Buyer Psychology

Understanding your buyer is key to good digital marketing. This includes understanding their interests, likes/dislikes and defining characteristics. We use buyer personas for this and you can read about buyer personas in our blog and you can download our buyer persona template here. This blog will extend this understanding to buyer psychology to understand how buyers think and behave and what motivates them to buy. I will attempt to summarise general psychology principles and apply those principles to help us market.

Buyers use both logic and emotion to make buying decisions so we need to look at both.


Inc. contributor Geoffrey James says “All buying decisions stem from the interplay of the following six emotions:

  1. Greed. “If I make a decision now, I will be rewarded.”
  2. Fear. “If I don’t make a decision now, I’m toast.”
  3. Altruism. “If I make a decision now, I will help others.”
  4. Envy. “If I don’t make a decision now, my competition will win.”
  5. Pride. “If I make a decision now, I will look smart.”
  6. Shame. “If I don’t make a decision now, I will look stupid.””

He goes on to say that one or more of these emotions need to be in play if the buyer is to buy.

Even though they buy with emotion, buyers then justify the decision with fact. So make sure you back up the emotion with facts or statistics.


Colour Psychology

Kissmetrics states that colour accounts for 85% of the reason that people choose to purchase a particular product and colour increases brand recognition by 80%. Results 2Day have written a blog specifically on colour psychology and you can read it here

How can we use this in digital marketing – use colours in your content to achieve your digital marketing goals


Social Proof

Social Proof is when people perform the same action as others in an attempt to reflect actions that they consider to be correct behaviour. Therefore, buyers are more likely to say yes if they know others have done the same. This principle is Social Proof. A funny 1960s candid camera experiment demonstrates how people will conform to the group even if it feels unnatural. In this experiment, people entered a lift where the occupants faced the back of the lift and eventually (after clear uneasiness) conformed to face the back of the lift.


How can we use this in digital marketing – Positive reviews are a good example of social proof. According to PowerReviews over 70% of mobile shoppers say they are more likely to purchase a product if the website/mobile app has product reviews. Entice your customers to review your product or service. Including customer testimonials, case studies and your reviews on your website can assist with social proof.


Reciprocity is the concept of having your buyer, feel they “owe” you if you offer them something for free. The UK Behavioural Insights Team Study found that 11% of people were willing to donate the amount of one day’s salary when they were given a small gift of a sweet while being asked for a donation, versus to 5% of who were only asked for a donation and not offered a sweet.

Dr. Robert Cialdini uses the following example in his book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.” In a study, a waiter offered a single mint to his patrons, which increased tips by 3%. This jumped to 14% when two mints were gifted. However, when the waiter said, “For you nice people, here’s an extra mint” and gifted an extra mint, tips increased by 23%.

How can we use this in digital marketing – Offer your buyers something for free, for example, a free e-book or whitepaper download or a free day of consulting.

Cause Marketing

Wikipedia defines cause marketing as: “the cooperative efforts of a for-profit business and a non­profit organization for mutual benefit”. For example, when you see: “we will donate $1 to breast cancer research for every product sold” this is cause marketing. It enables the buyer to feel good about their purchase and this sways them away from the competition. In a recent US study, Cone Communications cited that more than 9 in 10 millennials would switch brands to one associated with a cause (91% vs. 85% U.S. average) and two-thirds use social media to engage around corporate social responsibility (66% vs. 53% U.S. average).

How can we use this in digital marketing – For example, offer to donate a percentage of your profits to your favourite charity.

Consistency Principle (Foot in the Door)

When someone is asked for a small commitment and says yes, they are more likely to say yes to a larger commitment. Therefore, when a buyer becomes a customer they are more likely to buy from you again. This is the consistency principle.

This principle stems from the research of The Freedman and Fraser 1966 experiment when a team of psychologists telephoned housewives in California and asked if the women would answer a few questions about the household products they used. Three days later, the psychologists called again. This time, they asked if they could send five or six men into the house to go through cupboards and storage places as part of a 2-hour enumeration of household products. The investigators found these women were more than twice as likely to agree to the 2-hour request than a group of housewives who asked only the larger request

Therefore, bringing on customers for a small commitment, to begin with, means they are more likely to commit to a larger one later.

How can we use this in digital marketing – Aim to have your buyer say yes to a smaller commitment than your ultimate goal. When they become a customer, you have a greater likelihood of them saying yes to the larger commitment. Similarly, ask them a string of questions that you know they will say yes to, then ask them the question you really want a yes answer to.

