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  • Writer's pictureAina Ilunga

5 Evidence-Based Emotional Intelligence Strategies for Leaders to Rekindle the Fire

When I experienced burnout for the first time, what surprised me most is how little I cared: About my work, my coworkers, and basically anything related to my job. I missed deadlines. I checked out emotionally. I felt detached and cynical about everything. I just did. not. care. – even though I normally pride myself on how much I care. I can only imagine what my bosses – who had come to expect high productivity and a positive outlook from me – were thinking and feeling.

For any leader, it’s a difficult situation – a delicate balance that requires emotional intelligence to navigate. What are best practices for rekindling the fire of an employee experiencing burnout? Let’s define burnout and its causes, and then look at how to use emotional intelligence to best support an employee experiencing burnout.

What Exactly Is Burnout? Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. I didn’t know it at the time, but the detached cynicism I felt is a trademark sign of burnout. In fact, it’s one of the 3 defining symptoms of burnout, as defined by the World Health Organization. Burnout is defined by…

  • Physical and emotional exhaustion

  • Depersonalization / detachment / cynicism

  • Decline in sense of personal accomplishment

Burnout is the feeling of being utterly depleted, unmotivated and detached from one’s work. It’s a form of learned helplessness.

What Causes Burnout? What are the key causes of burnout? Research has identified the following factors that play a major role:

  • a perceived lack of control or autonomy

  • insufficient reward or recognition

  • a perceived lack of social support / community

  • a perceived lack of meaning / purpose

As you can see in this list, burnout’s causes are deeply linked to basic emotional needs like belonging, purpose, recognition and autonomy. When those needs aren’t met, you experience stress. And when that stress goes unmanaged for a long period of time, burnout can occur. This is certainly not an exhaustive list, and while research suggests a predominant role of company culture in burnout, individual circumstances most definitely play a role. In my case, for example, major stressors outside of work played the biggest role.

So what can you do as a leader to respond compassionately and effectively to an employee experiencing burnout? Here are 5 powerful, evidence-based strategies.


Is burnout from overwork? Research says no – it’s connected with emotional needs, which is why managers must have emotional intelligence to help employees through.


How to Respond to Employee Burnout with Emotional Intelligence: 5 Powerful Strategies

Myth: Burnout is from overwork. Fact: Burnout comes from basic human needs being unmet over time. Since these core needs are centered in emotion, for managers to help, it’s time to leverage emotional intelligence (the skills to be smarter with feelings). To make it more challenging, managers can’t fix the problem directly – it’s the employee’s perceptions and emotions that drive burnout… yet the company culture and managerial skills play a major role: the solution is to set a context in which employees can meet those basic needs more often. That is easier said than done, and requires a lot of emotional intelligence. Here’s a step-by-step guide for leaders to reverse the dangers of burnout:

1. Ask how they’re doing… in the right way.

The first step is to check in. It’s often hard to tell what somebody is thinking and feeling, and the only way to find out is to ask and listen. An attitude of curiosity, openness and non-judgment is essential. A few practical tips for this conversation…

Set cultural norms to talk about feelings. This work begins long before a specific instance of burnout or any challenging conversation. Make “normal” to ask about feelings. As a leader, model that you can share your own feelings in a way that’s both vulnerable/authentic and workplace appropriate. Practice asking about and sharing when they’re not-so-intense so you have readiness when things get tough.

Create proper time and space. This isn’t a passing by in the hallway conversation. Make sure you are in a private space, and carve out enough time to have a real conversation. A general rule of thumb is that the more complex and challenging a topic, the more time and space will be needed for a real answer. Burnout is a complex and challenging topic, and will require some time and space to explore. For general tips on connecting and going deeper, read this article from Joshua Freedman about the 3 S’s of communication.

Listen deeply. Listening is deeply connected to several basic human needs, like recognition, belonging, and purpose. Here are some practical tips to practice active listening, which is probably the single most important thing you can do.

