How to Use Psychology for Better Content Marketing Results

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Too often we speak about content marketing or SEO using dry, machine-generated terms. ROI, engagement, lead generation, lead conversion, traffic sources.

Don’t get me wrong, I love numbers too. I love content marketing accountability and being able to prove that my efforts have produced tangible results (read: profit/cash).

But when we do this we also lose sight of something very important. Behind every number there are humans. 

A lead is a potential customer = a human.

Traffic is generated by people = humans.

It’s also people who engage (or not) with our content = humans again.

You see where I’m going with this, right?

Even in B2B (content) marketing things are the same. Business to Business doesn’t involve other entities – aliens or plants. Behind every business name, it’s still humans who are making all the decisions. It’s still humans who read your content (or skip it) and who decide to take action on it (or not).

So what could be more fitting in mastering something that appeals to our fellow humans than the most human science of all: psychology?

Let’s see how you can use psychology to improve your content marketing. Don’t worry. You don’t need an advanced degree in the field. You just need to learn how to connect the dots between basic psychology concepts and content marketing.

Which is exactly what we’re about to do.

1. First impression matters

Just like in real life, where people are prone to judge a book by its cover, your content will be judged by the first impression it leaves. 

A study from 2012 shows that a user needs 0.05 seconds to judge a website.

Later on, Microsoft found that the average attention span of people browsing web pages is eight seconds.

These findings refer to something called cognitive fluency aka ‘the ease with which we process information to generate an understanding of what that information means. This ease or difficulty refers not only to the experience of a task or instruction itself, but the feeling people associate with that task.’

Briefly put: the more uncomplicated your content looks at first sight, the more likely people are to linger on your page or to take action.

What does this mean for your content marketing?

It means that you should keep everything simple and fast:

  • Selling a complicated service or product? Explain it in simple terms.
  • Make sure your website is loading fast.
  • Keep CTAs short and punchy.
  • Make everything easy to read: use bullet points, images, videos and other things that break down walls of text.

2. Prove you’re worth it

Eight out of ten Americans consult reviews and testimonials before making a purchase. People trust other people.

In fact, the more of your peers say a product or service is great, the more likely you are to adhere to that opinion – and buy it.

Content marketing is a great way to showcase your expertise. But social proof can turn it into the best way to establish yourself as an expert – someone who’s worth what they are asking.

Here’s what you need:

  • Testimonials
  • Case studies
  • Social mentions
  • Reviews
  • Any mention by industry-leading experts or publications

Any single sentence written to support your authority in the field can be turned into social proof. So don’t be afraid to ask your clients for reviews, testimonials and case studies. Google yourself or your company to find out if you’ve been mentioned without knowing it (it happens!).

Then sprinkle all these proofs in your content to add extra credibility.

But keep this in mind: no amount of social proof can make up for poorly written content. So don’t rely solely on this. Make sure that your content is informative and useful to your target audience.

3. Mind perceptual sets

Perceptual sets refer to a predisposition everyone has to perceive things a certain way. They are shaped by our past experiences and dictate the things we perceive and the things we ignore even though they are staring us in the face. 

Here’s an example:

Image via Fiat-Lux Day

What does this mean for your content marketing?

It means that you should give people what they want.

Ever noticed how you instinctually look for the contact page at the right-hand side of a website’s menu? Or how you expect a Facebook ad to have a call-to-action at the end? Or how you scroll down to the end of a page to look for conclusions?

These instincts are nothing more than perceptual sets in action.

So:

  • Don’t reinvent the wheel. Creativity is great, but don’t change the placement of your website menu and buttons.
  • Add CTAs in all the right places – where people expect to find them.
  • Use a clear structure in every piece of content you publish

4. Keep everything simple

Remember the cognitive fluency mentioned above? It dictates that everything should be as simple as possible. 

But there’s another reason why you shouldn’t use too much jargon or complicated terms.

No one likes to feel dumb.

And when you make people feel dumb, you’ve lost them.

Example time:

Your quintessential web pages should be unadorned and guileless if you covet superior divvies. 

Say what?

Here’s the phrase in plain English: 

Your most important web pages should be simple and to the point if you want more profit.

They roughly mean the same thing. But the first one is harder to read even for people who know what each and every one of those words mean.

Those who don’t know all the words will simply rage quit.

And why shouldn’t they?

Ask yourself this: who benefits from fancy language? ( or, if you really want to feel fancy, use the Latin ‘Cui prodest?’ )

The truth is it serves no purpose other than to make the author feel smarter than a bunch of people they’ll never meet because they are too irritated by your arrogance.

Then there is the problem of jargon overuse.

A higher CTR on your VSLs leads to better CRO and helps you meet your MKT and business KPIs.

This means: a higher click-through rate on your video sales letters leads to better conversion rate optimization and helps you meet your marketing and business key performance indicators.

This is common language among my peers. It’s shorthand and easy to write and understand if you work in digital marketing.

However, my agency’s clients don’t.

So what I should say is:

The more people that visit your sales video, the better your chances of generating more leads and making more sales.

Ironically enough, using jargon doesn’t make you look like you know your field better than the competition. Quite the opposite.

Albert Einstein said ‘if you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.’ This rings true for any field, no matter how complex and complicated.

But there is a small exception here: content marketing for your peers. Like whitepapers written for engineers or data sheets. 

Wrapping things up

If you remember that every single word you write is for other humans like yourself, you’re good to go. Remember that there’s no point in trying to impress search engines or your competitors. They’ll never buy from you.

So write and promote content that is H2H – human to human. This content is authoritative, easy to ready, easy to understand and, more importantly, genuinely helpful.

Help people – don’t make them feel dumber than you. Make your website easy to navigate and intuitive.

And, no matter how complicated what you’re selling is, always translate features into benefits. Don’t tell humans how cool your products are. Tell them how they can solve their problems.

Looking for content that speaks human but equally appeals to search engines? This is what my agency specializes in. Take a look at our content writing and copywriting services and let’s talk!


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Adriana Tica is an expert marketer and copywriter, with 10 years in the field, most of which were spent marketing tech companies. She is the Owner and Founder of Idunn. In October 2019, she also launched Copywritech, a digital marketing agency that provides copywriting, SEO content writing, and strategy services to companies in the tech industry.

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