Click me, to learn even more...It's free!

Psychology of Persuasion: How to write Facebook Ads that convert


If you are like me, you are probably scrolling quite frequently through your Facebook news feed. In fact, we are on average 22 times a day active on Facebook.

What you’ll notice is the huge amount of ads popping into your eyes. No wonder, that Facebook is struggling to fit even more ads into their feed, when there are more than 7 million advertisers active on Facebook today!

That means, that competition is getting fiercer and fiercer and you need to act today in order to make yourself heard.

facebook revenue 2016


So what can we do, to stick out of the crowd and make sure that our ads are converting? Well, besides all the different options of testing and optimizing your ads, you need to get your basics right!

And with basics I mean the way you write your ad copy! In fact, since Facebook has introduced different ad formats, most advertisers have focused on testing out video ads, canvas and what not.

However, you can go as fancy as you want with your ad design or ad format, if you don’t get your basic ad message right, you will not get conversions!

So let me show you, how you can actually write Facebook ads that do convert.

Why every marketer should have a basic understanding of psychology

“A well-known principle of human behavior says that when we ask someone to do us a favor we will be more successful if we provide a reason. People simply like to have reasons for what they do.” - Robert Cialdini

If you are trying to understand the universe, would you start by trying to figure out what all things are made out of and where they come from, or would you start by trying to figure out why we even have those questions and how we can possibly come up with answers?

If you are a fan of the TV show “The Big Bang Theory” or if you have an interest in physics, you might be familiar with the discussion of which field of study has made more contributions to mankind, theoretical physics or neuroscience.

As marketers we are confronted with a similar choice. Do we start by creating marketing messages that we think might resonate well with our audience, or do we start by first trying to understand the human brain and how it resonates to different triggers and exposures?

Over the past years I have attended quite some lectures and have studied different findings of psychological research papers. What I found the most interesting was the that we have basically unlimited possibilities to apply (almost) all psychological findings to marketing.

Now, why is a basic understanding of psychology so important to us?

Let me give you one example. Are you familiar with the triune brain theory? If not, I will elaborate.

triune brain theory

Image source: widerfunnel

The triune brain is a model proposed by the American neuroscientist Paul D. MacLean, which explains the evolution of our forebrain and behavior.

The model states that our forebrain consists out of three different types:

  • The “old brain” or also called the reptilian complex
    Responsible for instinct and survival
  • The “middle brain” also called the limbic system
    Responsible for processing emotional responses
  • The “new brain” also called the neocortex
    Responsible for complex thinking, computing and language

MacLean states that the reptilian complex, is our brain’s attention keeper and main decision maker.

It carries its name from idea that the brains of reptiles and birds entire brains are dominated by similar structures and that it is one of the oldest parts of our brain.

Although the theory receives some criticism about its accuracy in expert circles, to us marketers it can still provide a simplified view of how our brain reacts to different stimuli.

Building on the triune brain model Daniel Kahnemann establishes brilliantly that the “Old brain” still rules, in his bestseller Thinking fast and Slow.

daniel kahnemann

At this point you might be wondering what all of this should mean to you and your marketing campaign. Well, here it is:

Although we might consider ourselves as rational and logical thinkers, fact is that most of our decisions are actually dominated by the instinct of survival and the resulting different emotions.

Our brain needs a lot of energy, in fact it burns 20% of our total energy. Due to this high energy consumption rate, it is optimized to save energy. Which again means that it will not activate any other parts of the brain unless those are necessary for survival.

So that means, that you need to prove that you are worthy of attention.

brain energy consumption

Image source: technologyvista

For you as a marketer luckily this does not mean, that you need to threaten the life of your potential audience, but instead you can implement different techniques and triggers that appeal to our reptilian brain.

According to Roger Dooley, there are 7 tactics you can apply today in order to appeal to the reptilian brain of ours.

  1. Address the pain point of your audience

  2. Appeal to the self-centered nature

  3. Show importance through contrast

  4. Show value tangibility

  5. Focus on the beginning and the end (of an article, commercial…)

  6. Use visuals to stress your point

  7. Strike An Emotional Chord

If you’d like to learn more in detail about how you can actually appeal to our reptilian brain, you can join my free 7 day email course about marketing psychology here.

Get your free 7-day email course

I will send you 7 emails fully packed with marketing psychology knowledge! After the course you will be able to boost your sales rates even more!

This was just one example of why it is so important for us marketers to keep up with psychology and neuroscience in general.

There are many more reasons why you should dedicate at least some of your time to reading up on studies in those fields. You never know what you can apply to your marketing!

My tip for you: Try to incorporate Psychology Today into your reading schedule at least once every two weeks.

I hope, that by now I’ve got you thinking more about that topic, but now let’s dive in and see how we can actually write Facebook ads that persuade people and drive conversions!

Persuasive marketing techniques - 7 principles, are you being influence right now?

When you want to learn how to write convincing Facebook ad copy, you will need to learn more about the 7 principles of persuasion.

robert cialdini

Image source: wikipedia

Robert Cialdini, Regents' Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University, has defined and laid down 7 principles of persuasion, which are as follows:

  1. Reciprocation

  2. Commitment and Consistency

  3. Social Proof

  4. Authority

  5. Liking

  6. Scarcity

  7. Unity

Cialdini first publicized those principles in 1984 in his book called: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.

Maybe you are already familiar with some of those principles, if not don’t worry we will now dive deeper into each principle, together.

Let’s dive in.

Chapter 1: Reciprocation

In short: Reciprocation or also known as reciprocity is a social rule which states that people should return a favor, gift or gesture they receive in an equal and kind manner.

In fact, this rule, as defined in social psychology, is so deeply imprinted in our brains, that we actually feel obligated to follow this rule. Let me explain why and what kind of importance that can have for your marketing efforts.

