Have you ever noticed that knowing what someone did is never as valuable as knowing why they did it?
Ask any parent, coach, teacher, or leader, and they’ll tell you the same thing. People are always curious to know the “why” behind a given situation. It’s the reason why true crime podcasts and documentaries are so popular.
And so, smart marketers build strategies around their ideal customer’s internal motivations instead of simply monitoring their external behaviors.
This is called the study of marketing psychology, and it identifies a person’s beliefs, thought patterns, and subconscious motivations to understand what’s causing their behaviors.
If you’ve ever wondered…
…marketing psychology will give you the answer!
When you understand how someone thinks, you’ll know why they make certain decisions. When you understand their decision-making process, you’ll get better at predicting and influencing how they will act—in an ethical way, of course!
Marketing psychology will also help you:
- Generate more leads through quizzes and other marketing
- Retain more customers who are five times more likely to buy from you again
- Build trust through reliable and authentic messaging
- Encourage leads to build healthy purchasing habits
The benefits of studying psychological marketing are endless!
In this article, I’ll break down exactly what you need to know about marketing psychology. Afterward, you’ll be able to build better relationships with your potential customers through quizzes and other marketing campaigns.
To get started, continue reading or jump to your desired section:
- What is marketing psychology?
- Commonly used marketing psychology principles
- How to apply marketing psychology principles to your quiz
What is marketing psychology?
By now, you know marketing psychology plays a crucial role in business. To create better marketing strategies, you must first understand who you are trying to reach and what their goals and motivations are.
Every individual is driven by a core set of desires, fears, doubts, and needs. When you understand what those are, you’ll have an easier time understanding marketing psychology. If you need more help with this, pause this article to create a customer avatar with our how-to guide.
|Recommended Reading: Boost Your Quiz Conversions with Customer Avatars|
Identifying your ideal customer is a great first step, but then it gets a little tricky. While there will be people in your audience who share similarities, you must take their differences into account.
For example, two people could make the same purchasing decision at the exact same time but for completely different reasons.
One customer may have added your product to their cart a few days ago. This initial action may have caused them to spend a few hours researching, reading through reviews, and watching tutorial videos before making a decision. However, the other customer may have read through your product description and immediately purchased the product by clicking the “buy now” button.
If you’re simply looking at the analytics, both purchases may be counted toward your overall conversion numbers, but we know the path in getting there was different. We call this your customer journey, and understanding it is another good practice if you’re new to creating sales funnels.
|Recommended Reading: How to Build a Marketing Funnel for Your Quiz|
Now, this is where marketing psychology gets interesting!
Instead of treating all of your customers as if they are the same, you can use personalization marketing strategies to make them feel as unique as they are.
Personalized marketing allows you to cater your messaging to each customer, giving them the exact information they need to trust you and feel confident buying from you.
Quizzes are a fantastic way to personalize your marketing, and it’s one of the reasons why our co-founders Josh and Matt created Interact!
They’re the original psychology nerds at Interact, so it’s no surprise why they made sure to weave marketing psychology principles into our quiz building platform from the beginning.
Through quizzes, you can put any marketing psychology tactic into action.
By asking a series of interesting questions with purposeful answer options, you can collect data and valuable insights that will transform the way you market your products and services forever.
Quizzes will help you understand what can be measured AND what can only be discovered through conversations.
The benefit of a quiz is that these conversations can be automated so it won’t take more time from your schedule to nurture each lead. Instead, the quiz will run on its own and automatically generate personalized results for each participant.
It will feel like an insightful, personal conversation with your audience without the extra work. That way, you can go back to the projects you love and sell more of your offers on autopilot.
Who wouldn’t love the sound of that? Other quiz creators like Kaye Putnam and Jenna Kutcher are using their quizzes to generate six- to seven-figure revenue for their online businesses.
What’s the “secret sauce” behind their quizzes?
You guessed it: marketing psychology!
Let’s see what’s possible for your business when you incorporate these marketing psychology principles into your messaging.
Commonly used marketing psychology principles
By now, you understand that consumer behavior is influenced by internal factors. The way someone thinks and takes in information has more of an effect on their actions than anything else.
