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5 Most Powerful Biases Employed by Content Marketing

In this article, you will learn that most cognitive biases are based on either perception or cognition - our ability to experience things and process information.
Human psychology is a complex, in-depth subject that remains a mystery despite all scientific endeavors. While most people consider themselves rational, the truth is different: most people do not act rationally. You may ask: "Why?"

Because human behavior implies emotions, feelings, social interactions, and natural instincts to survive, live, and thrive.

In the course of our lives, we collect knowledge, memories, and experiences that help us process information and make assessments and decisions. Of course, our behavior changes as we get older and develop our presence in society. It's a never-ending story.

It is human nature to be deeply social: we live with, by, and for other people. This is why we tend to use cognitive biases for our decision-making. We are significantly more complicated than computers or machines. And that's just fine.

In this article, you will learn that most cognitive biases are based on either perception or cognition - our ability to experience things and process information.

But first things first. Let's start with a brief definition.

What is a bias?

Cognitive biases are psychological deviations from rationality caused by biases that our brain formulates when it comes to judgment, perception, memory, and decision making.

Although their classification is still subject to controversy and debate, the most common classification of biases is as follows:

  • Decision-making, belief, and behavioral bias
  • Social biases
  • Memory biases
Without further ado, let's talk about how cognitive biases are used in marketing to increase conversions, sales, and profits.

The illusion of truth effect

The illusory truth effect describes the tendency to view statements and information that have already been heard as true.

Regardless of the validity of a statement, people are more likely to agree with a statement after seeing or hearing it several times.

Because repetition creates a feeling of familiarity, people are more likely to believe familiar statements - those that they notice or hear on a regular basis.

The illusion of truth effect happens in various areas, such as politics, marketing, and cognitive advertising. It's possible to take advantage of the illusion-of-truth bias by creating messages that are easy to process and repeating them over and over. Trust comes from familiarity - a repeated commercial message slowly becomes truth or a generally accepted statement.

To apply these cognitive biases to real-world scenarios, marketers use various techniques such as slogans, repeated ads, and retargeting to create a "loop effect" in the customer's mind. This technique can be applied when optimizing content to rank higher in search engines and getting more conversions.

The in-group bias
In-group bias describes the tendency to favor members of a group over outsiders. This cognitive bias, which is deeply rooted in social psychology, urges members of a group to give preferential treatment to others who are perceived as members of a group.

As a result, members of the group can develop behavioral traits that can affect resource allocation, communication, and perception.

Belonging to a social group is a social need that corresponds to two human concerns: our self-esteem and the perception of our social identity.

When used in marketing, in-group bias can be a powerful tool to increase sales, profits, brand awareness, and brand loyalty.

Creating the feeling of belonging to a group is an extremely powerful tool for both B2B and B2C content marketing campaigns. When the in-group bias is used correctly, members of your community will be more inclined to:

  • Spend more and more unconsciously. Research has shown that in-group bias affects resource allocation: people feel better when they spend their money on products or services that connect them with other people. They are also less reluctant to spend money on themselves.

  • Telling others about your business/product/service. People tend to brag about their positive experiences, and group experiences usually bring positive feelings with them. A lot of mentions, especially when linked to your websites, can do wonders to your search engine ranking. Video games rely heavily on the in-group bias to drive average spend per user and overall revenue. Epic Games' Fortnite game hit a staggering average of $58 per user in April 2018, grossing nearly $ 300 million in a single month.

The secret? A huge community supported by thousands of YouTube and Twitch streamers sparked a real passion for the game. This has attracted a lot of new players and made them want to spend real money on in-game purchases that anyone in the Fortnite community can see.

I can help transform your website into a highly compelling, 24/7/365 salesperson who speaks straight to your client's deepest pains + desires.
Authority bias
Authority bias, first identified in Stanley Milgram's experiment in 1961, states that people tend to ascribe more value to the opinion of someone who is authoritarian or considered a specialist.

In addition, the authority bias has also shown that people tend to be more influenced by the information of an authoritarian figure, regardless of the actual content of the information.

Although politicians also use this psychological bias, it is mostly used by marketers as a weapon to convince potential customers.

The most famous example of authority bias can be found in cognitive advertising: how many times have you seen a doctor or dentist trying to convince you that this is the right product for your health?

You guessed it, authority bias strikes again.

This technique is widely used in cognitive advertising and marketing campaigns - just think of the numerous "experts" and "influencers" involved in advertising.

If you manage content marketing for a B2B business, remember that authority can take many forms: you can target authoritative publications or use case studies from reputable companies to improve your brand awareness.

Anchoring bias

The anchoring bias influences the decision-making process and is known for its impact on price negotiations. Humans prefer the first piece of information they receive when making decisions - also known as an anchor - over any subsequent information.

An anchor is essentially a starting point from which all further discussions and negotiations start. It can be a range, a price, or any kind of information. However, prices are the most common example of this psychological bias.

When setting prices or editing new offers and designs, smart marketers can use the anchoring bias to determine whether or not their ideas match customer expectations. This technique can produce great results because the vast majority of consumers are exposed to lots of advertisements and "anchors". It might be time to create your own content marketing anchor!

Hyperbolic discounting bias
Hyperbolic discounting bias is a cognitive bias that leads people to prefer instant payouts over later payouts.

When faced with two positive outcomes, the person develops short-term preferences and is very likely to choose the one that will occur sooner.

As a result, people tend to make inconsistent decisions that their future selves may regret because at the time of the decision-making process they lean towards the current moment.

This bias defines consumer needs and wants. Because we prefer the present, savvy marketers can promote immediate joys and direct needs so we buy now.

For example, paying with credit cards is a common consequence of the hyperbolic discounting bias: many people would rather go into debt to buy a television now (and pay interest) rather than wait until they have enough cash.

In order to effectively use this psychological bias, marketers emphasize two main features:

  • The tangible benefits: What's in it for me now?

  • The ease of use: How easy and how fast is it
Observer-expectancy effect

The observer-expectancy effect is a psychological bias that is defined by a researcher's tendency to subconsciously influence an experiment based on his or her own cognitive bias.

The expectation effect is related to the confirmation error - for example, the tendency to seek out and prefer information that already matches our beliefs leads marketers and researchers to set the psychological bias in their own experiments.

Marketing (and, in this context, digital marketing) requires research and experimentation to drive higher sales, increase conversions, and boost search engine rankings.

As marketers, we develop assumptions and hypotheses based on our knowledge and past experiences.

However, many marketers do not know that their own assumptions can skew or bias their experiments. We often try to prove a certain point and influence our tests in the process.

This is how marketers often conduct inherently psychologically biased experiments: they are trying to prove to themselves that they are correct rather than doing an actual experiment.

Correct use of A/B testing enables marketers to conduct statistically relevant experiments with arbitrary samples and fair allocation. Simply put, A/B testing can be a powerful means of using observer expectancy to your advantage. You can statistically check your assumptions and dramatically increase your ranking, conversions, and sales - or prove wrong and move on to your next assumption.


We are humans prone to cognitive distortions and illusions. Psychological bias is deeply ingrained in the world of marketing. It characterizes the way in which the context and design of information influence consumer judgment and decision-making. Knowing this psychological process is vital for marketers to want to optimize their content, campaigns, and sales funnels.

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