Creating Effective Content Marketing Campaigns: Five Surprising Psychological Triggers

by | Apr 7, 2023 | Content Marketing | 0 comments

When a product is being sold, consumers are more likely to purchase it if they feel some sort of psychological connection. Typically, advertisers use novelty, urgency and scarcity to drive customer sales. For example, a company may offer a “one-hour only” sale, or a “limited number” of a certain product or provide a “one of a kind” sample for their loyal followers. All of these psychological triggers in marketing encourage consumers to run out immediately and buy the product for fear of losing out on something novel or urgent.

While this works for most marketing campaigns, a content marketing campaign is a whole new ball game. Psychological triggers are a big part of content marketing, and they require a little more finesse and definition in order to be effective. Content marketing is all about creating a personal relationship with your customers or audience.


How to Create Psychological Triggers in Marketing

Before you can tap into the psychological triggers that your audience will react to, you have to define your target audience and know what makes them tick. This gives you the ammunition you need to create a persuasive, compelling marketing campaign for a service or product. Once you’ve done that though, you can try one of the following ideas to create emotional triggers in marketing.


1. Provide Valuable Content for Free

The principle of reciprocity applied to marketing implies that when something is given to a customer, they feel compelled or encouraged to give something in return. Apply this personally to when a friend has done you a favor like bring you dinner or help you move. Even though they asked for nothing in return, you are likely to have the desire to return the favor in some way. This psychological idea can be harnessed and applied to any content marketing campaign.

Offer free content that is of value to your target audience. It may be a helpful template, an e-book or some other valuable resource. When determining what type of content to offer to your users, consider the following tips.

  • The content must be valuable. If the content doesn’t offer something to the reader, they are less likely to give something in return.
  • The content’s value must match the action you want customers to take. If you’re simply asking for an email address, you don’t need to offer much for free. If you want customers to fill out a survey that is pages long, you must offer some type of reward for doing so.

Deciding what type of content to give away isn’t a decision that should be made quickly or taken lightly. Carefully weigh the value of the content and the type of content you want to offer to your audience. This becomes easier if you have already determined what psychological triggers your target market is likely to respond to.


2. Become an Authority

psychological triggers

In the digital age, it’s easy to find all kinds of information right at your fingertips. Consumers must differentiate between what is valid information and what is simply click-bait. When users come to the Internet to find answer to their questions or to learn more about their interests, they have thousands of options regarding where they get their information. The goal of your marketing campaign is to show them why you are the authority they should listen to rather than someone else. A big part of marketing your product is developing a brand that consumers rely on and consistently come back to.

Companies use authority to market all types of products. Clothing companies, makeup brands and sporting goods stores use celebrities to give them authority about the product they are selling. Consumers are more likely to buy a soccer ball from a store if someone like Leo Messi gives the store authority. Women all over buy Almay products because they want skin like Carrie Underwood. Nutritional supplements provide endorsements from qualified medical professionals whenever possible to give them authority with their audience.

Develop Content Authority

Some ways you can develop authority within your content are:

  • Guest blogging on industry sites with authority
  • Rather than cite someone else’s research, conduct your own
  • Illustrate the value of your content with data to back it up
  • Use an e-book or whitepaper
  • Attend industry events whenever possible
  • Display any industry awards on your site
  • Media references

Authority is a psychological trigger as it allows your customers to inherently trust you as the expert on your product or service.


3. Tap Into Emotions

emotional triggers in marketing

It’s one of the most basic foundations of marketing, the idea that when consumers connect emotionally with a brand they are more likely to buy their products. Creating content that is cold, remote or too scientific may turn your audience away rather than make them feel welcome. They must connect emotionally to your brand, your tone and your content before they buy your products or services.

Experts believe that the subconscious mind does 95% of the thinking. Many emotions are felt at the subconscious level, highlighting the importance of connecting with consumers on a very basic, elemental level. Emotional triggers in marketing are why people will pay thousands of dollars for an antique item from the early 1800s, or purchase a home in a terrible part of town for more than it’s worth because grandma grew up there.  The emotional element attached to it makes all the difference.

Tell Emotional Stories

Telling emotional stories can help you tap into this psychological trigger in your target audience. In content that goes viral, the most common emotions are anger, fear or anxiety, awe and positivity. These three emotions are more likely to encourage the reader to keep reading and to share when they are done. Your storytelling includes emotion when you:

  • Highlight and address pain points
  • Share breaking or surprising industry news
  • Cover topics that are mildly controversial
  • Make people laugh
  • Share success stories

When using emotional triggers in marketing, steer clear of race, religion and politics and don’t take your stories to the extreme. Content that taps into emotions is more likely to resonate and have a lasting effect on the reader. Not only will they remember it, they will share it with their friends and keep coming back to you for more emotion.


4. Offer Multiple Formats for Content

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain that aids in controlling the pleasure and reward centers of the mind. When new products are announced or released, it can often trigger an actual dopamine release in the area of the brain that responds to new stimuli.

Simply put, humans feel a rush of emotions when something new is introduced into the brain. This rush comes from the hormone dopamine. Apple is able to harness the power of dopamine extremely successfully. Users set aside perfectly good devices for new ones that are almost virtually the same because something new is introduced. They are more willing to buy something new, even when they have essentially the same thing in the palm of their hand.

You can tap into these psychological triggers by first picking a topic that is controversial or painful for those in your industry. Write a blog post about the idea and promote it heavily for a month. Once the storm has died down a little, release the same idea in another format – perhaps through an infographic or a video. Although the same idea is being promoted, users feel as if they are getting something new because it’s in a whole new format. These emotional triggers in marketing stimulate the brain to want to learn more about it.


5. Create Your Own Mystery

selling emotional triggers

Humans are curious by nature, and have the desire to figure things out. If you throw the hint of a mystery in front of them, they are going to want to unravel it. Adding mystery into your content is easier if you are a newer company, but also possible if you are more established. You can use the following psychological triggers to keep things mysterious and interesting on your site:

  • Use the magic words “I can’t say anything yet….” Show your audience that if you could share the information, they would be the first place you’d come, and that you are likely to in the near future. They’ll keep coming back if they are waiting for a big announcement.
  • Design any content around upcoming or new releases. If you have a major product launch, design your content around a related subject. Use blog posts that highlight the issue that your new product will fix, and encourage readers to stay tuned for the big reveal.
  • Take advantage of your blog and produce a blog post series to keep them interested. Rather than using one simple blog to highlight the painful area and provide your solutions, introduce the idea in a series. For example, your first blog may be titled “Common Back to School Expenses”, and your second could be “Five Ways to Save on BTS Supplies”. After that post, you introduce a product that allows consumers to track sales and find the cheapest places to buy school supplies. You’ve introduced the problem or painful area, given suggested solutions to the problem, then provided the tools to do it on your own.

Humans innately want to solve mysteries, and the more mysterious your content is, the more likely they are to come back for more.


Psychological Triggers in Marketing: They Work

Hitting your audience’s psychological triggers when creating your marketing personas is a surefire way to ensure that they come back to your site and trust your brand. Use emotion, authority, reciprocity, mystery and multiple formats in your next content marketing campaign.

Jon Bingham
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