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Imagewerks digital marketing strategy

Pressing the Right Buttons: Social Psychology in Digital Marketing

Posted by Molly Geipel on March 7, 2016 at 11:28 AM

Effective marketers use rational and emotional factors every day to anticipate consumer decisions and purchasing behavior. Use these 7 psych principles to plan your next campaign like a pro. 

The first step is to establish your audience’s motivation through market research and buyer personasFrom there, an understanding of some basic psychological concepts can give you insight to help you predict how your customers will respond to marketing efforts. Using the following seven principles as your guide, you’ll be able to design digital marketing campaigns that press the right buttons necessary to produce results that take your business to the next level.



Associational Learning

Theory: We all associate stimuli with emotions.
Think about that song you love on the radio because it came on during your Friday commute. Or perhaps the restaurant you never want to eat at again because your last relationship ended there.


Practice:  Marketing teams use associational learning all the time, and both negative and positive emotions can be effective. Fear can be used as a powerful call-to-action by demonstrating the hardships of a problem to highlight the need for your solution. Conversely, humorous or heartwarming commercials make consumers feel positively toward a product and therefore more likely to reach for it in the store.



Theory: We rely on contextual relationships to assign value.
For example, if the first thing you see when you’re shopping is a sign advertising “50% off everything!” you’re likely to think the everything inside is a great deal even if the prices aren’t actually any lower than average.


Practice: Anchoring can be applied to how you organize information on a webpage. If you’re selling package services, offering multiple options sets the anchor for your pricing. Organize these options so the one you most want to sell appears the most compelling by comparison.


3_PrimaryEffect_3.7.16.pngPrimacy Effect

Theory: The first things we see tend to be the ones we recall the best.
We’ve all seen the claims that nobody actually reads articles on the internet and we’re all just getting our information from headlines. Whether or not that’s true, it’s still important to get your headline right—and nail the finish—because even if your audience does read all the content in between, the headline is what they’re going to remember.


Practice: Whether we’re talking blog posts or landing pages, your headlines should establish brand, convey value, and inspire action (even if that action is simply, CLICK HERE). And don’t forget to end with a bang, not a whimper. The last line of a blog post is the perfect opportunity to guide readers to the next step in your conversion funnel, such as a landing or product page.



Theory: Every stimulus effects how we respond to the next.
A study conducted in a grocery store found that when French music was played throughout the store, people were more likely to buy French wine. When German music was played, sales of German wine increased.


Practice: Your brand and marketing efforts are full of subtle cues and suggestions that can be used to influence your customers’ behavior. Color, imagery, the layout of your website, and the word choices you make in your copy (consider the behavioral consequences of selecting the word “luxury” over “sophisticated,” for example) can all be used to nudge your audience toward desired actions.


5_Socialimpact_3.7.16.pngSocial Impact

Theory: We are more influenced by those we see as significant or especially credible. Your brand content has the power to keep your name in front of your audience and associated with relevant topics. By providing valuable content, you can demonstrate that your company has an important role to play in your consumers’ lives.


Use tools such as Hootsuite or Hubspot to schedule content in advance so there’s always something new for your audience to consume and engage with. The frequency helps establish familiarity and significance, while a consistent posting schedule demonstrates credibility and relevance in your field.


6_SocialCurr_3.7.16.pngSocial Currency

Theory: We associate with brands that reflect well on us.

Say your neighbor buys a new Ferrari. What’s the first thing they’re going to do? Park it in the driveway, take a picture, and upload it to Facebook, showing off their new purchase and establishing their status by association.


Practice: Social currency is the byproduct of a significant value proposition and clear positioning. When your brand represents something of greater importance, your customers become valuable influencers who spread the word voluntarily. Why? Because there’s something in it for them. When building your content marketing strategy, focus on content that gives people incentive to share. If someone shares a link to your compelling article, it makes them look more informed while extending credibility to your brand in the process.


7_SocialProof_3.7.16.pngSocial Proof

Theory: We use group consensus to shape our own beliefs and decisions.

Think about the last time you purchased something from Amazon. Did you avoid products that had few or no reviews? Were you ultimately won over by the product that displayed the highest rating aggregated from the greatest number of reviews? The more people appear to have validated something,

the more likely we are to buy into its value.


Practice: The easiest way to use social proof to your advantage is to provide testimonials and encourage sharing. If prospects can see that others had positive, sharable experiences with your brand, that social proof increases your credibility and lowers the perceived risk for the consumer.


Not sure your digital marketing is pressing the right buttons?
Our free digital marketing assessment can help you identify your biggest opportunities and put these principles into practice for you.


Topics: digital marketing, social media, consumer behavior

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