Have you ever been in the situation, when you invited your friends over for dinner or some drinks and you explicitly told them NOT to bring anything?

But then of course, one friend shows up bringing that expensive bottle of whiskey along. What do you do?

Well, you are probably already thinking about what you can bring along, once you are invited over to that friend’s place, aren’t you?

This simple example, that most likely happened to all of us, already shows how the reciprocity rule actually applies in everyday life.

Let me give you one more example.

In 1971 Professor Dennis T. Regan of the Cornell University, New York, ran an experiment to test if people were more likely to help a person after they received a favor compared to people that did not receive a favor.

dennis regan

Image source: Cornell University

In this experiment Regan asked two strangers to participate in the task of rating different paintings for their quality.

However, one of the two strangers that were supposedly rating paintings, was an assistant of the professor, about which the other one of course did not know about.

During the painting rating process, the assistant went for a 5 minute break, leaving the real “test object” alone in the room.

On his return, the assistant would bring two bottles of Coca-Cola, one for himself one for the other person, claiming that he bought the coke for him as. (the favor).

share a coke

Image source: Coca-Cola

This was the first “testing batch”. With the second group of people, the assistant would also leave the room for 5 mins on a short break, but would return empty handed.

Besides the difference in “buying” a coke for the other person, the behavior of the assistant was identical with both test groups.

Once the original task of rating paintings was over, the assistant of the professor would ask the other person (the test object), if they’d like to buy some raffle tickets to win a new car.

He explained that he was trying to sell those tickets in order to win a contest of his own, in which, if he would be selling the most raffle tickets he could win $50.

Interestingly, the group of people that received a favor, in form of the coke would buy twice as many raffle tickets, compared to the group of people that did not receive a favor!

Knowing about this principle can be quite powerful if you know how to use it.

But, before I show you how you can apply this principle in your Facebook ads, let me walk you through a second and slightly different type of the reciprocity rule!

Reciprocity rule number two - Reciprocal Concession

In my hometown, every Saturday there is a small market in the city center. In this market local farmers and small business owners sell their products.

balingen markt

Image source: city of Balingen

Although bargaining is not really typical in Germany, there are some witted salesmen using a particular technique to convince even the most apprehend of people to buy.

This strategy is called larger-then-smaller-request or also the Door-in-the-Face-Technique. If you haven’t heard of it, don’t worry. I’ll explain.

One time, when visiting my hometown, I wanted to buy a hand made flower pot. As I was inspecting the different ceramic options, the stall owner would approach me, asking if he’d could help me.

ceramic pots

Image source: tonystreeplantation

After expressing my interest in buying a pot, he would point me to a beautiful big pot and mentioned a price, which was truly insane. So I refused.

As I was about to leave and head to another stall, the owner told me, that if I would not be interested in buying this big flower pot, but he doesn’t want to see me disappointed he might have something else, special for me.

With saying that, he pulled out a smaller flower pot from behind his counter and offered it to me for a much smaller price. I bought it.

So what happened here?

The Door-in-the-Face-Technique suggests, that you start out by initially making a big request, which you (kind of) already expect to be refused.

After that offer is refused you will make a second more realistic counter offer. Most people won’t be able to say no to that anymore.

door in the face

Now you could think, that in simple terms this strategy is basically nothing else than dropping the price for a product while bargaining, right?

However, based on my observations and studies I have read, I believe that this technique only truly works, if you also change the product or service you are offering along with the price.

By doing so, you not only drop the price, which could mean that your product is not even worth what you have been asking for initially, but instead you are making the extra effort to even show another (equal) product, for a better price.

Implementing Reciprocation in your Facebook ads

Great! Now that we have discussed the theory of reciprocation, let’s take a look how you can actually implement both of the techniques into your Facebook ads, today!

Technique 1 - The selfless favor
As you recall from above, we need to do our target audience a favor. In marketing terms, I’d say we need to provide our target audience with something extra and special that they perceive as favor.

Step 1
Define your goal, first. — If you believe it or not, this part is actually very crucial. As you recall from above, the principle of reciprocity expects the favor receiving party to return a favor in equal or little higher return.

This again means, that you cannot expect your to make a huge sale for offering something little. So let’s look at that together.

Let’s assume we want to generate a sale out of a cold audience. Before we can go ahead and ask for the sale directly, let’s create a micro-goal. Let’s say we want them to join our email list.

favor to sale

Step 2
Now it the second step, we need to make sure we first offer something valuable before we can ask for an email. We need to create the favor first.

And, please don’t mistake this part with that we are going to address our cold audience with one of the (way too many) download your ebook ads.

No — we first need to do the favor!

If you have done your homework, you probably know exactly what pain points your customers have. So now, we need to create an epic piece of content. This can be any form of content, whatever you like.

  • A blog article
  • An informative video
  • An in-store seminar
  • Or something else

The point here is, that we create something useful, for free AND we ask nothing in return! We don’t ask for the email here.

Step 3
Creating your Facebook ad. Now, head over to your Facebook business manager.

business manager

Then create a new campaign, with the objective Traffic. We want to have as many people as possible click and consumer our new piece of content.

traffic campaign

Next, select your target audience. In the best case you are able to combine a lookalike audience with further data points such as interests or behaviors.

As you have created helpful content that addresses the main pain points of your current customers, you want to make sure you do a favor to people that have the same pain points.

add your audience

Finally, it’s time to create our ad itself! Now this part is very important.

The tricky part about the ad is, that we need to get across, that it is actually a favor we are doing but without screaming the word “favor” into the face of our target audience.

favor definition

If we look at the definition of the word “favor” we can see that a favor is an act of kindness beyond the usual! What I found to work best, is actually stating how much time you have put into this content.

Or what type of research you have done in order to create this piece of content.

At the same time, we also need to communicate what the user is getting out of this content and that it is actually free and no email required!

