Companies developing content marketing strategies are understandably eager to unlock the psychological tricks and secrets of successful content marketing. Content marketing is not magic: give your readers excellent content on a channel they're able to find and access, then tailor your content to their needs.
Voila! A successful content marketing strategy.
Psychological tricks are the icing on the content marketing cake. They sweeten the value of your marketing strategy, but they can't act alone. To get the most out of content marketing, you need compelling content and at least a handful of these psychological tricks.
1. Social Proofing and Peer Pressure
Social proofing is just a fancy term for peer pressure. People are more likely to like, share, and engage with content that others like. This isn't because of fancy social media or search engine algorithms, either. It's good old-fashioned peer pressure. People don't want to be left out, to feel out of the loop, or to believe their tastes are dramatically different from their friends' tastes -- particularly if they like and respect their friends. When hip, in-the-know people like your content, it will automatically get you more engagement.
2. Decoy Pricing
Decoy pricing operates according to a simple principle: price something higher than you expect customers to pay, and the second pricing tier looks more appealing. Consider offering a premium package that's pricier than you expect your customers to accept. If they buy it anyway, that's great. But the real goal is to use the priciest package as a decoy that makes the next-priciest package look like a steal.
It may be hardwired into human nature: when someone does something for us, we want to do something for them. Use this to your advantage by offering your customers something -- a free ebook, a coupon, valuable information -- before you ask them to fork over their hard-earned money. Most people have trouble saying no when they've gotten something for free, because it upsets their sense of balance and justice.
Have you ever contemplated buying something, only to later visit the store and see that it's sold out? Odds are good this led to a sense of desperation to own the product. When something is rendered unavailable, or when it's available only in limited quantities, it piques consumer interest. Consider offering only a limited number of products, or occasionally allowing your most popular offerings to temporarily go out of stock.
5. Simple Exposure
Simple exposure to a product or idea primes the brain to be biased in favor of that idea. It's why poorly informed voters tend to vote for the candidate whose sign they saw more frequently, and why hammering customers with annoying advertisements really can work. You need to get your product in front of consumers to make a sale, so harness the power of simple exposure by using Google ads, content marketing, social media, and similar strategies to ensure frequent and widespread exposure to your products.
6. The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon
The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon occurs when you encounter a new piece of information, and then begin finding that information everywhere. Whether it's a new word, a novel social problem, or a product with which you were previously unfamiliar, Baader-Meinhof makes the previously invisible unavoidable. Capitalize on this phenomenon by highlighting a challenge your product solves. The trick here is that it must be a challenge the consumer is unlikely to consider on his or her own. Once you point to the issue, though, your future customer may begin seeing it everywhere, increasing their willingness to invest in your product.
7. All About Choice
Consumers appreciate it when they're given choices, but don't overdo it. The paradox of choice suggests that, when given too many choices, consumers get overwhelmed and don't buy anything at all. Limit yourself to a few offerings at each price to avoid overwhelming would-be buyers.
8. Confirmation Bias
We look for information that confirms our biases. This is why religious cult leaders find evidence of their power even when their predictions fail to materialize. It's why it's so hard to change the minds of political foes. Use confirmation bias to your advantage by providing evidence of what your customers already think. Then use that bias to sell a product. For example, if you target working mothers, your customers likely believe that parenthood is hard and that a working mother benefits children in some ways. Provide content highlighting these facts, then offer a product that directly addresses these beliefs, such as software that reduces mothers' workload.
9. The Endowment Effect
Research consistently suggests that people overvalue items they already own. This endowment effect means that you can increase the subjective value of your products by doing everything you can to get them into the hands of consumers. Try giving away some software, or a partial package. You'll soon find that customers view this product as more valuable than it actually is. This can encourage them to pay more for similar products in the future.
10. Framing Effect
The way you frame information affects how your customers act on it. Research suggests that clear, succinct terms -- “200 women agreed...” instead of “a third of participants agreed...” -- gets a better response. The takeaway? If you need consumers to pay attention to data, put that data in the clearest, most specific terms.
While all of these are good pshycological tactics to entice customers and nudge them to convert, there are endless others. Feel free to share with us anything some that you've found to be useful!