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The Psychology of Content Marketing

Want to know what sets apart two similar business models, with one being successful while the other flounders? Psychology at work. Good psychology strategies have been integral to influencing consumers for years. It helps them pick one product over another, and stick with the same service despite the prevalence of identical offerings.

Building a website, composing a tweet, or writing a blog? Keep these psychological principles in mind to craft the best experience for your customers.

The psychology behind the purchase funnel

You don’t need to be a Rhodes scholar to put good psychology tactics to use in your business. In fact, you’re probably already doing it to some extent. The trick is to consciously observe how, why and where your current customers are finding your products and services, and then try to replicate that success across new audiences.

When it comes to understanding the psychology behind the purchase funnel, it’s all about putting yourself in your customer’s shoes. Once you understand what goes through their mind in each stage of the sales journey– awareness, consideration, evaluation, purchasing decision and retention – that’s when you can deploy content marketing collateral that appeals to their senses.

The power of customer behaviour models

Every customer is different. Much like your content marketing efforts won’t appeal to all the people all the time, the same holds true for the psychology tactics you should use.

Below, we’ve compiled some of the top customer behaviour models to get your head around. Once you understand how they work and how they feed into different marketing techniques, you can use them to your advantage through your content marketing.

  1. Cognitive fluency 

    In terms of marketing, cognitive fluency means getting your audience to process your collateral quickly and easily so they can associate that simplicity with your brand. Visuals are key here, which means your brand name, font and design elements must be sleek and easy to understand at a glance. Good cognitive fluency can potentially mean customers make a decision to purchase much faster.

  2. Social proof 

    Robert Cialdini (you’ll recognise that surname again later on) says about social proof: “we view a behaviour as more correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing it”. Word-of-mouth is one element of social proof, where people will be more likely to patronise your brand if someone they trust says it’s a good idea. But you should also consider the ‘halo effect’, where people make decisions about a brand based on what everyone else is saying about them. For this, social media listening can be a good strategy.

  3. Perceptual set theory 

    The perceptual set theory is simply the idea that customers are predisposed to see something in a specific way. This means that as humans we have a certain way of looking at things – our brains only notice certain parts of something (like content marketing) while ignoring other details. And as a business owner, it’s up to you to understand what details the customers may be missing.

    If you want to know how perception can actually boost conversions for your business, we recommend taking a look at Robert Mening’s fantastic deep-dive into the perceptual set theory.

  4. Cialdini’s principles of persuasion

    We told you that you’d be seeing more of this guy. He’s a big voice in the psychology world, but particularly how it feeds into marketing.

    His principles of persuasion are centred around reciprocity. That is, Caldini believes we have an inherent need to return favours and repay debts. Makes sense, right? This can actually be deployed in your content marketing by creating collateral that creates a sense of reciprocity in your audience.

    For example, by giving them discounts or free samples, they will feel obliged to return the favour by making a purchase.

  5. Central and peripheral route processing 

    Persuasion continues to play a big role, this time in both central route and peripheral route processing. And again, if you can harness the power of these persuasive psychological tools then your content marketing output will be all the better for it.

    As psychology lecturer Yolanda Williams puts it: “The central route to persuasion occurs when a person is persuaded to act based on the arguments or the content of the message,” whereas “the peripheral route to persuasion is when a person is persuaded by something other than the arguments or content of the message.”

    How you choose to integrate that type of persuasion into your marketing is up to you.

Keen to use psychology to your advantage but not sure how to integrate it into your content marketing? Contact us to find out how we can help you build a content marketing strategy.

You can also read more about content, social media and all things marketing at The Beat.

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