Here’s how you can do that:

favor ad one

Step 4
Calling in the return favor!Now that we have first provided people with information without any catch. It’s time to ask for something back.

In order to do that via your Facebook ads, you will need to set up a second retargeting campaign, that targets all the people that have visited your piece of content.

If you have published your content on your own website you can create an audience through the Facebook pixel.

Head over to your audience settings in your Facebook business manager.

audience settings

Then create a new custom audience.

create custom audience

And select from your website.

website audience creation

Now, you can add the URL on which you have published your content. And you can target exactly those people that have viewed your content.

adding the website url

Now, getting back to our second Facebook ad. We are now able to target all the people that have viewed our previous piece of content and finally ask in the favor of getting their email.

The wording is again very important. In this ad, we can clearly state that we hope that our previous piece of content has actually helped our audience out.

And that we are personally on a mission to create an email list of awesome people, to whom we can send further insightful and actionable knowledge. And that we’d like you to be on our list!

call in the favor ad

Now by doing this, we have actually applied two techniques in one! First we asked for the favor back, and by stating that we only want “awesome people” on our list, we have applied flattery, which is part of another principle, which we discuss later down this article.

Step 5
Now that we have generated our first leads it is time to convert them to sales. Relying on the same principle, it is time to place another favor, before we can ask for even more.

Assuming, we are selling a product which comes at a higher price, we need to give our newly created leads something for free out of our core offering.

Here are some example of what you could offer.

  • If you are selling a software - Give a free trial
  • If you are selling a premium service - Offer a part of that service for free
  • If you are selling physical products - Send them a tester for free
  • If you are a retail store - Offer your customers free coffee and doughnuts

To do that correctly, here is one example of how you can phrase your Facebook ad.

free gift email

Step 6
Carry home the sale!

Finally, we come to the part where we can ask for the sale. Keep in mind, that our leads have now already received two favors and walked through two “qualification” processes.

That means, that you can now go ahead and ask for the sale quite bluntly, and you will still see great conversion rates at this point.

Again, head back to your Facebook ad account and set up the last ad campaign targeting only the people, that have already accepted your last favor.

Here is how such an ad can finally look like:

buying the software ad

Technique 2 - The Door-in-the-Face-Technique
What I find beautiful about this technique is, that you basically cannot lose at all. As we are starting out with promoting a very high offer, which we already expect to be rejected and then we follow up with a lower offer, either way, we will be most likely closing a lot here.

door in the face flow

So here is how you can include this technique in your Facebook ads.

Step 1
Define your core offer. That is the offer you will propose in the second stage. Make sure, that you offer an attractive bundle for a realistic price.

Step 2
Define your exaggerated offer. This is the offer you will place first and which you already expect to be rejected.

Here it is important, that you do not offer exactly the same product as in your core offer. Instead try to add additional options, services, extras or an altogether different product.

Step 3
Head back to your Facebook ad manager.

business manager

Then create a new campaign. As you do not expect people to convert with this offer at all but you want as many people as possible to see this offer, select Conversions as your campaign objective.

conversion campaign

Then create your ad group and chose your targeting. This tactic usually works best, with an audience that is already familiar with you, such as website visitors or leads. To make sure to reach as many people as possible, optimize for reach.

optimize for reach

Step 4
Time to create your first Facebook ad. In this ad place the harsh exaggerated offer.

harsh offer ad

Step 5
Next, we set up our second campaign. We place this new ad in the same campaign as before.You can just duplicate the current ad group, to target exactly the same people.

In the ad group level however, we will now optimize for conversions.

optimize for conversions

Then we create our ad group, which contains exactly the same audience as we had in our first offer. As we want to reach the people that have already seen the previous ad.

Step 6
Time to create the ad itself. We need to focus on ad copy in this step. The copy is very crucial here.

It’s best, to address the fact that we noticed that our target audience has not responded to our previous offer at all. And henceforth, we have pulled that away and specially curated a new better offer that should solve all they are looking for.

By, addressing the issue and then explaining that we went through extra lengths to create a second offer, we already stimulate the feeling that people cannot say “no” a second time.

second low offer ad

Great! Now we have finished the psychological principle of reciprocation. Before we move on to the next principle, you can take a moment to try to set up such an ad for yourself, or continue reading to explore the next principle.

If you’d like to learn more about Marketing Psychology, you can also join my free 7 day email course, to get even more insights in how to persuade your audience and drive sales.

Get your free 7-day email course

I will send you 7 emails fully packed with marketing psychology knowledge! After the course you will be able to boost your sales rates even more!

Chapter 2: Commitment and Consistency

Perhaps you have been in the situation that you just recently joined a new company and on your first day of work, your new colleagues invite you for some drink in their regular afterwork cocktail bar.

Of course you agree to the invitation, claiming that you are a big cocktail fan, although you aren’t.

Naturally in this situation, we all want to make and leave a good impression, don’t we?

When the waiter comes to take your order, you would instead of ordering what you’d normally take, order one of those fancy cocktails, like your other colleagues.

The time is passed quickly with some chit chat and the waiter returns with your drinks. After you take the first sip you think to yourself that that must be the worst drink you have ever had.

But of course, you don’t tell your newly met colleagues that your drink is awful and you don’t even like cocktails. And faster than you know, you have been going to that cocktail bar ever since ordering one of those (disgusting) cocktails.

cocktails in the bar

Image source: esquire

So, what happened here?

Let’s dissect this example a bit, to get a better understanding of what actually happened.

At first, when you were asked out by your new colleagues you not only agreed to join but you also claimed that you love cocktails.

You committed yourself to being a cocktail aficionado. Once you claimed that you like cocktails although you don’t you probably would like a fool saying that the cocktails at that bar are just not good, as it is the regular bar of your colleagues.