Resist the urge to fix. When someone opens up about a struggle, many people feel an irresistible urge to offer solutions. But there probably aren’t quick, easy solutions to a long-term issue like burnout, and offering a solution may not be the best response at all. As Brené Brown says, “Rarely can a response make something better. What makes something better is connection.” That speaks to the real goal of this conversation, to meet that person’s basic needs – in this case, belonging, recognition and validation. For more on the tendency to fix things and why it often isn’t ideal, read this article.


Managers can’t “fix” employee burnout – it’s the employee’s perceptions and emotions that drive burnout… but they can set a context in which employees can meet those basic needs more often.


2. Seek out ways to empower them and put them in the driver’s seat.

One of the chief causes of burnout is a perceived lack of control. There are many contributing factors to this feeling, but some of the most common are an unsustainable workload, an inflexible schedule, micromanagement, no time for creative exploration, too many meetings, etc. Since many of us are busier than ever, these things can feel inevitable – even though in reality, they are a result of our choices. Have a conversation with the employee in which you make a plan together to set a context in which they feel more in control. There are many avenues to make that happen, and the right answer ultimately depends on the specific circumstances. Here are a few examples:

Respond without fixing. When the manager steps in to drive solutions, even when done out of positive intention, it sends a message that, “you can’t solve the problem but I can.” Instead, use tentative language (asking vs telling) and a coach-approach (Download our free Coaching with Emotional Intelligence eBook for more on a coach-approach).

Offer support and explore possibilities. Ask them for options; they might have a hard time if they’re on the edge of burnout, but don’t give into the temptation to TELL. This has to be driven by the employee. Together look at options that others have used – move into a dialogue about exploring possibilities. Offer a range of options and help the employee know that you are available to find solutions. You don’t need to commit to any specific action plan, and often that will require approval or collaboration from other groups (such as HR). At this stage, your goal is to send a clear message: You have options, and I will support you in seeking options.

Encourage them to do emotional check-ins throughout the day. This is a great way to understand their stressful triggers, which can help them feel more in control. Here’s a simple emotional intelligence check in to try.


“The more you give people the freedom and flexibility to shape their own path,” says @petesena, the CEO and Chief Creative Officer of the marketing and design firm @digitalsurgeons, “the more committed they are to the goals of the enterprise.”


3. Say thank you.

In the craziness of modern work, it’s easy to forget to express gratitude. But what message does a lack of gratitude send to the employee? My work doesn’t matter. I don’t matter. These feelings matter: Insufficient recognition is a leading factor in burnout. The need to feel recognition is a primary human need, on par with belonging and a sense of purpose. The particular challenge in terms of burnout is that those who burn out are often high achievers. They care. They want to go above and beyond. They sacrifice for their work. And as a leader, it’s natural to start taking that production for granted, and focus our attention on employees who aren’t meeting expectations. There are many ways to express gratitude. Here are a couple ideas, because one size doesn’t fit all:

  • For some people, an award or bonus feels like recognition, and that may be the appropriate response.

  • For most people, it’s relational – a gift of time or a genuine thank you may be more valuable than a monetary reward.

The challenge is to know your people — you can even ask them. For all people, though, recognition is a known antidote to burnout.

4. Incentivize social connection.

A lack of social support is a key driver of employee burnout, and reconnecting is often the most effective way to start healing. As we enter an era of hybrid work when many employees work from home, this will be a particularly challenging topic for leaders to address, as Joshua Freedman (Six Seconds’ cofounder & ceo) covered in-depth in this article. As a leader, here are some options to consider:

  • Look at your own schedule and if possible, make time to connect with this employee. This goes back to the emotional check in from #1, but could also be less formal or work-related.

  • Create a context in which employees can socialize during work hours, like a work happy hour or mental health day.

  • Strategically assign collaborative work to the employee who’s struggling, to make sure they are interacting with coworkers.


The need to feel recognition is a primary human need, on par with belonging and a sense of purpose. How do you show your people that you value them?