Scarcity or FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)

People are more likely to want something the less available it is. This is the scarcity principle. When something is running out or hard to obtain, there is pressure to make a decision in a short time frame and buyers are concerned they will miss out. The fear of missing out sways the buyer to say yes. This is the scarcity theory, which today is called FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). This theory can apply to time to make a decision or availability. It puts pressure on the buyer to make a decision quickly

How can we use this in digital marketing – When selling online, display if stock is low. For example, Qantas indicates when only 5 seats of a certain class are left. I know this has driven me to purchase early than I would on a few occasions! Also, special offers that are time bound have the same effect. However, make sure you don’t repeat these offers within a short period of time, and then the impact is lost (generally you should not repeat in a shorter time frame than your typical sales cycle). Another example is, conducting webinars and promoting special webinar offers, only available to webinar attendees.


We are conditioned to obey authority and want to follow the lead of experts. Therefore, buyers are more likely to buy from someone in authority. Therefore, demonstrate to your buyer that you have the authority or are an expert in your field.

How can we use this in digital marketing – Use someone respected by your visitors on your website, either specific, by name or generic by referring to “an expert”. Reference experts and trusted companies in your testimonials. If you have someone in your organisation with many years of experience, flaunt them!

Use the Explore Stage in the Buyer’s Journey to demonstrate that you are experts in your field. Prove that you are a trusted advisor by showing your buyer valuable, captivating content they trust (explore stage). Then they come to you to learn more and when you show them they have a defined need (interest stage), you present your solution and move them through to the next stages of the buyer’s journey. You can read about this process in our blog, Mapping The Buyer’s Journey.


The principle here is that people want to view themselves as better than they are. Altercasting is when you enable the buyer to view themselves differently (better) than they are specifically, closer to their goals. The Altercasting theory was created by Eugene Weinstein and Paul Deutschberger in 1963

How can we use this in digital marketing – Once you have developed your buyer personas you can identify with their goals and aspirations. Develop this image and use it to help your buyer image that your product will help them achieve their goals. However, beware that over glorification of something simple and straightforward can look fake and false instead of powerful.

Mere Exposure Effect

The Mere Exposure Effect is the principle that people are more likely to have a preference for something merely by being exposed to it frequently. Hence, the more buyers see of something, the more likely they are to buy into it.

How can we use this in digital marketing – expose your brand to your audience more often. This means advertise in places you think they will visit, email them, try to rank in the first page of search results, etc.

People think in terms of People

As LinkedIn indicates: People think in terms of people. Studies have shown that the main purpose of our brain is to help us manage our social interactions. This is why it’s much easier for us to stay engaged with a story when there are people involved.

How can we use this in digital marketing – Shape your content to refer to people. Keep it human! Use names, quotes, photos of people etc.


It’s All About Me

Buyers only want to hear about topics that are relevant to them. According to IDC’s IT Buyer Experience Survey, “buyers want insights based on their role, their challenges, their stage.” Digital marketing provides you with the capabilities to personalise your interactions with them.

How can we use this in digital marketing – Digital marketing provides us with the tools to segment and target the market, so let’s use them. Buyer personas give us the capability to understand our buyers in depth. Read our blog on how to develop your buyer personas and use personalisation wherever you can. Digital advertising is geared towards segmentation, so utilise it. Social Media platforms provide you with a custom audience manager to target your audience, Google remarketing enables you to create specific target audience lists, Twitter provides tailored audiences, etc.  Read our blog on retargeting here.

Digital Marketing Segmentation


Buyers are all about getting value. However, value is a very personal thing. What someone sees as valuable another may not. Another reason to use buyer personas to focus the value proposition specifically on them. Ultimately the value should be higher than the price they are paying. Building value is key to selling.

How can we use this in digital marketing – Put the 4 P’s into practice and understand your product’s market positioning (luxury or commodity product) and key differentiators.

Curves vs. Edges

According to Zach Hamed people overwhelmingly prefer curves to edges.

How can we use this in digital marketing – when designing your next piece, keep curves in mind and substitute curves for straight lines where possible.

I hope you enjoyed the blog and found some interesting tips.  If so, please sign up with Results 2Day.  We like to think we send infrequent but useful digital marketing tips, templates, statistics and information.


Results 2Day’s aim is to help you maximise your digital marketing potential. With the ultimate objective being a serious positive impact to the business’ bottom line. We create or update digital marketing strategy plans for you. We strongly believe a good digital marketing strategy can transform a business and we look forward to assisting you with yours.  We also provide social media listening tools and services for either in-house use or we can create the reports for you. Please contact us to see how we can assist you.

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