The 7 Principles of Influence for Effective Marketing Campaigns

In marketing and advertising, getting your message across is tricky if you don’t understand human psychology. An effective campaign boils down to 7 principles of influence:

  • Reciprocity
  • Scarcity
  • Authority
  • Consistency
  • Liking
  • Social Proof
  • Unity


If you have received something from me, you are “obliged” to give back and return the favor.

Think of reciprocity as your best friend inviting you to her wedding, which in turn makes you feel like you need to invite her to yours too.

In marketing, reciprocity works wonders. How likely are you to buy my digital product if I:

  • show you a snippet of what’s included;
  • send you a free guide on how to do the things I teach you, on your own;
  • give you a free trial on my platform;
  • sign you up for a free hour consultation with me?

I’ll tell you. You’re very likely to buy my product.

A series of studies were conducted in the restaurant business. When the waiter offers you a drink for free, or a snack before eating, you’re more likely to return the favor by tipping them $5.

The key of using reciprocity in your marketing campaigns is offering something free first.


People want more of the things they know they can lose.

Before explaining to you what scarcity is in marketing, let’s look at a few examples from our everyday life:

  1. A merchant sells the MOST flavorsome berries you’ve ever tasted. You don’t specifically feel like eating berries but… there’s only 3 packages left, and the autumn is almost over. What do you do? You buy them all.
  2. A cheap Paris-Cairo flight will stop operating due to economical reasons. The airline announces that the next few flights will be the last ones. What do you do? You buy a flight ticket.

In marketing, people are scared that they’re going to lose a deal. Scarcity is used effectively on a ton of stores: “5 hours remaining”, “only 2 in stock”. The issue is, a lot of these offers are fake. Nonetheless, people fall for them – only when you point out what benefits your product has and why it is unique.

Make sure that you show credibility when using scarcity. Apply these principles to your sales copy!


Would you buy “The Principles of Influence” from Robert Cialdini himself, or from No-Name-I-Want-To-Make-Money?

Authority is important. People follow those that are credible and knowledgeable.

You need to build credibility and authority before successfully selling a high ticket product. Science tells us that it’s important to show people why you are credible. Did you write a book that has been successful? Did you run a business that made $$$$?

Authority is also the reason why Nike or Adidas have more success than your local shoe store.


“Once people make a decision, take a stand or perform an action, they will face an interpersonal pressure to behave in a consistent manner with what they have said or done previously”.

Robert Cialdini

Being consistent and doing things in the same way we’ve done before helps us survive – think of it as a habit.

You always feel bad for not doing something you’ve previously said you’ll do.

In marketing, the more effort people put in going after the product you sell, or getting better at the specific skill you teach, the more likely they are to move to the purchase stage.


What makes a person like or be attracted to another?

  • similarity between us;
  • compliments;
  • cooperation towards mutual goals.

Brands need to build communities of people that have the same interests and like the same things. You are more likely to buy something if your friend did, and you are more likely to enroll in a course if you’ve only heard good things about it from those you like.

Make sure to always apply liking to your marketing campaigns. Run engagement campaigns, create Facebook groups and engage often with your community.

Consensus or Social Proof

People do what they observe others doing.

This ties closely with the “liking” principle. If you friend buys a product, you’re likelier to do the same. This principle goes deeper into the character of the person: it works best on us if we’re unsure or the people we watch and observe are similar to us.

To ace your social proof, make sure that you always add genuine reviews and ask people for testimonials. That’s why conversion rates boom when the sales page includes a ton of proof.

If you want your reviews to be top-notch, make sure to check out our guide for the best review apps for Shopify. You have a lot of options, so make sure that you do your research and choose the app that works best for your store.


In 2016, Cialdini proposed a new principle: unity.

“It’s about the categories that individuals use to define themselves and their groups, such as race, ethnicity, nationality, and family, as well as political and religious affiliations.

A key characteristic of these categories is that their members tend to feel at one with, merged with, the others. They are the categories in which the conduct one member influences the self-esteem of other members. Simply put, we is the shared me.”

Robert Cialdini

Unity is about shared identities and the need to belong. Think of it like teens starting smoking at an early age, because of the influence their group has on them.

Unity is a psychological need, that refers to belongingness and love needs. If all my friends have it, I need to have it too.


Setting up a few adds and writing a couple of articles is not enough.

The 7 principles of influence have been used for ages by marketers to attract more customers on their side. Used properly, expect your conversion rates to fly to the moon – and never get back.

Maria Cristina M.
Maria Cristina M.

Maria-Cristina is a Digital Psychologist with 5 years of experience in SEO and conversion rate optimization. She holds an MA thesis on the effects of emotions in written and video content. She loves to spend time near the ocean and watch horror movies.

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