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There are a lot of ways to influence the consumer while they don’t even notice it. When you as a growth hacker understand and adapt these influential techniques into your (visual) marketing campaigns it is likely that you will sell your product or service more easily. Always keep your target audience in mind while the techniques are most of the time applicable to specific target audiences. Go through these ten techniques and see which one is most applicable for your brand

  1. The Barnum Effect
  2. Peak End Rule
  3. Fear Then Relief Theory
  4. Incentives
  5. Decoy Products
  6. Gamification
  7. Social Proof
  8. Scarcity
  9. Authority
  10. Persuasion Profiling
  1. The Barnum effect

Let’s start with the Barnum-effect or Forer-effect. This effect derived from psychology and concerns the tendency of people to accept vague and generally valid statements about the person as typical description, without realizing that the same description applies to almost everyone. This effect makes you connect to your target audience more easily when you are talking to a general audience. It helps people identify themselves more easily with the brand.

The Barnum effect helps consumers:

  1. immediate connect with the individual.
  2. It makes them listen to the one passing on the message
  3. Once the belief is created, the person passing the message can pass more messages, whether honest or scrupulous.

A good example:

  1. Peak end rule

The Peak-end-rule is a great tool to use within marketing and was discovered by the Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman (1934), a psychologist. It is the habit from people to rethink the experience only based on certain details; the peak and the end.

Two examples:

Research shows, for example, that a one week holiday with a few great moments and a great end is rated more positively than a fantastic three week vacation without a real peak, which ended with a disappointment.

The next research was based on 2 experiences: – In the short experience one hand is immersed for 14 seconds in water for 60 seconds – In the long experience, the other hand is immersed in water of 14 degrees for 60 seconds. Subsequently, the same hand was kept in the water for 30 seconds and slowly heated to 15 degrees. The test subjects were asked what experience they wanted to undergo again. A significant majority wanted to undergo the long experience.

Make sure your consumers end with a good experience because they will probably only remember the end of their experience.

  1. Fear-then-relief-theory

According to the fear-then-relief theory, you are influenced when you first get scared and then offered a solution. This technique is widely seen in insurance companies and at various political parties in election periods.

A journal of experimental social psychology (1998) already showed that this is working properly link

  1. Incentives

The use of incentives is a popular way to seduce website visitors. Discounts, bundles, gifts; Almost every website makes use of it, hoping to positively influence the buying behavior of visitors. Are you sufficiently aware of how incentives unconsciously influences the behavior of your website visitors?  There are different examples like:·

  • Money and discount·
  • Free shipping and delivery·
  • Buy one, get one free
  • Gift vouchers
  • Cash back
  • Well-being (for example, helping others to get a good feeling) ·
  • Honor or status (for example, to show something to others)·

McDonalds is always doing a great way to use incentives to buy their beloved hamburgers and Big Macs.

Learn more about incentives here.

  1. Adding Decoy products

Adding an unattractive expensive product is a proven effective technique to promote sales of other expensive products within the same product group. Research shows that we do not like extremes. If we choose between three or more products, then we usually do not choose the most expensive or most costly product. We then go for a mid-product. How expensive the products are can influence you by adding a more expensive product to the category. Most of the time it is therefore important to let people choose between three products where one is positioned as the decoy.

In the below overview an example how they did this with popcorn.

If you could only choose between the $3,- dollar and $7 dollar option, which one would be interesting? You probably would go for the $3,- dollar option. Adding a third option which costs $6,50 dollar makes it more interesting to go for this option. Well that’s the decoy effect.

On this website you can learn more about how to use the decoy effect.

  1. Gamification

Gamification is the application of game thinking and game techniques in non-game environments. Gamification uses game elements to motivate users and enrich their experience. The principle of gamification is not new, we have been playing games for centuries, but using them in a non-game environment is new.

Effective games are tempting, gripping, motivating and binding their players to their game and this is just what we want with our users as well. It is all about letting them experience how the journey to a certain achievement may feel.

Gamification must enrich their experience and help them achieve their goals. And if they do, your organization will benefit from that too. Therefore, it is important to find the drive, the intrinsic motivation of your target audience and respond to it. A common used model for this is the Bartle player types model.

Does your target audience want to socialize, explore, achieve or kill?