5. Develop and cultivate a shared sense of ‘why.’

Two symptoms of burnout are cynicism and a decline in sense of personal accomplishment. This combination means the employee has internalized the belief that “My work doesn’t matter.” One of the most important jobs a leader has is to create a compelling and shared vision, about the company’s overall mission and each individual’s contributions to it. Developing a shared sense of ‘why’ may just be the best antidote to burnout. The bad news is that you can’t fake it. If you don’t find your work meaningful or important, good luck convincing your employees that it is. You have to truly believe it yourself, and communicating that may be the single most powerful strategy to help an employee experiencing burnout.

What to Do if Nothing Changes?

If an employee is already feeling burnt out, all of these actions may not have much of an effect, in spite of your best intentions. Hopefully they work, but it’s no guarantee. Like in my personal example, there can be many factors outside the company’s control. The good news is that this list can also serve as a template for creating a context in which employees thrive and instances of burnout are rare. Taking care of people’s basic emotional needs isn’t just the right thing to do, either, it’s good business.

The best antidote to burnout? A culture of emotional intelligence, starting at the top.

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  • Writer's pictureArmin Wieland

Great teams are adept at engaging in productive conflict as a means of improving ideas, sparking innovation, and mitigating risk. Unfortunately, your team might be one of many that foregoes the benefits of healthy conflict because they’re unwilling or unable to deal with the emotions that conflict often elicits. I frequently see teams pull back from important discussions for fear of triggering an emotional outburst. If that’s happening on your team, it’s time to address it.

First, consider all the different reasons why it’s rational to avoid emotional conflicts. On one hand, people who have been upset by conflict in the past might have been labeled as immature or unprofessional. Given the hit to their credibility, it’s natural that they now try to avoid potentially volatile conversations that might trigger their emotions again. On the other end of the spectrum, there are those whose direct approach to conflict earned them a reputation as brutal or harsh. It’s just as logical for those folks to steer clear of contentious discussions for fear of saying something too direct. As a manager, you might have your own stories of unpleasant or unproductive emotional conflicts that cause you to steer your team away from contentious or confrontational discussions. Unfortunately, when you or your team members are not comfortable or adept at managing emotions, your team is likely to avoid issues and wind up in serious conflict debt — stifled by the sum of all the undiscussed and unresolved issues that stand in the way of progress.


If your team is being held back by conflict avoidance and you all need to get more comfortable handling emotions, there are several steps to take. The change will require you to embrace a new mindset, to build a new skill set, and to adopt different practices. These techniques will reduce the likelihood that a fear of emotionality will hijack your progress.


The first place to start is in developing a new mindset about emotions. Emotions aren’t a liability for humans, they’re an integral part of the system that helps us capitalize on opportunities and protect ourselves from threats. For example, when you make a mistake, the emotional reaction makes that experience more salient and helps you remember not to do it again. When you say or do things that threaten your inclusion in your group, you experience an emotional reaction that’s similar to when you experience physical pain. That unpleasant sensation reminds you of the importance of maintaining positive relationships. As humans, emotions are a primary biological response to our experiences of our surroundings and not something we can “leave at home” (as one executive suggested to me recently). Emotions aren’t something to be avoided, but rather, something to pay attention to and learn from.

Once you understand that emotions play a role in decision-making, it’s your job as a manager to understand the source of the emotions so you can learn from them. It’s important to remember that — just like pain — emotions are symptomatic, but not diagnostic. If you’re seeing an emotional outburst (whether that be crying, yelling, or table-pounding), it’s likely that there is some injury being done to the person. It might be because the discussion is challenging a deeply-held belief, or providing new and disorienting information, or causing the person to question their abilities, character, or self-concept. In any of these cases, the person’s brain is telling them that their world is being disrupted and alarm bells are going off. You need to identify what is being injured so you can help them relieve the pain.

When a team member reacts emotionally, simply say, “This is important. What do I need to understand?” The wording is significant because you don’t want to make the person feel embarrassed or stigmatized as you might if you said, “You’re crying. Why are you crying?” “This is important” also works because it doesn’t presume that you know what the person is thinking or how they are feeling as in, “You’re upset, tell me what’s wrong.” Instead, it just makes the space for you to get insight about what is going on.

