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Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion Applied to Digital Marketing

July 19, 2019

In Robert Cialdini’s book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion he discusses the six universal principles that are used to persuade (or manipulate, depending on how politically correct you want to be) people to buy your product or service even if they had no interest whatsoever. 

The six principles, in general, are really interesting to study if you want to be able to influence anyone in your life. But in the marketing industry, the psychology behind the hows and whys of people being influenced is the most crucial component to selling your product or service. 

Let’s take a look at the six principles and apply them to digital marketing. 


The concept of people wanting to say yes to those who have given them something initially. For example, a candy shop that gives a piece of chocolate to a person that walks into the store leads 42% more people to buy something there. The psychology behind this also shows that one may be willing to repay a debt at a greater value than the initial gift. 

Applied To Digital Marketing:

  • It is as simple as giving away free things and asking for something in return! No sweat right?  


The concept of someone wanting to buy from YOU. Meaning, someone ends up purchasing your item or service because of your presentation and charisma. 

What causes liking? Similarity, compliments, familiarity with someone, and physical attractiveness all have an effect on the degree of our liking toward a person. 

Applied To Digital Marketing:

  • Making your website super user-friendly and conveying an interesting personality can help increase the fondness of your product or service. It can create a strong desire for what you sell, even if someone isn’t in the market for your product. 


This is the idea of making someone believe that they will miss out if they do not act immediately. It is capitalizing on the concept of FOMO - Fear Of Missing Out. Using this idea to your advantage can generate many more sales. 

Applied To Digital Marketing:

  • Listing in your ad copy the scarcity of the product or service can create a strong immediate desire for your product. 
  • Emphasizing the time frame on discounts and sales can create an eagerness for people to convert quickly. 


The exact definition of authority means the power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior. We mindlessly obey authority sometimes. It is a powerful tool in the art of persuasion.  

As we see in the following case study: 

A middle-aged man was directed to violate the law by crossing the street at a red light. Pedestrians were more likely to follow a stranger dressed in a business suit, than someone in casual attire. 

Applied To Digital Marketing:

  • Creating testimonials from qualified people about your product on your website or in your ad copy. For example, if you are selling dental supplies, having testimonials from dentists showing how essential your item is to the success of a dental practice can exponentially increase your conversion rates. 

Commitment and Consistency

The concept of having someone publicly state their opinion/approach to a topic and in the future, they will make a decision that aligns with that belief. After making a choice, people feel pressure to appear consistent with what they have already committed to. Once customers can be nudged into making seemingly inconsequential decisions you can have them saying yes to more sizable decisions based on their desire to be consistent in their standing. 

Applied To Digital Marketing: 

  • If you want to increase your conversion rate make it as easy as possible for someone to say “yes” initially. Meaning, if you pave a way for consumers to have the ability to commit and buy something small you are more likely to convince them to buy something of more value in the future.  

Social Proof

This concept applies the knowledge that individuals assume that people around them know better and can guide them to a higher quality decision. It is a way of getting people to jump on your bandwagon.

Applied To Digital Marketing: 

  • Having influencers give validation of the quality of your product will increase social proof. 
  • Accumulating numerous good reviews on your product or service and listing them in your ad extensions can lead people to mirror the actions of their social circles. 

The six principles of influence are the fundamentals of learning the art of persuasion. Applying these principles to your digital marketing campaigns can help you create the most effective ads. 

No more editing campaigns and crossing your fingers hoping that they will generate higher quality conversions.  

Best of luck 😄

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