The Psychology of Great Advertising Online





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A Metaphor For Your Marketing…


OK, let’s say you’re in a supermarket parking lot. You’ve done the shopping with your wife and you’re returning to your car with your loaded shopping cart. Out of the corner of your eye you see an elderly woman standing next to her car – and clearly in some distress. She’s pressing the button on her keyless entry control with both thumbs – but the door’s not opening.


“let me see if I can help her” you say to your wife and pass the cart over to her. You walk across the lot and approach the old lady. She’s clearly nervous when you approach her, but willingly hands over the device. You press the button and note the led does not light up. So you split the casing to have a look inside.


The problem’s obvious. A small wire has detached itself from the battery terminal. You slip it back onto the terminal and press the button again – the door opens.


The old lady’s looking at you in wide eyed astonishment. She just cannot believe what you’ve just done. Her initial apprehension’s completely gone. She now sees of you as some kind of cross between St. Peter and an MIT  graduate. She thanks you effusively and drives away with a big smile on her face.


Now, that experience was pretty awesome right? It’s always great to help someone out. But it’s also a perfect metaphor for advertising online. As marketers, we seek out people with a particular problem and help them solve that problem. We overcome any initial apprehension they might have about us – by presenting a solution to their problem.


We lead with a solution.


So when you put out a capture page – if you’re asking somebody to give you their email address in exchange for a piece of information… you’re doing it wrong. You’re not thinking about it correctly.


What you should be doing on your capture page or website… when you ask somebody for their contact details is offering to solve a problem for them. And if solving that problem is important enough to them to make it worth the risk of giving their information away to somebody they don’t know – then you will “capture” their email address.


Just like the old lady in the parking lot! Despite her fears of being approached by a complete stranger – and a man at that – her problem was so big that she was willing to take the risk and engage with you in the hope you could help her.


The same process applies to advertising


advertising online. Diff between sales and marketing


It’s the exact same psychology when you’re selling something. When you offer a product to a customer, you should be offering to solve a problem for them.


And that problem has to be big enough in their eyes to justify spending money on solving it. They also have to have a pretty firm belief that you can help them solve that problem.


Do they have absolute assurance that you can help them solve that problem? No they don’t.


But the likelihood that you can is enough for them to be willing to part with their money – to take the risk. Because they have a problem and they need a solution. And that’s what defines the difference between sales and marketing.


Most people think that what we do with advertising online is sales… and it really isn’t.


What we are actually doing is marketing


advertising online. Don't convince


In the case of the woman, you didn’t have to sell her on talking to you and you didn’t have to sell her on being helped. You already knew what the problem was. You could tell from a distance.


She was having trouble getting into her car, so it probably had something to do with her keyless entry device, so you just approached her.


She had an important problem she couldn’t solve herself. So despite her apprehension and reservations, she handed over the device, engaged with you and was willing to let you help her.

That’s what marketing is!


You identify a common problem in your target market… then advertise the solution to that problem.


In one-on-one sales or prospecting, you’re having a conversation with people. You are hoping they will tell you enough about themselves for you to identify a problem or a desire in their life that might connect with what you’re selling.


In marketing, you can’t do that. You can’t engage in that conversation.


You have to already know what the problem is.


And that’s where advertising comes in.


I told you earlier about what should be happening on your capture page or opt in. You should be advertising a solution to a specific problem.

So when you’re advertising, you’re actually looking for people that probably have the problem which your product or service can solve. You’re looking for that old lady in the parking lot.

So lets see how this works in the different places where you might be advertising on the internet.



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We’ll start with “pay-per-click” advertising psychology. (Bear in mind that it’s extremely difficult to get ‘home-based business’ ads approved in Adwords. In other niches or markets you should be fine.)


Google Adwords and Bing Ads are the two biggest search based advertising platforms. They’re the two main places people go to on the internet to find solutions to their problems.


So what happens when somebody goes onto Google or Bing to find a solution to their problem?


They usually start by typing their problems into the search engine…

  • How do I fix X, Y, or Z?
  • How do I find this?
  • How do I cure this?
  • How do I get more leads for my business?
  • How do I build a website?


Google and Bing will display your ads to people who use specific words when they type their query into the search engine. These specific words are called keywords and you – as an advertiser – specify which keywords you would like to trigger your ads. Search advertising is keyword based.


So it’s really easy to find targeted prospects on search engines, based on the keyword terms they use.


After all…

They are explicitly telling the search engine what problems they want solved.


All you do is “bid” on the keywords you want and pay a predetermined fee every time someone clicks on your ad. When someone does that they are directed to your capture or sales page. You then offer them a solution to their problem in exchange for their email – or try and make a sale directly.


You don’t need to mess around here. The psychology’s simple. Your prospect has pitched up at your door and asked you for something… so sell it to them or collect their email.


You do need to be sure that you are offering a solution. Your landing page should be clean, clear and have the right information. You need to make them feel they have landed in the right place. But it’s all pretty simple.


Other places on the internet are not so simple.



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Advertising on social media needs a different approach. It’s deeper and more sophisticated than advertising on the search engines.


With social media, the psychology is more nuanced because people there aren’t commonly searching for solutions to a problem… They are there for a variety of different reasons.



You have to target them according to their interests


advertising online. People don't like to be advertised to


Using Facebook as an example – when you place an ad you are given a sophisticated interface where you build the different components of your ad.


You start with the ‘creative’ where you enter the text and images you want to use. Then you specify where you want your ads to be displayed by device and platform.


Next you move to the really important section where you start to build your audience. You are given a range of demographic options – location, language, age, sex etc.


