How to Use Consumer Psychology to Increase ROI

consumer psychology and ROIEver think about how consumer psychology affects buying decisions?

If you think about it at all, you likely think consumers make decisions similar to the ones on the left in this infographic. And, if you’re a marketer, you probably learned consumer psychology that looked something like this (especially for advertising):






Termed AIDA (because marketers love acronyms almost as much as the military), this formula has been taught to marketing students for decades. It’s simple and easy, but also not very insightful. And, in many cases, dead wrong.

AIDA assumes consumers actively seek information about products to make their lives better. And, that may be true in certain situations, but most of the time we’re simply out to have a good time and don’t want to be bombarded with advertising. That’s why we mostly ignore the right hand side of Google search, Facebook’s Newsfeed, and zap through commercials on TV with our TIVOs. We simply don’t want to know about your stuff, so our actual involvement with your brand looks more like the infographic’s right side — we meander aimlessly through our days online and off, not paying much attention to your advertising.

Consumer psychology and social media

That’s why social media, when done right, works so well, especially content marketing. By creating valuable content, you evade consumer defenses against advertising and put your brand right in their newsfeed, search results, and Twitter feed — where consumers are defenseless against your message.

Social media (both owned and earned and some paid) increases consumer exposure to your brand and also creates a great image for your brand, which increases their interest in your products.

Despite increased awareness of your brand through content marketing, slogging through other aspects of consumer psychology, like the consumer decision-making process. create challenges. Overcoming these challenges to consumer psychology potentially explode your ROI.

Consumer psychology challenges


Take a look at the infographic’s right side. What you see is a consumer who appears on autopilot and that’s pretty close to the truth. Today’s connected consumer is less focused on your advertising and doesn’t dedicate much effort to processing your message. Instead, they’re using multiple screens — likely watching TV (or their computer monitor via Hulu or Netflix) while checking their Facebook or Flickr feed, chatting with their friends on SnapChat or text message, or checking out their friend’s Pinboards.

Capturing any level of awareness of your brand relies on repeat exposure to your message through an integrated effort combining paid, earned and owned media with traditional advertising.

Elements of successful social media marketing
Elements of successful social media marketing

Look at this integrated marketing infographic embedded within the larger infographic. Not only does it highlight the integration of paid, earned, and owned social media with traditional advertising, it shows how SEO, combines with traditional marketing elements such as market research to understand what consumers want, excellent customer service including product quality, branding, market segmentation and target marketing, as well as using tools of influence, CTA (call to action), and other motivational tools.


Interest relies heavily on creating valuable content, especially when it generates engagement from networked users connected to the consumer.

Content that’s novel, entertaining, and eye-catching works best to generate interest in your brand. That’s why use of video, infographics, memes, and podcasts dramatically increases interest.

A good example of this comes from Talenti, the premium gelato. They create innovative content, such as their wheel that users can spin to determine which flavor to buy. Combined with guerrilla marketing efforts like delivering samples via bicycle at community events, the company is closing in on big names like Ben and Jerry’s in terms of market share.


Reaching consumer desire relies heavily on a positive brand image and recommendations from a consumer’s social network. Surprisingly, younger consumers consider the tacit endorsements of mere social media acquaintances more than the recommendations of friends and family according to a study. These younger consumers seek user-generated content and are more likely to follow a brand on social networks than family and friends.

That’s some weird consumer psychology — so brands need to up their game to reach these millenials.


Taking action relies more on logistics than consumer psychology. Factors such as pricing (and financing), availability, and the effort necessary to acquire the product precedence at this stage. Simple improvements across these factors reduce the nearly 68% of abandoned online shopping carts.

Online shopping, especially new Facebook shopping options, make it easier for consumers to take action — buy your brand. Reducing the # of clicks required to make a purchase (ie. Amazon’s one click shopping), reducing registration requirements, using easy payment options like PayPal, and offering in-store pickup and exchange all enhance your close rate.

Consumer psychology and analytics

Making improvements in your marketing and communication based on knowing how consumer psychology affects ROI can have a huge impact on your success.

But, what get’s measured, get’s improved. To make the right improvements requires collecting metrics on the right factors.

Consumer psychology tells us there are a wide number of factors impacting conversion (not to mention repeat purchases and average order size) that affect ROI. That means your analytics must focus on the process — the entire consumer journey, not just the end game (conversion). Enhancing metrics related to sentiment, share of voice, and audience growth, as well as your success in reaching influencers and your target market all contribute to your ROI.

Need Help?