As an aside, I am often asked whether it’s best to continue with the conversation that’s become emotional or to adjourn and return to the emotional subject later. I encourage you, wherever possible, to keep going in the moment. First, because it reinforces the idea that emotions are not toxic and are a natural part of life. Next, because returning to an emotional conversation that you’ve paused can be very awkward. Use your judgment. If the person is crying or screaming to the point that they can’t catch their breath, you can say, “This is important. I want to understand what’s going on. Take a few minutes to collect your thoughts and we’ll regroup this afternoon.”

Back to the conversation. As you listen to the person’s response, reflect what you’re hearing. Ask questions to help them shape their thoughts. You can try, “How are you imagining this playing out,” or “What are we not paying enough attention to?” Paraphrase what you hear until you get a clear sign from the person that you have articulated the root of the issue. Then pivot your questions toward action, “What would a good path forward look like for you,” or “What would need to be included in our plan to address that concern?” As you start to shift toward a plan, you’ll notice that the emotion dissipates.

But what if you aren’t in position to include their suggestion? What if it’s not a good idea, or it’s just not reasonable? If that’s the case, be transparent. For example, if they raised an important issue but asked for a remedy that’s not a viable, you might say, “I’m glad you raised that issue. We’re not in a position to do that, but I feel like we’re now taking that risk knowingly.” In the majority of cases, when the person feels heard and understood, regardless of whether they get their way or not, the emotions will subside. If they don’t, provide feedback about how the person’s emotional reactions are impacting their performance, the team dynamic, and your perceptions. Emotions are fair game for feedback when they’re getting in the way of the work.


When you have an opportunity, address the role of emotions as part of a broader team norms discussion. Share your perspective on emotions and ask for others to add their points of view. Consider having your own ground rules around addressing emotions in the team or including a behavioral statement about addressing emotions within an existing organizational value such as mutual respect or teamwork.


Ultimately, how you engage with emotions will be the most influential cue for how your team should. Don’t punish someone for showing emotion. That includes not criticizing them, not responding to emotion with more emotion, and not avoiding them. At the same time, don’t punish people for triggering emotions in others. Too often I see people ask a tough and probing question and then get reprimanded because that question elicited emotion from a colleague. Creating trepidation around what can and cannot be asked or explored on your team will stifle the quality of discussion and decision making. If the question was particularly blunt, you could reword it. Otherwise, create the space in the discussion to let the question or comment sink in and then guide the team through a rational discussion.

Your role as a manager is to guide your team into and through the most contentious discussions that your business faces. If you sense trepidation as you get close to a difficult topic, reassure the team that it’s worth addressing the issue to get to a resolution. Set the tone that the discussion might get emotional and that’s ok — you’ll keep working on it until you come to the best answer. Gently ask the questions that will open the discussion up. Then, as the road gets bumpy, steer them through the best path. Too many teams avoid conflict for fear of creating “drama.” Teach your team how to channel emotions to improve your decision-making, increase trust and connection, and make everyone feel seen and understood.

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The brain. It is the control center for every process in your body, and with so much to do every day (like keeping you alive), it has to rely on shortcuts—for remembering, problem-solving, and—what we’re talking about today—decision making.

So in terms of consumers making purchasing decisions, being aware of these shortcuts can help you to understand, predict, and leverage their behaviors in your favor. No, you’re not looking to maliciously manipulate your prospects and customers. But yes, there are ways to influence their actions—actions they will be glad they took.

In this article, you’ll learn seven psychological principles you can leverage in your marketing and influence the buying decisions of your prospects.

Table of contents

  • What is marketing psychology?

  • How to use marketing psychology responsibly

  • The commitment and consistency bias

  • The anchoring bias

  • The paradox of choice

  • The mere exposure effect

  • The reciprocity effect

  • Social proof

  • The Pygmalion effect

What is marketing psychology?

