify parking in your neighbor’s space because they took yours last week (speaking from experience).
You can use reciprocity as a marketing psychology tactic to persuade customers to purchase something from you.
But before we dive into using this principle to drive more sales, let’s set out expectations.
This method is a long-term, indirect way to bridge psychology and marketing. It often takes weeks (or even months) to make a sale that’s based off reciprocity, but you can use it to boost the ROI you’re getting from your content marketing strategy.
That’s because reciprocity can be as simple as sharing content on your blog.
Once customers recognize that you’re constantly giving tonnes of value completely free of charge, they’re more inclined to think:
“Well these guys have given this away for free. It must’ve taken hours to create something this in-depth, and I want to show my gratitude by purchasing their product.”
Start taking advantage of this psychology principle by giving value to your customers through the various types of B2B content you’re creating. Banish the crappy 500-word SEO articles from your site and focus on long-form content that tells your audience how to get results.
You have to create excellent content to make excellent sales.
It’s your turn to bridge the psychology and marketing gap
Now you’re fully in-the-know about using psychology to power your marketing campaigns, it’s time to get to work.
From using FOMO to bridging your target audience’s information gap, remember the mind is a powerful thing–and you’ll need to win over your customers’ before see results from your marketing.