The Science Behind Better Mobile Marketing Results

Jon Mowat
Author of Video Marketing Strategy and video-first agency MD
Mobile Marketing

Selling more products on mobile sounds great, but we can all agree that selling them at a higher price point sounds even better. Key to doing this is grasping the brain psychology of how smartphones trigger deep connections with your markets. 

In this article, I explore the science behind why videos on mobile are so effective and show you how to build this into your video marketing strategy, which is only going to become more critical, with 75% of all video plays now being on mobile devices (eMarketer).

To understand how video on touch devices can affect purchasing decisions, we are going to look at two separate psychological principles. First is the Extension of Personal Self, second is the Endowment Effect. We will then explore how these interact with each other to affect our online purchases.

The extended mind: Our phones are part of us

Philosophers, Andy Clark and David Chalmers, were ahead of the game when writing about the extended mind theory in the 1990s. They argued that our digital lives are part of our psychology and that our mental state is not just formed in our head, but stored in the digital world. As our phones are so personal to us, anything that we watch on them is awarded higher significance. 

Our phones reflect and influence our lives. They store our most precious secrets and connect us to the world. Things that are on our phone are part of us, and parts of us are on our phone.

This is why 50% of millennials experience moderate to high levels of anxiety when kept from checking their devices for just 15 minutes.

Further to this, we have extended our very sense of who we are (known as our personal self) onto our phones. “Personal self” is more than just our body; it’s how we think, our clothes, home, partner, friends, children & beliefs. When we lose something related to this sense of self, we experience a huge feeling of loss. Misplacing the jacket that sums up “who we are” will cause a sense of grief, as will damage to our home whereas losing a sports sock won’t. And to this list, we can now add our mobile phones.

All this builds to the fact that we consider the things we see on our phones as within the circle of what defines us. They already seem partly owned by us, and so we value them more highly, which takes us neatly onto the Endowment Effect.

The Endowment Effect - we place great value on what we own

By the age of two, children understand what possessions are, and by the age of six, children exhibit the ‘endowment effect’ where they place significant value on an object which belongs to them. Even a child can see that getting things costs time, money, effort (or all three) so when they own something, they value it more highly. 

Psychologist Richard Thaler has worked to explain this by looking at why free trials are so effective. When we sign up for a free trial, we have to put in effort and time. Once we have the product at home, we now value it more as we’ve made the initial transactional effort and now we can sit back and enjoy the fact that we do need to do anything more than start paying. 

What's super interesting for marketers is to combine the two psychological ideas. What we already own we value highly, and the things we see on our phone, we feel like we already partly own. This gives us a killer marketing potential, as the objects we show people on their mobile device will automatically be valued by them more highly and they will be willing to pay more. 

There is some great research on this. A study in 2014 proved that when we see products or services on our mobile device, we are willing to pay more for them than the same product on a non-touch screen like a PC. (Journal of Consumer Psychology, Brasel and Gips). The researchers tested the hypothesis of the endowment effect concerning various technologies. They assessed buyer behaviour, whether using touch devices (mobiles, tablets) and non-touch (laptops). 

The endowment effect was deemed to be stronger on the touch devices. Those who bought products on their mobiles were only willing to sell them if they got more money for them than they had paid. It was most significant with tactile products such as a cashmere sweater and on the subjects’ own phones, rather than borrowed phones.

What does this mean for you as a marketer? 

This is all good news for marketing professionals. As people make meaningful connections with what they watch on their phones, they are more likely to trust the brands and develop an emotional attachment. If your viewers watch a moving video on their mobile, they will already be more open to its messages and take action.

Armed with this knowledge, marketing teams can improve ROI by spending their advertising budget on videos delivered on mobile phones for their most tactile products. In a competitive market, understanding why video marketing works so effectively at changing behaviour and how mobile video can deepen brand relationships and trust, can give you the edge in short-term sales goals as well as growing your brand long-term. 

To conclude, here’s a recap from one of my video marketing talks which explains why people are willing to pay more for products that they buy from a device they touch and hold in their hands, than from another screen.

If you’re interested in learning more about the power of video marketing to change behaviour, read Jon Mowat’s “Video Marketing Strategy” book. Bizibl readers can benefit from 20% off with the code: VMK20 on Kogan Page’s website.

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