Whether you need a complete content marketing strategy or a complete metrics-driven social media strategy, we can fill your digital marketing funnel. We can help you do your own social media marketing better or do it for you with our community managers, strategists, and account executives. You can request a FREE introductory meeting or sign up for my email newsletter to learn more about social media marketing.

As always, leave your questions or comments below and I’m happy to provide more details on how consumer psychology impacts ROI.

consumer psychology



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6 Weapons of Influence in Social Media

influence the massesA couple of weeks ago I discussed the first 3 weapons of influence and today I’d like to talk about the last 3 weapons of influence you should use to convert visitors to your social media platforms, encourage fans and followers to share your social media content, and build your community.

As I’ve said before, influence is the grease that makes actions easier.  You can just put up a sign in box to collect addresses for your mailings, but you’re not likely to get very many.  Use the secret weapons of influence and you’ll see your sign ups jump dramatically — grease.

So, let’s jump right in to cover the remaining 3 secret weapons you should have in your social media marketing toolkit.

4. Authority – people are hard wired to obey authority.  It’s a survival instinct left over from the days when we followed the best hunter to ensure we had enough to eat or followed the best fighter to optimize our chances of surviving the battle.

Google uses authority in determining page rank and where you end up in an organic search.  Consumers use authority to determine actions.  And, it’s authority that Klout measures (primarily) in determining your online influence.

So, how do you develop authority?

  • Create compelling content -- whether it’s on your blog, your fanpage, or other social media platforms.  Content that is helpful, insightful, well-written, and readable builds you as an authority.
  • Provide answers — answer sites like Quora are great ways to build authority.  Every week I run “Ask a Marketing Expert” on the Facebook fanpage for Marketing That Works.TV  — one of my properties.  This is a great way to build authority, especially since these conversations have incredible SEO value — often showing up on the first page of a Google search for many hard-to-reach keyword phrases.
  • You’re judged by the company you keep — Not only does this help build authority, it builds social capital, which capitalizes on one of the other 6 weapons of influence — reciprocity.
    • Comment on other top blogs in your area (just make sure your contributions are valuable.  Throw away comments about how great the post are do nothing to build your authority).
    • Network at major events and try to get on the program at these events.  Volunteer as a speaker or volunteer to help with registration or anything else that sets you up as an “insider” with prestigious groups.
    • Guest post on leading blogs in your area.
    • Review books and products produced by major players in your area.
    • Share posts by leaders in your area through your own social network.
    • Interview major players in your area.

5. Liking – people like to help people they like and they buy more from people they like.  They also buy from people their friends like — which is the whole reason social media marketing works SO effectively.  Buying and consuming is really a social process that we like to share rather than do alone.

So, the trick is to be likable.  Guy Kawasaki’s new book, Enchantment, is really all about being likable. I highly recommend the book, not because I make a few bucks each time you buy (which I do), but because I like Guy and think his book is highly readable and valuable.

6. Scarcity -works well in social media because people are afraid they’ll miss out on something valuable.  Scarcity also provides social proof (another of our 6 weapons of influence).  You see this work all the time — both online and off.  If a store limits the number of items you can buy at a reduced price, studies show they’ll sell much more of the product than without the limit (at the same discount price). 

Facebook used this strategy very effectively when introducing enhanced messaging (effectively email) integrated into its social networkIt rolled implementation out slowly with those who didn’t have the feature clamoring for it.

To work properly, people must believe true scarcity exists and overuse of this tactic can cheapen the brand image when consumers feel true scarcity doesn’t exist.

Inter-relationships Among Weapons of Influence

Certainly, these weapons don’t exist individually as separate tools of persuasion.  Instead, the weapons of influence reinforce each other creating a web of persuasive influence.  Subtle differences among the weapons provide a valuable arsenal for the skillful manager.  However, there are some caveats:

  • Care must be taken so the tools of persuasion are NOT overused.  Otherwise they will stop working.
  • Influence must be subtle — influence that is TOO overt may not work and reflect badly on the brand.
  • Persuasion must be authentic.  If efforts appear forced or too commercial they won’t work.

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Branding, PIVOT, and Paid PR

Brand Awareness

I have a question from a linkedin connection: “what is the best way to create brand awareness for loyalty programs?”

Nancy Loderick

I say it would depend on the buyer persona for the loyalty programs. Where are the customers/prospects? Are they online? Where online? Depending on where these folks are, I would focus on that particular media, e.g. Facebook.

What is the biggest pain point for these customers/prospects? Create some good content that solves their problem.

What drives these prospects? Are they bargain hunters? In which case, coupons may work.

In summary, I would say it all depends on what drives the customers/prospects. Once you know their needs and their pain points, you can create content and programs to address these.

