With so much cooking on the internet, it seems impossible to cut through all the hype and noise created by digital marketing and reach the target, customers. As a consumer, we believe in our liberty and right to take an independent and informed decision. As a content marketer, we look for ways to develop effective and efficient strategies that will influence and attract more and more consumers. There are more than half a million tweets on Twitter, half a billion posts and videos being shared on Facebook on a daily basis and more than 300 hours of video being uploaded on Youtube every minute. The question is how do the content marketers steer clear of all the distractions to develop the right marketing strategies and targeted tactics to influence the consumers effectively.
Here are a few psychological theories that will help you tap into the brains of your audience just the way you want.
1. Confirmation Bias: As humans, we always look out for support in whatever we do. We seek information that will support our point of view. Whereas the piece of information that opposes our thoughts is what we blindly choose to ignore. Confirmation bias theory is based on this very aspect of human nature. According to this theory we look for ways that confirm our preconceptions and thought process and ignore the evidence that doesn’t. We are biased towards the supportive information.
Applying this theory to content marketing is a lot of fun for the pure reason that it highlights the aspects of your business that you want to highlight. All you need to do is gather what according to your consumers is good for your business, service or product. Then you have to develop content in a way that reinforces those positives. Implementing this theory will also help you in understanding the consumer behavior with respect to your business and lead you towards producing more relevant content.
Also, if you want to combat the negative confirmation bias about your business, then you need to have strong claims with rock solid proofs and facts in your content to prove them wrong. If you just present an untested opinion to reverse the negative bias, then you will only end up making it more difficult for your customers to believe in your content.
2. Social Proof: Social Proof is a psychological tool that directs you to adopt the thought process and the beliefs of a group of people or a specific community. This group or community is usually the one you like and trust above all others. This phenomenon exploits a very basic form of human nature that is to follow what they like or what they think will set them apart. The “Me too Affect” is what stands as an apt explanation of the fashion trends that seem to emerge out of nowhere and are more horrific than you can imagine. Social proof is what has led to the development of the “hipster”, “emo” and other contemporary subcultures.
The question is how to apply social proof in your content marketing strategy. The answer is in the adding social plug-ins to your blog. You can also add a “Share” button to your posts or the blog as a whole. When people see that a post has generated some shares, then they are more likely to click on it and see what it says. Adding an option of commenting and liking, giving the option to the user to write testimonials and reviews is also a great way of attracting the attention you need. The more people talk about your posts, website, business or product and highlight the positive experiences they have had with you, the more the likeliness of attracting new suitors to your business or product.
3. Scarcity: The theory of scarcity explains that the human nature is all about giving importance to things that are present in rare quantities as opposed to the things that found easily and are in abundance too. The theory of Scarcity also explains the supply and demand curve of managerial economics. Things produced in rare quantities have a lesser supply and a huge demand because of their worth.
The application of the theory of scarcity is probably the strategy that attracts consumers on a huge scale. Whenever there is a sale declared on an online shopping site, you open it up to see an item of your choice on sale. “Only 1 left in stock” written in red is what attracts your attention the most and more often than not you do not even give a second thought before clicking on “Buy”. Sometimes even without a sale you see that written on the side of products on online e-commerce sites. This is them using the theory of scarcity to their advantage by luring you.
To use the theory of scarcity to your advantage, you can, for example, create an e-book. After that, all you have to do is let your customers know that you will be giving it out for free for the first ‘X’ days. You can also send them a personalized email asking them to sign up for free distribution of your product or service for a limited period. The main idea behind using the theory of scarcity to your business’ advantage is letting people know that your product is rare and valuable which will automatically escalate its worth in the eyes of the customer.
4. Frequency Illusion: This is a new and creative psychological phenomenon that explains that when you see, learn or notice a thing for the first time you begin to see it everywhere you look after that. Frequency Illusion a novel theory but if you apply it properly to your content marketing strategy it can lead to a great boost in your business.
To apply this theory, you must make it a point to develop several pieces of content across numerous platforms together and reinforce the marketing message conveyed in all of them individually. This will help in creating frequency illusion for your targeted audience. Also, the application of this theory leads to the creation of effective content across different digital platforms and present them together as a small part of a bigger entity.
5. Mere Exposure Effect: Humans always have a tendency of choosing things they know about, more than others. That is why people show a subconscious preference towards more popular and familiar brands. The theory explains that people are more attracted towards familiarity, and the comfort they think comes with it. So when they face the choice of two products with different labels, there are high chances that they will go for the product they have heard or seen more than the other.
You can think of Mere Exposure effect as an effect that will only benefit the large brands because they have the resources to launch and promote themselves through large advertising campaigns. But with the development and popularity of social media, one cannot deny the new found sea of possibilities that can make the same thing happen for smaller and newer brands too.
Even if you do not have the resources to launch big campaigns, you could always promote yourself on social media platforms. Post and repost and let people in your business circle do the same till your brand image has at least flashed once in front of a wide audience. This marketing will create a possibility of customers giving your brand a thought considering what it can offer them.
6. The Paradox of Choice: Every one of us is faced with confusions when we are making a decision, especially when we do not know what lies ahead. When it comes to consumers, you would want your business to offer them as many choices as it can. You think letting them know about your multidimensional services gives them full freedom over their decisions. But with too many choices in front, that is not what happens. The Paradox of Choice theory of psychology explains that you should try to limit the choices you offer to your consumers because that will lead to a faster decision of what they want. How? By reducing their anxiety about what to choose and what not to choose.
To apply the Paradox of Choice theory to your content marketing, you must remember not to give you customers so much information about your business that it becomes difficult for them to comprehend and digest. Instead, you should carefully plan about how to hit the audience where it impacts the most. Choose to present information that revolves around the audience’s taste and choices. Many times, less is more.
7. Reciprocity: What do you do when a stranger looks at you with a big warm smile on his or her face? You cannot help smile back at them. Smiles are contagious and so is positivity. This is what the psychological theory of reciprocity is all about. The theory explains that if you are friendly and welcoming to people they will be far more friendly and welcoming with you. Without any doubts whatsoever, you can say that the theory stands true for unfriendly actions and negativity too.
The theory of reciprocity is the easiest to apply to your content marketing. All you have to do is make sure that anything and everything you do as a business reflects positivity. Content marketing itself is an example of the theory of reciprocity where with every article you post you are only giving out valuable information to your customers in return for nothing.
To apply reciprocity in your content marketing, you can create podcasts and webinars. If possible, then you can give out your product for free for a limited period. This strategy is adopted by Netflix and many other brands. All you have to do is make your customers feel special. You will be amazed at what you get in return of this.
8. Information Gap Theory: Curiosity can drive people to do and try anything. The information gap theory of psychology developed in the early 1990’s talks about the gap between what a person knows and what he wants to know out of curiosity. Arousing curiosity leads to an emotional response that can lead to a development of a mental itch that can only be scratched by acquiring the information that we want to know.
The best way of applying the information gap theory of psychology to your content marketing is to develop an attention harnessing tagline or a headline of your business that will encourage curiosity. Create content and advertisements that make the audience curious about your services. Make them unique and ultra-specific. Craft them in a way that gives out the vibes of urgency to act on the part of the customer. But don’t just blindly proceed to implement the information gap theory unless you don’t have solid new information that the consumer would be thrilled to know. Also, if you make any promise in your headlines then make sure that you make good on them.