the psychology behind marketing measurement

by Ovative Group
July 11, 2017

This summer, we asked our talented group of college interns to contribute to the Ovative/group blog. We asked them to choose a topic that interests them, do a deep dive into the subject, then develop a post to share what they learned. Enjoy this post and stay tuned for the rest of the Intern Series throughout this summer! 

WRITTEN BY: Morgan McLinden and Caitlin McGuire

The bitmoji is a driving force here at Ovative/group. They are used as a means of identification and self-expression and will be your trusty guide through this post. Before we begin, we feel there are a few things we must confess:

  1. Last week Caitlin spent $350 at Gap because they sent her a “last minute” 40% off coupon.
  2. One month ago, Morgan spent an hour waiting in line for a BOGO Chipotle burrito bowl.
  3. Both of us bought $100 pair of sunglasses because Jesse James Decker told us to.

What do all these situations have in common? The power of persuasion.



Robert Cialdini identified six principles of persuasion: reciprocity, consistency, social proof, likability, authority and scarcity in his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. These principles play a major role in consumers’ purchasing habits as well as into many upper funnel marketing strategies. As the digital age places buying power in the consumers hands, the need to identify consumer-centric strategies becomes even more relevant. So why does a measurement agency care?

While the data tells a large chunk of the story, the consumers’ needs and desires still play a key role in increased conversions. So yes, the numbers should be the basis for decision making, but it’s important to keep in mind that they do not tell the whole story.

“I Do Something for You, You Do Something for Me”

for you

The principle of reciprocity is rooted in the fact that if you do something for an individual they will return the favor. We see this in many marketing strategies such as promotions and freebies. Many companies, like Stitch Fix, are taking this concept a step further by giving consumers a chance to order online, try on the clothes for nearly free and ship back any that don’t fit, no strings attached. This concept also applies to SEO strategies, as providing relevant and valuable content to consumers will make them more likely to sign up for that email list or opt in to additional newsletters.

“When It Comes Down to It, We Are All Pretty Predictable”

no doubt

The principle of consistency explains why we, as humans, like to engage in behavior that fits into our self-schema, reduces our doubts and supports our previous beliefs. We many times feel pressured to act in agreement with our previous actions and purchasing behaviors. This explains why email lists are still an effective marketing tactic.

Even though we often think of email lists as being outdated in the rapidly evolving digital world, they are a huge source of lead generation and loyalty retention. Researcher Doug McKenzie-Mohr finds that simply engaging a consumer via a pledge leads to a significant increase in desired behavior change. Once we sign up for our favorite stores’ weekly newsletter, we’re more likely to buy from them. Therefore, the concept of consistency is the main factor that drives a new customer into becoming an ongoing one.

“But All My Friends Are Doing It”


It’s no secret that we are more likely to do something if one of our peers is doing it. The principle of social proof explains why tactics such as word of mouth and social media play such a large role in the consumers purchase journey. Many companies, like ModCloth, are utilizing the concept of social proof to better engage the consumer and improve their experience. By using “buyers’ picks” clothing and the inclusion of consumer photos in the reviews, potential buyers can see that others are using and enjoying the clothes. This ultimately leads to the affirmation of social acceptance and satisfaction with the product.

“Please Love Me Forever!”


This one may seem a bit obvious; consumers are more likely to convert if they like you. The principle of likeability is not complex, but it is very important. It is the strategy behind companies’ social media pages and the need for activity on those. For example, a Twitter dialogue study found that consumers have more favorable attitudes towards organizations with a social presence versus those that do not. This attitude strongly affects a consumer’s purchase intent.

“The Kardashians Told Me To”


The principle of authority answers many of the crushing questions of our day and age such as, why did teenage girls everywhere buy the Kylie Jenner lip kit? How are there so many YouTube videos of people completing the cinnamon challenge? Why do all teenage boys have the Justin Bieber flow?

When individuals in expert or celebrity roles tell us to do something, we are more likely to do it. This explains why so many companies utilize celebrities in endorsements and advertisements. This also explains why advertisements for medical or dental products sell better when framed as “physician recommended” and children’s products require a mother’s stamp of approval. The endorsement of individuals in power increases consumers’ willingness to buy. Companies can better utilize this concept through affiliate marketing and the use of social influencers to promote their products.

“But the Deal’s About to Expire!!!”

time 4 that

The principle of scarcity is what drives many promotional activities today. It is the reasoning behind those last-minute deals and short-term sales. According to laws of economics, we give more value to things we perceive to be scarce. Additionally, as consumers we are more likely to act on loss than gain, explaining why advertisements emphasizing time or product running out most often perform the best. This explains why infomercial products, such as the Snuggie, become best-sellers. So next time you find yourself contemplating the purchase of an unnecessary last-minute steal, just remember Caitlin’s Gap discount splurge and that it happens to the best of us.


why care

As a measurement agency, it is easy to get caught up in the numbers, but it’s equally important to lift your head up and look at the ‘why’. Keeping the consumer at the center of everything you do helps to increase conversions, improve customer satisfaction and ultimately lead to an increase in profit.

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