Published on July 23rd, 2013 | by Idania.Silvia


Why the Old Principles of Influence Still Work Today for Online Marketing

Although Robert C. Cialdini wrote his famous book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion back in 1984, many marketers of today’s digital age have adapted the book’s key principles to online business.  As many businesses have discovered, in spite of new business technologies and tools, these old fashioned principles still ring true and can still help businesses attract and enlarge their customer or client base.  The following key principles can be adapted to online marketing in wonderfully useful ways.


Cialdini associated reciprocity with a feeling of obligation.  Savvy marketers today build on the idea that if they provide consumers with informative or educational content, for instance, those people are likely to feel more indebted—a feeling that could produce loyalty.  If you are a fabric store and you regularly post “how to” videos on your blog, your followers may be more likely to buy fabric or sewing implements from your business based on their reciprocity principle.  In other words, if you give to them, they’ll give back to you.


According to Cialdini, humans tend to be and value consistency.  From a 21st century marketing standpoint, consistency and commitment to a brand is vital.  A business that elicits a customer’s commitment stands to keep them as a customer.  Winning them as a blog subscriber is an example of the customer’s commitment.  Opening each company email as it is delivered is an example of commitment and consistency.

Social Proof

Cialdini essentially defined this as a monkey-see-monkey-do practice.  That is, people tend to do what other people do until a majority of people do it.  Applied to online marketing, social proof could be as simple as amassing followers on Facebook.  Five of my friends follow ABC Company so “maybe I should too.”  Social proof taps into human psychology and plays on people’s need to relate to community.  It’s a powerful principle that can fuel a plethora of marketing strategies.


According to Cialdini, people in authority like doctors or policemen tend to influence people and their opinions may hold more sway than someone not seen in an authority role.  In marketing, inviting an authority figure to sell baseballs would be a well-known professional baseball player or baseball team manager.  When people sense the spokesperson is an authority on a product, they tend to trust their opinion more than someone unknown who does not exude this authority regarding the product.


This principle, as outlined by Cialdini, simply suggests that liking a person for their appearance or some other quality can be denotes their influence.  This is a powerful tool for marketers who know that using Time Magazine’s “Sexiest Man of the Year” is going to sell a lot of perfume, for example, for a company that hires him for its commercials.


Scarcity, according to Cialdini, is a phenomenon that when people view something as limited or rare, they want it more and may even value it more.  Many marketers today will promote “limited edition” vehicles or board games or anything under the sun because they know that the phenomenon is real.  Marketers that can demonstrate that their product is in limited supply may see an increase in immediate sales by consumers who think there’s no time to sit on the fence and hesitate; they make the purchase before supplies run out.

Collectively, these principles can be powerful tools for today’s marketers.  Using them successfully can lead to effective marketing campaigns that lead to increased sales and a larger customer base.

Jennifer Watts is a retired ad agency manager who still likes to dabble in marketing. An avid blogger, she likes to share her know-how on various business sites on the Web. If you would like to see the latest web hosting reviews, go to

Tags: ,

About the Author

About the Author: Idania Silvia a freelance writer for many communities.

Back to Top ↑