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How psychology can help you understand user behaviour in content marketing


Understanding user behaviour in content marketing is essential when it comes to creating content, and using psychological insights means that we can design more effective campaigns.

For a campaign or piece of content to be successful, users need to be able to relate to it. Marketers can shape their content based on users’ behaviour or on what they look for. Personalisation is good, however don’t go too far with it, or you risk scaring users off!

The three systems of the brain

In order to understand the background of how and why people react to our marketing efforts in certain ways, let’s first have a better look into our brains. The model of the three systems of the brain says that we have a primal system, an emotional system, and a rational system.

  • The primal system covers basic needs such as food or safety. Images work particularly well when it comes to targeting this system, and explanations of how your product can help your audience satisfy their basic needs will also ensure that your message has the desired effect.
  • The emotional system reacts to emotional cues such as storytelling. Marketers should aim to convey feelings of happiness to the audience, and use images and videos for the best chance of success.
  • The rational system is responsible for the ‘thinking’. This is the trickiest system to appeal to, as critical thinking is involved at this point and that’s where you will need to provide data, reviews and certificates. The audience needs to be able to trust you and justify the purchase of your products.


Behavioural principles

Audiences differ from place to place, and it’s vital for marketers to understand their context. To do so, they need to take into account three different principles:

  • The universal principle: This applies to all cultures, and it includes things like social validation, for which social proof of products such as Facebook likes or reviews will go a long way.
  • The cultural principle: Audiences perceive things differently depending on their culture, and it’s even been proved that different cultures have specific patterns of brain activity. Marketers should beware of generalisations and treat each culture as separate.
  • The individual context: This concerns differences in personality, and the job of marketers when it comes to the individual context is trying to appeal to different personality types.

What we have seen here is only a sample of the many psychological aspects that marketers should take into account when devising their campaigns. Humans are complex, and this is why campaigns should not be rushed, but well researched and carefully planned! Taking the time to understand your audience will pay off and result in more successful campaigns. Good luck!

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Anna Troidl

Project Coordinator at Webcertain
Anna is a Project Coordinator at Webcertain, where she manages international content marketing projects for a range of clients in sectors such as finance, IT, travel and tourism, education and fashion. She helps clients to connect with their local audiences through engaging culturally-sensitive content. Anna has an extensive background in business administration, marketing and psychology. When she is not busy keeping up with the latest industry trends, she enjoys swimming, travel photography and is a live music enthusiast. Originally from Germany, Anna now lives in York, the UK.

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