Marketing psychology is the practice of aligning your content, communication, and strategies with the many predictable, often subconscious, human behavioral patterns that have been identified through experimentation and research. These common behaviors originate from heuristics—a fancy word for shortcuts the brain takes for tasks it carries out thousands of times a day, like comprehending information, making decisions, and solving problems.

There are several ways to use marketing psychology, including:

  • Resonating with your audience by using emotional trigger words.

  • Applying psychology principles to copywriting.

  • Choosing website colors based on how they are perceived.

Regardless, the idea is not to change the way your audience thinks. These patterns are hard-wired in our brains! It’s to change your content and approaches to align with the way they think.

How to use marketing psychology responsibly

I’m not trying to sugarcoat things. These “shortcuts” are also referred to as cognitive biases, thinking traps, or cognitive distortions. Which leads me to a crucial point: the idea behind marketing psychology is not to exploit, manipulate, or deceive. So if you want to use consumer psychology to win over more customers, remember these points:

  • DO make sure that their decision to choose you is truly the best one for them. Winning over customers that aren’t a good fit for your business is a lose-lose.

  • DON’T use these tactics to make promises you can’t keep or to represent more capabilities than you have.

  • DO align your business goals with the goals of your prospective buyers to make it a win-win. And use data to measure the effectiveness of your marketing psychology strategies.

  • DON’T forget that you’re a human and consumer too. Beware of other businesses practicing manipulative marketing psychology.

7 marketing psychology strategies & examples to influence purchasing decisions

For each of these seven tactics, I’ll explain what each one is, offer some simple examples, and then provide specific ways you can apply them in your marketing strategies—whether for your website, product pages, landing pages, and more.

1. The commitment & consistency bias

The commitment and consistency bias says that we have the tendency to act in line with our previous behaviors and expressions.

This phenomenon has a few manifestations that can work to your advantage in marketing.

Create a lead nurture funnel

Once we heed a small request, we are more likely to comply with similar ones that follow. This is the concept behind the marketing funnel! At the top of the funnel are small requests for your audience, which gradually get bigger as the prospect moves downward to the bottom.

For example, you ask readers to read your content, then you ask them to give their email in exchange for a free guide, then you ask them to attend an event or webinar, and then you invite them to a free trial or consult.

Since your audience is subconsciously inclined to keep their behaviors consistent, they are more likely to continue pursuing and engaging with the content and offers from the business they first started with. Plus, compared to their first action (reading a blog post), a free trial is a big jump, but compared to the previous action (attending a webinar), it’s not as drastic.

Have progress markers for tasks

Another form of the commitment bias is the sunk cost fallacy—the need to follow through with something once we’ve invested time and/or money into it. For example, Yelp lets you draft reviews without creating an account. When you begin writing, Yelp uses fun cues like “Don’t leave us hanging – what else you got?” to encourage you to complete the review.

Then, once you finish the review, they ask you to create an account—without which you can’t post your review.

Now you don’t have to create an account and post the review, but more likely than not, you’ve put in the effort to write it, so you want to make the time you spent worth it. You’re not going to abandon the process now, are you?

Break your content up into digestible tidbits

You can also leverage the commitment and consistency bias to increase engagement with your content—particularly long-form content over 5,000 words. Instead of just asking your audience to commit to reading an article that they don’t yet know is worth their time, present it in bite-snack-meal form.

  • Bite: Small piece of information without details.

  • Snack: Combination of bites. Audience wants more information but not detail.

  • Meal: Large piece of information, filled with details and thorough explanations.

Take, for instance, Elite Content Marketer’s extensive review of Grammarly. Instead of asking readers to commit to reading the whole piece, it start with the bite and the snack upfront. The bite is the overall verdict. The snack is a visual of the pros and cons of the product. And then the meal is the detailed review.

If the reader has engaged with the smaller, more digestible pieces of information at the beginning, they will be more likely to perform the larger request: to read the full piece. Should they choose not to read it, they can at least get the key takeaways at the top and obtain value from the content.