You can also not revoke your statement, that you like cocktails, that would make you look inconsistent. And who wants to be friends with an inconsistent person?

That right there is the psychological principle of commitment and consistency.

Let me give you one more example, to shed more light on the real power of this psychological principle, before we learn how we can actually apply it to our Facebook campaigns.

In 1978 a group of university professors of psychology, among them Robert Cialdini, conducted a research to test the effects of commitment and consistency.

They hypothesised, that when an initial offer is appealing enough and someone committed to that, they would be consistent enough to follow up their words.

In this study they asked first year psychology student to volunteer for a study on cognition. The first “testing batch” of students, was communicated a meeting time of 7am. The second “batch” of students was communicated no time at all.

From the group of students that were aware of the 7am meeting time only 24% of students committed to volunteer.

In the second group, that was not aware of a time, 56% agreed to join. After those people agreed to volunteer, they were communicated the meeting time of 7am and no one backed out!

Interestingly, the morning of the meeting 95% of all the students that committed themselves to volunteer, also showed up.


Now, that we know that people tend to stick with their decision after they have already committed themselves to something, we have a much better base of applying this technique in our marketing.

The low-ball technique

In fact, one popular sales technique, called the low-ball is built entirely around this psychological principle of commitment and consistency.

The low-ball technique states that first you need to create a compelling offer with a low price in order to get people to commit to buying your product.

Once you have the commitment, you will raise the price due to some made up circumstances. It is important however, that you communicate that transparently and that you make it clear, that it is entirely the buyer's choice to proceed with the purchase.

In the online world, we see the application of this technique quite often amongst airplane companies. First you always get a very attractive offer to fly to your dream destination.

Then, once you are already at the checkout page, the price suddenly changes due to “overbookings” or similar reasons.

To make it clear. The application of this technique, does of course not work on everybody and a lot of people will get frustrated with that, however the numbers suggest, that still most people actually follow through on their commitment.

How you can apply commitment and consistency in your Facebook ads

The core principle of this psychological principle, is to get a commitment from your target audience. Once people have committed they are usually consistent and stick to their word.

The tricky part for us marketers here is to phrase our ads in such a way, that they become as personal as a face-to-face chat. Because people like to stick to their commitment, when they can actually be hold accountable for it.

Here is one way how you can adopt this principle to your Facebook marketing.

Step 1
The first thing, we want to do is get a commitment from people. Facebook actually offers quite a nice solution for that — the event.

To create your event, head over to your Facebook page. The choose to create an event.

creating an event

Next add the information for your event. Be as specific as possible here.

You are also able to add co-hosts in case you are organizing an event together with other people. Your event does not necessarily be an offline event, it can also be online.

add the event information

In order to ensure that the commitment actually triggers ensure that you have your guest list set to public. This will increase the commitment effect!

make event list public

Step 2
Now that we have created our event, head back to your business manager and create a new campaign. This time, you want to select “Engagement” as your campaign objective.

engagement campaign

Then choose “Event responses”.

event responses

Step 3
Set up your ad group by selecting an audience that you want to target. Then head on to create your ad.

add your audience

Step 4
Setup your ad. Use your ad copy to make the event sound interesting, highlight exactly why people should attend the event and what they will get out of it. Finally end with the clear call-to-action to RSVP now.

facebook event ad

Step 5
Great. Now we have created our first event and the ad that drives more traffic to it. However, now what we want to achieve, is to ensure that people that are already committing to attend the event will actually turn up.

Don’t forget, on Facebook people are flooded with different offers and invitations all the time, so we need to give our audience a little extra push in order to have this psychological principle working.

We are going to set up one more ad. Targeting all the people that have said they will be going to the event. This ad is basically just a reminder so they don’t forget.

Step 6
Again head back to your Facebook ad manager. This time, we want to create a new campaign and we select the campaign objective of “traffic”.

traffic campaign

Now, in our ad group settings we select all the people that are going to our event.

add your audience

Also, we want to reach the people that are going to our event over and over again, so set your ad optimization to “impressions”, that will make sure people will see the ad as often as possible.

optimize for impressions

Next, what we want to do, is set up a Facebook ad that drives traffic to our Facebook messenger.

By creating a Facebook ad that sends people directly to our messenger, we not only remind them to join our event, but we are now also able to create this personal connection, in fact we kind of get to know the people beforehand, which enforces the psychological principle of commitment.

send to messenger

Now, in your ad copy, make sure that you thank people for reserving their spot in your event, and then invite them to a dialog in order to solve any questions beforehand.

thank you messenger ad

Great, now that we have set up all those ads, we can be sure that people will start to attend our event.

But of course that was just the tip of the iceberg. In the event itself you have the chance to place your sales offer and then retarget all the people that did not purchase right away, with your sales offer.

Chapter 3: Social Proof

This is probably the most well known principle of them all amongst us marketers. Nonetheless, I believe, that although we know about the importance of social proof, quite often we are not really aware of how powerful social proof actually is!

Let me walk you through a couple of examples.

First, we all know those typical comedy shows on TV. Despite if they are fantastic or not that good, there is one thing all of them have in common.

And that is the canned laughter of the audience in the background.

This widely used laugh track was invented by Charles Douglass, an American engineer and appeared in most major TV shows from 1950s onwards.

You probably have noticed the effect of canned laughter on yourself many times. Or even, if you have been at the movies or a stand up comedy show and you did not get one joke, after hearing the audience laugh you start laugh yourself.

This effect or “contagious” laughing is so deeply rooted in our brains, that we instinctively start to at least grin.

By default we start to laugh as our unconsciousness tells us, that is must be funny if so many other people find it funny.

Let me give you one more example. Although the topic itself is rather shocking, the power of social proof which is showed through this study is extremely fascinating.

