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39 Resources for Understanding the Science & Psychology Behind Great Marketing

We all know that a deep understanding of psychology will make us better marketers, but determining exactly where to start if we want to learn more about the psychology of marketing can feel daunting. After all, psychology is an enormous field, with many sub areas to drill down into and countless case studies, books, online articles and magazines to wrap your head around.

I’ve been grappling with this since I decided to focus on improving my own understand of the psychology of marketing. In an effort to make all of our lives easier, I’ve scoured the web for the best articles, infographics and books about the subject and organized everything into the following categories so that you can skip directly to the topic you want to learn about:

  • The Psychology of Marketing: An Overview
  • The Psychology of Pricing & Purchasing
  • The Psychology of Conversion
  • The Psychology of Good Websites
  • The Psychology of Color & Marketing
  • Books on Psychology, Persuasion, Influence & Marketing

So start reading, and let me know if I’ve missed any of your favorite resources in the comments section.

The Psychology of Marketing: An Overview

1. Psychology for Marketers: 9 Revealing Principles of Human Behavior – Don’t know much about the relationship between psychology and marketing? This article is a great place to start. It provides an introduction to psychological principles that are highly relevant to marketing and explains how to apply them to your marketing campaigns.

2. The 20 Best Lessons from Social Psychology – Did you know that tips for waiters go up 3.3% when an after-dinner mint is provided with the receipt, and they increase a full 20% with a look in the eye and a second mint from the server? That’s known as reciprocity, and, if you’re like me, it probably got you thinking about how to apply this to, say, email marketing or growth strategies.

3. The Complete Guide to Understanding Consumer Psychology – This guide covers everything you need to know about consumer psychology, from the power of emotions to the psychology of color and pricing. As the introduction states, “Understanding the psychology of your visitors will help you maximize your revenue because you can show them more of what they want and less of what they don’t.”

4. How to use behavioural psychology to improve your content marketing – Have you ever thought about how you can tailor your blog content to influence behavioral change that will benefit your business? Aaron Beashel looks at why some of the most popular marketing blogs are successful at generating conversions (and why others aren’t).

5. The Psychology of Social Proof & How to Build Trust in Your Business – Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably been told countless times that social proof is a key ingredient to successful online marketing. This Unbounce article outlines seven types of social proof you can implement on your website today.

6. The Psychology of Social Commerce [Infographic] – This beautiful infographic uses statistics to illustrate how important psychological principles are reflected in purchasing behavior.

7. Persuasion case study: 2 ads using psychological “mind reading” techniques – Entrepreneur and expert marketer Ramit Sethi analyzes the psychology behind why two different ads are/are not effective.

8. 3 Neuroscience Secrets For Persuasive Marketing – Web psychologist Nathalie Nahai describes how the psychology of empathy can be used to boost the effectiveness of your marketing.

9. Unconscious Branding – Douglas Van Praet explains how interrupting patterns by going against the grain of what people believe or are accustomed to can spark viral marketing campaigns that are a huge success.

10. Trust Me For 5 Minutes: How To Get People’s Jaws to Drop (And Open Your Emails) – No marketer should ever forget that the thing people care about the most is themselves. They want to know how you/your product are going to make them happy, healthy, more successful, well-liked, hotter or loved. Learn how to tap in to this in order to create more effective email subject lines.

11. How to Win Friends and Influence Your Audience: 10 Theories to Know for Greater Persuasion – This ultra-comprehensive overview of how persuasion works in marketing is packed with real-life examples of emails, social media posts and websites that demonstrate how a mastery of psychology and influence can help you build long-lasting relationships with your subscribers and customers.

The Psychology of Pricing & Purchasing

12. 5 Psychological Studies on Pricing That You Absolutely MUST Read – The results of these five studies can help marketers make smarter decisions when it comes to framing the pricing of their products.

13. 4 Ways To Influence People’s Actions – The Behavioral Psychology Of Impulse Buying – This is a fascinating overview of how understanding four key concepts of retail marketing––merchandising, the shopper mindset, messaging and promotions––can improve your sales.

14. 9 Laws of Price Strategy Based on Customer Psychology – Have you ever heard of the reference price effect? It refers to the notion that when a customer can directly compare the price of a product with a competitor, price sensitivity increases. Learn how customer psychology informs eight additional key laws of price strategy.

15. Pricing and the Psychology of Consumption – People are more likely to consume a product when they are aware of its cost (via monthly charges, for example). Yet common pricing practices such as advance sales, season tickets, and price bundling mask how much a buyer has spent on a given product, decreasing the likelihood that the buyer will actually use it.

The Psychology of Conversion

16. Persuasive Writing: 4 Copywriting Techniques Swiped from Psychology – Joanna Wiebe of Copy Hackers gives you four techniques based on psychological principles and studies that will improve your conversion rates.

17. The Psychology of Anticipation and What it Means for Your Conversion Rates – Neil Patel shows how psychology is the driving force behind conversion rate optimization, focusing on three tips about the feeling of anticipation that can improve your conversion testing.

18. The Psychology of Landing Page Videos (+5 Video Optimization Tips) – Explainer videos are found on nearly every startup and SaaS company’s website. So what makes a video an effective catalyst for conversion? This article outlines psychological principles that can optimize the performance of your video.

19. 10 Ways to Use Psychology to Convert More Customers [Infographic] – I love this infographic (and the author’s commentary in the post) because it goes beyond the typical psychological principles––reciprocity, social proof, etc.––and explores how understanding lesser-known psychology theorems can improve your online marketing.