Your goal is to understand (1) how an ideal customer thinks, (2) how they perceive your business, and (3) what makes them feel confident in making a purchase. These insights will help you improve your marketing efforts and create stronger conversion numbers year over year.
Let’s explore some of the most influential marketing psychology principles, walk through a few examples, and talk about how they relate to quizzes. You may want to bookmark this page or take out a journal to jot down notes.
We’re about to get into the nitty gritty, but first, let’s start with a brief definition of each principle.
From here, you can click a link to jump to a specific principle or keep scrolling to view them all. Think of it like a fun choose your own adventure book!
- Reciprocity: According to this principle, if your business does something favorable for your ideal customer, they are more likely to return the favor or buy from you in the future based on increased trust.
- Information-gap theory: If there is a gap in your ideal customer’s knowledge, this principle says they will actively search out answers and take action on topics that may interest them.
- Scarcity: When there is a limited supply of something valuable but a high demand for it, the scarcity theory may kick in and influence someone’s purchasing decisions.
- Urgency: When a product is available for a limited time or includes a special offer, this increase in urgency may convince someone to make a purchase before the item is gone.
- Decoy effect: To help your audience make a better purchasing decision, you could include a decoy product as an expensive third option to direct more attention to the other two more affordable alternatives.
- Anchoring: This principle describes how customers make a purchasing decision based on the very first thing they hear, whether it is accurate or not.
- Social proof: When a product is validated by the positive review of another past customer, this increases the social proof behind the offer.
- Loss aversion: Studies have shown that people are more motivated by avoiding losses than potentially gaining something, so loss aversion principles can be greatly influential.
- Analysis paralysis: If you give too many product options, your audience could go into analysis paralysis, leading them to become indecisive.
- Mere exposure theory: This principle says the more your ideal customer sees something, the more they will like it.
Keep reading as we explain each marketing principle in more detail!
The reciprocity principle essentially says, If I do this for you, someday you may do something valuable for me. It’s the action of giving first so you can hopefully take something later. Guided by the give-and-take nature of human exchange, it’s no surprise that this principle is widely used in e-commerce businesses today.
A key way to use the reciprocity principle in your business would be to give free samples of your product. Warby Parker, an eyeglasses retailer, does this by giving customers an opportunity to try on their favorite eyeglass frames at home.
Since customers are able to try on up to five frames at home before they make a purchase, it gives them increased confidence in the brand. It doesn’t hurt that this action also saves them from having to make a trip to the eyeglass store. By giving so much value upfront, they are able to increase the likelihood that someone will purchase their favorite pair (or two!).
When they realized their home try-on offer was such a hit, they decided to create the #warbyhometryon hashtag on Instagram to encourage their potential customers to post their selfies wearing each frame. Some Instagram users even ask their followers to vote on their favorite pair. This interactive activity makes the Warby Parker experience more enjoyable and memorable.
They’re basically the king (and queen) of reciprocity!
You may also notice that Warby Parker has a secondary call-to-action on their homepage (pictured earlier) that leads people to an eyeglass frame style quiz. We’re biased, but we think that’s an incredibly smart way to serve their audience at different stages in their customer journey.
The best purchases are made from well-informed decisions. It’s hard to convert a potential customer who is lacking in the information and resources they need to make a confident decision. This is where information-gap theory comes in.
This theory says when someone has a gap in their knowledge of a topic they’re interested in learning more about, they’re willing to seek out the answers on their own. This typically describes a motivated buyer rather than someone who is passively browsing through shops for inspiration.
One company who gets this right is Beardbrand, a YouTube channel that turned into a thriving beard grooming e-commerce shop. With 1.7 million followers, Beardbrand is one of the most popular places to get advice on how to care for your beard.
Since many of their customers will have questions before they buy a beard grooming product, they’ll have a chance to see it used in action inside their YouTube videos. Instead of simply posting review videos, they give a lot of valuable tips and tutorials for beard grooming.
With hundreds of videos in their ever-growing archive, they use curated playlists to make it easier to search for the videos you need. This is a fantastic way to build rapport with your potential customers and give them answers to their questions without overwhelming your customer service team. We love it!
Entrepreneurs like Liz Lajoie and Kayla Hollatz (hey, that’s me!) have talked about scarcity mindsets and how they can affect your business, but did you know that scarcity is often used as a tactic in marketing?
