Understanding Behavioural Science In Marketing

It’s no secret that business owners and marketers alike are constantly searching for new ways to compete in today’s business landscape, whether investing in web design or experimenting with new social media strategies. With so many options out there, it might surprise you that all the most successful campaigns have one thing in common: behavioural science.

Fresh off their journey to Lead Generation World, and inspired by an insightful talk by Nancy Harhut, co-founder and CCO of HBT Marketing, our digital marketing experts are set to unpack the critical role behavioural science plays in marketing. Throughout this blog, they’ll offer insightful takeaways and actionable tips to boost engagement and response rates. Let’s get started!

What Is Behavioural Science?

Behavioural science sounds complicated, but is really quite easy to apply. In simple terms, it’s an examination of human behaviour that provides insights into how audiences think and act. The information it provides can be used to understand and predict consumer behaviour, informing strategies for engagement, sales, and more.

How Does Behavioural Science Apply To Marketing?

Well, marketers use their understanding of human behaviour, specifically consumer behaviour and thought processes, to inform their campaign decisions. By developing a keen understanding of consumers’ cognition when moving through the buying funnel, marketers can create, adapt, and plan their content in line with their likely thoughts and actions. The end result? Resonation with and direct response to consumer demands and desires. 

So how can you ensure your campaigns strike the right chord with your target market? Our digital marketing experts discuss the industry’s top behavioural models, theories, and more.

IMG 1416


What Is Choice?

Choice is one of the leading factors in human decision-making. Behavioural science tells us that the presentation of excess choices to a consumer is known to have a significant impact on how they make their decisions. Factors including the number, organisation, and quality of choices, can either guide or overwhelm customers, standing between a sale and no deciding choice being made at all. 

Using Choice In Marketing 

To address this problem, our experts recommend enabling customers to filter their choices to fit their specific needs, for example, using tick-box options featured on e-commerce sites, or limiting their choices to reduce fatigue, for example, offering a limited number of CTAs in your marketing messages.

Why Is Choice Important In Marketing?

In presenting customers with limited options, or allowing them to filter options to their requirements, you prevent them from becoming overwhelmed by choice, making it easier for them to decide and take action. 


What Is Anchoring?

Anchoring is an innate cognitive bias which concludes that when presented with two pieces of information, individuals rely heavily on the first given when making decisions. 

Using Anchoring In Marketing

Anchoring can be used as a powerful tool in digital marketing to influence consumer perception, and as a result, their decision. For example, by presenting the consumer with a service or product set at £350 first, then following with a discounted version of the same service or product (say, for loyalty club customers only) at £250, marketers can create the appearance of affordability. This is because £250 seems more affordable in comparison to the anchor, even though it might still be expensive in absolute terms.

Why Is Anchoring Important In Marketing? 

By mentioning a higher price first, marketers establish a reference point, or ‘anchor’. Subsequent options then appear more affordable in comparison, increasing both their attractiveness to consumers and the likelihood of purchase.

The Authority Principle

What Is The Authority Principle?

The authority principle relates to how individuals are more likely to trust a service or product recommended or endorsed by experts and authorities. 

Using The Authority Principle In Marketing.

Incorporating the authority principle into your marketing strategy via quoting and recommendation can help build the credibility of your service significantly. Alongside expert endorsement, social feed content can be a valued source of promotion – building credibility in the eyes of consumers, and persuading them to convert.

Why Is The Authority Principle Important In Marketing?

Endorsements from experts or influencers leverage the parasocial relationship that consumers often form with them. This can drive the perception of your product or service as trustworthy and credible

Loss Aversion 

What Is Loss Aversion?

Loss aversion is a psychological principle based upon the belief that individuals tend to perceive loss as a more severe consequence when compared with acquiring gains.

Using Loss Aversion In Marketing

Loss aversion in your marketing tactics can take the form of:

  • Offering discounts – e.g. “Save X% off your first purchase” 
  • Free trials – e.g. “Start your free 3-month trial before you buy”
  • Scarcity – e.g. “Hurry, only 3 left in stock”
  • Referral Links – e.g. “Share this with your friends and get X% off your next order”’
  • Framing – e.g. “Don’t lose £200 every year on heating, by investing in loft installation!” rather than “Save £200 a year on heating by investing in loft installation!” 

Why Is Loss Aversion Important In Marketing?