Speak to your audience’s self-perception

I highly doubt this was done intentionally, but the call to action button below is a great example of the C&C bias in copywriting. If someone is on this website, it’s because they care about their pet. According to this pop-up, not signing up is inconsistent with this self-perception.

2. The anchoring bias

The anchoring bias is the tendency of an individual to use the first piece of information presented to them as a benchmark (or anchor) for making a subsequent decision. As you can imagine, this tactic is particularly useful for pricing.

Here are some types and examples of anchoring:

Indicate mark-downs

Not only does the buyer see this as a bargain, but also, a higher starting price tends to send the message that the item is of higher value. Notice how I said “tends.” Every business has a unique audience with unique perceptions on price. Make sure you understand how pricing changes affect the perceived quality of your products in the eyes of your customers.

Show the amount saved

Many SaaS and subscription companies offer a cheaper annual plan over their monthly subscriptions, as with Zoom in the example below. Another way to display this would be to show the monthly rate for the month-to-month plan, and then the reduced monthly rate for the yearly plan. However, if the difference is not all that significant, it may be more worth your while to show the total savings from the year.

3. The paradox of choice

Let’s say you’re at the supermarket and you want to buy some tea. As you approach the aisle, the rainbow of packaging looks great. But as you start browsing, you start feeling not-so-great. There’s black tea. Green tea. White. Red. Regular tea, decaf, or herbal. Fruit tea. Zingers. Loose leaf. Probiotic. Sleep-enhancing. Memory boosting. And that’s just for one brand. Overwhelmed, you abort the mission altogether.

That’s the paradox of choice!

The paradox of choice says that as the number of options to choose from increases, the more stressed we feel about making a decision and the more likely we are to not make one at all. We also are more likely to have doubts about whether the decision we made was the right one. Here are some ways to remove analysis paralysis for your audience.

Keep varieties and options to a minimum

In an experiment by Sheena Iyengar, when a supermarket made six types of jam available for tasting, it attracted 40% of shoppers, 30% of whom bought jam. But when this was repeated with 24 types of jam, it attracted 60% of shoppers and resulted in only 3% of purchases. If you want to increase your conversion rates, consider decreasing the options available to your audience. Perhaps offer a sale on a select number of products, or reduce your five pricing packages down to three.

Limit the number of items in your main navigation menu

While a big part of marketing is to go against the norm so you can stand out, there are still many areas where this could work against you. For example, you might see that a competitor has just five items in their website’s navigation bar. So maybe you think to have 10 in yours so prospects can see that you have more to offer. The truth is, websites should only have 3-6 items in their navigation bar.

Too many options to choose from, and the visitor becomes confused on what to do or where to go. By narrowing down those menu options (and even the other click options on the home page), you spare them from these unnecessary decisions so they have the mental energy to make the more important ones as they get deeper into your site.

This site could benefit from consolidating the menu in its website header with drop-downs.

Have only one CTA per landing page

You’ve heard this a thousand times, but it’s worth repeating. You should have one unique landing page for each product or offering, with one clear call to action per landing page. Multiple options will distract your prospects from the desired action you want them to take, can make for a less cohesive user experience, and can lead to a loss of conversions. And when you’re running paid ads, you can’t afford to waste your ad spend.

Remove navigation, social buttons, and footers too

So maybe you’ve removed the email signup button from the page where you want users to buy now. But are there other options to click on the page that are less prominent? Is there a link-heavy footer on the bottom? What about social media icons that link to your profiles or allow the visitor to share? In a case study by VWO, they were able to increase conversion rate by 100%, simply by eliminating the navigation menu.

4. Social proof

Coined by the author Robert Cialdini in his book Influence, social proof says that we tend to follow others in new situations where “appropriate” behavior is unknown to us. It’s our way of ensuring we feel safe, liked, and/or accepted.

What does that mean in marketing? Testimonials. Reviews. And more. Here are a few ways you can use social proof to influence buyer behavior.

Have an organized testimonials page

Create a dedicated testimonial page so prospective clients can see others just like them, benefiting from your solution. For example, below is the testimonial page on the LOCALiQ website. Notice that you can filter by industry or service provided—which is ideal.

