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  • Writer's pictureVijay Mohan

Top 10 cognitive biases to use in your next marketing strategy

Updated: Aug 26, 2023


cognitive bias in marketing

What are cognitive biases?

In his book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Professor Daniel Kahneman (2011, p. 98) defines heuristics as

“a simple procedure that helps find adequate, though often imperfect, answers to difficult questions.”

Think of biases as design templates that get you started with something like Ads, banners, etc easily. In the same way, we can say that biases are thought templates that our brain uses when it doesn’t want to do too much about it. This always happens subconsciously.

So how is it related to marketing, and how can you make the most of it? Read further…


🥳 The essence of being humans


Although technology has become an inseparable part of our lives, and we live both in the digital and physical worlds, we remain simple, real human beings, with our stories, experiences, preferences, and biases. Any metaverse or AI isn’t going to change that.

Content has become the primary way of connecting with your target audience in today’s world of marketing, branding, or advertising. Cognitive biases have a major effect on the decisions that people make in their lives. So it's important for us as marketers to understand exactly how this works so that we can influence potential customers to take the right actions.


Cognitive biases to use in marketing


Let’s look at the top 10 cognitive biases you should remember while framing your next marketing strategy:


1. The availability cascade - By repeating your ideas & concepts often enough through your content, you can make your audience believe in it. This can easily be used in your content strategy in the long term, to educate your audience and get them used to the product you promote. Pretty much what I’m doing right now. :P


2. Singularity effect - A story about a single person or phenomenon will achieve a higher user engagement than a story about a group. By using this technique, your audience will be able to better empathize with your content. This explains why my launch post got a good response! 🤔


3. Bizarreness effect - By creating unusual or bizarre content, your brand will become more memorable to your target audience. Remember Old Spice ads?


4. Authority bias - To create content that is more credible, involve an authoritative person, or influencer.


5. Context effect - Connecting your various ideas into a story can increase stickiness and improve engagement. This is why I include links to other issues within my newsletters. And I must say, it’s working quite well :P


6. Decoy effect - According to this theory, if you want your user to choose one option over another, propose a third one, which is inferior to the other two. The third option is intended to make people choose your preferred option. I’ve already talked about this effect and how you can use it.


7. Barnum effect - By making the user think that the content is specifically about his/her personality, you can get more attention and higher ratings for your content.

Coca-Cola applied this technique successfully in their “Share a Coke” campaign by using 250 of the most popular names instead of their iconic logo. Their consumers were encouraged to buy personalized bottles, with their names to share with friends, family, and social media.


8. Halo effect - A positive impression made in one area of your business could influence your audience’s opinion of another area. So if you create useful content that resonates with your audience, you will be able to achieve a positive impression for your overall business. The opposite effect can also be observed.


9. Rhyme-as-reason effect - By telling the same thing using rhyme, you can convince the target audience more quickly.


Example, Bounty - The quicker picker upper

Burger King - Have it your way, It’s the only way!


10. Serial position effect - The position of a sentence you want to highlight on a page influences the way this sentence will be remembered by your audience. Research has shown that items near the end of a sequence as well as those at the beginning of a sequence are the easiest to recall for readers. This fact is well-known to SEO experts and copywriters. Now you know why I always link my posts at the end 😜 (see the sixth point at the top)

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