David Phillips, a sociologist from the University of San Diego, conducted a study in which he compared the number of suicides before, during and after the month of a majorly publicized suicide story in the local news.

He found that the number of similar suicides would increase dramatically in and after the month in which the suicide story would get press coverage. He also found, that if such a story was only spread locally similar suicides would go up in particularly this region and not in others.

His findings were dubbed the Werther effect or also known as copycat suicide.

werther effect

Image source: wikipedia

Although tragic, this study shows the tremendous power of social proof.

The important part about this study, lies in its details. When a suicide happened, suicides of the same demographic of people went up. Meaning if a young man would take his life, suicides of people with similar demographics and even interests would go up in the following months.

What we, as marketers, can take from that study is that we need to use social proof even more, but we also need to think about how we use social proof.

Too often, you will find testimonials on websites of people that all seem to have the same story, but they do not appeal to me as I have a different user profile. So if you want to use social proof correctly, you need to make sure that you have one for each of your marketing personas.

How to use social proof in your Facebook ads

Now we know two things. First, social proof is very effective and second, it is even more effective if people can identify themselves with the people that showcase that (social) proof.

With this knowledge in our pocket this means, that we need to create a lot of different user stories, for our testimonials.

Step 1
Start out by creating a survey of your current customers. It is important, that you try to get many different customer testimonials.

In your survey, do not only go by demographics, but also ask your customers about their personal interests and other things they do besides using your products.

This knowledge is very important to gather, so we are able to create an even closer connection to people.

I found the best way to collect customer data and testimonials, is by going the extra mile.

First go through all your customers and cluster them by the information you have available. Such as place of residence, gender or age.

Second prepare a question sheet in Google Forms. Then, call the customers you have already pre-selected.

customer survey

Your goal would be, not only to gather more knowledge about your customers but also to get as many testimonials as possible. At the best, at least one per age and gender.

Step 2
Now that you have collected quite some qualitative data about your customers and you are equipped with a variety of different insights and testimonials.

Assuming you have been very successful and you got quite a lot of testimonials, you can now go ahead and cluster the people even further down.

Now, we don’t only want to give testimonials based on gender and age, but we also want to look for things such as jobs, interests or hobbies. Something more people can identify with.

Let’s walk through one example together.

Let’s assume that one of our testimonials is Peter. Peter is 43 years old and has two young kids. He lives in the suburbs of a big city and has a job in the middle management of a local manufacturing company.

In his free time, he loves to play golf and go on cycle tours. He takes his health very seriously and he is open to learning new things every day.

marketing persona - peter

With this information, we already have quite some tools on how we can use and especially target this testimonial.

Step 3
Create your audience. The first thing you want to do, is set up a 1% and 2% lookalike audience of all your customers.

A lookalike audience is a group of people that have a similar digital footprint like the group of people whom you are using as your core (original) audience.

Facebook is creating those lookalike audiences automatically based on their data.

To create this audience, head over to your audience settings in your Facebook business manager.

audience settings

Then click on create audience in your audience settings. Next select lookalike audience.

create lookalike audience

Now you just need to pick the original audience and the country in which you want the people to live in.

Then you need to select the percentage of lookalike you want to create. The range goes from 1% - 10% of the total population of the country the audience is living in. 1% being the closest match to your core audience.

In this case, I recommend to create a 2% lookalike audience, because we are going to drill further down on that.

creating a lookalike from a source in facebook

Step 4
Creating your campaign. Now, as we are going to use those ads to target a cold audience, that we want to warm up to us, we select the campaign goal of traffic.

traffic campaign

Next in your audience settings, we select the 2% lookalike audience we have created from our customer core audience.

add your audience

Now, comes the fun part. We are going to further drill down in this audience until we actually reach a group of people that is very similar to our testimonial person.

To do that, we first circle down on gender and age. Which we put to male and between 40 and 49. This leaves a little bit room up and down.

select age and gender

Then we can further enrich this audience by let’s say only targeting cities which have a similar population of the city he lives in. (you could even go deeper and create a local campaign only based on the city people live in)

add bulk locations

Next, we want to enrich the targeting with his profession and particular hobbies and interests. So we can put in golfing and cycling as interests and middle manager as a job.

Also, we can add parent of young kids to further narrow down the targeting.

adding interests

Great! Now we have gotten particularly close to a target audience that most likely has a lot in common with Peter.

Step 5
Next, we need to create our ad. In the best case scenario you have a dedicated testimonial page on your website, that gives you room to add article like testimonial stories or even videos.

This is where you should link to from your ad.

The ad image should be nice one of the person. In the ad copy, make sure that you write up a short or long copy (best to A/B test that), of the testimonial.

It is important that you mention all the important facts that will make people associate themselves with Peter. So make sure to mention that he is a father, works a 40h office job, lives in the suburbs and is an avid golfer and cyclist.

Only once all those things are clear, move on to make sure that people understand he is a big fan of your product. Finally invite them to read more about Peter’s story.

peter testimonial ad

This is how you can leverage the psychological principle of Social Proof.

Chapter 4: Liking

The principle of liking is probably not the one that would knock your socks off, if I’d tell you that you are more likely to trust and eventually buy from a person you like, compared to a person you don’t like.

However, before I tell you, how you can leverage that principle for your marketing let me give you one extremely successful example of the usage of this principle.

You probably know the police interrogation technique of “Good Cop Bad Cop”. Besides the often times quite hilarious interpretation of this technique in movies, it is actually applied in police interrogation.

This tactic is based to some extend on the psychological principle of liking. When a suspect is called in for questioning there are two interrogation officers present.

The officer in the role of the “Bad Cop” starts the interrogation. In the situation in which the called in person is quite, the intensity and especially the aggressiveness in the “Bad Cop” seems to climb exponentially.

A felt lifetime of yelling, shouting, swearing punching the table and throwing around chairs would pass until the “Good Cop” has to “intervene”.

