Mind to Money – Make Marketing Psychology Work For You

It’s one thing to produce products, services, optins, newsletters, content and more, but it’s another to optimize all of this to ensure that you don’t leave money on the table. In the book You Are Not So Smart, David McRaney’s highlights the ways in which we’re deluded into thinking we are rationale individuals and yet we all fall prey to the whims of psychology. Marketing Psychology affects us all and smart marketers and website owners employ the following tactics to increase sales and conversions.

1. Reciprocity Principle

Reciprocity in social psychology simply means that when someone does something positive for you, you feel more cooperative and more likely to do something positive in return. This social obligation is rampant in all aspects of our lives.

Norbert Schwarz found that even a small thing such as a finding a dime can put you in a better mood and help you feel more satisfied. Even low value items can have a positive impact on your feelings.

Two points to note:

  • To create goodwill the ‘gift’ does not have to be valuable or big.
  • If you ‘give’ as a surprise, reciprocity works much betters.

For marketers, reciprocity can produce lots of benefits such as gaining new customers, customer retention and increasing customer loyalty.

Here is an example from Hubspot that generates good will. Free eBooks are fairly common so this novel approach is quite refreshing.

hubspot free download

You receive free business stock images but in return Hubspot collects some key information about you and your contact details they can use for marketing.

How can you use this? If you have an e-commerce business for example, first time customers can be provided with a 10% coupon off their next order. Zappos is a company that upgraded all orders to next day delivery for free. It’s a great way to reinforce a positive consumer experience and increase loyalty.

Key Takeaway: Give away something first and you will increase the likelihood of return loyalty. If you can make it a surprise your customers will appreciate it even more. The gift you provide does not need to be valuable.

2. Don’t Forget the Golden Rule

Attractiveness has its benefits and as Harvard University and others of have discovered, it can also help increase your likeability and your trustworthiness. Attractive website design that follows the conventional rules of beauty can also benefit in the same way.

You may be familiar with the term the Golden Ration which is a concept regarding proportions and is used in areas such as architecture, art and design. The Golden Ration is depicted as a spiral which is derived from the Fibonacci sequence.  Sea shells, galaxies and hurricanes all spiral following the golden ratio!

So what does this have to do with website design? If you follow the Golden Ratio you can be sure to create a website that is visually appealing. Check out this visual guide by Pencil Scoop on understanding and using the golden ratio in web design.

Key Takeaway: In the pursuit of making a unique website do not abandon the basic principles of web design. 

3. Color Psychology

Color matters, period. Satyendra Singh’s review of color psychology found that people make up their minds about a product within 90 seconds and 62%-90% of that decision is based on color alone. The implications of this means that color can have a huge impact on conversions and sales.

First let’s take a quick look at color with regards to branding. This test was devised by artist and product designer Marc Hemeon and here are a few examples. Can you guess the brands purely from the color of the buttons? (Answers in the comments!)

figure 3 marc hemeon

figure 7 marc hemeon

figure 15 marc hemeon

Now you might be wondering what the best colors might be for your logo, banner, ad or optin but there is no right answer. For example, one option might outperform another because the color of it contrasts with other page elements making it stand out. This is known as the Von Restorff effect which means that if it stands out, it’s given the most attention and remembered. This is not so much to do with the color itself but the use of color overall.

Key Takeaway: The use of color in marketing is extremely important but you have to test for yourself what works as there is not a one size fits all. 

If you want to read more about how colors influence us in different ways, check out this infographic.

4. Use the Foot-in-the-Door Technique

The foot-in-the-door concept is about increasing compliance and starting a consumer on the journey to making a purchase. Robert Cialdini experimented with this technique with contribution to a cancer charity. Two donor requests were made:

  • Would you be willing to help by giving a donation?
  • Would you be willing to help by giving a donation? Every penny will help.

When the latter was used, people were twice as likely to donate! Not only that, but they donated the same as people who were not asked for a penny. The penny statement got their foot in the door.

So how can you use this in your marketing? Free trials are a good way to get readers using a product or service.

