Social Psychology of Internet Marketing

Understanding How & Why Our Prospects Behave the Way They Do

@KathrynCartini Sharing Stories for TasteTablet

As a HubSpot Certified Inbound Marketer I’m trained on keyword research, developing buyer personas and tracking where, and on what device, people are clicking on site pages. This data then guides me in customizing marketing campaigns that produce ROI for my clients. But beyond analytics, it’s important to dive deeper into the psychology behind people’s online behaviors.

If I could wave a magic wand, predict a prospect’s behavior and then create marketing based on my crafty wisdom, I’d (literally) be in heaven. However there are a few lessons in social psychology I’ve learned along the way that definitely help me reach target buyers, while adding a human touch to Internet Marketing.

The first lesson is GIVE TO GET.

Giving breaks down barriers, and opens the door for others to reciprocate. Now remember, those who you gift haven’t asked for anything, so they shouldn't be held responsible or liable for returning the favor, but gift-giving can produce friendly feelings that may lead to receiving.

Donate Today

If you’re working in the nonprofit sector, gathering donations is inevitable. After you’ve pinpointed your target audience think about that might benefit them. Whether it’s free movie tickets or complimentary small business mentorship services, according to this Wall Street Journal article, How Charities Can Get More Out of Donors, research has found that the promise of public recognition is a successful way to reward those who donate.

I often promote SMBs and Startup companies on social media, sometimes writing stories about what makes them special and share them with larger media outlets, but gifts don’t need to be this big (time consuming). Sometimes I offer a free consultation or send prospects the link to a blog I wrote, such as How to Create Successful Facebook Ads. While I can’t guarantee any of these leads will turn into sales, I know I’m putting my best foot forward and with that, strengthening brand loyalty. If all they do in return is follow and support my social media channels, I just receive a new brand ambassador who may down the road be interested in my marketing services when the time is right for their business.

This segways into my next lesson, TAKING THE FIRST STEP.

Say those businesses who I’ve given a shout out to on social media now choose to follow me back. Thank you. Two weeks later perhaps I re-approach the business owner and request a sit down to explore their marketing needs, and offer solutions of how I can help. CEOs are BUSY, and therefore TIME is the most precious gift they could give to me, but because I already gave of myself, and because they are already familiar in some way with my business, I’ve found I’m more successful in booking the appointment than had I just cold-called or emailed them this larger request.

Peacock Media

I follow this same rule when people visit my site. Yes, through HubSpot software if you download a free resource or sign up for my blog, I’ll know who you are. But instead of calling you and asking you to sign a 12-month contract for marketing services, or even requesting a face-to-face meeting to discuss our opportunities for working together, I’ll suggest a 15-minute brainstorming session to get to know you, and your needs better before I ask of anything. I might even determine in that short call our businesses are not a match for each other, perhaps because you are already a HubSpot customer and have someone in house handling content, or because you have already concentrated your marketing budget for the year elsewhere. The point is, take the first step and get your foot in the door to start building a bond between yourself and your prospect.


Now listen, I’m not trying to start a war among like-businesses, but it’s always important in business to know and understand your competition, from what they’re doing well, to perhaps, what their downfalls are. Both give way to opportunity.

That said, as an Internet Marketer I pay a lot of attention to how companies are representing themselves online, including how they rank in Google search under terms most relevant to their business, and what kind of social brand engagement they have, if any. My intention is to deliver to a prospect social proof, showing the positive effect of a competitor’s actions, which could and should lead the prospects to performing these actions as well.

Restaurant in London

In one specific example consulting with an Italian restaurant, I showed the owner how his competition was using Google+ and OpenTable reviews to place on top of organic search results. It was clear he needed a presence in both of these areas. A further solution was to perfect his branding on both platforms, not just creating accounts, but filling out the necessary details in terms of hours of operation and parking, as well as uploading pictures and menus.

I then suggested he share these channels with his loyal followers on social media, guiding them (not requesting) they submit reviews by highlighting a customer who already reviewed his restaurant. We learned in GIVE TO GET that people like public recognition. We’ve also discussed the importance of TAKING THE FIRST STEP as the starting point to building relationships.

SUBCONSCIOUS INFLUENCE is the next lesson I’d like to share.

2958beb6-a64d-4735-a7db-507aafa14cceIn a talk with LICSW and Co-Founder of the Think-Diff Institute in Boston, MA, Pandora MacClean-Hoover explained how our decisions can be influenced by memories or environmental cues associated with predispositions.

While impossible to know off hand if someone has had a bad experience with social media personally, and therefore not willing to try it for business, I can at least take proper measures when setting up the time and location for a sales call. Ideally I’d like for prospects to be in their office, having carved out the appropriate amount of time to discuss needs and solutions without distraction.

Because I realize and appreciate how busy a business owner is, I used to make the mistake of booking sales calls while prospects were in the car driving to their next appointment. All this did was promote me as the less serious engagement, and provide countless opportunities for miscommunication as they more payed attention to DRIVING, whatever was on the radio, their GPS, etc. Sure CEOs are multi-taskers, but you’re still providing yourself unnecessary obstacles in this pivotal stage of the sales journey.

And if you do invite a prospect to your office, make sure it’s clean, organized and WARM. People actually feel better in warm temperatures.

Now, one of my favorite, and probably the most beneficial lesson I can share is to BE PRESENT.


Yes, I’m an Inbound Marketer. I specialize in attracting attention for businesses ONLINE, but this methodology, regardless of the execution or advanced technology will never replace the power of a face-to-face interaction.

This is mind, I try to attend as many industry-related functions as I can, meeting people in person and listening to their stories.

I then dovetail these personal interactions with an Inbound Strategy, repeating touch points with relevant emails, social comments, and brainstorming lunches.

The more exposure we can bring to our brands, the more likely people will trust in our partnership.

Lastly, I love to BE UNIQUE.


There are a lot of marketers out there, all promising the best service, and the highest return on investment, but I find when I’m completely transparent with prospects and clients, always looking to do something different and set them apart from the competition, they are more likely to partner with me over a larger firm.

Perhaps it’s my tenacity, passion or creativity that draws them in? Either way, it’s the prospects that recognize and appreciate my uniqueness that make the best clients, so I make it a point to mention my out-of-the-box thinking as a way to psychologically attract the coolest projects.

Have some social psychology lessons of your own to share? I’m all ears. Connect with me personally at