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Digital Marketing 13 min read

6 Marketing Psychology Principles that Help You Attract More Customers

Ayesha Renyard photo

Written by Ayesha Renyard

Content Writer @ Galactic Fed

Dallin Porter photo

Expert reviewed by Dallin Porter

Marketing Director @ Galactic Fed

Published 07 Jul 2021

Do you know what makes your customers tick? What catches their attention and convinces them to read on? What gets them to convert—and why?  

Let me tell you, we all wish we could get inside consumers’ heads. (It would certainly make our jobs easier.) While we can’t tell you how to mind read, we can teach you a thing or two about psychology—and six principles that can be used in your marketing to attract more customers and score more sales:

  • Social Proof

  • The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon

  • Norm of Reciprocity

  • Anchoring Bias

  • Scarcity 

  • Loss Aversion 

If you can learn more about how (and why) people think and act the way they do, you can take your marketing from good to out-of-this-world. 

So that’s the goal today. By the end of this article, you’ll know how to apply these principles to your ads, emails, landing pages, web pages, and more—so you can get customers to convert without blinking an eye. 

1. Social Proof 

Now you’ve heard us talk about this psychological principle once or twice. Social proof is the phenomenon wherein people adapt their behavior to match others’ behavior. Why? When we see others do something, the behavior becomes normalized and socially acceptable—and let’s face it, humans like to fit in. (Plus, since we see others already doing it, there’s less risk involved.)

Do you ever wonder how all those wacky fashion trends become popular? I have a feeling social proof has something to do with it. 

3 Different fashion trends driven by socialproof.

When it comes to your marketing, use social proof to convince new prospects that your brand is the real deal. Even if they’ve never heard of your business or product before, if they see others buying from you—they’ll be more inclined to do so as well. 

How it works in your marketing

Social proof can play a significant role in your marketing funnel—from increasing brand awareness to converting customers. While social proof comes in all shapes and sizes, users must generate this content to work its magic.

Reviews, testimonials, and social media content are all examples of social proof. You can include them in your nurture emails, on landing pages, on your website, and even on your own social media channels. 

While it may be nerve-wracking that you depend on users to hype up your brand, think of it this way—it’s less work and cheaper than creating content yourself. Plus, prospects view user-generated content as more authentic. Win-win-win!

We recommend that you always keep your eyes peeled for brand advocates and never hesitate to ask for a review or testimonial. That way, you’ll always have fresh social proof to add to your content. 

2. The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon

Have you ever heard of an obscure piece of information—such as an unfamiliar word, name—and then it starts popping up everywhere? If you catch yourself saying, “that’s so weird, I just heard about that yesterday,” then you’re experiencing the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. 

While we may think of these repeated occurrences as “signs” from some omnipresent being, it’s actually our brain’s prejudice to detect patterns. Given all the information we see in a day, it’s not uncommon to see the same word, name, or number several times over a short period.

Once you’re aware of this pattern, you unconsciously keep an eye out for it, and every sighting becomes further evidence that it’s a meaningful sign, not just a coincidence. These two processes are called selective attention and confirmation bias—and you can use your marketing content to tap into them. 

How it works in your marketing

Particularly, try incorporating the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon in your email marketing and advertising strategy. 

For your email marketing, we recommend setting up a nurture campaign—a set of emails based on behaviors—so you can reach your audience segments at the right time with the right content. Nurture campaigns could be top-of-funnel to raise awareness of your brand. Or it could be bottom-funnel, targeting prospects who abandoned their cart. 

If they interact with your content a few times, you’ve grabbed their selective attention! So make sure you continue to push them along the funnel. 

Cart abandonment timeframe.

Source: Referral Candy

For your advertising, consider dedicating some budget towards retargeting ads, which push content to people who have already visited your website (pixel-based) or are a contact in your database (list-based). 

For pixel-based retargeting, take a look at this blog post on the Facebook Pixel. Once installed, you can trace your website visitors back to their Facebook demographic information and push relevant content based on who they are and their website activity. 

Your prospects may think it’s serendipitous, but it’s just well-timed consistent marketing.

3. Norm of Reciprocity

When someone gives you a gift, do you feel obligated to give them something in return? Or, at the very least, do you feel guilty you didn’t give them anything? 

For me, this phenomenon is very prevalent during the Christmas season. I could never show up to a dinner party empty-handed. I’ll always bring a bottle of wine or some baked goods. Why? It’s not because I’m generous. It’s because I feel like I owe the hosts something for having me. For the whole month of December, I keep cutely-wrapped bath bombs in my purse—just in case the friend I meet for coffee brings me a gift. Are these tendencies weird?!

Nope, it’s the norm of reciprocity at play. (Okay, maybe the bath bomb part is a bit weird).

In marketing psychology, this means that consumers will feel somewhat indebted to a brand if it gives them a product for free. 

