• Mark Hallander

Digging into Marketing Psychology

Have you ever thought about why people start smoking? Health benefits, a reasonable price, or just great advertising? Surely not. Being in our teens, seeking recognition and with a group of friends that light up cigarettes in different social scenarios, the choice is usually not that hard. But why is that? A lot of factors come into play, but the short answer is that we seek social acceptance. Studies show that we constantly mirror ourselves in other people, as we seek the safety of others and - as I will argue in the following - marketers can use this knowledge to their advantage.

#marketingpsychology #socialconfirmation #decisionmaking


Seeking social confirmation

When in doubt we compare ourselves to other people - especially the ones that we want to identify with. This makes us willing to act in a certain way, for instance when we see what other people bought. As marketers, we need to provide facts that guide people in the right direction. Sales are all about the right mindset – and we should help potential customers find their buying one.


How can we do this you ask?

By framing the right behavior.


Being a sustainable company in the twenty-first century is quite important. A simple example that shows this ”social proof” could be in the hotel industry. Aiming for more environmental-friendly solutions, a sign on the bathroom could say: ”78% of our guests reuse their towels”.


This simple piece of communication advocates for the behavior that you wish people to embrace. By expressing the norm, people will tend to tune into the same behavior and - in this case - reuse their towels. If not, they break the social norm, which is uncommon, as we generally seek social belonging.


"Customers who bought this item also bought"

There are heaps of great examples when it comes to using phycology in marketing. Have you ever bought a product online and noticed, how the website recommends certain products afterward?


Amazon does this especially well. When you view a product online a section below appears recommending other similar products. This technique is called Affinity analysis. This means that Amazon discovers co-occurrences in relationships, so when you search for a book it is highly likely that you are willing to read other books.


Think about it: Not only are you recommending a broader section of products that has high social validity, but you are also enhancing the possibility of closing the sale. It goes to underline the point that social confirmation can bring us very far if properly integrated within our marketing.


In this blog post, I mention the whole aspect of retargeting. The concept seems similar to some of these psychological aspects, as retargeting consists of ads that can create unconscious decision-making towards the product after we have been exposed to initially.


Using endorsements

So we seek the ready-made decisions of other people because it establishes social confirmation and a feeling of safety. In continuation of this argument, marketers need to remember the importance of endorsements.


When looking for a product, would you rather trust the words of the company or the words of another consumer? In a buying situation, we identify ourselves with other consumers.


Therefore, you must value highly the words of your customers. Make sure to reach out to customers and ask for their endorsements of your products – it will surely make potential customers' decisions easier.


Helping the customer make a decision

The number of products or solutions you present to the customer is equally important for the decision-making. Let’s say you sell newspapers. The company's outreach of marketing activities has drawn in a lot of leads to the website. They land on the product solutions page, but for some reason, your leads go cold, and they don’t convert in the way that they ought to.


Keeping in threat with the psychology of marketing, you could look at your selection of products. Starting off, three different options are always great, as too many options will confuse the consumer. Five or six options might cause them to bounce, i.e. leaving your website within seconds, without even considering one of your solutions.


Two to three products have very different effects though. For instance, your company could have two different solutions for your newspaper:

Which one would you buy?


Most people go for Plan 1. It is cheaper than Plan 2 and the physical edition of the paper is not a big determiner in our decision, as we already have it online. Ad another product solution into the mix and the plans change character:


Suddenly Plan 2 seems like the greater option. This is because the added option makes it look good. This is just an example that lets you see the point, but remember that you can use different visual solutions in your e-commerce to boost sales.


Summing up

Based on the fact that people look for social confirmation in order to make a decision, marketers can use different techniques to guide consumers in the sales process. Key take-outs are:

  • Know that people seek out social confirmation and frame behavior if it makes sense for your specific business

  • Use endorsements - the voice of your customers - to attract and communicate to potential customers

  • Make the decision as easy as possible for the customer, and make the option you want to sell look the best

When dealing with psychology, i.e. our customers' minds, and unconscious decision-making, we need to work ethically. It’s not ethical to be manipulative, but if the facts are there and they work to your advantage – use them to strengthen your marketing.