Apparently concerned for the safety of the interrogatee the “Good Cop” tries to calm the “Bad Cop” down and convinces him to leave the room for some time, to get a coffee or that sort.

Once the “Bad Cop” has left the room, the “Good Cop” starts his role. Please note here, that the “Good Cop”, if possible quite often shares some similarity with the suspect. Say, it could be ethnicity, age or gender.

In the eyes of the interrogatee the “Good Cop” has already gained in liking as he or she has done the interrogatee a favor by convincing the “Bad Cop” to leave the room. From now on the “Good Cop” would try to build up a relationship with the interrogatee trying to build a connection.

This technique works quite well and is used by police enforcement around the world, to gain the answers they are looking for in the interrogation rooms.

A closer look at the principle of liking

In order to understand and figure out, how we marketers can leverage liking, we need to take a closer look at what actually triggers liking.

According to the research of Robert Cialdini and other sociologists, there are 5 different factors that play into the principle of liking.

  1. Physical Attractiveness
  2. Similarity
  3. Compliments
  4. Contact and Cooperation
  5. Conditioning and Association

Physical Attractiveness
I hate to break the bubble of all the people that are saying, only what’s inside counts, but research shows that good-looking people have an edge over others — at least in the short run.

Research has shown, that we automatically and subconsciously associate positive and favorable traits such as talent, kindness, honesty and intelligence with good looks. This effect is also known in psychology as the halo effect.

As, we have seen already in the last psychological principle, Social Proof, we like and tend to be more open to people that are similar to us.

Maybe you have wondered at point in your life, why so many couples always seem so alike. Well, the fact that we like people that have either similar traits or interest plays a huge factor in this.

While we like good-looking people or people that are similar to us, there is one type of people we like even more.

People that like us. Yes, as we already learned at the beginning of this post due to our reptilian brain we are quite self-centered and what would we like more than people that are polishing our ego. And well, compliments are just that.

Contact and Cooperation
Us humans, we are family people. Due to this it is also deeply rooted in us that we like things and people we are already familiar with.

Some research has shown, that the more often we are exposed to one person or brand the higher is the chance that we like that person or brand over time.

However this research has to be take with a grain of salt. Because other research has shown, that if we are exposed to a person or brand under a negative situation or with negative feelings over and over again, the liking does not increase, but in contrast the disliking does.

Nonetheless, if we are exposed to a person over and over again with whom we have to cooperate or work together our liking is increasing over time.

You probably know such a situation from work, school or university when at the beginning you did not like a peer but after sometime you started to like that person.

Conditioning and Association
If you are a sports fan yourself or if you know people that are huge fans of a sports team, you probably noticed the fact that after a game is won, fans would run singing through the streets telling everyone: “We won!”.

However if their favorite team lost a game. The words would commonly change to: “They lost!”. Notice the difference?

We love to associate ourselves with positive facts and situations. The reason is that people tend to perceive other people or brands much better if they are associated with good things. No one likes to hear bad news. And commonly the messenger of bad news is disliked as well.

Implementing the principle of liking in your Facebook ads

Now, while we understand how the principle of liking can be played and used in a face-to-face situation, the question remains, how can we actually leverage that as a business?

In order to adopt the principles of liking to your business you will need to become a bit creative of how you interpret each of the points that play into a likeable personality.

When we talk about good-looks in your company sense, that could be your product, packaging and website. Make sure you have a nice design!

In similar ways you can think creatively about how you can incorporate all the different points into your company core.

But now let me show you, how you can create Facebook ads, that people like.

Step 1
One of my favorite areas of focus, is lead nurturing and relationship building with potential customers. To do that, we are going to focus on a warmish audience, that has already visited our website.

Now, that we know who we are going to address, we need to figure out what we want from them. In this case let’s say, we want people to sign up to our email newsletter.

In order to build the trust and liking from our audience we need to create an ad that incorporates at least some of the likable features.

Step 2
Define the features you can use and how you can use them.

  • Attractiveness
    We make sure that our image is well designed and ad copy well formated
  • Similarity
    As it’s not that likely that our company is similar to some people, we will create a story of one of our subscribers that is similar to our target audience
  • Compliment
    Yes, we will definitely implement that, but very subtly.
  • Contact and Cooperation
    This, although tricky, we can regulate through our targeting and optimizing the campaigns on impressions
  • Conditioning and Association
    We want to try to get that point across as well in our ad copy, by making sure that we associate our newsletter with the success story of our subscriber

Step 3
Creating the ad. Again it’s time to head back to your Facebook ad manager.

business manager

Then create a new campaign, with the campaign objective: Conversions.

conversion campaign

Next, in your ad group settings make sure that you select the custom audience that has visited your website. And then set your optimization settings to impressions, as we want to make sure our ad is seen as often as possible at the beginning.

optimize for impressions

Step 4
Time to create your ad. The ad copy itself is very very important in this case as we need to make sure that we achieve a kind of liking.

This means that we will now showcase the similarity, compliments and the association. To do that we create as mentioned above a user story.

Here is how that can look like:

liking ad

This is just one way of how you can implement liking in your Facebook ads itself.

Now, we have reached half of this blog post and we have three more principles to go. Take this chance, to also try some of the principles explained above already and let me know in the comments below how they work for your and if you already found some more ideas of how to use the principles of persuasion.

Also if you’d like to learn more about marketing psychology and in particular how to appeal to our reptilian brain then join my free 7 day email course.

Get your free 7-day email course

I will send you 7 emails fully packed with marketing psychology knowledge! After the course you will be able to boost your sales rates even more!

Chapter 5: Authority

In 1963 psychologist Stanley Milgram from the Yale University, Connecticut, published his findings on his study on the obedience of authority which he started two years earlier.

