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8 Psychological Insights Into the Brain That Will Improve Your Marketing The more you know about the human mind, the better you'll be able to sell.

By Neil Patel Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


The better you understand the human mind, the better you'll be able to persuade customers to convert. And, if you think about it, marketing is really about applied psychology.

Related: The Incredible Way Your Brain 'Sees' a Logo (Infographic)

What this means is that buyers act in certain ways because they're wired to do so. The mind's cognitive biases, tendencies and proclivities all play a role in the marketing process. When it comes to the psychology of purchasing, here are eight actionable tips to improve your own company's marketing ability.

1. The brain is wired to make sudden, impulsive decisions and purchases.

According to data from Chase, Gallup and Harris Interactive, most people make impulse purchases. Regardless of the demographic, every type of person at some point will make a sudden and unplanned purchase.

As the entrepreneur offering the products or services under consideration, you can capitalize on the "impulse buy" phenomenon by asking customers to:

  • buy now
  • try it now
  • shop now
  • get it now
  • subscribe now

According to psychological research, "the reptilian" brain (the neocortex) expresses itself in: people's obsessive-compulsive tendencies, the flight-or-fight response and the actions people take in response to urgencies. These are precisely the factors that inspire impulse purchases.

Now is the powerful word here that can trigger an impulse buy.

2. The brain processes images faster than text.

It's widely accepted that the brain processes visual content faster than text. And, here, images are one of your greatest marketing assets. Do whatever is possible to amplify your visual content, create powerful product images and front-load images within your website.

Sites with a powerful visual impact have greater marketing success. And improving product images can improve sales.

As an example, the Best Made Company, a New York-based retailer selling axes, knives and camping clothes, uses large, detailed, and multi-angled images to feature its products.

Image Credit: Best Made Company

Related: This Simple Technique Trains Your Brain to Conjure Your Best-Ever Ideas

3. The mind associates the color blue with trust.

If you're still deliberating over your color scheme, you can't go wrong with blue. A lot of sites opt for this color. Facebook is one of them:

Facebook - Log In or Sign Up 2015-07-30 10-07-04.png

PayPal, meanwhile, uses a blue color scheme:

Send Money, Pay Online or Set Up a Merchant Account - PayPal 2015-07-30 10-07-39.png

Even Microsoft injects its color scheme with a lot of blue.

Microsoft - Official Home Page 2015-07-30 10-07-19.png

There's a reason why some of the world's leading brands and websites use blue. Sure, it's a nice color. But it also stimulates a sense of trust in people.

There's a whole branch of psychology associated with color. Just be careful with it. Color does not affect all minds universally. The impact and association of color depends largely on experience, culture, and context.

4. The brain is more likely to trust when it associates the product or website with appropriate words.

Some marketers and conversion optimizers point to the impact of trust in marketing. Jeremy Smith, a conversion optimization expert, calls trust the "functional center for all of conversion optimization."

The most powerful way to create trust is through words. Although images are powerful, as explained above, words play a significant role in deepening a customer's trust.

Which words? Here are the five that work well consistently:

  • Authentic - Authenticity has a ring of truth and power.
  • Certified - Something that is "certified" has some level of endorsement, presumably by a neutral third-party.
  • Guaranteed According to Kissmetrics, "60 percent of consumers feel at ease and are more likely to buy a product that has the word "guaranteed' associated with it."
  • Loyal - Loyalty is seen as a virtue, and therefore something to be desired in a product or service.
  • Official - The word "official" conjures up images of process-oriented offices and dependable people. If it's official, it's more likely to be trusted.

5. When the mind says yes once, it is more likely to do so again.

One yes leads to another yes. If you can get a customer to say "yes" to a small request like an email sign up, then you can probably get him or her to say yes again -- perhaps to a subscription, purchase or trial. This is called the foot-in-the-door technique, or FITD. Salespeople have been using it for generations.

So, start by asking for something small, and follow it up with a larger request.

6. The first number seen will affect the customer's evaluation of the price.

According to the "anchoring" effect," people rely on the first piece of information that they see when faced with a decision.

If a female customer walks into a store and sees "Jackets -- $549," her mind has associated the price of $549 with jackets. The situation is framed. Then, later, when browsing for a jacket, she may see that the actual price of a jacket is only $349! She feels like she's getting a good deal on the $349 jacket. Again, it's the framing effect in action.

According to famed psychologist Daniel Kahneman. "If you can walk into a negotiation and be the first one to say a number or offer a price, you've gained an advantage. Likewise, if you can help the customer on your website to anchor [his or her] expectations on a certain price, you gain a powerful advantage."

7. Every decision is an emotional decision.

Some decision-makers like to think of themselves as rational and unswayed by emotion. In reality, as neuroscience has shown, every decision depends on the role of emotions. If emotions weren't involved, it would be difficult to make any decision at all.

Everyone makes decisions based on the input of various cognitive functions. Emotions play a hugely significant role.

Don't hesitate to play to your user's emotions. Those who make decisions with the aid of their emotions are likely to make a better decision.

8. If you label people in a certain way, they are likely to act according to that label.

In one study, a group of participants were told "that they were much more likely to vote since they had been deemed by the researchers to be more politically active." The control group participants, by contrast, were not informed why they were chosen.

When the two groups were compared after the voting date, the "politically active" label group had a 15 percent higher turnout rate.

Why? It's about the label, and the way that the mind responds to it. The mind is constantly seeking cognitive equilibrium. If someone is identified as politically active, he or she will subconsciously seek to act according to that label or expectation.

The message here is that it's okay to tell your customers who they are, what they believe and how they will act. Your labelling will impact their decision to buy or not buy your product or service.


The more you know about the mind, the better you'll be able to sell.

But it's not psychology alone that can improve your marketing, it's the specific psychology of your target audience. Every niche is different. Something that works for one group may backfire on another group.

The best psychological insights that you can gather are those that come from your target audience. So, research, learn, test and take action on what you know.

What psychological insights have you discovered that have improved your marketing?

Related: 'Reboot' Your Brain and Refresh Your Focus in 15 Minutes or Less

Neil Patel

Co-founder of NP Digital

Neil Patel is the co-founder of NP Digital. The Wall Street Journal calls him a top influencer on the web, Forbes says he is one of the top 10 marketers, and Entrepreneur Magazine says he created one of the 100 most brilliant companies. Neil is a New York Times bestselling author and was recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Obama and a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 35 by the United Nations.

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