Let’s face it, we’ve all fallen victim to a weird psychological phenomenon at one point (Mandela effect, anyone?), as sometimes things are too complicated for our brains to fully comprehend and remember everything that’s happening around us. Would you be surprised if we told you there are psychological hacks that can be used to increase sales, engagement and brand awareness when it comes to marketing? Yeah, you read that right—you can use psychological tips and tricks to boost your brand and further your marketing strategy. Eager to learn more? Read on.
1. social proof
Social Proof (noun): Refers to people assuming that the actions of others are correct, based on the frequency that they see said actions (Oberlo).
Also known as ‘informational social influence,’ social proof is a fantastic way to increase customer engagement, whether that be through likes on social media, store visits or purchased products/services. Here’s an example: a new restaurant in town has dozens of five-star reviews and consistently has a line out the door—obviously, other people seem to like it, so it must be a great place to eat, right?
So, how can you use social proof to better your business? Let’s start with good reviews. Positive reviews = happy customers, so use them to your advantage! Whether you share, repost or publish these good reviews on your website or on social media, getting them out into the public eye will let potential customers know that your business has great products/services/etc. You could even offer some type of reward for a review … free appetizer for a good review? Count us in!
In fact, according to Business.com, 77% of people take the time to look at product reviews before making a purchase. Try reposting a customer’s post of your product on your social media account(s). This shows followers that other people—who aren’t paid influencers—enjoy your product as well.
I’m sure we are all aware of the benefits influencer marketing brings, but did you know it’s a form of social proof as well? For example, if a well-known celebrity or influencer posts a photo of them using or wearing a product, people will believe the product is a good buy and be more inclined to purchase it too. It happens all the time on TikTok—so much so, that the popular hashtag, #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt, has over 4.6 billion views and makes users 1.7 times more likely to discover products on TikTok (Tiktok World 2021). Perhaps it’s time to bust out a TikTok for Business account … and your best rendition of the “Renegade” dance.
2. the power of storytelling
Storytelling (noun): the telling or writing of stories (Dictionary.com).
We’ve been listening to stories since we were children, so it’s obvious that storytelling is a useful way to grab attention and increase awareness. In fact, according to Forbes, storytelling can be up to 22 times more memorable than facts alone.
Storytelling can make you stand out from your competitors. Let’s say you own a clothing line. How are your clothes different from any other clothing retailer? What’s the narrative behind them? Your brand’s history is a way to connect to your customers, show what your product stands for and set it apart from others like it. A brand’s story is a vital part of its identity.
Stories also bring people together. Think about the most memorable advertisements you’ve seen—do they follow a storyline? They can evoke emotion from listeners, which in turn, inclines them to feel something more. As civil rights activist, Maya Angelou, once said, “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” (Forbes). The same goes for your brand—make your audience feel something with the message you are trying to send.
3. the ‘halo effect’
Halo Effect (noun): A cognitive bias that occurs when an initial positive judgement about a person unconsciously colors the perception of the individual (Psychology Today) … not to be confused with Beyonce’s song, “Halo.”
You may be wondering, how does cognitive bias based on an individual relate to marketing strategies? Imagine if that individual was your brand. Let’s say you launch a makeup line but it’s not getting any traction—low sale numbers, poor social media engagement and not many website visits—even though you’re doing everything you can when it comes to quality, customer service and manufacturing. Well, what does your social media and website look like? Is it aesthetically pleasing? Does it follow a brand guideline? If a brand’s image isn’t appealing or engaging to a potential customer, then the customer may be less likely to purchase from said brand. This might not be the only thing holding up sales, but it’s a great place to start.
According to an experiment done by The Decision Lab, when asked their expectations of an app based on the app’s login page, participants who disliked the login aesthetics were more likely to have lower expectations towards the app itself. Only 25% of those who disliked the aesthetic expected the app to work reliably compared to 80% of participants who liked the app’s aesthetics.
The bottom line is, with a pleasing and attractive brand image—and of course, high-quality products and services—the halo effect can help, rather than harm your brand.
4. theory of reciprocity
Theory of Reciprocity (noun): A theory that people evaluate the kindness of an action not only by its consequences, but also by the intention underlying the action (EconStor).
We’ve all heard the saying, ‘I scratch your back, you scratch mine,’ and this is where it comes into play. When someone does something for you, it’s natural to want to do something for them. The same goes for your customers. This theory can be utilized in many ways, whether it’s through coupons, freebies or discounts. If you offer a customer or guest something that benefits them, they will be more likely to use it or buy it. This ties back to the social proof example of giving discounts when a customer agrees to write a good review.
Business2Community uses the example of a computer salesman adding in a free laptop bag during a sale. Guess what? As a result of the laptop bag incentive, the customer may now feel obligated to make the purchase. There’s also the example of using coupons and promotions to draw in customers—it’s less expensive than other advertising approaches and can bring in more leads within a short period of time.
The most important thing is to stay authentic—you don’t want your customers to think you only want their money. When a brand or business genuinely wants to give their customers the best experience possible, people will notice.
By combining some or all these four psychological ‘hacks,’ you may be able to further the success of your campaign and even grow your bottom line. At this point, you’ve probably realized that you don’t need a psychology degree to be a good marketer—all you need is some psychology magic to elevate your marketing game and intrigue your target audience!