Adorn your website with testimonials…

Don’t just reserve these for your testimonials page. Include them in your landing pages and homepage, too—ideally with headshots to add more credibility.

…and your ads

Testimonials and reviews make for compelling ad copy as well. In the ad below, the copy is the creative for the ad.

You can use our testimonial advertising examples for inspiration and ideas.

Highlight endorsements from popular brands

You may also want to include the logos, or in the example below, faces, of any big names or brands that use your product (with their permission, of course).

Another similar option would be to list major media outlets that have featured your product. Seeing these familiar faces and names endorsing your business helps potential customers to feel confident and secure that you deliver results.

Include stamps of approval

If you have partnerships, awards, or other trust signals that speak to your credibility, add those too!

Use the numbers to get more subscribers

You don’t always need a prominent name to build trust and get signups for your offers. There’s also the “wisdom of the crowd” approach, where you can boast that a large group of people is using your products or resources.

5. The reciprocity effect

Two wrongs don’t make a right, but it certainly feels right… am I right? Reciprocity is our human tendency to respond to a gesture with one of similar nature, which of course goes for positive behaviors too.

Here’s what positive reciprocity looks like in marketing.

Offer exceptional customer service

Yes, it’s important to proactively ask for reviews, but if you focus on providing an awesome experience for your customers, you can bet that you’ll organically collect them. Even though it’s “your job” to serve them and their job to pay you, the extra effort you make to meet their needs inspires the extra effort they’ll make to write you a review—or even through a little something extra in their cart or to their order.

Provide free (valuable) information and education

This is content marketing and SEO in a nutshell. No, your readers aren’t going to reciprocate by providing free education back to you, but let’s say they’re deciding between your company and a competitor, and you both have great reviews. Which company do you think they’ll feel more inclined to choose? The one that has been generously providing resources all along…or the one with only social proof?

LOCALiQ’s Marketing Lab is a free learning hub for local business owners and marketers. And let’s not forget that Google reciprocates quality content which higher rankings.

Offer free tools and trials

In the B2B SaaS industry, a great example of reciprocity would be offering a free trial of your software or a free tool. WordStream, of course, has their Free Google Ads Performance Grader, which performs over 40 hours of audit work for you in a matter of minutes. Again, if it comes down to deciding between one agency and another, the buyer may be more inclined to reciprocate your free and valuable offerings with their business.

Related: 26 Brilliant Ways to Use Psychology in Your Copywriting

6. The mere exposure effect

Social psychologist Robert Zajonc performed several experiments in the 1960s and found that “mere repeated exposure of an individual to a stimulus is a sufficient condition for the enhancement of his attitude toward it.”

In other words, familiarity leads to preference, even on the subconscious level.<

Display ads are often dismissed as an ineffective ad type because their click-through rates are so low, but that’s not their point. Display ads give your business exposure. Mere exposure!

The more exposure to your business, the more familiar your audience becomes with it, and the more familiar it becomes with it, the more they will trust, engage with, and prefer it over competitors. Combine this with the commitment and consistency effect you’ve got yourself some loyal customers.

This is why brand awareness is so important. Indeed, display ads can improve click-through and conversion rates on all your other ads and campaigns. Hence the view-through conversion metric.

Use retargeting ads to increase CTR

But click-through rates aren’t low for all display ads. In fact, retargeting ads can have click-through rates 2-3 times higher than regular display ads. Just watch your ad frequency so you.

But watch your frequency because if your ad keeps aggressively following a prospect on the internet, you can quickly become that annoying brand that doesn’t care about privacy. An appropriate delay between exposures gives them time to settle in so the repetitions are more effective.

Send the same message across all channels

You can also repeat your messaging and unique value proposition (USP) across your brand assets, including your website, blog posts, newsletters, ads, and other touchpoints. As a prospect becomes more and more familiar with your USP, the more appealing it becomes. And this is why including an array of channels and mediums in your content marketing strategy is so important.