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6 Principles Of Persuasion You Can Apply To Content Marketing

Jared Atchison
Updated Jan 31, 2022

Content marketing is about informing and persuading a reader to make a purchase. Here's how you can improve your persuasive content marketing.

How do you make your content more compelling? It’s possible to get people’s attention and to convince them to read your content if you use psychological principles. The study of what motivates people can give you a treasure-trove of techniques to influence people and encourage them to work with your brand. 

In this article, we’re going to look at the psychology of persuasion and how to use it in creating effective content. 

The book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Dr. Robert B. Cialdini provides helpful insights into how to effectively persuade others. Its guidelines can be used in content marketing to help businesses reach out to their audience and convert them. 

Businesses know how important content marketing is for growth. Nearly 50% of marketers intend to use content to reach their customers. 

However, many marketers don’t know how to use content marketing. From the same source mentioned above, 63% don’t have documented strategy in place, 62% of marketers don’t know how to measure the ROI of their campaigns, and 60% are unable to produce content consistently. 

Using the principles of psychology to create content can help marketers narrow down on the type of content to make. It will also make content more effective and win you new readers, new conversions, and achieve the goals of your content marketing strategy. 

Let’s start by looking at the key principles of persuasion and how to apply them to content marketing. 


People have a strong and compelling desire to return favors done to them. As a business, you can create feelings of goodwill by essentially doing your audience a ‘favor’ by offering free content. 

This can be in the form of lead magnets. Lead magnets are free offerings such as eBook, checklist, or any other type of content that users can access by entering their email addresses. Since people are getting something of value for free, they are willing to provide their contact details and receive communication from your business. 

Using reciprocity from a strategic level will create a feeling of openness and friendliness towards your organization. You’ll build a relationship with people and eventually convert them to paying customers. 

Creating blogs is also an effective way to employ reciprocity. You provide free content such as information or reports that people can read. 

This is in opposition to the idea that you should get something first and then give something in return. Offering something for free and without any expectations of buying in the future does several things:

  • It calls attention to your brand making it memorable

  • You build goodwill over time

  • Your audience gets the chance to sample what you’re offering, creating trust and confidence which can help them make the leap to becoming paying customers

Reports on lead marketing show that 50% of marketers who use lead magnets to encourage signups report higher conversion rates. If you’re wondering about the kind of lead magnets to offer, consider these: eBooks, webinars, and other free tools are the most popular amongst subscribers with 27.7%, 24.9%, and 21.3% of marketers using them.


People stay consistent with their identities and their past behavior. It’s more than a force of habit, it also reinforces who they believe they are. People are compelled to behave in accordance with their self-perceived identities. 

If a business can interact with a customer once and even a few times, it will be easier to create more engagement with them in the future. It builds a positive association between your audience and brand. There are many ways in which this can be leveraged in content marketing.

One way is by using multi-page forms where a user fills a field, clicks submit or forward, and then fills more fields. Users who fill in one part of a form will continue to fill the rest as it would be consistent with their current behavior.  

Creating an email campaign that showcases a daily streak such as a daily visit to a membership site will remind users of their behavior and motivate them to be consistent. Keeping in mind the principle of consistency, you can create and deliver content to effectively compel people to repeat the desired behavior. 

Social proof

Social proof is one of the powerful tools a business can use to help customers trust a brand fast. The concept of social proof says that people will do what they see others doing. At an unconscious level, they believe that if a number of people eat at a restaurant or buy from a company, then it must be worthwhile. 

When it comes to content marketing, social proof offers a potent way to build trust and a relationship with your audience. Today, people seldom buy anything without doing intensive research online. They look for reviews, blog posts, video content, and more to help them decide whether they should buy a product. A report on online reviews shows that 53% of Americans regard product reviews and ratings as a crucial part of their online shopping experience. 

For businesses, they have the opportunity to create a content strategy with solid outcomes by making use of reviews, ratings, and other forms of social proof. Allow users to leave reviews on your products and to rate them. Share user-generated content on your social media by using posts by your customers featuring your brand or product. Add testimonials prominently on your website, and share users’ videos and blog posts to create social proof.

By showing that other people are using and interacting with your brand, you’ll build trust and create conversions faster. 


People respect and respond to authority and are more likely to comply with people who are authority figures. It’s understandable because many figures and bodies of authority often have specialized knowledge and hold positions of authority.

Businesses often find ways to showcase their expertise on their websites to convince users that they are reliable. It’s done through featuring expert testimonials and by featuring certifications, badges, and other symbols. 

You can create helpful content and build authority by inviting experts to do interviews on podcasts and by asking for expert-written guest posts. It’s also helpful to join with industry associations and to showcase your membership to create an authority-image. 


It’s common knowledge that when people like you, they are more likely to be receptive when you reach out. The key element that creates liking is to find something in common with your audience. 

This is something that businesses know instinctively. We see this where brands focus on values that matter to them and their audience. Sports and hiking brands feature values such as adventure, freedom, and exploration. In a similar way, you can look for areas where you and your audience share a passion. It should be fairly evident and easy to understand. The real effort lies in communicating ways in which you and your audience share common interests. 

One powerful way to do that is to build a community using a membership site platform. Businesses like LEGO, Starbucks and many more deliberately foster a brand community. They build platforms where people can contribute ideas, give feedback, and even influence future products. 

By building a community, you’re co-creating content with your audience. More engagement also leverages the principle of Consistency as users will begin to identify themselves as being people who use your brand. Frequent interactions and shared values will help create liking which results in business growth. 


When people believe that a product is scarce, they are more likely to want them. This is a technique that marketers use since the very beginning to induce faster and effective conversions. 

One way that you can create content that makes use of the scarcity principle is to use a FOMO (The Fear of Missing Out) campaign.  An example of this is offering a discount for a limited time period. You can create a countdown that displays when an offer will get over. 

Another way is to say that there are limited seats available for a webinar or an online course which can boost registrations fast. Use phrases such as ‘One-time offer’, ‘Available only until midnight’, and similar phrases will catch attention and help you achieve your marketing goals faster. 

Boost content marketing with the principles of persuasion

Psychology and marketing often go hand in hand. Marketing, by nature, is all about persuasion and influencing your audience to engage with your brand. It’s extremely useful to understand the principles of persuasion in your content marketing. You’ll be able to leverage content and make it a potent tool to draw in more customers. 

You’ve looked at the six important principles of persuasion and how they can be applied in content marketing. Start working with them now to see better engagement with your audience.  


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Jared Atchison
Co-Founder of WPForms, one of the largest WordPress contact form plugins in the market. I have been programming for over a decade and enjoy creating plugins that help people create powerful web designs without touching code.