  • Killers They thrive on competition with other players, and prefer fighting them to scripted computer-controlled opponents.
  • Achievers are competitive and enjoy beating difficult challenges whether they are set by the game or by themselves. The more challenging the goal, the most rewarded they tend to feel.
  • Explorers like to explore the world – not just its geography but also the finer details of the game mechanics. These players may end up knowing how the game works and behave better than the game creators themselves. They know all the mechanics, short-cuts, tricks, and glitches that there are to know in the game and thrive on discovering more.
  • Socializers are often more interested in having relations with the other players than playing the game itself. They help to spread knowledge and a human feel, and are often involved in the community aspect of the game (by means of managing guilds or role-playing, for instance).

Domino’s does a great job with their Domino Pizza Mogul. Check it out how they use Gamification to persuade their consumers on their website.

  1. Social proof

This persuasion technique is rather simple; what would be your first choice; a restaurant with zero reviews or one with a thousand? Within this technique the companies rely on how social status influences the behavior of the consumer. You can think about leaving reviews on your website, showing your clients, having the possibility to see who is following the company on Facebook etc. All social proof helps to sell your product in the end.

  1. Scarcity

It is just like how the market works, when there is plenty of stuff people normally don’t care about it  but when there is scarcity people are more eager to get that type or product or service.

How Cialdini states it in his book: influence; the psychology of persuasion:

We want what we’re afraid we can’t have. Fear of losing out on something can be an extremely powerful motivator. Availability might be threatened by limited quantity, a time deadline, or by competition. Whatever the reason, the item in question becomes more attractive to us if we think we can’t have it. Whether it’s a potential mate, a used car, or an item on sale, once its availability is threatened we WANT it! does this in a great way while they show how much rooms there are still left and that you have to hurry to finalize your booking.

  1. Authority

This is also one of the six persuasion techniques that Cialdini states in his book Influence; the psychology of persuasion. It is about authority. This technique is focused on removing fear from your target audience and show them that you are the authority that they can trust. As a brand you can do this by using experts or key people in your industry and let them talk about your brand. Authority is also used in terms of showing badges and rewards which can be useful when you are an E-commerce website. In his book Cialdini describes the infamous Milgram experiment, in which subjects believed they were inflicting increasingly high levels of electric shock on an actor, even though he was screaming for them to stop. Although the people who were involved in the experiment knew they were doing the wrong things they continued giving the subjects high levels of electric shocks.

      10. Persuasion Profiling

Most consumers are influenced by the fact that they are given personalized content that suits their specific needs. By using this technique it is possible to exactly push them in the direction that is preffered. This is also called Persuasion Profiling and uses specific persuasion techniques to the individual and in the different stages of the customer journey. This is focused on you as an individual since some of us are more open to authority where others maybe influenced more by scarcity.

A lot of consumers already accepted these techniques and while this is still under development, this technique figures out how you think and move through a website. When you responded a few times to a “buy two, pay one” deal, it is likely that you do that again. Persuasion profiling is a great tool but companies also have to consider the way they use different techniques during different stages of the customer journey. You maybe have to use different techniques in the beginning of the customer journey compared to the end of the customer journey. Not all organizations are ready for it so we recommend that you use A/B tests in first so that you can learn and collect data about your target audience.

In Summary

There are a lot of persuasion techniques and you have to wonder which one suits your target audience or your individual that you want to offer personalized content. In essence it is all about optimizing the customer journey and test your assumptions and persuasion techniques with a lot of A/B testing. In this way you can make data based decisions while these are normally the best decisions to take. To learn more about all the different persuasion techniques go and visit the Wheel of Persuasion and learn much more.

Mathias Aaftink

Author Mathias Aaftink

Geïntrigeerd door klantgedrag, performance marketing en klantervaring en de manier waarop organisaties daarop inspelen. Met mijn ervaring voel ik me thuis in de wereld van (digitale) marketing en branding. Ik ga nieuwe uitdagingen met veel plezier aan en voel meteen een groot verantwoordelijkheidsgevoel om er een succes van te maken. Projecten waarbij ik mijn ondernemende vaardigheden en mindset kan inzetten geven mij veel energie en dit is waar ik voor u van toegevoegde waarde kan zijn.

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