How 4 pillars of psychology underpin inbound marketing success

Liana Sudan
May 25, 2018 · 5 min read
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Inbound marketing is a strategy that focuses on naturally attracting people to your business. Using a variety of digital marketing techniques, inbound marketing strategies can pull potential customers in like a magnet.

An effective inbound marketing strategy is one that produces a reliable and consistent pipeline of high-quality new leads. Inbound marketing tends to be cheaper to execute and much more effective than ‘outbound’ marketing strategies. Even small businesses can use the strategy and compete for leads with larger ones.


The main driver of inbound marketing is content. There are many forms of content, for example, blogs, eBooks, videos and apps. These can all be successful in their own right but they form the foundation of an inbound strategy. Content is designed for the purpose of sparking an interest in a potential customer and to nurture them along the buyer’s journey.

The aim is to convert a stranger into an active promoter of your business, there are five decisional stages that achieve this. These are stranger, visitor, leads, customer and promoter.

How can psychology help strangers become customers?

Successful inbound marketing strategies understand the way our thought processes work in terms of persuading and influencing individuals to make a decision. There are several ways this can be done.

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To capture the attention of a stranger, you need to play on their emotions.

Emotions aid decision making. Positive emotions such as feelings of excitement are linked strongly to decision making. When we’re excited, our pupils enlarge and we get sweaty hands — so if your marketing can elicit these kinds of responses, you’re on the right track!

Sparking excitement through your content is the best way to capture the attention of potential customers. There is a number of ways this can be obtained, for example, the colour red is seen to spark excitement as well as action. And, according to research by CoSchedule, positive headlines are received better than negative ones.

Creating emotional urgency can also increase visitors. This can be seen as several factors such as being time-bound or a limited stock of content available for download. According to research, causing urgency can make individuals 25% more likely to return your website, as they feel worried that they could miss out on a good opportunity (FOMO).

You have sparked their attention and they’ve visited your website; you have formed a relationship.

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To build a relationship, there are several studies that show that giving first and asking later is the best way to gain a new lead.

Your visitors want to feel valued. By placing their best intentions at your heart of your content, you’re on the way to building a great relationship. Ask yourself and your sales team what your potential customers want to achieve, then set about creating content that helps them reach their goals.

Once you’ve established a relationship, it’s time to start building trust.

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Faith and trust play an important part when encouraging new leads to become customers. Individuals do not tend to like or warm towards salespeople. By giving individuals helpful content beforehand will help you earn their trust. We always recommend that your leads should visit your content at least seven times before engaging with them in a sales conversation.

Research shows individuals are more likely to trust people they know and people who deem to be experts in the field. It may seem like common sense, but leads are much more likely to engage in sales conversations with brands they trust. You can build trust (and your brand) through content that focuses on your customers.

Once you’ve earned their trust, it’s time to cross the ’t’s and dot the ‘i’s. It’s time to think about commitment.

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With a pipeline of leads that trust you, it’s time to get them over the line. Instead of leading with a hard sell, research shows that getting a small commitment, of any sort, is better. Once in the rhythm of saying ‘yes’, leads tend to start welcoming more in-depth sales conversations. Don’t underplay the power of a ‘yes’, no matter how small the commitment may be.

Take the famous Milgram study on obedience. Milgram’s research focused on whether individuals would obey an authority figure or not. Milgram’s electric shock experiment consisted of a ‘learner’ (actor) and ‘teacher’ (participant). The teacher was told by an authority figure to give the learner an electric shock every time he got the answer wrong. Participants started at a harmless, small shock which gradually becomes more dangerous and painful. Participants would be less likely to give a dangerous shock if asked first. As participants started with a harmless shock, they felt the need to continue to shock the learner as the voltage increased. The same principle applies to your marketing. Start your leads out with small commitments and gradually introduce more valuable content about your products and services — but it doesn’t need to be quite as shocking.


As it turns out, psychology has a lot to do with marketing. Hopefully, you’ve seen how four pillars of psychology tie into inbound marketing, which can help you attract more website visitors and build a continuous pipeline of sales-ready leads:


The blog of Forge; the London based digital agency

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