All marketing is based on psychology, particularly the psychology of persuasion.
All good content is rooted in human psychology. People read articles and books, view images and video, and click on ads when they’re curious, needful, or because their friends are.
We all have cognitive biases, and if you understand them, you will be able to target people’s specific needs and desires with specific words and tactics that sway readers to take the action you want them to take.
In this article, we will go through 10 principles of psychology you can use to improve your content growth
Consider incorporating the this psychological principles into your content growth strategy, because many of the marketing principles taught in universities today are so outdated.
1. Social Proof
When buying something for the first time, about eight out of ten customers claim they consult online ratings and feedback.
When assessing something, people like to take whatever mental “shortcut” they can to reduce the amount of cognitive work they have to do. That’s why social evidence is so effective at increasing conversions.
“Social evidence, also known as informational social impact, is a psychological phenomenon in which people assume the behaviors of others in an effort to reflect acceptable conduct for a given situation…and is motivated by the belief that others in the immediate vicinity have more insight about the situation.”
It’s similar to peer pressure but without the negative aspects.
There are some other forms of social proof triggers you can use for your content growth:
Testimonials are simply online word-of-mouth marketing. Other prospects and leads are more likely to transact with you if third-party sources check that your product or service is “legit.”
According to Neil Patel, it’s easy to produce $70K – $150K in monthly sales once an Amazon product has 400-500 positive reviews. This demonstrates the importance of positive feedback.
Your testimonials should be shown on your website, but in different places depending on the type of company you operate. If you own a local business, for example, you might post your reviews on Google Search or Yelp. You may put your testimonials on the homepage of your website if you run a SaaS business. Good reviews should be shown on product pages if you have an e-commerce platform (like Amazon does).
Influencer endorsements can be extremely beneficial to your business. If the influencer is well-known in your industry or niche, getting their endorsement is a perfect way to demonstrate that you have a successful product or service.
Influencer endorsements don’t have to be as detailed as traditional testimonials. In reality, influencers don’t have to have used your product to endorse it. Every compliment they have offered to your company or a member of your team will always be taken seriously.
Displaying news clips or prizes is another way to demonstrate the company’s reputation. It will help to bring more credibility to your company if you have been featured in places like TechCrunch, the Huffington Post, Forbes, or whatever publication is important to your industry. Don’t be shy about flaunting your achievements!
2. The Reciprocity Rule
The “reciprocity rule” is one of the most strong psychological prejudices people have. It states that when you give someone anything of worth, they feel obligated to repay you.
This strategy has been used by a wide range of businesses. Charities seeking donations, for example, could give you a dollar (or an infinite supply of personalized address labels and note pads) and ask you to return it with a small donation.
This is also one of the reasons why content growth strategy in general is so successful. Readers in your niche can need specific types of content at various stages of the buying process, and it is advantageous to you if they find that content on your site. Your readers would be more likely to reciprocate by sharing their e-mail address and going further down your funnel if you have so much useful and free information online.
However, there is one crucial aspect to offering free value that most businesses overlook: making sure the clients are aware of it. Most advertisers believe that people would notice the time and effort they put into content creation on their own. However, most readers would not be able to link the dots on their own.
Only if your readers are aware of your efforts would they be compelled to reciprocate.
3. In – Group Bias
Been bias within a group refers to the belief that if we believe someone belongs to the same group as us, we are more likely to perceive them favorably. For example, if you learn that someone is from the same city as you or attended the same college as you, you will likely feel closer to them and will likely treat them better.
The same can be said about content growth. Customers can build a deeper connection with you and your brand if you can get them to see themselves in the same “community” as you. People want to do business with people who know what they are talking about.
This is one of the reasons why the best copywriters pay attention to the terms customers use to identify their issues. Consider the following scenario:
- You might claim that you will help e-commerce companies “reduce cart abandonment” if you are targeting them.
- If you are selling marketing services to a SaaS company, you might say things like “help them turn more free trial signups into paying customers to increase MRR” or “improve onboarding to lower turnover.”
You will demonstrate that you “get” your customers by using their terms.
4. Us vs. Them
In the content, using a “us vs. them” structure lets you apply both in-group and out-group bias.
Out-group bias is similar to in-group bias, but it is the inverse effect. You are unlikely to give anyone preferential treatment if you don’t think they have something in common with you or “gets” you.
That’s why you should never refer to your target market as “they.” For eg, the subheading of a ad (aimed at Christians looking to date other Christians) reads: “Christians believe in love. “It is written in their code to love one another.”
The issue here is that it refers to “their code” rather than “our code,” implying out-group bias. When approaching your clients, always use the words “you” or “we,” as though you are speaking directly to them or placing yourself in the same category as them.
Creating a “us vs. them” paradigm against your rivals is one way to leverage out-group prejudice to your benefit.
After demonstrating that you understand your readers by using their language or empathizing with their issues, you can set yourself apart from the competition by explaining why your content is superior to your competitors’ or why you are providing them with something that no one else is.
5. Kill the Abstract Terms – Use Concrete Words
Have you ever read a financial report after quarterly earnings? The language is vague, with phrases like “initial observations” leading to “excellent results” that provided shareholders with a “fair return.”