The idea of scarcity suggests that people highly value things they think are rare or things they don’t believe there are enough of. The scarcity principle says the more accessible an offer is, the less value it has.
While this principle is often used on social media platforms and in sales copywriting, it’s important to take an ethical approach. If you are promoting an offer as if it is scarcely available when it isn’t, that may lead to distrust with your audience. Be transparent and truthful when using scarcity marketing strategies.
An ethical example of how to use scarcity is by offering a program with limited spots. Even better if you can say how many spots are left, but remember to share real numbers so your content is helpful instead of manipulative.
One influencer who does this well is Selena Soo, a PR expert who hosts an impactful one-year long mastermind that helps business owners get more publicity.
Since you need to apply for the mastermind, it makes sense for Selena to use scarcity language. She has a large audience of over 100,000 followers on Facebook, so she needs to communicate that only a small selection of people can take part in this hands-on program. It sets expectations and ensures everyone understands what the process looks like.
Often paired with scarcity marketing tactics, urgency is used to encourage undecided buyers to make a fast purchase. This is usually done through limited time offers where a customer can get a special price or bonus product for buying at that moment.
Thanks to this urgency-related resource, we know that common urgency words can include:
- Time (limited time only, last time, today only, deadline, hours left)
- Speed (now, act now, don’t delay, hurry, rush, instant)
- Scarcity (once in a lifetime, limited collection, never again, last chance)
- FOMO (price increase, offer expires soon, now or never, final sale)
- Sale words (offer, clearance, bargain, going out of business, final close-out)
The Daily Grace Co, a Bible study and accessories e-commerce shop, creates urgency any time they launch their popular $5 sale. They know it will entice people to browse their $5 collection, so they continually update their homepage banner to include the sale whenever it happens.
Since the sale is only available for a limited time, it increases the likelihood that someone who has been considering making a purchase will do so because of this deal. When you click on the $5 sale link in their website navigation, you’ll find a curated collection of products that are marked down as much as 75%.
When you launch a limited-time-offer sale like this, it might encourage people to buy more than one of your products. They might rate, review, and post about your product on social media and review sites. While urgency marketing is at its highest around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you can create urgency any day of the year!
Have you ever considered offering a decoy product? It may seem like an odd marketing tactic at first, but because of the decoy effect, you could increase conversions by offering another less-favorable option.
Here’s an example from The Point Magazine on how it can be done. By offering multiple subscription tiers, they give readers a chance to choose the best fit for them. It’s clear that they’d prefer for their customers to choose the “Print and Digital” option because it’s listed first, highlighted with a box, and described as the “reader favorite.”
All of this makes sense, but what if readers think this option is too expensive? It might help to put a decoy option like they did with the Supporter tier, which they priced at $99 even though it includes only a few extra bonuses. By including this option, it makes the Print and Digital tier look much more affordable in comparison.
It’s a very strategic way to influence people’s purchasing decisions without causing confusion or overwhelming them in the process. You can do the same with your digital or physical product shop.
Everyone knows it’s hard to resist a good sale. It’s the same reason why many people will state the sales price of an item after they receive a compliment about it: Thank you! Can you believe I got it on sale for $15!?
Since the anchoring effect says the first thing someone hears, sees, or reads will be what they remember, it’s important to lead with your most important benefits and price points. One easy way to do this is by sharing the original price of an item and its sale price, much like this pair of high-waisted pants from Aerie.
By stating the sales price in red with a “Save 50%” label next to it, the deal seems even better. If the customer knows that the original price of $54.95 is a typical price for Aerie pants, they will likely feel more confident in making an immediate purchase. After all, if they’ve considered purchasing at the higher price, seeing a lower one will feel like an automatic yes!
Another way this principle could come into play is if the customer heard about how comfortable Aerie’s clothes are. Based on the first thing they heard about Aerie’s clothing, they’d assume these twill pants must be just as comfortable, even if they haven’t had an opportunity to try them on. Anchoring can be a powerful principle, so keep it in mind whenever you create new messaging or try new pricing strategies!
Social proof is one of the easiest and most effective ways to increase your sales conversions. Marketing psychology tells us that the more people recommend a product, the more likely someone will be to buy it. This is exactly what social proof is.