Here’s an example from Moz.com who offer a 30 day free trial to their suite of 12 tools. Payment details are taken before you start the trial so it is less ‘painless’ to move from your free trial to paid.

order review moz

Another example is Buzzbundle who offer their software for free but the functionality becomes limited as the trial progresses. The user gets to experience the product and they are then encouraged to upgrade.

buzzbundle feature list

A variation of this foot-in-the-door technique is used by Andrew Hansen to resolve sales page abandonment. With exit intent, the reader is presented with the following offer.

get the entire forever affiliate course

What was the result of this? Not only did people take up the $1 offer but 54% of them went on to pay for the full course. There were people that were going to leave anyway and over half of them were converted to full paying customers by getting the foot in the door.

You can also supplement this by using the pique technique. This is where you quite literally pique their interest by asking something unique. Back to the donations example:

  • Can you spare any change?
  • Can you spare 17 cents?

The latter is very specific to the point where it would catch your attention. Unusual pricing can help pique a customers interest.

Key Takeaway: If you make the commitment small and easy, customers are more likely to be compliant in the future. 

5. Create Scarcity and Urgency

In Robert Cialdini’s book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, one of the persuasion techniques is to instil a sense of scarcity and urgency. With respect to marketing this could mean having an offer on a count down or limiting the amount of products available. Conferences such as Traffic & Conversion Summit do this successfully by offering an early bird discounted ticket for a short period of time before the prices go up.

warning 65 off discount ending soon

Key Takeaway: Create limited time offers for your products or services that have to be taken up urgently of your customers will miss out.

6. Create a Loyal Tribe 

In every facet of life you’ll be aware of how quickly tribes form in social situations. Psychologically speaking, this is known as Social Identity Theory where a person’s sense of self is based on the group they are part of.

Tajfel, who devised the theory, found that it was easy to divide people in to tribes, increase loyalty to their own tribe and have them ‘discriminate’ against other groups. This also carries over into branding strategies.

An example of this is the Mac vs PC debate. Apple have been incredibly successful at creating a tribe with a strong social identity and a loyal customer base. Check out this old ad from Apple which compares the hip Mac user vs the straight-laced PC user.  No prizes for guessing who gets the girl at the end…

Key Takeaway: Create brand loyalty by highlighting an “enemy” for the tribe to disassociate from. 

7. Reduce Options

Have you ever been to a restaurant that had such an extensive menu that you became frozen with indecision? Perhaps you’ve been shopping online and there is that many variations of what look like very similar products with different product codes that you’ve just given up. It’s not just you, its psychology at play.

In a study about choice conducted by Sheena Lyengar, shoppers were offered a free sample of jam. One day there was 24 flavours to choose from and 6 on a different day. With more flavours, 20% more people stopped to take a sample. However, only 3% of those people made a purchase. When only 6 different jams were on offer, 30% of people made a purchase after trying a sample! That’s a huge difference in conversion and a clear indication that less options helps conversions.

This study and subsequent research has implications for your marketing activities. Would reducing options on your sign up form increase conversions? If you had dropdown menus with less options, would it make you website easier to navigate? You need to test this!

Key Takeaway: If you’re unsure how many options to give a customer, start with the minimum amount that you need to complete a sale or gain a sign up. You can add more options later. The important thing is to test and track conversion rates.

8. Use Social Proof

Social proof is a psychological occurrence where people mimic or are influenced by others to participate in certain behaviours assumed to be correct in a given situation. Within the context of marketing psychology we want customers to participate in behaviours that will lead to a sale or generate a lead. Here are some marketing strategies that can be employed to create social proof:

Include real testimonials on your sales pages from happy customers. That’s right, make sure they are real and unedited. They should also include an image of the customer giving the testimonial as this increases believability. Video testimonials work even better!

Media coverage is a trust signal that builds credibility if displayed on your website. Usually this should be displayed directly on your homepage and on sales pages. Here is an example of a fitness website that shows the logos quite prominently above the fold.

get fit & strong. Fast

Are you using marketing psychology?

Having an understanding and appreciation of marketing psychology can make or break your website. If you could increase your conversion rate from 3% to 30% just by reducing the options you give customers, what could that do for your sales? The key takeaway here is to be continually testing, monitoring results and optimizing. Small tweaks can make a huge difference.


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