20. 15 Psychological Triggers to Convert Leads into Customers – A Marine Corp vet and entrepreneur explains 15 important psychological triggers that, if implemented correctly, can generate massive sales for your business.

21. Is Too Much Choice Killing Your Conversion Rates? [Case Studies] – Unbounce’s Events Strategist Stefanie Grieser looks at what several case studies about the psychology of choice in marketing tell us about conversion optimization (hint: in most cases, less is more!).

The Psychology of Good Websites

22. The Quick and Dirty Guide to Turning Your Website into a Persuasion Powerhouse – As the author says, “When it comes to persuading people online, the most effective tool is an understanding of human psychology.” In this article you’ll learn about eight psychological hooks you can use to invoke positive emotions in people visiting your website.

23. The Psychology of Why Sexy Websites Suck at Sales – Learn how attractiveness and familiarity influence the overall effectiveness of a website. You might be surprised: effective websites don’t always coincide with how we normally think about good looks!

24. How to Use the Psychology of Color to Increase Website Conversions – This comprehensive guide will teach you how to utilize the psychology of color to increase website conversions. It’s a must-read for anyone who’s about to build a new website or do a site redesign.

25. 5 Psychological Principles of High Converting Websites (+ 20 Case Studies) – Discover five psychological principles, including the “Law of Pithiness” and the “Principle of Cost/Benefit Analysis”, that are backed by the results of website a/b conversion tests.

The Psychology of Color & Marketing

26. How do colors affect purchases? – Fun fact: 85% of shoppers state color as a primary reason for why they buy a product. This infographic by KISSmetrics presents visualizes how color affects purchasing behavior.

27. Why Facebook Is Blue: The Science of Colors in Marketing – Here’s a fun look at how color influences our emotions as well as how color preferences vary based on gender. Plus, you’ll find out why hyperlinks are that bright, deep blue color.

28. The Psychology of Color in Marketing and Branding – This article from Entrepreneur debunks many of the common myths about color in marketing and branding and suggests alternative ways of looking at how color affects conversions.

29. The Meaning of Colour in Marketing – Visual.ly’s infographic look at the meaning and emotion behind colors and how this can affect your marketing.

30. True Colors: What Your Brand Colors Say About Your Business [Infographic] – This monster infographic examines which colors are most-commonly used by companies in various industries, which colors should be avoided by major industries and what emotions and values are evoked by common colors.

Books on Psychology, Persuasion, Influence & Marketing

31. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion – If you’re in business, sales or marketing you’ve probably had someone tell you that you should read this book. Influence explains the psychology of persuasion, why people say “yes” and how to apply key principles of persuasion to business.

32. How to Win Friends & Influence People – Sure, this is more of a self-improvement book than a marketing and sales book, but this guide to mastering people skills is a must-read for any marketer who wants to deepen their understanding of the psychology of building good relationships with––and influencing––people.

33. Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers – Another one of those books that’s on every marketer’s reading list, Permission Marketing argues that by focusing on individuals who have signaled an interest in learning more about a product, companies can develop long-term relationships with customers, create trust, build brand awareness and greatly improve the chances of making a sale.

34. Neuromarketing: Understanding the Buy Buttons in Your Customer’s Brain – Unveiling the latest brain research and revolutionary marketing practices, this book teaches techniques for making your marketing more powerful, unique, and memorable.

35. Triggers – This book looks at 30 psychological triggers that you can master to influence potential customers and increase sales.

36. Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It) – Psychological experiments have shown that people are unable to estimate “fair” prices accurately and are strongly influenced by the unconscious, the irrational and context. Many of the most successful companies in the world exploit a deep understanding of pricing psychology to get people to pay and buy more. This book will teach you exactly how they do it!

37. Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing – Brainfluence explains how to use neuromarketing, which covers the intersection of behavior science and marketing, to more effectively market to potential consumers.

38. The Branded Mind: What Neuroscience Really Tells Us about the Puzzle of the Brain and the Brand – This book looks to lessons from neuroscience to understand how consumers respond to brands and make purchasing decisions.

39. The Buying Brain: Secrets for Selling to the Subconscious Mind – The Buying Brain explores brain-friendly product concepts, design and prototypes; how to create effective packaging, pricing, advertising and in-store marketing; and how to build stronger brands that attract consumer loyalty.

For a master list of the best books on social psychology, check out this roundup on the Sparring Mind blog.

That should be enough to get you started. Now I’d like to hear from you: what is the most useful resource you’ve found––whether it be an article, book, ebook or video––for understanding how to apply principles of psychology to enhance your marketing?

About the Author: Chloe Mason Gray specializes in digital marketing and growth strategy for startups and intrepid entrepreneurs. Be sure to say hi to her on Twitter. You can also follow her on Google+.

  1. I loved the book Neuromarketing by Patrick Renvoise and swear by all of what I’ve read from Joanna Wiebe.

    I feel like 2 books that should be added to this list are “Different” by Youngme Moon & “Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely. Neither are specifically about marketing, but Different has to do a lot with how you think about your business and how to position it to stand out. It could help lay the framework for your marketing in many ways if not stir up some unusual marketing ideas. Predictably Irrational can really help you think about pricing in terms of what would appeal most to your viewers.

    • Chloe Mason Gray Jul 28, 2014 at 1:12 pm

      Lucy, glad you have already found value in a few things from this list! I also love everything that Joanna Wiebe puts out. Her content is very high-value. Thanks for the book recommendations! They’re going on my Amazon wish list.

    • Lucy, I hear those are great rests. Looking forward to hearing much more from you!

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