Marketing Psychology: 5 Insightful Principles of Human Behavior

A key part of being a great marketer is understanding how (and why) people think and act the way they do. For example, it’s much harder to create compelling content marketing if you don’t know why it’s compelling to your audience in the first place.Before diving into the tactical details of marketing, it really helps to understand how people work…which is essentially what the entire field of psychology tries to explain. Understanding some key principles of psychology can take your marketing from good to amazing, all because the right audience is reading and identifying with (and most likely converting) it.To help you attract, persuade, and convert more people to your marketing, know the following psychology lessons.

Psychology and Marketing: 5 Important Principles of Psychology You Should Apply

1. Prime

Have you ever played a game where one person says a word and the other immediately responds with the first thing that comes to mind?This is how priming works. You are exposed to one stimulus and it affects how you respond to another stimulus. Psychology Today gives the example of two groups of people reading the word “yellow” followed by either “sky” or “banana”. Since people have a semantic association between the fruit and its color, the “yellow banana” group recognizes the word “banana” faster than the “yellow sky” group “sky”.What does this have to do with marketing? Many. With subtle priming techniques, you could help your website visitors remember important information about your brand—and maybe even influence their buying behavior.It has been tested before. In a study by Naomi Mandel and Eric J. Johnson, researchers manipulated a website’s background design to see if it influenced consumers’ product choices. Participants were asked to choose between two products in a category (e.g. Toyota vs. Lexus). According to Psychology Today, “They found that visitors primed for money (the site background was green with pennies on it) looked at pricing information longer than those primed for safety. Likewise, consumers primed for convenience looked at convenience information longer than those primed for money.”

2. Reciprocity

That in Dr. The concept of “reciprocity” introduced by Robert Cialdini’s book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” is simple – if someone does something for you, you naturally want to do something for them.If you’ve ever gotten a mint with your bill at a restaurant, you’ve fallen victim to reciprocity. According to Cialdini, when waiters bring their guests a check without coins, the guests tip according to their perception of the service provided. A coin increases the tip by 3.3%. Two mints? The peak jumps “through the roof” to about 20%.There are many ways to leverage reciprocity in your marketing. You don’t have to roll in dough to give gifts; It can be anything from a branded sweatshirt to an exclusive ebook to a free desktop wallpaper or your expertise on a difficult subject. Even something as simple as a handwritten note can go a long way in building reciprocity. Just make sure you give away the free thing before asking for anything in return.

3) Social Proof

Most marketers are already familiar with this concept, but it was too important to leave out of this list. If you’re unfamiliar, social proof is the theory that people adopt the beliefs or actions of a group of people they like or trust. In other words, it’s the “me too” effect. Think of it like an awkward middle school dance—few people want to be first on the dance floor, but once a few people get there, everyone else wants to join in. (Remember, this desire to conform won’t go away as you get older and less shy about your dance moves.)An easy way to get the most out of social proof is with your blog. If you aren’t already, use social share and follow buttons that show the number of followers of your accounts or the number of shares of a piece of content. If those numbers are paramount and you already have some people sharing your post, people who stumble upon your post later are much more likely to share.

4. Decoy effect

You’ll often see this effect in pricing models – a price point is intentionally included to tempt you to choose the most expensive option.In Dan Airley’s famous TED talk, “Are We In Control Of Our Own Choices?” he describes an advert by The Economist showcasing the latest subscription packages. Here’s what they offered:

  • Online Subscription: $59
  • Print Subscription: $125
  • Online and print subscription: $125

Crazy, right? You can purchase the print-only subscription and the online and print subscription for the same price. Why would they offer that?Airley thought so too. He reached out to the people at The Economist, but he never got a straight answer from them.So he decided to conduct his own study with 100 MIT students. He gave them the prize packages described above and asked which one they would like to buy. When all three options were available, the students opted for the combo subscription – that was the best deal, wasn’t it? But when he removed the “useless” option (the $125 print subscription), students preferred the cheapest option.Turns out the middle option wasn’t that useless after all – it gave the students a frame of reference for how “good” the combo deal was and enticed them to pay more for that deal.So if you want to increase conversions on a landing page with two options, you might want to add a third. It could help increase the conversion rate of the option you ultimately want people to choose.

5. Scarcity

Have you ever bought airline tickets and seen a slogan that says “Only 3 seats left at this price!” Yes, that’s scarcity (another Cialdini concept). This psychological principle goes back to the simple formula of supply and demand: the rarer the opportunity, content or product, the more valuable it is.In 1975, Worchel, Lee, and Adewole conducted a study to see how scarcity affects people’s perceptions. At the start of the study, they asked participants to rate chocolate chip cookies. According to an article by my colleague Lanya Olmstead describing the experiment, “[the researchers] placed 10 biscuits in one jar and two of the same biscuits in another jar. The cookies from the two cookie jar received double the ratings of the 10 cookie jar, even though the cookies were exactly the same.”But if you want to apply this principle properly, you have to be careful how you phrase it. If you approach the concept of scarcity as if there used to be a lot of a product or service but only a few are left due to high demand, people will be very receptive. On the other hand, if you approach it from the point of view that there are few products overall, so get it now, the principle won’t be as effective. Check out this post by Nir and Far for a deeper explanation of why this distinction is important.