As the way customers buy continues to evolve, so must the marketing efforts targeted to reach them. With the shift from interruptive, traditional marketing to the customer-driven, online attraction of inbound marketing, it’s become apparent that getting inside a customer's head to understand his or her behaviors, preferences, and next steps is key. Such a strong focus on the psyche can have marketers across all industries wondering, “Do I need a psych degree to truly understand the motivations of my target audience?” Not so! Well, not entirely so. While you don’t need a degree in psychology to implement an inbound marketing strategy, using common principles, methods, and theories from the field can help you effectively reach your target audience and ensure the success of your program.
Customer Behavior is Key
Psychology is the study of human behavior, and the goal of marketing is to influence human behavior into making a purchase decision. However, before behavior can be influenced, it’s important for marketers to have a clear understanding of who they’ll be talking to. Developing a focused set of target personas can help you more fully understand your ideal customers, the types of questions they’re asking, and the problems they experience that your company’s unique offerings can help solve. Once you’ve identified who you’ll be speaking to, it’s important to then map each of their unique journeys – from problem realization to determining that your product or service is the right fit for them.
Once that initial groundwork has been laid you can begin to work on your strategic marketing plan using psychology to your advantage.
When creating content, remember to appeal to your personas' emotions. Use your message to tell a story that demonstrates you empathize with and can provide a solution to a challenge they’re facing, instead of using your platform solely for self-promotion. Studies have shown that emotional, benefits-driven copy more strongly resonates with customers than features-based language.
Focus on FoMo
There’s nothing worse than thinking you were the only one not invited to an event, or were not made aware of a vital piece of knowledge, and that's when FoMo (fear of missing out) can grab hold. If your personas think that they're missing out on leading industry information (that their competitors might be privy to), they're likely to take action more quickly than they otherwise would. Using numbers or statistics can be a helpful tool when creating a sense of urgency among your targets. For example, creating a slide-in or pop-up on your website that says, "Join over 8,500 people who receive weekly inbound marketing and sales tips" can lead to a higher blog subscription rate than without the stimulus.
The general concept of reciprocity is simple: if somebody does something for you, you're more likely to return the favor. For example, if a server at a restaurant goes above and beyond to make your dining experience memorable, you are likely to leave him or her a generous tip. The same holds true for an inbound marketing strategy. If you create a piece of content that will be truly helpful to your personas, they'll be more willing to give you something in return for the information — like their contact information.
Also known as the “me, too” effect, social proof is the theory that people will emulate the beliefs and actions of a group of people they admire and trust. There are a number of ways to incorporate the power of social proof into your inbound marketing strategy, with one of the easiest being to add social sharing and follow icons to your blog posts. Doing so allows readers see how many of their peers found the content valuable enough to share, and are more likely to share the content themselves in turn. Another way to incorporate social proof into your inbound plan is to gather the feedback of customers who found value in your product or service, and display their testimonials prominently on your website. Seeing the positive experiences of those in similar industries can help your prospects move closer to the decision stage in the buyer's journey.
Retarget and Remind
Are you familiar with the Baader Meinhof Phenomenon? This phenomenon (also called frequency illusion) occurs after you come into contact with something, and then start noticing it everywhere you go (you plan a trip to London and suddenly you seem to see references to London everywhere you look). This is typically organic, but can also be created by retargeting marketing efforts. Enrolling new contacts who convert on your website forms in a targeted nurturing campaign is also another way to keep your company top of mind with prospects, along with helping to move them farther down the marketing funnel.
Tap into Your Scientific Side
Marketers, like psychologists, can use the scientific method to reach their target audience and achieve success with their inbound programs. Using an analytical approach like quant-based marketing, along with setting and testing hypotheses through a series of A/B tests, can help marketers learn more about their personas, and tailor their content to achieve the highest conversion rates possible.
While a degree in psychology is not required for a marketer to effectively understand his or her target audience, having an understanding of customer behavior and implementing the scientific method when appropriate can help achieve success in inbound marketing.