In his study, today also known as the Milgram Experiment, Milgram asked strangers around the globe to take part in his study. The testees were told that they would participate in a memory study.

milgram experiment

Image source: wikipedia

The study itself consisted out of three people. The experimenter, who would be the professor, the teacher, who would be the actual testee and the student, who would be an actor, but the testee did not know that. The experimenter and the teacher would be in one room while the student was in another separated by a one way mirror window.

Milgram, told testees who would be the teachers, that in order to study the effect of memory they would need to ask the student (an actor) a series of questions, which the student memorized beforehand.

In case the student was not able to give the correct answers they should give them electroshocks. The shocks would increase in intensity with each wrongly answered question and they were not supposed to stop until the professor told them to.

Now, while the electroshocks started out mild, they would increase intensely in voltage. The highest shock level the teacher could give was 450 volt, which starts to breakdown the skin and cause actual harm.

Here is what was actually being tested. The testee thought they would give real electroshocks, however there was no electricity connected. With each “shock” the teacher (testee) would give, the student (actor) would start to scream louder and louder in parallel to the increased shock levels.

Before the study started psychologists assumed that only one out of a thousand people would be willing to continue giving electroshocks until the end even if the experimenter (professor) insisted.

However, the reality was surprising and shocking. In fact 65% of testees were willing to give the fatal final shock. Although almost everybody paused and questioned the experiment when confronted with the (fake) pain of the student, only a few people actually stopped and walked out.

Most people would follow the orders of the experimenter until the end.

Now, to prove that people would follow authority and are not just sadistic, Milgram would switch positions. He the experimenter would take the place of the student and the former experimenter was replaced by the student.

Now the person with authority would take the electric shocks. Again the experiment started with the same questions and this time the experimenter would say he did not know the answer.

The results were astonishing. No one of the testees gave the fatal and last electroshock. Everyone stopped as soon as the experimenter said the pain was getting too much.

This and other studies show that people tend to “blindly” obey to authority often even without questioning. But now let’s take a look at how we can leverage that for our Facebook ads.

Using Authority in your Facebook ads

Now that we know how powerful authority can be let’s have a look at how we can use that in our Facebook ads.

Using authority in your ads is probably not a thing you can start doing from scratch, because authority is definitely something that needs to be earned. But here are some things you can focus on right away and build it up over time.

Let’s have a look at what people can see of you right away that shows some authority.

talking about this
likes and friends

There are four factors you want to keep an eye on.

First, the core of Facebook itself. Likes. The more likes you have the higher will be your authority — at first glance.

Second. Engagement. You can have all the likes you want, if you don’t have any engagement chances are high that either the likes are fake or that no one likes what you are saying and you don’t even show up in their newsfeed anymore.

Third. Reviews. Depending on your page type, people have the option to leave a review about your business. If you have reviews enabled, I highly encourage you to start collecting them.

Fourth. Verification. If you have a company Facebook page, you can get your page verified quite easily. That will show the world, that your page is the original one.

If you have a personal Facebook page, you will be awarded with a blue verification star by Facebook based on a criteria of factors such as like count, engagement and actual real world authority status.

But what can you do to convince people, that you know what you are talking about when no one knows you yet?

Step 1
Think of the current elements of authority that you already have. For example, have you been covered in any news article? Do you have happy customers willing to take a short video testimonial for you?

Or did you work with any known brands, and you are allowed to use their case studies and logos?

Well, if any or similar is true for you, you are in luck. We can work with that.

Step 2
It’s about the strategy! Now in this example, let’s assume a third party news company has written an article about our business. In addition we have been working together with one well known brand and we have convinced one of our happy customers to take a short video testimonial — we are in luck.

With such a solid base of content, we can create a nice series of ads to create authority amongst our target group.

First, we are going to show people an ad linking to the news article about us. This will establish a nice third party and authoritative impression about our company.

To be able to retarget people that read this article, we need to link the ad to our own URL and 301 direct this traffic to the news article page. Like that we can track traffic with our Facebook pixel.

press article flow

Second, people that have interacted with our first ad, will now be shown the second one. Which is pointing to a case study with the well known brand for which we have worked.

Again, we can track this traffic.

Third. People that have now also visited that page, will be shown the ad with our customer testimonial. This adds the final layer of trust into our company.

After this, we are able to place an offer or invited them to have a chat with us. And this is how the whole process will look like:

sale flow of authority

Chapter 6: Scarcity

How many times did it happen to you, that you were just window shopping and some nice product caught your eye.

However you were not quite ready to buy it right away. But just as you, were thinking about the different reasons if you should buy it or not, a salesperson would walk up to you and mention casually, that there are only like 3 pieces left of that product.

Just by this little comment, your blood pressure started to rise and your thoughts suddenly start to whirr around and you can’t get one clear thought anymore.

So what did you do? Most likely you just decided to buy it right there.

cookie jar

This is the effect of the scarcity principle. This principle is deeply embedded in our minds and simply put, us humans, we automatically place a higher value on things that are scarce compared to things that are abundant.

Let me give you one more example, to stress how deeply rooted our reactance to the principle of scarcity is in us.

In 1977, Sharon Brehm and Marsha Weinraub from the University in Kansas and Tampa University published their findings on a child psychological study on physical barriers and the psychological reactance in two year old children.

The study group of young boys and girls always entered a room with their mothers in which they would find two equally attractive toys.

The toys were always placed in such a way, that one of the toys was behind a see through plexiglass and the other one in front of it.

For one testing group the plexiglass, was quite low so there was not really a barrier restricting the access to the toy behind it. The other testing group would face the same plexiglass but this time, it was much higher and would restrict direct access to the toy.

Brehm and Weinraub found, that as soon as the barrier was high enough to restrict direct access the toddlers would make contact with the restricted toy two times faster by going around the barrier.

