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Psychological Tricks in Digital Marketing – How You Can Use Psychology

Selling products or services has always been a complex skill to learn, whether selling face-to-face at a market stall or over the internet and other media channels to a potential audience of millions. There is real art to marketing a product or a service to potential customers effectively. However, it is not just art. There is also a fair amount of science, specifically psychology. Many decades before the concept of modern digital and social media marketing came into being, advertisers developed and used various psychological tricks to grab consumers’ attention and get them to part with their hard-earned cash. The advertising and marketing industry has grown into a behemoth from the middle of the 20th century to the present day.

Psychology Tricks in Digital Marketing

We can see from examining vintage TV commercials or watching shows like Mad Men that the industry has for a long time been a collaboration of many different disciplines, including art (creating appealing imagery), technology (filming video), finance, and psychology. Psychology in digital marketing is very, and often the first step in creating an advertising campaign or marketing strategy is to determine what people’s needs are and convince them that you can meet them. This is the foundation of all successful marketing and takes place well before writers, artists, actors, and production companies get hired.

Psychology Tricks in Digital Marketing – Example

In the episode “The Wheel” from the first season of Mad Men, creative director Don Draper displays his intuitive knowledge of human psychology and effectively uses it in advertising. When his advertising firm creates an ad campaign for a Kodak slide projector, he focuses not on the product’s technical specifications but on the emotional reasoning that may lead consumers to desire it. Using photographs of his own wife and children, he relates on a human level to Kodak’s executives. He comes up with the name “the Carousel” for the product, stating that the product is “a time machine” that lets its users “travel the way a child travels; around and back home again to a place where we know we are loved.”

Of course, this is a fictional scenario involving fictional characters. However, it certainly rings true and tells us something about how top advertisers’ minds work. While it is often useful to include technical specifications when marketing a product or service, the real “hook” of a successful campaign—what gets people to really want that product — is the psychological tricks used in an ad. Persuasion techniques can range from downright manipulative (such as subliminal messaging, which has been legally prohibited in many parts of the world) to benign to be beneficial for both seller and consumer.

Psychological Tricks in Digital Marketing – Types

So, what are these psychological tricks for selling products? Before we delve into them in more detail, it is worth mentioning that these can be powerful tools, so use them with care and responsibility! Once you have learned psychology in digital marketing, why not enlist a company like ALT Agency? For more information, check out https://www.altagency.co.uk/services/digital-marketing/seo/, which can help you with the technical side.


It involves controlling the context in which people see or hear advertisements or other marketing tools and making sure that the context is conducive to leading that person to respond in a certain way. Priming makes use of psychological associations. An obvious example of priming includes images of something threatening, such as bacteria, before advertising a cleaning product. However, priming can be much more subtle than this. Images on a company website can be used for priming, so it is worth choosing them carefully!

Social Proof and FOMO

Social proof is the name of the concept that humans are psychologically more attracted to things, people, and products that have been “verified” by others. This happens in dating and relationships when people are more attracted to those already “taken,” It also happens when we see many other people using a product and start to desire it. Social proof is why ads use statistics like “80% of customers preferred this product to the leading brand”. Positive testimonials and reviews on your site or another site (that links back to yours, ideally) are great ways to use social proof to your advantage. Social media sharing buttons are also a simple way to do this.

FOMO—short for Fear of Missing Out—is another social phenomenon also used by marketers. Nobody wants to be the only one missing out on a particular product or service! A combination of social proof and FOMO is a common marketing strategy that plays on our tribal nature.

The Theory of Reciprocity

The theory of reciprocity centers around the fact that most people feel they should do something in return for those who help them. Customers often feel more psychologically attracted to supporting (sometimes financially, sometimes through testimonials and recommendations) a brand that has already given them something!

This is part of why many companies offer free trials or samples, or free access to content such as blogs and videos, before advertising something for sale.

The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon

The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon is when you suddenly see or hear about something everywhere shortly after learning about it. This is due to subconsciously keeping a lookout for it and then experiencing confirmation bias.

This psychological phenomenon can be encouraged by marketers through the use of targeted and retargeted ads and customizing emails to reach potential customers at specific times when they are more likely to be thinking about your brand or about the needs that your brand fulfills.

Psychological Tricks in Digital Marketing – Final Words

While these tricks have been used (sometimes intuitively and without knowledge of the exact terms for them) to persuade people to do things for all of human history, psychological discoveries and the birth of the modern advertising industry in the early 20th century have led to countless companies using these highly refined strategies (and sometimes paying huge sums of money to marketing experts to do so). 21st-century digital marketing is no different—while the mediums of communication are different, the psychology in digital marketing remains much the same.

The tricks described above are just a few of the many that exist and are the techniques most applicable to digital marketing than other marketing methods. There are plenty of other psychological tricks out there that you can check out, such as the choice study, the decoy effect, illogical reasoning, loss aversion, the halo effect, and serial positioning, which are all used in marketing campaigns!

Zoey Peregrine
Zoey is a skillful content manager and SEO copywriter. She is interested in digital marketing and also writes informative articles on web development. In her free time, she prefers reading and taking part in quests.
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