At the end of the day we are only human. That means that we are still prone to our inner tendencies whether we like it or not.
Here are 3 easy digital marketing strategies that rely on basic human psychology to help get the result that you want.
Psychological Principle: Reciprocity
Reciprocity is the social norm of responding to a positive action with another positive action. The principle of reciprocity also works vice-versa, responding to a negative action with another negative action.
Reciprocity is one of the oldest and most basic principles of social psychology. Recordings of the principles of reciprocity date as far back as 1792-1750 BC when King Hammurabi outlined basic reciprocity principles in his citizen’s codebook.
“Law #196: “If a man destroy the eye of another man, they shall destroy his eye. If one break a man’s bone, they shall break his bone […]”
Even though the principle of reciprocity is old, it is still in full effect. In 2006, the Journal of Applied Social Psychology reported a study on the relation of waiters offering mints to their tip amount and perception of service. The statistics were astounding. When the waiters brought a check with one mint, the waiter’s tip increased 3.3% in comparison to the control group. This isn’t too much of a shocker- customers are probably happy that they received a mint. Surprisingly though, when the waiter brought in 2 mints per customer the tip increase rose to a whopping 20% above their normal tip rate.
Why the huge increase? Common sense tells us that when people are gifting mints, it is appropriate to offer 1 mint per person. If you were to receive 2 mints from a stranger instead of 1, you are more likely to perceive that stranger as generous and kind. Therefore, you are likely to reciprocate by doing a kind act.
The principle of reciprocity can highly influence first impressions. So capitalize on this principle for your first time customers. Advertise online coupons for first time customers in a way that makes you seem like you are very generous/giving more than a standard offer.
For example, if you say first-time customers get a free bag with their online purchase of $5, the customers will probably spend more than $5 and view you as a generous company that they owe their shopping allegiance to in the future. Michael’s is a great example of a company that uses reciprocity tactics. Michael’s is famous for its high rate discount coupons. Since most companies do not want to discount their products as much as Michael’s allows, offering large freebees to first-time customers is a way to seem generous without breaking the bank.
The Principle of Reciprocity is great for acquiring long-term customers. It is a wonderful reminder that giving a little extra to others will yield bountiful positive returns.
Digital Marketing Quick Tip #1
Offer online coupons to first time customers in a way that makes you seem extremely generous. Customers will feel loyal to your business.
Psychological Concept: Successive Approximation
The concept of successive approximation was first developed and applied by B.F. Skinner, a famous professor of psychology. To understand what success approximation is, one must first understand the conditioning paradigm known as “shaping”. Shaping is a behavior term for gradually molding or training an organism to perform a specific response by reinforcing any response that comes close to the desired response.
For example, imagine that you are potty training a dog. A lot of us have taken on this task. First, you give your puppy a treat each time it uses the “potty pad” inside. Eventually, you reduce the amount of potty pads and treats until your puppy comfortably alerts you when it needs to go to the bathroom outside. Your ultimate goal was to make your puppy go to the bathroom outdoors. So why did you have training pads inside?
This is because you chose to gradually mold your puppy’s behavior to reach a desired response that comes naturally. In other words, you “shaped” your puppy’s behavior. Each time your puppy received a treat, it was rewarded for a “successive approximation”, or for operating in a way that edges closer to a desired behavior.
In sales, this is referred to as the “Foot-in-the Door Technique”. Neil Patel explains in Forbes,
“The principle is this: Start by asking someone for something small. If they comply with your first small request, they will be more likely to respond to your next and bigger request.”
So how can you use this psychological concept to improve your digital marketing? If you have a big ask- think small! For real. If you have a customer that turns a large sale down, then ask if you could at least have their email address. Once they grant your email request, email a free offer for them (aka a treat). As long as you don’t spam the potential customer, the potential customer will be more likely to say yes when prompted again for a large sale. Senior Sales Consultant, Brandon Drews recommends this email tactic in his interview, “How to Heat Up Your Cold Calls”. When you are looking for big businesses to buy from you, don’t just jump into the shark tank. Throw some treats in and dip in your toes. You might avoid getting chewed up and spit out.
Digital Marketing Quick Tip #2
Ask for something small from a consumer (like an email) and reward them successively as they become a more avid customer.
Psychology of Story Telling
Story telling is the backbone of human culture and communication. Evidence of humanity’s need to tell stories date back over 35,000 years ago when ancient people decorated caves with paint made from dirt and charcoal mixed with spit and animal fat.
It is no surprise that story telling is one of the most effective modes of communication today. According to Jennifer Aaker, a professor of marketing at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, consumers remember information when it is weaved into narratives “up to 22 times more than facts alone”.
Not only do stories help consumers to remember information, stories also help internalize information. Have you ever heard a story from a friend and retold the same story to a friend, only to find out that they were the one that told you in the first place? You aren’t alone. Uri Hasson from Princeton Neuroscience Institute, reports that a story is the only way to activate certain parts in the brain so that a listener turns the story into their own idea and experience. You may hear a story and internalize it so much that you think that you came up with it yourself.
So how can you use this for your business? Funny enough, charities are masters of story telling marketing tactics. Think back to that last charity donation letter that you received in the mail. Do you remember that story about that specific child out of the 10,000 children that the suggested donations would go to? Good, you should. You are more likely to relate to, remember, and empathize with the sympathetic story of a single child in need than with statistics of 10,000 children in need. Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons point this out in The Invisible Gorilla.
“We naturally generalize from one example to the population as a whole, and our memories for such inferences are inherently sticky. Individual examples lodge in our minds, but statistics and averages do not… Our ancestors lacked acccess to huge data sets, statistics, and experimental methods. By necessity, we learned from specific examples, not by compiling data from many people across a wide range of situations.”
If you are wanting to stay in the minds of consumers and differentiate from competitors, it seems like common sense that you should delegate at least a page of your website to your company’s story. Your story should be more than the standard “about us” page. Give your consumer something that they can relate to. Did you come from humble beginnings and work your way up? Did you get the business from your dad and want to make your family proud? Practice writing up a little blurb and see what you come up with. If your story relies on relatable values and takes your reader on a journey with you, that may be the little something extra your website needs to stay on top. This little extra openness will distinguish your company and help customers remember you.
Digital Marketing Quick Tip #3
Consider featuring your story on your website and adding more content to it to help consumers remember and relate to your business.
ListGIANT hopes that you enjoyed our 3 easy ways to hack into psychology to improve your digital marketing. If you have any questions or are interested in our products and services, please call us at (805) 267-1575, or schedule a consultation.