The Incomplete Guide to Psychology in Digital Marketing

03 May 2019 | Sukhesh Vadavil

This is a guide. A guide to human psychology. It’s also about digital marketing. But it’s incomplete. You are going to find out why.

Psychology is not a coherent science. It would be delusional to try to understand it in its entirety. 8 billion people on this planet translate to 8 billion psychological variations. Here, we are looking at 4 efficient manners by which a brand can appeal better to the audience by enveloping its strategy in the sagacity of human psychology.

Psychology and marketing go hand-in-hand. This is a well-known fact. Think of digital marketing as a chess game. You try to make the right moves with the right tools. Though your strategy is the king, engagement is the queen. And we all know who has the upper hand in chess. The Queen.

Engagement is paramount in marketing, digital or traditional. Especially in digital due to the massive amount of content and products that are just a click or touch away. Emotions must drive your engagement attempts, not intellect. This is exactly why David Packard said: “Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.”

Weaving your strategy with the threads of wisdom from psychology can fashion an effective approach to marketing. Let me show you (and briefly describe) 5 well-known tactics spun with psychology that actually works. Later, we shall look at the 4 powerful tools that I promised earlier.

Anchoring Effect

An example is when an advertisement shows a discounted price. You might not even have an idea about the original price. However, giving you an incentive of saving can trigger that buying bone to make the click.

Social Proof

Everyone needs validation. Not “wants”, but “NEEDS” validation and approval. By providing testimonials and reviews, you are uncovering that they are not alone if they purchase a particular product or avail of that specific service.

Scarcity

Execute the ad or campaign in such a way that the viewer must feel that if they lose another moment, they are going to miss this opportunity. And that the opportunity is too big to be missed.

Instant Gratification

Avoid long, tedious processes that include many steps before conversion. Instant gratification is what everyone wants. Keep the processes simple. A good example is Facebook lead generation. If a prospect clicks on the ad, most of the required details are already furnished by Facebook itself. Evidently, their massive database of personal information is to be thanked for this.

Commitment Hierarchy

Start with small demands. Such as asking for their first name or email address. Then gradually proceed to tasks that require more commitment such as a purchase.  

The above-mentioned tactics are proven to work efficiently if employed in the right context, in the right sense, and with the right aesthetics. Now let us look at the 4 exemplary implementations of general psychology to lure in more customers.

The Possibility Paradox

Give your audience the advantage of possibilities. Of choice. A wide range of choices can positively influence your campaigns but overdoing it is a blunder. Take Flipkart for instance. Though they have millions of products, they manage to target and offer the most relevant products to any given segment of the audience. Few takeaways from this approach are:

  • Keep the key points to a minimum while emphasizing on them.
  • Anything more than 2 clear paths to follow must be considered a faux pas.

Bridging the Information Gap

There is a strong emotional turmoil that people experience when there is a void between what they know and what they want to know. Marketers can use this space of oblivion by nestling their content in it. This oblivion is mostly curiosity and some ignorance. Quench their curiosity, earn their trust. It’s simple. Give the audience purposeful information. Decorate it with a juggernaut of a heading. And make them feel like that’s all they need in life.

Exercise Emotions

It is one thing to brag about the technical superiority of your product or service. It is another thing to talk about the convenience it caters and how it would make the life of the buyer easier.  Antonio Damasio, in his book ‘Descartes Error’ states that emotion is an inevitability to every decision a person makes. Buying, of course, is a decision and the emotional factor can greatly lubricate it. Let us consider a case of the Gods of marketing, Apple. When Jobs introduced the original i-pod, it had the technical advantage of 5 gigabytes memory in a small device. Instead of boasting about it, Apple simply said “1000 songs in your pocket”. Gods for a reason of course.

A Study in Cognition

Grounded cognition marries fundamental cognition to produce perception, action, and introspection. Basically, it advises you to incorporate a story into your strategy. People tend to overlook or forget raw facts and figures but will connect more with a story. Throw in context, instances, humour, and elements of interest to grip your audience into converting the way you want them to. Speak to seek. Speak in a relatable, personal manner. Make people empathize with the brand.

So how does the above-mentioned percipiences cater to your needs as a digital marketer? The answer lies in peer confirmation, provision of quality content, the creation of urgency, and prioritizing the customers. An architecture of ads intended to persuade, an emotion-driven approach rooted in empathetic behaviour, and a commitment to consistency both in quality and outreach can work wonders for your campaign.

The 4 approach tactics mentioned here are not, in any sense, ultimate. It may not even be the beginning. In fact, it may barely have scratched the surface. There are loads of other approaches and a plethora of new doors to be opened pertaining to psychology in marketing. The fact also remains that even the interpretation of these 4 tactics might be unfinished. There could be a zillion other implications and angles to this.

Thus, this guide remains incomplete….

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