Digital marketing

I Can Make You Think – The Psychology of Marketing.


Perception is everything. Psychology is everywhere. So how can you successfully market to your consumers if you don’t know how they think? I’ve dredged up some psychology knowledge from my Uni days and applied it to marketing so that you can better entice your consumers:

Priming and ‘The Frequency Illusion’

What does it mean?
Priming occurs when exposure to one stimulus affects how you respond to another stimulus. The Frequency Illusion (actually called the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon) occurs when you hear about or experience something and then suddenly start noticing it everywhere.

The psychology bit
Although priming and the frequency illusion are two different phenomena, they share a similar psychological basis. PS Mag suggests that this results from two processes: “The first, selective attention, kicks in when you’re struck by a new word, thing, or idea; after that, you unconsciously keep an eye out for it, and as a result find it surprisingly often. The second process, confirmation bias, reassures you that each sighting is further proof of your impression that the thing has gained overnight omnipresence.”

Example
Mandel & Johnson (2002) claim that “Priming can influence preferences by making selected attributes focal”. Their study prompted participants to select one of two products in a category (for example; a Toyota vs. a Lexus). According to Psychology Today, “they found that visitors who had been primed on money (the website’s background was green with pennies on it) looked at price information longer than those who had been primed on safety. Similarly, consumers who had been primed on comfort looked at comfort information longer than those primed on money.”

Think about it…
Ever bought a new car and then seen that car everywhere? Or become pregnant and then seen babies everywhere?

The marketing bit
Priming – Think about what aspects of your product or service you want potential consumers to focus on the most, and prime them for it. Do you have a competitive price? What is your unique selling point? Consider your best bits and steer consumer attention towards them.

The Frequency Illusion – It’s said that you have to hit people with your message 3 times before they take note, so get consumers to notice your brand initially so that they’ll continue to notice it. Familiarity breeds trust, so ensure that you nurture your customers with remarketing emails, and include social share buttons on your site.


Reciprocity

What does it mean?
In simple terms: “You scratch my back; I’ll scratch yours”.

The psychology bit
As products of our evolution, anthropologist Alan Fiske (expertly summed up by Steven Pinker in this video) argues that reciprocal goodwill is an age-old technique for staying alive essentially by keeping people ‘on your side’. Whilst choosing to leave your customers some after-dinner mints with their restaurant bill is unlikely to affect your chances of survival in today’s less tribal society, it is likely to affect how much they spend with you.

Example
Dr Robert Cialdini posits that when restaurants bring the check to their diners without a mint, they will tip according to their perceptions of the service given. With one mint, the tip escalates by 3.3%, and 20% with two mints! That’s mint in all senses of the word.

Think about it…
Have you ever been in a restaurant on holiday and they’ve given you some drinks ‘on the house’? Did you go back the next night in the hope of more free drinks? For the price of a 5 glass of Sangria the owner has got you to buy another 40 meal! ¡Ay, caramba!

The marketing bit
Have a think about what you could give away to your consumers that is going to be both relevant and of perceived value. Whether this is a free product or something as simple as a free downloadable PDF, the more you give, the more you’ll get. Side project marketing is a great way of doing this at a lower cost.


Clustering and ‘The Verbatim Effect’

What does it mean?
Grouping similar pieces of information together and using catchy headings so that people can remember more information.

The psychology bit
As with most things in psychology, there are several theories for memory as a limited resource. Neuropsychologists might suggest that clustering works because by identifying a commonality between pieces of information, each can be remembered by a similar trigger; thus making it easier. The Verbatim Effect is based on the knowledge that people tend to remember the ‘gist’ of what is said rather than specific details.

Example
Clustering –  Countless psychological studies have demonstrated that our attention is a limited resource. Miller (1956) showed that the average person can remember 7 pieces of information at once (plus or minus 2), whilst the famous ‘Selective Attention Test’…well, I’ll let you watch that one for yourself! Chess champions often attribute their success partially to clustering ‘sets’ of moves together into strategies; as to run through all the possible moves individually would massively drain precious attention.

‘The Verbatim Effect’ – Take this blog for example; had I lumped all this information together in one long piece of prose, I’m willing to bet that you would’ve taken one look at the page and clicked straight back off it again. Data from Chartbeat shows that more than half of your visitors will spend less than 15 seconds on your site; so grab their attention with catchy headlines rather than overwhelming them with information.

Think about it…
At school did you ever use mnemonics such as ‘My Very Easy Method Just Speeds Up Naming Planets’ to remember the planets in order of distance from the Sun? If so, you’ve used chunking and the verbatim effect in one! This information is catchy enough for you to recite it word for word, and being able to recall these 9 words are telling you both the names of the planets and their order. Without this clever mnemonic, the information would be much harder to recall.

The marketing bit
Perfect writing catchy headlines which are both grab attention and sum up the content of the article. Make sure your copy is compelling (see Dave’s latest blog for help) and make use of priming techniques (see point 1) to ensure attention is directed where you want it as quickly as possible.

And that’s all folks! Let us know how you get on and feel free to get in touch for more information.


Written by Mark Jenkins
Search specialist and analytical thinker Mark looks after our paid search and SEO services.