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How Psychology Is Used in Digital Marketing?

Updated: Dec 6, 2022

National Geographic is known for its fascinating photographs. In 2019, they launched a social media marketing campaign to earn more user-generated content. They opened the @natgeoyourshot page on Instagram. Amateur and professional photographers who tagged their photos or used the #yourshotphotographer tags will get a chance of being featured on their page.

This is a marketing campaign involving multiple psychological techniques, let’s dive in in the following article and see if we can get some insights for our future campaigns.

Photos from @natgeoyourshot Instagram

How is psychology used in digital marketing? When reading the headline of this blog, I believe that most of you will wonder what is the relationship between the two. Psychology is categorised as Social Science subjects while Marketing is categorised as Business subject in universities. How is it possible that the two are related?

Allua believes that in order to be successful in marketing, we should connect psychology with marketing to influence consumers' behaviour. Brian Solis, a world-renowned digital anthropologist and futurist once said that

“Social media is about sociology and psychology more than technology.”

If you are wondering how it works and are looking for a perfect solution to organise a successful digital marketing campaign, keep reading!

1. Social Proof

Social Proof is a psychological phenomenon where people copy the actions of others in an attempt to imitate the behaviour in a certain situation. This phenomenon can be commonly seen nowadays especially on social media platforms.

Due to the rise of social media, there is a new form of marketing in which we collaborate with KOLs in our marketing plans. Key opinion leaders (KOLs) are influential individuals that have a huge audience base on social media platforms. They have the ability to affect one’s behaviour including their purchasing decisions as they are experts in a certain field.

Companies collaborate with KOLs by utilising their fame and huge audience base to help market their products or services and engage with their potential customers. For example, IKEA Taiwan, collaborates with KOLs to promote their products on Facebook through sponsored posts and product placements in YouTube videos.

Photos from 黃大謙 on Facebook and 見習網美小吳 on Youtube

2. Scarcity

The gap between limited resources and unlimited wants causes scarcity. It will then lead to a phenomenon called “fear of missing out”. This phenomenon triggers people’s anxiety of being left out if not getting a certain product or service. It will be more likely for them to take immediate action.

Smart businessmen make use of this psychological phenomenon to promote their businesses. No matter in online or offline promotions, it is observed that companies will highlight the limited stock or availability. They also countdown to the deadline of the special offers. This creates urgency and an illusion that the products and services are scarce. Customers may then purchase impulsively under the intense atmosphere.

For instance, South Korea’s largest retailing mart, EMart, connected analog and digital in the Sunny Sale Campaign. They displayed a 3D QR code that only works for an hour from noon to 1 p.m. when the sun is at a specific angle to project a shadow of the QR code. Customers can enjoy discounts in the limited period of time from their online shop after scanning the QR code. This campaign caught the eyes of the public and boosted sales of the company.

Photo from Google

3. Implicit Egotism

Do you realise when we first meet someone, we tend to have a stronger and better impression of those who have similar personality or interests with ourselves? This can be explained by the implicit egotism effect. Humans have an unconscious preference for things that they associate with themselves. This also applies when we are making purchasing decisions.

Implicit Egotism can affect one’s value we place on a product we have built or created ourselves. We think that products that we co-created are of higher value than products that we directly buy from stores. It is because we think that contributing our own effort in the making process will add personality to the product which is value-adding. Customers will associate the product with their personality which makes them more willing to make a purchase.

For example, IKEA Canada created a revolutionary cookbook called IKEA: Cook This Page. Readers can prepare the ingredients following the outlines on the recipe. Unlike traditional cookbooks that only describe the process in words, this book guides their readers by illustrations as if a chef was there to work hand in hand with the user. This adds lots of fun to the process as readers feel more involved.

Photo from Google

4. Emotional Engagement

When communicating with someone, we will feel connected when we receive a sincere response that really answers your questions. We do not want to hear generic answers. During purchasing, our emotions do affect our purchasing behaviour. Our satisfaction will be higher if we feel like the company is connected with us.

Communication does not only take place when making purchases. It is also important to engage with customers after the purchase was made. Brands may post interactive contents to engage with audiences on their social media accounts. They may also provide member discounts to their customers during their birthday month. These are common ways to engage with customers.

For more technologically advanced companies, they can incorporate technology to stay engaged with their customers. Castorama is a French retailer of DIY and home improvement tools and supplies. They launched a product called the Magic Wallpaper which can “talk”. Customers can download the Magical Wallpaper App and scan the characters on the wallpaper and an audio book will appear on the application. Each character resembles a different story. This is an astounding product to cause their customers to fall in love with their brand even after the purchase was made.

Photos from Google

5. Commitment and Consistency

Relationships can be built starting with making small commitments and following up with bigger commitments. It is a psychological tendency that people will believe more strongly in the previous decisions that they have made to avoid conflicting beliefs or behaviours.

It takes 21 days to form a habit and 90 days to make a permanent lifestyle change. When a brand reaches out to their audience for a period of time, it is more likely for their audiences to develop an attachment to the brand and purchase from the company eventually. It is because the exposure of the brand has increased and the relationship between the brand and its customers is more intimate when comparing with other brands that the customers just get in touch with.

For example, Casper is a sleep product company that operates online and offline. They provide a 100 day trial for their customers if they would like to purchase mattresses from them. They also provide a 30 day trial on other sleep products light glow light and dog beds. Giving their customers a free-trial for a period of time helps Casper increase conversion.

Photo from Google


To conclude, it has been proven that seasoning marketing campaigns with psychological studies is successful in yielding preferable results at all time. The process barely requires advanced technological assistance and expertise, and most importantly it can be done even with a low budget. Marketing Initiatives backed by Psychology can assist you in developing more engaging campaigns, personalizing customer experiences, and boosting brand loyalty. All of these objectives are necessary for every business with online presence to partake in today's highly competitive market.

Stay tuned for Allua’s next blog for digital marketing content! Visit our site and contact us for multi-media marketing solutions.


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