Is it possible for you to imagine all of that?
Most people can’t, which is why we should abandon abstract word pairings in favor of specific ones in our content growth strategy.
You can imagine them as a “fast motorcycle” or a “hot stove.” But, much better, they stay in the minds of your potential and existing clients for much longer.
This favors “happy customers” over those who need “constant care.”
The scientist Allan Paivio, a late professor of psychology at the University of Western Ontario, is credited with the use of concrete language.
He proposed the dual coding theory, which states that there are two cognitive subsystems:
- Consider a system that represents and processes non-verbal objects.
- One that is specifically designed to reflect language.
It’s worth a shot, particularly for your website’s key messages and headlines. Leave the financial writers and painters to deal with the abstract language.
6. Cascade Of Availability
The “availability cascade,” which states that the more a piece of knowledge is replicated, the more likely we are to assume it is valid, is one of the most well-known biases in marketing.
This is one of the reasons why businesses spend so much money on repeated television commercials. You start to think of Mercedes Benz as a luxury car brand after seeing a million different television advertisements for the brand that say “The Best or Nothing.”
You start to trust an organization more and more as you hear them explain themselves in a certain way over and over.
You can take advantage of this in a variety of ways. In your e-mail nurture sequences, for example, you can build your narrative around whatever you feel sets you apart from your competitors.
It could be superior customer service, as with Zappos, or quick delivery, as with Amazon.
Whatever your competitive advantage is, make sure to incorporate it into your content on a regular basis. Then you’ll become recognized for it over time. (Of course, it must be accurate!)
7. The “BYAF” Technique
People are more likely to say “yes” if you remind them that they have the choice to accept or reject your bid, according to the “But You Are Free” (BYAF) Technique.
Some random people were asked if they could spare any coins so that the experimenter could ride the bus, according to this report from Taylor & Francis Online. People were significantly more likely to give the bus fare when the expression “but you are free to accept or reject” was applied, and they gave twice as much as anyone in the control group.
Part of the reason this works so well is that it reduces people’s mental “shield” when listening to your bid. If you are trying to convince them, they may be worried that your deal isn’t as good as you say, or that the action you are asking them to take isn’t really worth their time. Unsolicited sales pitches make us all a little suspicious (and cynical).
You will lower their guard by reminding them that they have a choice, causing them to evaluate the situation less defensively.
When delivering the bid, this can be used in a variety of ways. For example, after making a hard sell at the end of your e-mail funnel, you might say something like, “if you still decide not to join, that’s totally cool, and we appreciate that.”
You can get them to say “Yes” by lowering their guard and allowing them to say “No.”
8. Headlines That Are Surprising
Unpredictability is something that people enjoy. Researchers provided participants with two fun stimuli: water and fruit juice. The stimuli were delivered in predictable patterns to some participants and in unpredictable patterns to others.
Surprisingly, brain scans showed that participants responded more positively to receiving juice and water in unpredictable patterns. This demonstrates that people prefer spontaneous happiness to pleasure that can be predicted.
This can be applied to your content strategy by offering content that your audience does not expect.
Alternatively, you should clearly outline tactics that no one else is discussing: 10 Compelling Reasons Why You Need Content Creation Plan
One disadvantage of writing headlines like this is that it’s easy to cross the line into clickbait. Readers are unlikely to return to your blog if you over-promise or over-hype your post in the headline and then mislead them in the body of the material. People dislike it when the content fails to meet their standards.
9. Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
Missing out on something significant is one of our greatest fears.
Many businesses also profit from this, and it can often be detrimental. Some people, for example, are addicted to watching the news (or scrolling endlessly through Facebook) because they are afraid of missing out on important details. Moreover, 69 percent of Millennials are concerned about losing out on social activities.
There are a few different ways you can use FOMO in your content strategy. One method is to use scarcity in the offers.
You could offer limited-time discounts, limited-time bonuses, “only # left in stock” or remove your offer altogether after you’ve announced the deadline. One of the biggest barriers people have to making an immediate purchase is the thought “I can just do it later.” By adding urgency, you can persuade people to act now, before it’s “too late.”
Creating activities for your product releases is another way to use FOMO in your marketing. This is one of the reasons why, despite the fact that they might shop online, people still queue on the sidewalk when Apple releases a new iPhone or wait all night outside stores for Black Friday sales.
It also doesn’t have to be a physical activity. You may invite people to vote on a new blog post, join a Facebook community, or enter a special drawing for a free or discounted product in the middle of your product launch.
Being a part of an experience with other people who share your interests makes it more enjoyable.
10. Consistency in All Efforts
Finally, you must be consistent with your content growth efforts to cater to your existing and potential clients. Do not upload a video or guest post on a sporadic basis; instead, aim to complete the process as regularly as possible.
Take, for example, blogging from a digital marketing firm.
Where would my mind go if I needed a blogging service from an agency, but the agency didn’t blog on their company’s website on a regular basis?
That’s a big red flag: how can an organization stand behind programs that don’t seem to believe in themselves?
As marketers, we are always so focused on increasing consumer satisfaction and ROI that we overlook basic concepts like good customer service or more intensive principles like using psychology to truly connect with a prospect.