Psychological targeting as an effective approach to digital marketing

Recently psychological targeting has received a lot of attention due to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Use psychological targeting for manipulative purposes is wrong and can lead to unfortunate election outcomes 😉 but using this technique to better connect with customers is an effective way to launch a powerful marketing campaign for your products and services.

In this article I want to introduce you the basic notions to better understand Psychological targeting.

First, we have to know very well the Five factor model (FFM).

The Five Factor Model 

The five factor model subsumes personality traits that represent the basic variations in human behavior and preferences providing a nomenclature and a conceptual framework that unifies much of the research findings in the psychology of individual differences.

The FFM includes the following traits.

1. Openness: Imagination, creativity, curiosity, tolerance, political liberalism and appreciation for culture.

People with high openness rating appreciate new unusual ideas and tend to have a good sense for aesthetics.

2. Coscientiousness: people that are well organized, reliable, consistent. They love planning, seek achievements and pursue long term goals.

The opposite are Non conscientious people which are more easygoing and spontaneous and less bound by rules and plans.

3. Extroversion: it measures a tendency to seek stimulation on the external world, the company of other people. Extroverted people tend to express positive emotions, be more friendly and socially active.

Moreover, extroverted people don’t mind being at the center of attention and make new friends more easily.

On the other hand, Introverts are more likely to be solitary or reserved and seek environments with lower levels of external stimulation.

4. Agreeableness: measures the ability to maintain positive social relations, being friendly, compassionate and cooperative.

Agreeable people tend to give more trust to others and be less focused on themselves.

On the other hand Disagreeable people are more concentrated on themselves, less likely to compromise, and may be less gullible.

5. Emotional stability: measures the capacity to stay calm,self-confident and have a control on the emotions.

People with low Emotional stability or Neurotic people are those that experience more stress and nervousness.

Why is the FFM so important? 

A study conducted by M.Kosinski, S.C. Matz, G. Nave, and D.J. Stillwell on more than 3.7 million people has demonstrated that targeting people with messages tailored to their psychological profiles can be used to influence their behavior as measured by clicks and conversions.

Try to think about this, even if you’re talking to the same market niche, doesn’t mean that the message that you put out can resonate with all the potential customers of your niche; that’s because even if people can have some interests in common, they may have a very different personality from one another.

For this reason design your marketing messages, and strategy around the personality of your target audience can conduct to better results in terms of engagement and conversions.

How to target customers based on their psychological traits? 

The easiest way to target customers on their psychological traits is to use Facebook advertising.

As of now Facebook does not allow marketers to directly target users based on their psychological traits; however, it does so indirectly by offering the possibility to target users based on their Facebook likes.

Different messages for the same kind of target customer. In this case is a B2B business.

To make an example, those who loves “Warhammer” are more introverted than people that follows pages like “Making people laugh” and so on.

This isn’t a personal consideration, but from a research paper made by M .Kosinski, S.C. Matz, G. Nave, and D.J. Stillwell entitled “ Psychological targeting as an effective approach to digital mass persuasion” we can find an analysis that displays the correlation between Extroversion and a certain kind of Facebook pages.

And the correlation of Introversion and certain kind of Facebook pages.

How to design advertising messages based on Psychological traits? 

Let’s make an example.

Let’s assume to sell a car to a guy (Male, 40-45 years old, Married, has children, mid income) with High conscientiousness / agreeable score; so we are talking with a very rational person and with an interest in the community and society.

Our message should play on very rational facts and underline the low effects that the car will have on the environment.

On the other hand, if we have to sell a car to a guy with the same demographics (Male, 40-45 years old, Married, has children, mid income), but with High extroverted score.

Our message should play on more inspirational and aspirational imagery and slogan.

I hope that you have found this brief overview on Psychological targeting interesting and informative.

As agency we are continuing to improve digital strategies for our clients in order to offer more sophisticated techniques to reach business goals in this digital age.

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