This study, and there are many more, proofs how important the principle of scarcity is and that we marketers should definitely consider incorporating this principle more often.

How to use scarcity in your Facebook ads

Now that we know, that we should use scarcity to increase our conversions let’s take a look of how we can implement that easily into our Facebook ads.

There are a couple of ways how you can communicate scarcity effectively, two of my favorite ones are the time limitation and the quantity limitation.

First, let’s look at how you can use the time limitation in your Facebook ads.

Step 1
Head over to your Facebook ad manager.

business manager

Step 2
Then you want to create a new campaign with the objective of conversion.

conversion campaign

Step 3
Once you are creating your ad group, you are able to enable the offer option and create your new offer.

Make sure, to add as much detailed information as possible and set an expiry date, which will be the time based trigger of scarcity.

create facebook offer

Step 4
Once you have created your offer, head on to set up your ad. As you are promoting a new offer you only have the text above the image left.

Make sure you highlight, that this is an exclusive offer for a limited time only!

offer ad

Great, now we have covered the first option that you can use on Facebook. Let’s take a look at the second option: The quantity based scarcity.

Step 1
What we want to do, is create the effect that the product we are selling is getting bought very quickly and we cannot guarantee how long it we will have it in stock.

To do this, we are going to create one Facebook ad which will be updated regularly showing people, that our product is getting sold out, fast. Here is how the process looks like:

scarcity flow

Step 2
Again, head back to your Facebook ad manager and create a new campaign with the object of conversions.

conversion campaign

Step 3
In your ad group settings, select the people that you want to target and then importantly, first optimize your campaign on reach! You’ll want to have as many people as possible see your first ad.

optimize for reach

Step 4
Now, move on and create your ad. Be wary, that it’s again all about your ad copy. Make sure that you get right to the point and let people know, that you only have a limited amount of products in stock.

ticket ad one

Step 5
Assuming, that you have had now your ad running, it is time that we change some settings in there. Depending on your target audience size you will need to adopt the timing of when you want to change those settings. I’ll recommend that you at least have 70% of your total audience reached.

First, we want to change our ad optimization in the ad group and change that from reach to impressions. Now, we want to have the same people see our updated ad as many times as possible.

optimize for impressions

Step 6
Now go to your ad settings, and add a short paragraph above the original text stating: UPDATE.

scarcity ad 2

Step 7
Now, we do the same game again. This time look for your frequency, before you change your ad settings. Try to get the frequency up to 5 if possible. That means, that on average a reached person has seen your ad 5 times.

Now, change your optimization goal, to conversions. It’s time to get those final sales now!

optimize for conversions

Step 8
Again, go to your ad settings and add one more paragraph above the text, stating a new update. Now you will again decrease the amount of items left.

scarcity ad 3

You can repeat this principle more times until you reached zero products in stock. However make sure, that your website is reflecting the same number otherwise people will feel cheated!

Chapter 7: Unity

Do you love your family? Most likely you do. Would, you also agree that you would go to great lengths in order to help your family members in any tough situation? Most likely you’d agree.

family image

We all want to belong. We all want to be a part of something, a community, a group, a family. The feeling of belonging is deeply rooted in us and Robert Cialdini called it the principle of Unity.

In his research he found that this feeling of unity is so strong in us, that it can be used of influence people, if applied correctly.

Cialdini, conducted one research in which he wanted to test the compliance of his students and their parents if he asked both to fill out a questionnaire.

As expected most students filled out the questionnaire but their parents mostly did not. Cialdini then tested in another group the same experiment with a twist.

This time he added, that if the parents would fill out the questionnaire as well their children would be awarded one extra point during the semester. However insignificant that was, the response rates of parents went up to 97% from previously below 20%!

Seems like we all want to help out our family!

But how can we leverage that idea for marketing?

Roger Dooley added an interesting fact to that principle. How about, instead of us trying to give our would be customers something for free, we’d give something for free to their family members?

Other research has also shown, that the feeling of togetherness can be created and stimulated, through community building or also simply by using words asking people directly for help.

If you allow people to help your out or advice you, they are automatically part of what you are doing and the feeling of unity is stimulated.

How to use unity for your Facebook ads

While I am not going deeper into the topic of community building here, I’ll show you one way of how you can leverage the principle of unity.

Step 1
Define what we want to do. It is our goal, to stimulate the feeling of togetherness and working for the same cause in our target audience. At the same time, we can use this to generate Facebook Messenger signups.

Step 2
Head back to your Facebook ad manager. And create a new campaign with the objective of traffic.

traffic campaign

Step 3
In your ad groups settings select your target audience. In this case I recommend selecting a custom audience that has already been in touch with you, such as website visitors.

add your audience

Step 4
In you ad settings, instead of selecting a website you want to send traffic to, select your messenger.

send to messenger

Then head on to add your Facebook ad copy. Now, make sure, that you ask people to give you direct advice or to help you out, with how you can improve your customer service or product line even better.

unity ad copy

Doing, this will give you a boost in messenger signups, and you can start to build a long lasting relationship with your audience.

Once you have them in your Facebook messenger, you can also set up a full automation sequence to convert them to customers. Read this article to learn how.


Congratulations! You made it to then end. I know this has been a super long post, but I wanted to add as much information as possible to show you the importance of psychology and marketing and give you some tips on how to leverage it.

Because today, there are more and more people starting to push ads on Facebook, which makes standing out from the crowd even more important.

This also means, that it is not anymore about IF you are using a channel but instead it is about how GOOD you are using one channel.

And as you can see, a good way to get started in beating your competition is by incorporating the 7 psychological principles of influence we have discussed in length.

By paying a bit more attention to your ad copy and what effect it may have on your audience, you will see tremendous boosts in conversions and interactions!

In the end, we are all human and we all can be influenced – and now you know how! 😉

  • July 23, 2017