If only you could get inside your target audience’s mind, right?
You’d use one of your three wishes for a mere glimpse of insight into what your customers are thinking and feeling. However, all you need is a little inbound marketing psychology intelligence to help you understand what motivates people and what gets them irrationally excited. No need to waste good wishes.
Below I’ll explain the value (and meaning of) Reciprocity, Grounded Cognition and Commitment and Consistency and provide some tips on how to use these psychology principles to fuel powerful inbound marketing campaigns.
1. Reciprocity (Give to Get Theory)
If I give something to you, you’ll want to (or feel obligated to) give something to me. According to social psychologist, Robert Cialdini Reciprocity is one of the 6 key principles of influence. According to us, Reciprocity is actually the foundation that inbound marketing is built on. If you provide value for your customers and give them access to free content, tools and advice, for example, they will be more likely to give you their business in return – whether they engage with your brand through social media, buy a product or service, return to your website or recommend your brand to a friend. You’ll get something back.
How to Use Reciprocity for Better Inbound Marketing:
Value-Adding Content Marketing - Give away your knowledge (everything you know). Hold nothing back and you will likely be rewarded with an audience of loyal customers. Create value-adding content that your customers love and need – the kind that solves their problems and helps them achieve their goals. How-to evergreen blog posts are a great place to start as they provide an avenue for you to advise, educate and inspire your target audience.
Other value-adding content methods to consider include: whitepapers, ebooks, presentations (for examples, slides that you have used to speak at an industry event), webinars, infographics, and even tools (for example, HubSpot gives away free useful tools to help its audience market better).
Influencer Relationship Building - The rule with influencer relationship building is to always give first, ask later. Build up a genuine relationship with influential figures in your industry by following them on social media, sharing their content, commenting on their posts, retweeting their quotes and answering any questions they may post on Twitter, for example. While networking, identify ways you can help people you’re talking to – maybe you can proofread the copy for their upcoming website, recommend a designer you know or contribute a blog post. Don’t expect anything in return. Instead simply trust that people like to help people who have helped them. You will most likely be rewarded at some point in the future.
Ask for Shares/Prompt for Business - If the rule of Reciprocity holds true it’s okay to ask for something back every now and then. You simply need to identify the appropriate time (usually after you’ve given your audience something of significant value). For example, if your prospect has just downloaded a cheat-sheet you have created, you could ask for a cheeky share on the thank you/confirmation page (remember, they’re more likely to do this now that you’ve given to them). You could also create a trigger email campaign that sends prospects valuable content at specific stages of their buying cycle. It’s okay for the final email in your trigger campaign series to be a (soft) sales pitch if you’ve been providing value along the way. Your prospects are more likely to buy now that they’ve received significant value from you your brand.
2. Grounded Cognition
We make 90% of our decisions without consciously realising we’re doing it according to recent research conducted by Timothy Wilson. Douglas van Praet explores this psychological theory in his book ‘Unconscious Branding.’ Van Praet says that, ‘Influence is born by appealing to the emotions while overcoming rational restraints.’ For marketers, this means that by tapping into your target audience’s emotions they will subconsciously warm to and engage with your brand.
Grounded Cognition is the principle that people can envision themselves in a story as they read, hear or watch it – they experience the story as if it were happening to them. Grounded Cognition research has shown that people easily forget facts and figures, unless they’re incorporated into stories. Essentially, if you want people to remember your message you’ll need to make them feel like they’re part of it.
How to Use Grounded Cognition to Boost Your Inbound Marketing:
Create Stories of Empathy - If you want people to remember your stats, information or advice tell them a story they can empathise with. Remember, people will find it easier to empathise with stories they can imagine themselves being a part of. That’s why it’s important to place your target audience at the heart of your stories and let them envision themselves as the hero of your tale. They’ll feel the feelings you’re trying to portray at a deeper level. Create a familiar picture from the outset of your blog post (or any other content you’re creating) by addressing and empathising with your target audience’s problems. Put yourself in their shoes and they’ll put their faith in your brand.
Share Your Own Story - Can you share your personal story of strife that your target audience can relate to and empathise with? Tell your personal story or experience to provide inspiration for your readers and lets them know that you understand their predicament. That way, not only will they be more likely to remember your post, they’ll also have faith in your ability to solve their problems just like you’ve solved your own.
Speak Like a Friend - Speak to your audience as though you are speaking to your best friend. Not only does this mean adopting a friendly, advice-giving tone – it also means mirroring your target audience’s language, choosing the words they would choose and maintaining the same pace of thoughts.
3. Commitment & Consistency
The Commitment and Consistency theory means that if you first make a small commitment to someone, and at a later date, that same person asks you for a bigger commitment you’re more likely to say yes. That’s because once you make a commitment to someone or something, that commitment becomes a part of who you are (your self-image). If you say no to a favour someone has asked you for when you have previously said yes to a similar smaller favour for them you might be viewed as going against your word (or against your self-image).
What this means for marketing is that the more you can get your customers to invest in your brand the more likely they are to continuously invest it. For example, if you can get prospects to make a small commitment like participating in a reward scheme they are more likely to commit to a purchase at a later date. After all they’ve already got ‘one foot in the door.’
How to Use Commitment & Consistency to Enhance Your Inbound Marketing:
Small Commitments First - Instead of leading directly with the hard sell, ask your prospect for a small commitment first. Pave a path of small commitments your prospects can take to help them move along the sales funnel. For example, when your prospect first visits your website you can ask for their contact details. You can then send them an email asking them to subscribe to your newsletter.
Other small commitments include asking prospects to share your content on social media, asking for their contact details in exchange for an ebook download or industry report or requiring them to sign up to a webinar in advance, etc. The more smaller commitments your prospects take the more likely they are to make a larger commitment to your brand in the form of a purchase or membership, for example.
Important: Don’t forget to provide value throughout every step of your commitment path (as outlined in the Reciprocity tips above).