Marketing That Works

To me, brand awareness is more than where to reach customers, its positioning the loyalty program (and the brand) effectively. For instance, Marriott builds its loyalty program by asking loyal guests for feedback on their visit. If they rate their stay as anything less than perfect, the evaluation goes to the property manager. The manager than has 24 hours to correct the problem and make the customer happy. If not, the complaint is forwarded to the manager’s boss for action. By focusing on delivering quality (Marriott has around 97% customer satisfaction), they build loyalty.
Loyal customers WANT to join a loyalty program to get rewarded for something they already like doing (because its satisfying). I guess what I’m saying is the building a brand is a lot more than advertising and PR — its walking the walk.
Also, awareness doesn’t buy you much. Im aware of LOTS of brands I would NEVER buy. Its brand image that’s the goal. Having a positive brand image builds profitability.

Steve Wiideman

At Disney, we did an “affordability” campaign, that had little to do with discounts and more to do with reminding people about how much love the brand.

Daily deals are addictive and though I’ve wanted to, I have yet to remove myself from LivingSocial or Groupon. That sure says something for loyalty.

Brand awareness and loyalty are completely two different beasts. For brand awareness, you could drop a LOT of money into a content-targeted campaign on AdWords, AdCenter, MIVA, and, the way LiquidWeb is right now (they have a banner ad on almost every tech-related website in existence at the moment).

Loyalty isn’t rocket science. It revolves around communicating, offering incentives, influencing (maybe even exaggerating) perceived value, inviting guests to special events and spoiling them, grandfathering them in to lower pricing, etc.

Richard Winfield Lewis To bring attention to a customer loyalty program (does branding really matter in this case as long as we gain customer loyalty?) is to target your existing customers first. This is an easy first step and helps to make casual customers regular customers. The next step is to target industry ‘influencers’. <– those people who influence a large number of other people. My goals when managing a campaign are very clear, do the least work with the most impact.

Paid PR

I’d love some advice on how to deal with a client who is in love with paid PR services. He keeps insisting on using them, even though they haven’t worked in the past. I’m trying to convince him that we need to create a more effective online presence via the website and content. (This is a fledgling business consulting company that he runs.) Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks.

  • Marketing That Works My tactic would be to gather metrics on his current solution, then show him how poorly these are performing. I know its a lot of work, but if you want to get him as a client, its worth it. Also, he’ll likely be thrilled you went the extra mile and recommend you to colleagues.

    Nancy Loderick Thanks for the tip Angela. I like your idea. This client is a process/numbers guy so I think showing him numbers would get his attention.

    Marketing That Works I happy to help. Let me know if this doesn’t work and I may be able to come up with another idea.

    Steve Wiideman

    Hi Nancy, sorry it took so long to jump in today, the week has been crazy.

    PR can be an extremely powerful way to build industry credibility, earn backlinks for SEO, and improve online reputation. Of course, this assumes it’s being done by a professional who gets your business featured in magazines, your directors get speaking gigs at conferences, and you’re interviewed by newspapers at least once per month. If you’re not, then it’s not really PR, it’s article distribution.

    Hope this helps?

    Marketing That Works Thanks Steve, always nice to get your perspective on things.

    Dave Saunders Are you talking about traditional PR (i.e., sending a press release to the media, getting on CNN, etc.) or New Media PR (i.e., disintermediating the media and reaching the public directly with Internet content?

    Nancy Loderick Hi Steve,
    Thanks for your thoughts. In looking back at my client’s past PR content, it was not good. So, I think it has been a combination of poorly written content and merelyl a distribution.

    Steve Wiideman Ha – thought as much. :)

    Steve Wiideman

    Nancy Loderick Thanks for the examples Steve! Even if one knows what constitutes “good PR,” it’s helpful to have real examples.

    Nancy Loderick Dave – to youir question about PR – traditional or new media. My client is only familiar with traditional (he’s in in 60’s), while my expertise is in the new media type.

    Dave Saunders Nancy — I’ve found that to be a challenge with clients. The games are played in different ways. It muddies the waters. Perhaps you could recommend he read The New Rules of Marketing and PR. David Meerman Scott does a great job explaining the differences and then you can use a third party to reinforce the benefits of your approach.

    Richard Winfield Lewis The oldest and best advice for any consultant is that you give them what they need and not what they want. Once you know the goal(s) and the target market(s) then just get them paying customers. That is the bottom line and all that matters. Once they see the money rolling in they won’t care how you did it. In this case I suggest micro-targeting to ensure effectivenss. Do whatever it takes to convert your target audience to sales. If you are not sure that you can delier results then don’t take their money.

    Nancy Loderick Thanks Dave and Richard – I appreciate your advice.