Here are a few statistics that illustrate how important social proof is:
- 87% of buying decisions begin with research that’s conducted online before the purchase is made.
- 92% of buyers trust a recommendation or opinion from one of their peers.
- 82% of people look for recommendations from friends and family before they make a purchase.
Adding testimonials from past clients and customers may seem like an obvious way to increase trust on your website, but we really like this social proof example from copywriter Ashlyn from Ashlyn Writes Shop. In the bottom left-hand column, you may notice a pop-up window (powered by Shopify) showing that a customer from Alabama purchased one of her products.
These previously bought items are shown to increase each visitor’s interest in the shop’s best selling product. It also shows a timestamp of when the product was purchased. In this case, it shows it was purchased less than an hour before, which tells someone who is browsing that it’s worth purchasing soon.
This principle is about avoiding losses at all costs. Loss aversion shows that it can be more effective to lead with messaging that shows how your product is helping people reduce losses rather than helping them gain something.
Let’s say there are two business strategists who are trying to sell a self-paced online course. The strategist who claims to help students save $100 on their expenses will likely sell more courses than the one who claims to help students earn $100 from their client projects. Loss aversion says not losing money feels more valuable than earning more money.
This may seem backward based on the marketing messaging you’ve seen and used, but it’s what marketing psychology tells us. It’s a great principle to keep in mind when you are making investment decisions, but does it relate to consumer psychology? Absolutely!
Take Sarah from Yes and Yes, for example. She has a Bank Boost course that helps students save money by looking at their current expenses and reframing their spending habits.
One of the most powerful things about Sarah’s course is her ability to share testimonials from past students who have already used the $72 one-time investment to save as much as $1,000 in five weeks.
Not only does this show that a past student received a huge return on investment, but it also shows that they no longer had to worry about wasting their money on purchases that didn’t fit their ideal lifestyle. They could avoid losses by trimming their current budget rather than trying to go after a promotion, creating a time-consuming business, or another gain-focused activity that isn’t as accessible.
Have you ever been completely overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options offered at a store? This can happen when you’re shopping in stores like Bath & Body Works, which sell hundreds of different types of candles, body lotions, and other self-care products, all with a unique signature scent.
These stores are often frequented around the holidays, but if you’re not sure what kind of stocking stuffer you’re looking for, it can lead to analysis paralysis. This usually happens when you encounter too many options at one time, causing you to shut down and exit the premises.
Although this example is from a brick-and-mortar store, the same can be said for online shopping experiences. It’s best to narrow down your product options so you’re only selling your best products. Pillow Cube does a great job of this by selling only three main products, all relating to their pillows.
By focusing on creating pillows that are intentionally designed for side sleepers, they were able to create two core pillows: Pillow Cube Classic and Pillow Cube Pro. Pillow cases can be added as needed.
With two options, it reduces the amount of research someone needs to do before deciding whether or not they want to buy a specific product. Pillow Cube’s side sleeping niche has also helped them create specific messaging for their most ideal customers. We’re big believers in niching down whenever you can!
If you want to offer more products, create a product recommendations quiz. This quiz will act as an automated personal shopper, guiding each quiz-taker toward the product that’s best for them. This process will greatly reduce analysis paralysis because they are receiving personalized recommendations from a trustworthy source (you!).
Mere exposure theory
There are even more marketing psychology principles you can dig into, but the last one we’ll talk about is the mere exposure effect. It simply states that the more a customer becomes aware of an offer, the more likely they will be to take action.
This is why many marketing experts recommend frequently talking about your products through your emails, social media posts, blog articles, and more. You can’t expect to see a large increase in sales if you aren’t reminding your customers of what you sell.
Now, this doesn’t mean that every post or article should be a sales pitch. Instead, your offers should be sprinkled into your regular content so you’re still giving educational, entertaining, and personality-infused content.
Mapiful does a great job of this on their Instagram feed. Using a mix of influencer photos, user-generated content, and their own brand photos, they’re able to consistently remind their customers of what they sell: DIY map prints.
Instead of highlighting the maps on their own, Mapiful curates photos of beautifully designed interiors with maps hanging on the walls. This is a great way to give their audience visual inspiration that incorporates their product but also includes other products and visuals.
