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.

Why? Because content is communication. We can’t persuade people to buy things without using words to tell them why they should.

But marketing psychology goes deeper than that; it allows content marketers to write in a way that’s proven to make sales.

5 Psychology Principles to Boost Your Content Marketing Strategy

Ready to psych-out your audience with proven principles that’ll make them buy?

Well, we’re not going to get that extreme…But here’s how you can use psychology and marketing to make your ideal customer complete your marketing goals:

Here's how to use #psychology in #marketing and make your customers buy. Click To Tweet

1. FOMO: “Am I Missing Out?”

Let’s drop another truth bomb: 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.

That makes it a fantastic reason to use psychology and marketing in conjunction to drive sales.

How to use FOMO in marketing

Effective use of FOMO in your content marketing strategy takes a lot of work. For starters, 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? 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 loyal fans.

Notice how I said ‘loyal fans’? Only the people who are most in-tune with your brand will give up their precious email address to get your exclusive content. But that doesn’t make it a waste of time.

Because these are our most loyal fans, they’re 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

FOMO marketing examples

You probably already know that lead magnets are rife. Every business and their blog has one (and rightly so!), but I wanted to share a psychological marketing example that shows how you can use FOMO marketing in a different way.

Enter: The Content Marketing Academy.

This 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:

fomo psychology marketing example

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.”

Am I right? I’ll bet you got #FOMO.

(I know, I’m a genius.)

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.

How to use social proof with marketing psychology

The simplest way to use social proof on a large scale is to partner-up with an influencer. These people are highly 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?

The best part of working with influencers is the social proof it brings to your brand. Click To Tweet

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.

Once you’ve got that testimonial, 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.

Examples of social proof in marketing

Neil Patel is a huge name in the marketing industry. It seems you can’t go anywhere without one of his blog posts being linked to or something he’s said being quoted or referenced.

I wanted to mention him in this article because he doesn’t rely solely on his reputation to sell his services; he displays snippets of social proof on his website.

Take a look at this screenshot I took from his blog:

social proof psychology in content marketing

Neil’s grabbed a testimonial he’s been given by NBC, a name we all know and trust (for the most part).

It makes you think: “If someone like NBC reads Neil’s blog, why shouldn’t I?”

That’s the aim of using social proof as a marketing psychology tactic.

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.

How to use the Information Gap theory

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 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.

You can use the loss aversion thought process to improve your psychology and marketing strategy.

How to use loss aversion in marketing

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:

docusign loss aversion tactic in marketing

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. (Thank me later.)

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.

Using reciprocity in marketing

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 blogging 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.”

But remember; this tactic only works if you’re actually giving value. 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.

'You have to create excellent content to make excellent sales.' Click To Tweet

How I’m using this marketing psychology tactic

My goal for this blog post was to show you that psychology and marketing can be used in conjunction with each other. Hopefully, you’re now armed with techniques your business can use to drive more sales.

The best part? It cost you nothing to read, other than a few minutes of your time.

I’ve taken this principle to the extreme and written an entire eBook on B2B guest blogging. (You can download it at the end of this article, if you’re interested.)

This eBook has been downloaded by 100+ people, who’ve all made their way to my email list and sales funnel.

Because I use this free content as a lead magnet, people land themselves on my newsletter and notice that I give away tonnes of value, all for free. And, because it’s not a load of old rubbish (I hope!), I see lots of conversions from my email marketing after people download the eBook.

As you can see, psychology and marketing are closely related. It’s easy (and important!) to use the power of the mind to influence your audience into making a purchase!

So, are you ready to get started?

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