Behavioral science can accelerate lead generation

Face it, your lead machine is tired. You’re hitting the gas, and you’re not getting the speed you once did. To change things up, you’ll need to go deep on new technologies and new media outlets, not to mention deciding what you’re going to say in your promotions.

If you care only about quantity and quality, you should focus some attention on the most relevant pictures and the most meaningful words possible. Why? Because, at the most fundamental level, you’re counting on those images and words to get your prospects to act.

If properly used, the list below can supercharge your lead-generation engine. (Tip: Before you hit the gas, identify the problem you’re trying to solve and who your target prospects are. This will deliver the best mileage for your effort.)

First, consider some behavioral science tools for adding to the quantity of your leads.

Social proof relies on demonstrating how others already believe in you. “Other clients have seen tremendous success with our approach.” That leverages social proof, and “The majority of businesses in your industry are using our platform,” demonstrates in-group relevance.

Trends can be instrumental when you say, “We’ve had double-digit increases consistently for the last three years.” Also, you can get around the general aversion to extremes by following up with, “The majority of our clients select mid-level service agreements.” Help them feel like you’re not exclusively promoting the most expensive products.

Hyperbolic discounting is all about focusing on NOW, and it’s most potent when combined with a commitment device. “Get started for free! You don’t pay until it’s delivered.” Allow your prospect to focus on their experience at this moment and delay the pain of paying until later. Best of all, you get an immediate commitment. Commitment devices, as common as they are today, should be used thoughtfully — even sparingly —  to get the best return.

Remember the O.J. Simpson trial? It offered a great example of the rhyme as reason effect: “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” Rhymes are easy to remember, making them powerful in branding, so consider using a rhyme in your tagline to enhance your lead generation.

Second, consider some behavioral science tools for adding to the quality of your leads.

Most people like variety, so the diversification effect, i.e., offering more than one option, is desirable. However, too many alternatives can create the tyranny of choice, so don’t overwhelm prospects with too many options. The sweet spot is between three and five options, so prospects feel like they have choices but they’re not getting boxed in.

The availability heuristic happens when buyers overestimate the commonness of a product they’re considering because of how frequently they see (or read about) others using it. During Eveready’s Energizer Bunny campaigns, sales of Duracell batteries increased because consumers were reminded to buy batteries. Take advantage of your competitors’ advertising by throwing your own lead gen messages into the mix.

The gambler’s fallacy is the belief that you’ve had so many bad hands in a row that the next one is going to hit it big. You can leverage this by reminding clients that, “You’ve already tried things that didn’t work…it’s time to use our solution. We’ll get it right.”

As subtle as these behavioral science tools may appear, researchers have found extremely powerful results. For example, the request, “Please help the environment by reusing your towels,” garners about 18% response, while the message “Most people who stayed in this room reused their towels,” increases reuse to over 55%. Put some high-octane fuel into your lead generation with behavioral science.

Tim Houlihan is chief behavioral strategist at BehaviorAlchemy, LLC, blending applied behavioral science with experience and knowledge. He is also the co-founder of the podcast Behavioral Grooves.

Online Bonus: The application of behavioral science can up your game by enhancing your business results. Why not take advantage of great ideas that are scientifically proven? Partnering with academic researchers is easier than you think and can be quite beneficial.


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