Other brands who do this well include:
- Girlfriend—a sustainable, ethically made activewear company
- Book of the Month—a monthly subscription box of bestselling books
- Minted—an online design marketplace for artists and designers
Now that you are aware of the most important marketing psychology principles, let’s talk about how you can incorporate them into your quiz!
How to apply marketing psychology principles to your quiz
With marketing psychology, you can create a strategic quiz from the get-go. Instead of wondering how your audience will react to your quiz, incorporate marketing psychology principles to move forward in confidence.
If you’re not sure where to start, I’ll give you several psychology-influenced strategies to help you up-level your quiz. You’ll also see real examples from quiz creators who have seen amazing results with their quiz.
Let’s keep going because this is where the magic happens!
Encourage reciprocity with freebies
Since the reciprocity principle is all about giving first in hopes of receiving later, consider how you can add value to the lives of your customers before they buy from you. One of the simplest ways to do this is by offering a freebie or lead magnet.
Most business owners use lead magnets to grow their email list, but you may not realize how helpful they can be in generating new business. Using lead magnets has been said to increase your sales conversion rates by 4% or more, in addition to gaining more email subscribers.
Why do lead magnets work so well? It’s because they give away something of value for no cost. It’s the reciprocity principle in action!
Kate Crocco, a psychotherapist and new author, used this strategy when she created her What’s Holding You Back? quiz.
When someone completes her quiz, they receive access to the first two chapters of her newly published book, Thinking Like a Boss. What a smart way to give away something for free!
This is in hopes that quiz-takers will be hooked on what they read, convincing them to purchase her book. It’s more delightful to pitch her book this way than by asking her audience to buy her book right away. Think about how you might use a similar reciprocity-based strategy in your own quiz.
Fill information gaps with educational guides
We all want our customers to make well-informed decisions when they’re making a purchase. It helps them feel more comfortable and confident in taking action. However, when there are gaps in their subject knowledge, they may look toward other resources to learn more before buying.
If you offer this knowledge, you’ll not only keep quiz-takers on your website rather than looking elsewhere but you’ll also position yourself as a trustworthy expert. This is incredibly valuable as you need trust to earn more sales.
Self-sabotage coach Ashley Beaudin created a 13-page educational guide for quiz-takers who want to take a deeper dive into their quiz results.
By adding motivational messages, self-reflective prompts, and more detail on each type, she’s able to make a bigger impact with her content. In addition, she also created quiz result landing pages with even more educational information.
Her quiz-takers walk away from her quiz feeling like they have all the knowledge they need to decide whether or not they’re ready to hire her as their coach. Even those who aren’t ready to hire Ashley still receive a lot of value from the quiz and the supportive guides that follow it. It’s the reason why Ashley was able to generate 3,500 leads in the first week of launching her quiz!
Use scarcity and urgency with special offers
Remember, it’s important to ethically use scarcity and urgency marketing tactics. This means being upfront and honest about the claims behind your marketing messaging. Don’t make promises you can’t keep or say things you can’t stand behind.
One of the ethical ways you can increase scarcity and urgency is by offering your quiz-takers something special. Since these people are showing interest in your brand by taking your quiz, it makes sense to give them a limited time offer that may pique their interest. This is especially effective when you create a product recommendation quiz.
Bean Box, a coffee subscription company, did this when they offered a $5 Coffee Starter Kit to quiz-takers who completed their quiz. Most of their products are priced between $15 and $68, so this feels like a special offer for those who are still on the fence.
Bean Box sweetened the deal even further by promising that the coffee samples wouldn’t include any commitments and would be shipped for free. No hidden costs or added fees leads to more trust and a higher likelihood of purchase. Whether you’re selling a physical or e-commerce product, take Bean Box’s advice and go for it!
Incorporate decoys and set anchors by offering multiple-tiered products
If you’re hoping to increase someone’s interest in your core products or services, you may want to use a decoy.
Sometimes this can be a higher-priced item that directs a potential customer’s attention to the offer you really want them to take action on. Other times it will be an offer with less deliverables and value that will make your main offer look much more appealing.
No matter how you decide to use decoys, it’s a good idea to test with your quiz. Sleep consultant Becca from Little Z’s Sleep uses this tactic on her sales pages. Once a quiz-taker completes the quiz, they’ll see a “get started” CTA button that, when clicked, leads them to a sales page for her recommended online course.