How it works in your marketing

Your landing pages and your thank you pages are the perfect places to leverage this principle. 

If you’re trying to collect leads with your landing page, use a clickthrough form so you can focus the content on what you’re giving them, like a free ebook or branded swag. Once prospects click the CTA, you can push them to a form. Because you’ve already offered them something, they’ll feel more inclined to provide their contact information. 

Take this strategy a step further with your thank you page. Let’s say your prospects provide their contact information for that ebook. Instead of leading to a generic thank you page, offer them a discount for a relevant product or service. This will encourage more engagement with your brand—creating an ongoing cycle of reciprocity, and ultimately customer loyalty and a higher lifetime value. Thank you page with 50% off.

Source: OptinMonster

4. Anchoring Bias

Anchoring bias tells us that our decision-making is heavily influenced by the first piece of information we get related to that decision. 

When it comes to your marketing, use anchoring bias to make your prices seem more desirable. 

How it works in your marketing

Let’s say a consumer goes to a jewelry store and sees a bracelet for $200. Then, they go to another store and see it for $150. The $150 bracelet will seem like an amazing deal, even if they normally wouldn’t spend a dime over $50 on a piece of jewelry. 

Customers will often evaluate products based on the first price they see. So when you’re advertising a sale or a subscription, make sure to put the original price and the cost-savings price side-by-side, rather than displaying the lower price on its own. The original price becomes a reference point (an anchor) for the customer, making the other price seem like a better deal. 

2 payment terms, 1 monthly payment, and another annual billing. Source: Venture Harbour

Everyone loves a good deal—use anchor bias to tempt your prospects!

5. Scarcity 

Rare items are valuable. Black diamonds, ultra-aged cognac, mint Wayne Gretzky rookie cards (I’m hoping I can put a similar price tag on my shiny Pokemon cards one day)—they are all heralded for their scarcity. 

This psychological principle goes back to the simple formula of supply and demand—the more rare the opportunity, content, or product, the more valuable it is. With that said, this principle also leans on perceived shortage. Yes, these items don’t actually have to be in short supply. The scarcity principle is in effect as long as people believe there’s a short supply—fueling their desire to have it. 

When applied to marketing, consumers are more likely to buy something—or pay more for it—if they think the product is in short supply. 

How it works in your marketing

To create a sense of scarcity, run offers that are temporary or have limited supplies (at least, that’s what you tell them). In your campaign copy, use language like “while supplies last” or “only one more day” to let consumers know they’ll miss out if they don’t jump on that deal soon. Amazon’s Deals of the Day are classic examples of scarcity at play:

Shopping page with varieties of product deals.

To build urgency in your CTAs, take a look at this blog post on high-converting calls to action. Using words like “now” and “today” could encourage those quick, impulsive purchases.

Fear of missing out, or FOMO, is a real thing, folks! People don’t know that they want a two-piece purple pleather suit until they find out that there are only two left. 

6. Loss Aversion 

Speaking of FOMO, humans hate losing out on things. According to the loss aversion principle, they’d rather avoid a loss than gain an equal amount. 

For example, most people would be more upset over losing $50 than happy about finding $50. Why do we act this way? There are many strong negative emotions associated with loss, such as anxiety and fear—and those have a more lasting impact on people than positive ones. 

You may be thinking that loss aversion sounds awfully similar to the scarcity principle. While they are, loss aversion isn’t concerned about supply. It’s about losing what one already has.

To invoke loss aversion in your marketing, you need to remind consumers that they’re at risk of losing something—and to keep it around, they have to take action fast. 

How it works in your marketing

Try reframing your marketing copy around loss. 

In the popup example below, we see the jewelry company incorporate loss aversion in the “No” button. By saying, “I don’t want to save money,” it challenges our instincts as a consumer. Reject a discount? Happily lose out on saving money? The horror!

10% off on first purchase deal

If you’re an ecommerce business, there’s also an opportunity to leverage this principle in your shipping messaging. Let’s say you offer free shipping over $100, and a customer’s purchase doesn’t reach that total. Highlight how much money they’ll lose to shipping costs instead of how much money they need to spend for free shipping. 

If you’re a subscription-based business, loss aversion can play a role in turning your trial or freemium users into paying customers. Let them try your service for free—but only temporarily. Once their access is close to expiring, remind them of all the features they’ll be losing out on. When you give them a taste of the good stuff, it’ll be hard to let it go. Ideally, this will get them to upgrade to a paid subscription.

You Just Graduated Marketing Psychology: 101

A psychology lesson that applies to your everyday life? Mind officially blown. 

Now that you know your way around these six psychology principles, it’s time to weave them into your marketing strategy to attract more customers and sales. 

With that said, we understand that psychology isn’t everyone’s favorite subject, and you may prefer some guidance getting started. No problem at all. Reach out to us—we’re here to help.

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Ayesha Renyard photo

Ayesha Renyard

Content Writer @ Galactic Fed