From there you move to ‘Interests’. This where you really define who you want Facebook to show your advertisement to. 


Here you dive into the enormous database of information that Facebook has collected about it’s billion + users. It’s not an exact science and nowhere near as simple and direct as keyword targeting.


It’s also far more sophisticated. Here’s an example:


Let’s say you’re in the network marketing space and trying to target people in that space. You know their interests will likely include network marketing leaders and gurus. So you might type ‘Ray Higdon’ into the search bar. He’s a big network marketing guru. If his audience on Facebook is available as an interest, his name will appear and you can select it to add to the interests you want to target.


You can also target books, periodicals, websites, companies and a host of other options. If you want to go deeper than that Facebook offers multiple other options like income, education, ethnicity, job titles etc. Far too much to list here.

So… as you can see, advertising on social media (especially Facebook) is a whole lot more complicated and nuanced than PPC advertising. First you have to find your audience. And once you’ve done that you need to find their most pressing problems.


If the interest you’re targeting on social media is broad – for example network marketing – you have to devote proportionally more effort into finding their big problems. Because chances are… there will be quite a few of them. Once you’ve found them you’ll need to segment your advertising into campaigns, each dealing with a different problem and offering appropriate solutions.


You’ll find a whole article devoted to Facebook ad targeting here.


These campaigns will sometimes require you to create separate audiences for each of them.


And before you start actually building ads for social media audiences you need to get to grips with a whole new advertising approach.


The psychology of advertising on social media


People on social media are not by definition looking to buy anything or be advertised to.


And Facebook themselves are obsessively concerned with their users’ experience – because users are their bread and butter. So if you get ‘salesy’ ‘hypey’ or ‘spammy’ as an advertiser, you will irritate Facebook users and Facebook will close you down and block your ad account.


You don’t want that to happen.


Facebook wants you to advertise in a way where your adverts look as natural as possible in their user’s news feed. They also want their users experience – when they click on an advert – to be valuable and enjoyable.

Here’s what they say:


“Our goal is to make our ads as interesting and valuable as the organic content that you find on Facebook,” said Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and CEO, “to have more people find ads useful so businesses can engage effectively with our community and grow”.

He also stated that the company’s goal is to reach a point where the ads are “as relevant and timely as the content your friends share with you.”

Said Sandberg, the chief operating officer: “Our goal is that every time you open News Feed, every time you look at Facebook, you see something — whether it’s from consumers or whether it’s from marketers — that really delights you, that you are genuinely happy to see“.


OK, they haven’t hit those goals yet. And they’re not going to block you if your ad is not full of baby deer and fairies.


But don’t get into an exercise of seeing how far you can push Facebook before they block your ad (or you). You can advertise very effectively on Facebook – or any other social channel – by leading with value. It’s called Native Advertising.


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The term “native” might be confusing. What it means is that the advertising should look and behave like it “belongs” where it’s placed in social media. It’s native in the sense that natives of any country look like and behave like they belong in that country.


So your ad should look and feel like it belongs in the Facebook news feed or wherever you choose to place it.


It starts with the ad itself. Your headline would not say “Buy This” or “85% Discount” or “Miracle Cure”. Instead it offers to solve a problem you know your audience has. Something like “How to get readers for your blog” or “20 easy ways to build your Google ranking”. Then you use the other text sections in the ad to flesh the problem out a little… so the readers know the solution is what they’re looking for… and that you know what the problem is and how to fix it.


And when they click your ad, make sure they’re not directed to a landing page or an opt in. They must be sent to a blog post or article which delivers exactly what your ad promised. This is important.


Also make sure there’s a similar ‘feel’ to the image and text in the advert and the design and content of the post or article it leads to. This builds trust and credibility. Remember… when somebody clicks your ad they have a subconscious expectation of what their click will lead them to. Don’t disappoint them.


You have to effectively tell them how to solve their problem in a clear and understandable way. Your advice has to be comprehensive, detailed and implementable. It has to contain valuable information which hopefully is new to them. Don’t just rehash something you’ve found on someone else’s blog. Get more information on creating great content here.


At the end of the article go right ahead and offer them something which adds more value to what they’ve just learned – in exchange for their first name and email. A report, a mini course, templates – something they’ll actually want. If they’ve got value out of your content and they want your lead magnet – they will sign up.


You can find a wealth of online advertising content on our newsfeed here.


Also have like and share icons at the bottom of your page and ask them to do that for you too.


To conclude…


When you’re advertising online… the psychology you use is different to what you would use when you’re advertising elsewhere. However you choose to do it…


advertising online is always… 


  • Finding people with a particular problem
  • leading with a solution to that problem
  • Helping them solve that problem


And that’s the fundamental truth behind how Internet advertising works


advertising online. DNA


If you don’t have this in your DNA, read this over and over and over again until it makes complete sense to you. Then approach your Internet advertising with this new mindset and make a paradigm shift.


Know that you are actively seeking people with a particular problem or set of problems that you already have a solution for.


So you don’t ever have to convince anybody that they need your stuff.


They’ll work that out for themselves very quickly.


So go right ahead and use this psychology to improve the ROI on your online advertising. Remember… You are concentrating on offering solutions to problems. And where you do that is in your headlines… to pull readers into your ads. If you need help on headlines – there’s a  great free headline formula package here. There’s also some thoughts on different approaches to copywriting here.


I will shortly be telling you exactly how to lead with a solution in your ad copy. Subscribe in the box below and you’ll be the first to know when it’s published.

I used this exact technique recently to get a CTR rate of over 3% and a relevance score of 9 on that adset.


Thanks for reading!

(with grateful acknowledgement to Ferny Ceballos)


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