Instead of offering only one package, Becca decided to create a multiple-tiered option so interested parents can choose which sleep program is best for them.
If someone was interested in the $99 program, they’ll think it looks even more affordable next to the more expensive offers. However, if a quiz-taker is looking to get all of the help they can get, they may see the Baby Together Plus option and think it’s a total steal based on how much more you get out of that package.
To make this a great example of anchoring, Becca could show how much the sleep training program usually costs compared to a sale price. This will increase the perception of value even more. You can do the same with your own quiz and landing pages.
Raise social proof with testimonials
We already know that potential customers often look to reviews or testimonials when making their purchasing decisions. If you make a soft sales pitch after your quiz, it could be a good place to add a testimonial.
Primally Pure did this when creating their deodorant quiz. Hey, if it works for a hygiene product, it can work for just about anything, right? We love how Primally Pure created dedicated landing pages for each result. Click here to see an example for their lavender deodorant.
The landing page begins with more information about the recommended scent before it dives into a list of short customer reviews from people who have enjoyed the product. This is a good way to increase trust based on the product’s benefits and positive track record.
These testimonials would be even stronger if they included a photo of the person using the product, which has been known to further increase social proof. You can either ask your customers directly for these short testimonials or repurpose past reviews you’ve received on Google, Facebook, or another third-party website.
Create social identities with membership communities
Belonging to a group is not only something people desire—it’s something we need as humans. You can tap into this psychological need by welcoming quiz-takers into your community. To take it a step further, you could even pitch them your membership community.
This is what The Copywriter Club did with their Copywriting Superpower quiz. After a quiz-taker receives their final quiz results, they’ll see a button that invites them to hang out with other copywriters who are like them. This is a very inviting CTA that’s focused less on the sale and more on feeling welcomed into a community.
When a quiz-taker clicks the CTA, they’ll be able to explore the main Copywriter Club membership community along with other masterminds. We love this clear focus on community building!
Decrease analysis paralysis and avoid loss by personalizing your offers
We all know what it feels like to be plagued by indecision. If your customers aren’t sure whether or not to make a purchase, it’s best to pare down the number of product options. Otherwise, you could overwhelm them.
This is where personalized product or service recommendations comes in. It’s important to include the “why” behind your recommendation. You can do this by giving your quiz-taker a list of personality traits, strengths, or other factors that make them a perfect fit for a specific offer.
One brand who does this really well is TONIC Site Shop, a website template shop for creatives and entrepreneurs. They’ve used their brand cocktail quiz to generate over $50,000 in additional revenue. It’s been successful for many reasons, but one is its ability to personalize template suggestions based on what the person’s quiz results say about their personality.
To make their quiz even more fun, they based each quiz result type on a cocktail while also giving recipes and a curated playlist inspired by the drink. This is how you create a memorable quiz experience from start to finish!
To decrease loss aversion, TONIC Site Shop talks about how customizing a template can be just as beneficial as a fully custom site but at a fraction of the cost. Saving on expenses is a huge benefit, so it makes sense why they talk about this in multiple places on their website.
Increase exposure with better social media strategies
Lastly, let’s talk about the mere exposure theory. As you probably could have guessed, this principle relates well to social media. Since algorithms affect how many people in your audience are able to see your content, we recommend posting about your quiz on a regular basis.
You already know the importance of sharing posts about your quiz in its launch week, but did you know that your promotion strategy for the quiz is just beginning? People may have missed your first announcement or forgotten that you created a quiz. Your ongoing social media content will remind them of your quiz.
A great example of this is life coach Shaina Leis. She frequently shares her quiz on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, to name a few places. This is a great way to keep her quiz top-of-mind for people who may need the extra reminder.
We love seeing how creative our quiz creators get with their social media content! The sky’s the limit. If you have an idea, test it out on social media and look at your quiz analytics to see if it increases your quiz performance over time. You’ve got this!
To review, here are some of the things I covered in this article:
- What is marketing psychology?
- Commonly used marketing psychology principles
- How to apply marketing psychology principles to your quiz
Now all that’s left to do is create your quiz with these marketing psychology principles!