Psychology influences digital marketing success. Most marketers haven't considered the fact that psychology is a big part of advertising. It varies, of course, depending on what you're selling, the time of year, your target audience and your current customer base. If you've ever tried to explain to someone completely outside your field what you do for a living, you know how much imagery plays into helping them understand. Psychology plays a similar role in advertising.
What about marketing? It is different from advertising but it relies just as much on psychology. Interestingly, marketers generally have very little face time with customers, if any. In fact, one of the tougher marketing jobs is proposal writing. Proposal writers rarely have an opportunity to interact with customers, particularly those who write proposals for government jobs of for companies receiving government funding.
Can We Agree on a Definition For Marketing?
Let's pause for a moment here and talk about marketing. When I define the term "marketing" to a prospect or a client I explain my simple definition, or framework, for what I believe marketing really is.
You already know, generally, what it is - but when I say the word "marketing," I mean something very specific and it's important that we are on the same page. My definition of marketing has three simple parts - you define an audience: a group of people that you want to target. You reach out to them with a message that is specific to that audience. And you seek to elicit a physical and measurable response. A click, a reply, a call, a purchase, a referral - these are all actions that represent a decision made by a human to react to your message.
Keep this in mind as continue on. Marketers are doing these things because they want people - their customers, their clients, their donors or supporters - to DO SOMETHING.
Marketers face the challenge of trying to read into the behavior of consumers they rarely see. In fact, they may not even identify with them (although they should be able to empathize to an extent). Good marketers also include a little bit of what they learned in Psych 101 in their campaigns. Let me explain.
Use Psychology To Encourage Action
Digital marketing is all about getting someone to visit a website, a blog or a landing page and take some kind of positive action, such as clicking on a website's "Contact Us" button, leaving a comment to a blog post, downloading an eBook or completing a purchase. But some customers are tougher nuts to crack than others. Derek Halpern of Social Triggers identifies three kinds of people who visit websites:
- Those who want to buy what you have
- Those who never will
The first two are easy. Those who want to buy will do just that. Maybe not instantly as Halpern posits. And those who won't, just won't. Why are there those who won't buy at all? Good question. I like to imagine they're just researching. Halpern then identifies four kinds of Sideliners:
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to change their outlooks.
Procrastinators Respond to Urgency
Let me start by saying that I tend to not procrastinate on most things. (I do post to a weekly blog after all!) I have a hard time dealing with habitual procrastinators. If I can't get an answer, I often take Halpern's suggestion and offer an incentive to spur them into action. This is where urgency can help. Marketing Land says it's one of the most powerful aspects of human psychology and is responsible for all those calls to action that you find on many sites, including this one. However, some sites overdo this. Here are a few guidelines to follow:
- Be truthful. This is part of the transparency discussion that's gaining a lot of traction. Taxes have to get done, so accountants, in a CTA, can remind their clients how many days are left before the deadline. They can even go a bit negative and remind them about late-filing penalties.
- Limit Any Offers. Make it clear when a special offer will end or that there's only a certain number of discounts you can give. As Johnny and June sang, "let 'em know that time's a-wastin'."
- Tie Offers to a Competition. Many procrastinators actually have a lot of self-esteem. They don't want to take orders, but if they see a competition, they just might bite to show off their skills, creativity, or whatever is required to get the reward. This will, incidentally, force them to sample your service or product.
Skeptics Want Proof You're the Real Deal
Skeptics are those who just don't trust you or your product or service. They may suspect you're scamming them or don't have the expertise you claim.
Don't waste your time proving yourself, Halpern advises. Instead, give them something to try out for free. Forget discounts or competitions, it won't work for them.
Freebies may sound like a good tactic for a procrastinator, but it will probably be better used on a skeptic. (You also don't know if a procrastinator will actually do anything with a freebie since it came so easily.) A limited free offer is also more useful if you're selling a service, such as marketing advice, car repair, or a gym membership. If a skeptic accepts an offer like a free eBook or service discount, they are more or less forced to evaluate you head-on. You're also showing them you don't just talk the talk, but also walk the walk, and this feels good.
You Have To Make The Indifferent Care
The Indifferent's biggest barrier to buying is the fact that they're thinking: "Does this really matter to me? Do I need it?"
The hurdle you have to get over with the Indifferent is that they don't think they care about what you're selling. When the Indifferent visits your website, reads your blog, or sees a Google ad, if they don't immediately get a feeling down to their core that they care about what you're selling, they just don't. Their next act is to click to the next website.
Now, that doesn't necessarily mean they aren't a good fit for your product or service. What it means is you, as the marketer responsible for eliciting an action, have to work a harder to get The Indifferent to care.
Worriers Have To Get Over Themselves
The Worrier's biggest hurdle to buying your product or service is themselves. Always remember the Skeptic questions you, the Worrier questions themselves. Worse than that, the Worrier just won't stop worrying.
Worriers don't think they are the type of person who can fully benefit from your product or your service. They're concerned about failure. They worry they won't be able to change, learn or benefit from what you're selling. And all this worrying is keeping them from buying.
The best way to get through to a worrier might just be doing something like offering free shipping on returns or some sort of money back guarantee.
The bottom line here is that the successful marketer knows a little something about psychology because psychology influences digital marketing tactics employed. Specifically, marketers must seek to understand the psychology of their target market and their current customer. Failure to have this understanding will make it all the more difficult to elicit that response you're looking for.
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