Insights - Nadia

Digital Marketing With A Twist: The Dunning-Kruger Effect


The Dunning-Kruger effect is known as a form of cognitive bias whereby individuals grossly overestimate their ability to be greater than it realistically is - in other words, it is the illusion of competence which comes from ignorance.

Sparked by a criminal case, in which one McArthur Wheeler attempted to rob a bank with his face covered in lemon juice believing it would make him invisible to surveillance cameras; the concept was derived from a study done in 1999 in which social psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger concluded that those most lacking in skills and competence are least able to acknowledge this lack.


And what does this have to do with digital marketing?

Quite a lot actually. It seems that a fairly large proportion of the ad or digital marketing industry may have hit some kind of Dunning-Kruger peak - a lot of marketers who start out in marketing believe to be a lot better at digital marketing than they actually are. What should happen instead is that individuals should realise that new found knowledge and skill is not enough, that what they have yet to learn is much greater than what they already know.

I’m sure you’ve heard it all before - “advertising is dead”, “just tweet once or twice a week” and “we don’t need a comprehensive content strategy.” But nothing could be further from the truth. In order to escape the notion that just because you have a well-designed website that the hard work is over and traffic will magically start driving website conversions, marketers need to tap into the science part of digital marketing - the psychology behind consumer online behaviour.


Knowing what makes your customers tick and how you can influence their purchasing decisions online requires a lot of time and investment, but with great content value, comes great return on that investment.

In order to get away from this Dunning-Kruger peak then, we need to realise that there is a hell of a lot more to learn about buyers’ psychology - from effective persona mapping to the subtle art of persuasion, because sadly, consumers spend nanoseconds thinking about brands and often do little to no evaluation when purchasing online.

Along with reducing complexity and designing with the user in mind, engagement and conversation through specific content are crucial in getting brands not only noticed but be bought from.

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