Best of Digital Summit 2020: HBT Marketing CCO Nancy Harhut & 10 Free Behavioral Science Secrets to Increase Engagment


We’re celebrating and spotlighting some of our favorite, highest rated sessions from our Digital Summit at Home events from 2020. In this recap, we featuring Nancy Harhut, Chief Creative Officer for HBT Marketing. Nancy’s session, 10 FREE Behavioral Science Secrets that Increase Engagement and Response, was our top rated session from our DS at Home October event!

As marketers, we are always looking to find more effective ways to analyze the behavior of our customers. From shopping habits to emotional triggers, there is a wealth of information, resources, and tips available thanks to the countless hours of research done by behavioral and social scientists. And, marketers can access and apply these findings to their own campaigns and strategies without spending a dime from the budget.

In this session, Nancy [Harhut] takes us through ten digestible concepts that can be applied to our work as digital marketers using clear examples and time-tested research.

Decision Making Shortcuts (1:00)

All people rely on decision-making shortcuts, which are automatic, instinctive responses that we have developed to conserve mental energy when making decisions. These hardwired behaviors are the default responses we have when faced with a decision, and some of them can be triggered intentionally.

Let’s take a look at the ten secrets that Harhut has identified as powerful tools and tactics marketers can use to increase engagement with our digital marketing efforts:

1) The Endowment Effect (2:50)

We place more value on things that we already possess, in some cases overvaluing the things that we own. Digital marketers can create a sense of ownership before an actual action has been taken by “giving” customers something, such as a store credit or membership to trigger this effect.

2)  Motivating-Uncertainty Effect (6:10)

Social scientists have found that people are more likely to complete a task if they have an uncertain reward, where they don’t know exactly what they receive upon completing it. The unknown aspect provides a sense of hope and wonder, and often encourages action.

3)Rhyme as Reason Bias (8:00)

Rhyming phrases are easier for the brain to process, which in turn makes us feel a positive response. Marketers can take advantage of this inherent bias consumers have by making key messages rhyme to foster trust.

4) The Psychology of Surprise (9:35)

Research has shown that surprise is an emotion that humans enjoy, and that we are more likely to remember the things that surprise us than things that do not. Marketers can craft messages that will surprise people in order to make them more memorable and evoke a stronger emotional response.

5) Zeigarnik Effect (11:50)

Human beings are hard-wired to finish what we’ve started, and therefore don’t like to leave things hanging. As digital marketers, there are a number of ways to leverage this “need to complete” mentality, such as reward levels or prompts to return to a cart that has items left in it.

6) Availability Bias (14:35)

Research shows that people will judge the likelihood of an event happening based on how easily they can recall an example. Marketers can paint pictures for consumers based on specific use-cases for their products or services that will trigger a conclusion that they have a need for the item being marketed to them.

7) Choice Architecture (18:35)

The way choices are presented influences how a person makes a decision. This means that marketers can use language, visuals and other queues to influence default actions of their target audience without overtly telling them what to do.

8) Framing (21:35)

The words that marketers use influence how the audience receives a message, and framing allows us to shape how people see what we want them to see. Special attention should be paid to incorporating specifically framed language to deliver our messages, emphasizing the key benefits of taking an action or the perceived loss of not taking it.

9) Scarcity Principle (24:25)

Research shows that if something is readily available, there is less urgency to make a purchase today or even in the near term. Scarcity, perceived or actual, increases the likelihood our audience will take immediate action.

10) Reason Why (27:10)

This may be basic, but people are more likely to do what they are asked if they are given a reason “why.” One simple tactic that marketers can use is to use the word “because” in their messaging since it legitimizes the reason you are speaking to them.

Marketers rely on large amounts of data and research to inform their strategies, and readily available behavioral science data is highly valuable. Through understanding why people respond in certain ways to different tactics, we can leverage these learnings and apply them to the ways that we market brands.