By implementing these tactics into your marketing messages, you highlight a potential loss your customer might experience, and, as a result, frame your product or service as highly desirable. 

The Endowment Effect

What Is The Endowment Effect?

The endowment effect is an emotional bias in which individuals assign an owned object with greater value compared with objects they don’t own, therefore overestimating the object’s market value. The two identifiable causes for the endowment effect are ownership and loss aversion. When we attribute significant value, whether sentimental or financial, to an owned object, we do so because the possibility of losing it is of greater consequence than the prospect of what we can gain. 

Endowment Effect

Using The Endowment Effect In Marketing

Implementing the following tactics to leverage the endowment effect in your marketing strategy can both enhance the sense of ownership your customers have over your service or products and help build an attachment between your customers and your business.


Enabling your customers to visualise themselves wearing or using your products or service can increase their feeling of endowment and prompt purchase behaviour. This can be as simple as allowing your customers to minimise, maximise, and zoom in and out on photos of your product, or use their camera to project your product into their home, therefore, getting a better understanding of your product and how it would fit in their lifestyle. 


Personalising the customer journey can increase the sense of ownership exercised over what your business has to offer. For example, localising websites to the consumer’s language and currency, including personalised welcome messages, and curating web pages based upon previous purchases to inform consumer preferences, are all techniques designed to personalise consumer experience and give a sense of ownership. 

Haptic Imagery

Offering your customers the opportunity to experience your service or product through free trials or a return policy can help them visualise it as their own, with no strings attached. 

By providing a tactile experience where customers can physically interact with your product or service, you can enhance their sense of ownership, at which point the prospect of losing it becomes of great consequence. This prompts them to purchase to continue their perceived ownership and solidify their relationship for good.


The endowment effect journey culminates in the conversion, where it can be utilised to prevent abandoned carts and bouncing. 

By implementing a direct address when encouraging checkout follow-ups like “you forgot this!”, “this would look great on you!” or “this could be yours!”, not only are you encouraging customers to give your product a try, but in using a direct address, you’re building an association between the customer and the prospect of ownership. As a result, you emphasise a potential loss for your customer and reframe your product or service as a solution. 

Social Proof

What Is Social Proof?

Ever heard of the saying “People are sheep”? This theory is emulated in the marketing industry through social proofing or “herding.” 

Social proofing describes an individual’s desire to mimic their peer’s behaviour and use others as a reference point to influence their decisions. It stems from societal pressure on the individual to conform and fit in with the majority by copying what others are doing, buying, and liking. We’re more likely to follow the herd rather than strike out on our own. 

Using Social Proof In Marketing 

So how can marketers tap into the individual’s desire for conformity? The easiest way to make your service or product popular is to make it appear popular to consumers. 

Strength In Numbers

Have you ever gone to buy something online and noticed a pop-up of “x others bought this in the last hour”? This is a popular tactic used to showcase to potential customers how many others have decided to buy this particular item. Using sales figures to display the popularity of a product or service not only simplifies the decision-making process for consumers but utilises the individual’s FOMO (fear of missing out). 

Quality Not Quantity

Quality reviews can have the same, if not more, impact on influencing consumer decisions than quantifiable data. Online reviews and ratings tell potential customers the how, when, why, and what of past customer decisions. As individuals, we’re hesitant to be the first to try something. In sharing our thoughts and opinions on services or products, reviews provide a safety net for new customers to put their trust in your business. Sharing customer reviews gives social proof that your service or product is trustworthy, as proven by loyal customer testimonials. 

Who Bought This Item Also Bought

On many e-commerce websites, potential customers are met with messages like “Customers who bought this item also bought…”. This use of social proof links to the mentality that individuals tend to “follow the herd”. By recommending services or products that similar people have bought, you reassure customers that they’re making the right decision. Recommendations advance customers through the buying funnel by encouraging them to increase their basket spend and take a step closer to joining the ‘herd’.

behavioural science in marketing lead gen world

The Next Step 

Understanding behavioural science in marketing is vital to any successful campaign. By using it wisely, whether employing social proof to build trust or encouraging ownership with the endowment effect, you can strike the right chord with your customers. Now we’ve given you all the information you need! It’s your turn to use behavioural science to take your marketing strategies to the next level. 

Still unsure of where to start? Why not check out our services? Our digital marketing experts have used their behavioural science know-how to boost conversions and attract audiences for hundreds of clients across the UK, and would be happy to help you too.