Online Marketing with 5 Cognitive Biases

We all like to think that we are pretty well in control of our decision making. However, we are all unavoidably plagued by our cognitive biases. In general terms, you would think of this as irrational behavior, but cognitive biases occur when subjective inputs outweigh or overpower the objective inputs. It’s said that these cognitive biases exist because our brains are hardwired with certain shortcuts where speed is valued above accuracy. For years, marketing teams have used cognitive biases to their advantage, but in online marketing maximizing the potential of cognitive biases changes a bit. We’re going to cover 5 of the main cognitive biases and how you can apply them in your online marketing.

1. Loss Aversion 

Put simply, we are affected more than the threat of loss than we are by the chance of gaining. In other words, you are more affected by the thought of losing 20 bucks than you are motivated by the idea of gaining it. The everyday impact of this bias is that people will value what they already have over the idea of gaining a new version of the same thing. In order to use this in your online marketing make sure to appeal to customers desire to avoid loss over their desire to gain. If you can frame your marketing around the idea of loss prevention you will boost your conversion.

2. Anchoring 

This is when the mind attaches to specific concepts or numbers and in turn uses them as a starting point for other information. The most prevalent example of this is when people are exposed to numbers that are unrelated to a purchase, that initial number will frame their impression of the product price, whether it is high or low. If someone is exposed to the number 5 prior to a product price they will perceive the price as cheaper than someone who was exposed to 500 prior to seeing the same product’s price. In order to implement this in your online marketing, you can find ways to expose people to smaller numbers prior to having them see the product price. To take your online marketing even further, expose your audience to images or stories of positive results and opinions related to the same benefit they can expect to receive from your offering.

3. Bandwagon Effect 

This is the one your mother warned you about, and you see it on social media all the time. People will believe an idea or take action based on the popularity of doing so. In other words, if all your friends jumped off a bridge you would be very excited to see what’s at the bottom on your way down. Essentially, we are social creatures and our minds assume that what is good for the group must be good for us as well. For online marketing this effect can be easily captured, by broadcasting that you’ve reached a milestone of followers, or displaying social evidence of your product’s impact, you can sway people to your side. The benefit for online marketing is that there are some many readily available mediums that they can display that kind of information in.

4. In-group Favoritism 

When you’re in, you’re in. People have a tendency to favor what is already popular within their “group”. That group could be work, friends, church, or some other gathering, but the effect remains the same. Once you are aligned with a group you are less likely to take action that will position you as against the group’s agenda. In online marketing this is easier to achieve once you have a committed following. Developing an “us against them” dialogue can be tricky, but it takes some serious fans first. Focus your online marketing efforts on building a following and growing those relationships first, and once you’ve achieved that begin defining the lines.

5. Zero-risk Bias 

If we feel there is no risk in an offer then we are highly likely to favor it. This is the basis for money-back guarantees. It essentially takes away the risk of being wrong, people know that they have an option to undo their mistake if it turns out that way. Once the fear of risk has been removed, people are more likely to become curious and will begin to create their own reasons why they should go for it. Besides, there’s a money-back guarantee anyway right? For your online marketing, this can work well in a few ways. Of course, the traditional money-back guarantees will do, but trial memberships or temporary offers are great for online marketing specifically. One of the best aspects of this bias is that it’s very honest. People can get their money back, they can discontinue their service, and you are simply removing the risk factor so that they are more willing to try.

Biased or Unbiased 

Hopefully, you won’t take these biases as a means of manipulating your audience but instead, will use them to get people to focus on the positive values of your offering. With online marketing using these biases to your advantage to gain followers is another great play. There is no risk in them following you, but there is a potential benefit for both parties. A key takeaway for online marketing is that most people will not make a purchase decision online right away. So focus your bias prowess on growing your social following and let the value of your work do the talking.

To Your Best Online!

Ingrid Griffin, Internet Marketing Consultant. Blue Dress® Marketing, an Internet Marketing Company headquartered in Knoxville, TN. Internet Marketing Developed, Implemented and Managed to Full Circle! Organic Internet Search Engine Guru. Turn Key Internet Optimization Programs Placing You Everywhere and Anywhere You Need to Be Online®
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