< Back to stories

What do marketers need to know about cognitive biases?

13 December 2016
by Adam Oldfield

It’s hard enough as it is trying to achieve cut through when talking to customers in a noisy marketplace, and now marketers are being told there are a growing number of cognitive biases to overcome too..?!

A recent article on Psychology for Marketers explained exactly what these mental tendencies are – “…shortcuts in our brain that can determine our behaviour, without us knowing about it!” They allow our minds to play tricks on us, whether we realise it or not.

So, when it comes to communicating with people, however great you are at marketing, you could find yourself struggling to overcome these subconscious obstacles.

Unless, that is, you build journeys that deliver the most fulfilling message for the individual concerned. Journeys that intuitively understand the potential problem and ensure you navigate around them to reach your marketing goal. Journeys that automatically trigger the most relevant piece of next step communication according to the cognitive bias you encounter.

We make it sound easy, but with marketing automation it needn’t be as challenging as you think.

For example:

Loss aversion

People hate losing, even when it comes to losing things they didn’t previously even want or need. So, if you begin to encounter a sense of disengagement with a customer, why not ask them if they want you to stop contacting them? We’ve found in the past that the fear of that communication being taken away from them, is actually what reignites the dialogue!


Status quo bias

No matter how much people want to change, it’s often easier to stay put. That’s why, when trying to encourage someone to do something new, such as make a switch to a new energy provider, it needs to be as simple as possible. The timing is crucial, and the process needs to be completely hassle free, or people just won’t budge. This is the exact same reason we offer a free migration service, when people switch from an underperforming marketing automation platform to Force 24’s marketing cloud!



People use anchors to draw comparisons, so, if you want your message or offer to stand out, help educate them as to what is the ‘new normal’. If yours is the best deal around, you need to highlight directly what they could be saving if they buy from you rather than a competitor.



Whether you concentrate on story telling or focus on a design aesthetic, think about how you portray your message as this can influence the behaviour/action you want to evoke. From the careful choice of words to the utilisation of specific colours, this can all add context that subtly sways the decision making based on the subliminal way you make someone feel. Personalisation is crucial here because what works for one person won’t necessarily apply to the next.


In-group bias

Whether or not you want to call it tribal instinct, we naturally protect and are drawn towards people that are in the same group as us. That’s why, if executed correctly, refer a friend schemes can work so well! On a much simpler level, use of words such as ‘us’ makes the dialogue much more personal and inclusive.


Bandwagon effect

Whilst this doesn’t apply to everyone, not all people want to be the first to have tried something. They seek comfort that a product or service has reaped proven success for someone else. So, tell case study stories to create the bandwagon effect and show changing statistics that emphasise how popular something is becoming – that way people won’t be able to resist finding out more and getting involved.

Of course, we could go on and on, and the marketers within our own team have hundreds more ideas up their sleeves to ensure cognitive biases don’t block your conversion success. If you want to find out more, get in touch.


Photo of Adam Oldfield
Adam Oldfield
Managing Director & Founder

Book a Demo

Reading about a platform is all well and good, but to see it in action is another thing entirely! Get in touch and book a free one-to-one demo to see how you could get the most out of Force24.

Book a Demo