Tap Into Decision Science To Make Your Content Work Harder

Whether you manage social content, digital advertising or website content, chances are you’re measuring, monitoring and optimizing content across channels. You probably have a good sense of what content drives the most engagement. But do you know why? 

Decision Science gives you a deeper understanding of what motivates your audience so you can create more engaging content. Let’s explore how Behavioral Economics (a key branch of Decision Science) relate to content. 

Behavioral Economics principles help us understand, predict and even impact human behavior. Gallup Research found that companies applying behavioral economics outperform their peers by 85% in sales growth and more than 25% in gross margin. Taking this approach to content marketing, we uncover why people consume the content they do, what buttons to push to get them to engage with content and how to build an emotional connection that leads to long-term relationships. 

You’ve likely noticed that user-generated content, customer endorsements and testimonials perform well across channels. This is the Social Proof principle at work. We naturally believe something is bad or good based on others’ behaviors. For example, if the everyday people or social influencers in my Instagram feed say a product works for them, it must be good!

According to Photoslurp, user-generated images on Instagram are more likely to convert consumers than “professional” or non-UG images. In fact, social users are five times more likely to purchase after clicking on a user-generated photo. Research shows that consumers are more swayed by their social networks’ opinions than those of subject-matter experts.  So, mobilize your consumer audience rather than incenting experts to offer their point of view.  

Behavioral economics teach us not to overwhelm consumers with choice. In a classic experiment, some grocery store shoppers were offered 24 jams to taste while others were offered only six. The greater variety drew more shoppers to sample the jams, but few made a purchase. By contrast, although fewer consumers stopped to taste the six jams, sales from this group were more than five times higher. 

Posting content about broad category sales or promotions can work against you. Too many choices make consumers work harder to find their preferred option, a potential barrier to purchase. Reducing the number of options makes people likelier not only to reach a decision but also to feel more satisfied with their choice. Try featuring select, very specific, sale items in your content to drive more conversions. 

People are more attracted to things that are “chunked” into bite-sized pieces based on the type of information you want to convey. It could be as easy as separating a long, text-heavy blog post into multiple posts making them easier to skim, using info boxes to chunk out the most important takeaways or using infographics that can be easily tweeted or LinkedIn to make your content more shareable. 

The Framing Principle proves that the way information is presented will cause us to respond differently — even when the changes aren’t logically relevant. So, how can you frame your content to make your messaging more persuasive and drive more conversions? 

Studies show we’re more responsive to losses than gains. When choices are framed in terms of gains, consumers may not feel it’s worth the risk to act for an uncertain benefit. So, focus on what your audience will lose if they don’t act now. When you frame up the potential loss, consumers become more comfortable with risk to avoid the loss presented to them.

This is particularly relevant in the early stages of the purchase journey when you’re trying to disrupt the Default Principle. Consumers are more likely to overvalue the benefits of the product they’ve been buying simply because they already own it and it’s familiar. Framing the flaws or weaknesses of competitive products as an immediate, certain loss will help make consumers more inclined to switch. Here’s a win-win — use customer testimonials to activate Social Proof. 

So, build content around the ways behavioral economics tell us customers make decisions, and you’re more likely to see them choose your brand.

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