How to use digital consumer psychology to differentiate yourself from the competition

With more people shopping online than ever, it’s time to use digital consumer psychology to your advantage.

July 20, 2021

5 min read

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Understanding what your customers think and why they do what they do can make a difference to your sales.

Beauty giant Neutrogena has invested time and money in consumer psychology and it’s paying off. When the company found that 75% of its customers bought products from a single segment in its range, Neutrogena wanted to see if it could change that. Using historical shopping cart data, Neutrogena created product combinations. The company began adding banner ads and videos, which would show combinations of products to specific customers. For example, if customers have purchased an eye cream in the past, it would make sense to advertise a facial cleanser as a combination of that eye cream. Using this tactic, Neutrogena outperformed its benchmark by 289% and achieved a return on ad spend of $ 8.05.

Related: 6 Ways You Can Leverage Consumer Psychology To Drive More Sales

Why Digital Consumer Psychology Matters

Consumer psychology is the study of how social persuasion, decision making, and motivation influence consumer behavior. Our thoughts, feelings, perceptions and beliefs are related to these ideas and determine our buying options. That said, the correlation between understanding your customers’ buying behavior and making sales is clear. Understand how your customers make decisions and you can adjust your sales, marketing and product techniques to better meet their needs and speak to them directly.

Today, people are shopping online more than ever, so we must apply these concepts to digital marketing. With over 25% of people doing 90% of all their purchases online, this trend is not going away.

Related: The Intersection of Psychology and Marketing

How to use consumer psychology in online marketing

Create a social proof. People need to trust your brand to feel comfortable making a purchase, especially online where they can’t see or touch the item first. Social proof is the assurance that others have tried something, so your actions to follow suit are justified. You can create social proof online by showing reviews, testimonials, video interviews, and affiliations. Having a strong social following also builds social proof.

Make sure your website is emotionally attractive. Effective websites spark an excitement in buyers. That excitement could be a relief when they see that your service can solve a problem for them, or simply the appreciation of aesthetically pleasing photos and graphics. Regardless, having a professionally designed website builds trust with your customers. The appearance of your website will determine how buyers interact with it. people are less likely to buy a website if it’s not pretty to look at. So make sure your photos are of high quality, that the color story makes sense, and that the text is aligned correctly. This also applies to email marketing and digital advertisements.

Decreases cognitive load. Americans are exposed to thousands of advertisements every day. That’s a lot for people to process and exemplifies how important it is to stand out. Cognitive load is the mental processing power that your working memory uses. When someone is overwhelmed with more information than their mental processing ability can handle, they suffer from cognitive overload. We want to avoid this in digital advertising. Sometimes, less is more. Avoid giving your customer too many options. You can even split a longer message across different screens. For example, in your email marketing, hook the consumer with a piece of information that requires them to click a button to continue reading.

Related: 12 Great Resources for Diving Into Consumer Psychology

Appeal to scarcity. The human brain still thinks, in a way, on a very basic level. We are programmed to fear loss, avoid pain, and pursue pleasure. That’s why “buy now, limited quantities available” or “offer ends in 24 hours” ads are so common. they work! Think about how successful Amazon Prime Day is. Your appeal for scarcity will vary from company to company. If you are a service provider, they may offer a free consultation or training for a limited time. For product-based businesses, you may have to buy one and get a “while supplies last” offer.

There is no turning back: all signs of consumer behavior point to online shopping. With this change, there is a great opportunity to take consumer psychology into account in marketing strategies. So, the next time you sit down to map out your marketing plan for the quarter, take a close look at your website, digital ads, and social proof. It could be the difference between a good sales month and a great one.


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