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The Psychology of Instant Gratification and How It Will Revolutionize Your Marketing Approach Humans are hardwired to want things -- now. Here's how you can introduce strategy into your marketing that will create incredible appeal.

By Neil Patel

entrepreneur daily

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Humans are hardwired to want things -- now. It's called instant gratification, and it's a powerful force. It can make people convert, as long as you're doing the right things. But do you know how to use instant gratification for marketing?

If you dig into the psychology behind instant gratification, you'll be able to understand how and why this is such a powerful force. Then, you'll be able to introduce strategy into your marketing that will create incredible appeal.

What is instant gratification?

Instant gratification is the desire to experience pleasure or fulfillment without delay or deferment. Basically, it's when you want it; and you want it now.

Instant gratification is the opposite of what we've been taught and try too hard to practice — delayed gratification. Waiting is hard, and there is an innate desire to have what we want when we want it, which is usually without any delay.

Instant gratification and the "pleasure principle.'
In most psychological models, humans are believed to act upon the "pleasure principle." The pleasure principle is basically the driving force that compels human beings to gratify their needs, wants, and urges. These needs, wants, and urges can be as basic as the need to breathe, eat, or drink. But they can be as complex as the "need" for an iPhone 6 or some other cool new product.

When we don't get fulfillment, our psychological response is anxiety or tension.

Related: Which Social Media Accounts Really Matter and Why

Instant gratification is fueled by modern devices and information exchange.
Not all instant gratification is bad. There's nothing wrong with wanting or needing things, experiences, or products in a timely manner. It's important to balance our desires with a realistic sense of timing and patience. By itself, though, instant gratification isn't a negative thing.

Instant gratification is expected in many contexts. We gain instant feedback from our devices, because we're constantly plugged in and turned on. Social media gives us instant ability to upload videos, photos and status updates. We receive instant feedback from our social followers. We respond in near real time to emails and tweets. We have the ability to make things happen without having to wait.

Because our devices are ubiquitous, our connectedness is constant. There's very little patience required.

We even expect business growth -- a phenomenon long considered to be gradual -- to happen overnight. Like the viral explosion of a YouTube video, we want to hack business growth for viral expansion. The pursuit is admirable, even if the results aren't always what we desire.

Providing Instant Gratification in Marketing

With respect to a human's hardwired tendency to want gratification, digital marketers can deliver in an effective way.

The big-picture way to give your audience instant gratification is to provide something now. I've provided specific tips in the section below. The real application of this, though, is going to depend on your business. What can you give to your customers right now?

I need to issue a warning here. The desire for instant gratification doesn't stop once the customer gets something. Instant gratification begets instant gratification. In other words, once you give your customers some level of instant gratification, they will expect that same instantaneous response in future interaction.

Ways to Provide Instant Gratification

Use "now' messaging.
One of the most obvious and easiest ways to satisfy instant gratification is to do so with your messaging.

One CrazyEgg article explained why this headline is so effective:

"Lose 7 Lbs in 7 Days."

Here's what the article said:

This headline makes a promise, as all good headlines do. It promises that we will receive a benefit. And it promises that we will receive a desirable quantity of that benefit in a desirable time period.

It's the time period that's critical here. People want instant results. In the world of weight loss, seven days is about as instant as it gets. This language of instant results meets the craving for instant gratification, and gives people something to move forward on.

Related: Writing Tips: How to Come Up With 50 Topic Ideas in 30 Minutes

Provide chat or phone contact.
If your customers want information, give it to them as best as possible. A 24/7 chat service or email support is ideal.

If you have a customer base that likes to use the telephone, you can purchase around-the-clock answering services. Services like these don't come without risks (and cost), but they may satisfy what customers really need -- on demand support.

Enable online sales.
Digital sales are ideal for satisfying people's love for instant. You can allow customers to download their product right away. SaaS (software as a service) is a great area in which instant gratification gets satisfied. There's nothing standing in the way of getting a user started.

Make your onboarding process completely automated. Allow customers to start without any wait time, delay, or processing.

Give instant information.
Many customers want information before they make a decision or purchase. You can provide this level of information through online forms and products that deliver real-time customized information.

Set up email auto response.
People love to get instant responses to their inquiries. If you capture email leads, do the courtesy of giving an auto response message.

Provide downloadable resources.
One of the best forms of instant feedback is the downloadable product. You can easily provide a resource for people to download within just a few clicks. Doing so gives them a level of instant satisfaction for their needs.

Related: 21 Ways to Make Your Boring Trade Blog Interesting


If you can't deliver instant gratification, then be upfront about it. Let your users know, "Sorry, but you're going to have to wait."

The most important thing is not necessarily to feed your customer's hunger right away, but to be completely transparent with them about what you can and can't provide.

What are some other ways you handle customer's desire for instant gratification?

Neil Patel

Entrepreneur and Online Marketing Expert

Neil Patel is co-founder of Crazy EggHello Bar and KISSmetrics. He helps companies like Amazon, NBC, GM, HP and Viacom grow their revenue. 

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