Psychological Tricks used in content marketing

Have you ever wondered why some pieces of content go viral while others hardly get any attention? What separates a mediocre article from one that gets shared a million times?

Published On: May 6, 20225 min readCategories: Blog, Content

Human beings by nature are thought of as first and foremost highly emotional creatures. We value these emotions, and are greatly motivated and activated by them. Emotions act as a crucial guide to quickly and automatically tell us how we should behave in certain situations, or whether something should be important to us, or not.

By tapping into these emotions a good content marketing campaign can create a certain perception in the minds of their target audience that has the potential of setting them up for amazing success.

In this article, we look at a few Psychological theories that can effectively be used in content marketing.

No two people are a hundred percent alike, and the Psychological tricks discussed in this article are by no means a foolproof recipe for success, but making them part of your next content strategy brainstorm might give you a huge advantage over your competitors.

Social Proof 

Imagine you have to decide between two food truck options for lunch. Both of them offer pretty good food at a reasonable price, but the lineup in front of one of them is massive, while the other one hardly has anyone waiting to be served. The fact that others are waiting, immediately makes that option more attractive. That’s the power of social proof.

Simply put, social proof speaks to a consumer’s need to find security and reassurance from following other people’s advice.  

This Psychological trick can effectively be leveraged in your marketing content for example by including ratings, reviews, and testimonials of other like-minded consumers. Research has shown that If your content features a testimonial or review from a respected figure or an expert in your market, the effect of social proof is compounded exponentially.   

Perceptual set theory

Perceptual set theory points out that people tend to consume content in a top to bottom kind of way, seeing mostly what they expect to see. Humans are creatures of habit and this is no different in the way we consume content. Most people prefer a content layout that is familiar to them. Something they have seen before. They are more engaged, and willing to interact if they understand from the get-go what to pay attention to, and how to navigate the piece of content.

Content marketers can take advantage of this by creating content that contains a layout and elements that are standard. If elements like the CTA or contact details are positioned in an expected place, consumers are more likely to engage.

Cognitive fluency

Studies have shown that consumers spend roughly 0.25 seconds looking at a certain piece of content online before moving on. Our attention spans are extremely short when it comes to consuming content. This gives a content marketer a very small amount of time to grab attention, and entice someone to engage with the brand.

Cognitive fluence speaks to how quickly a consumer decides if a piece of content is easy or difficult to understand and if they are willing to put in the effort to engage with the content or not.

As a content marketer, you should aim to keep your content as streamlined and eye-catching as possible. Get rid of confusing technical jargon, and focus on high-quality images and videos with keywords that will reassure the consumer that they need to know more about your brand, and that it would be worth their time to engage. Asking yourself what exactly the keyword intend is, and why it matters is a good starting point in finding the right keywords for your content.

Three co-workers brainstorming a content strategy.

6 Principles of Persuasion

According to Dr. Robert Cialdini an American psychologist and academic, there are 6 primary principles that can effectively be used to persuade consumers. Keeping these principles in mind when brainstorming new ideas for a content strategy could be immensely effective.

The 6 principles of persuasion are:


People value social balance and the perception of equality. 

Generally, people don’t want to feel like they owe someone something. They feel the need to reciprocate even if it was intended as a gift or a favor.


Products that are limited in their availability, and amount are more attractive.


People easily associate credibility and authority with trust. Setting a brand up as an authority, or expert in a certain market or field signals that you are trustworthy to buy from.


As mentioned above, humans are creatures of habit. Most feel more comfortable supporting a brand that they know and trust. Creating content that emphasizes the brand’s consistency is extremely beneficial.


You are more likely to persuade a person if they like you. If they find you charming. If they find your brand charming.


People are more likely to follow the masses and be persuaded by other people that are in a similar situation. (Refer to our section on social proof above for a wider explanation).

Final thoughts

By understanding the role emotions play in how content is perceived, a brand can craft an identity and clear message that will resonate with consumers resulting in successful content marketing campaigns.

The psychological tricks outlined above provide insight that will let your content stand out from those of your competitors.

If you need further guidance on how to create a content marketing strategy that utilizes both SEO and PPC to ensure results, consider getting in contact with NAV43. We are a marketing agency with a focus on search marketing. Contact us today for more information.