Make Lead Generation Quizzes More Effective With Barnum Effect

Ever wondered why people are so easily fooled by ‘psychics’ or palm readers, or why so many of us love to read our horoscopes? This is down to the ‘Barnum Effect’, and when used to entice, rather than fool your audience, you can use it effectively in your marketing campaigns. 

In this article we take a deep dive into what the Barnum Effect is, and how, when used well, it can take your lead generation quizzes to the next level.

What Is The Barnum Effect?

Britannica tells us that it’s a psychological phenomenon often attributed to ‘P. T. Barnum’ (you may know him as the ‘Greatest Showman’) who once said that “a sucker is born every minute”, referring to those convinced by entertainers like crystal ball readers and mediums.

The idea is that people enjoy hearing about themselves so much, particularly when the information is flattering or comforting, they are willing to believe the most general statements told to them and interpret it as if it was intended specifically for them.

We know that when mediums are speaking to your great Aunt Sally from beyond the grave, they are either using very general information that could apply to anyone, or have found out the information from another means.

Of course, most people want to believe that they are able to contact those no longer with us, or will believe exciting things about their future from a palm reader. This is down to the Barnum Effect.

What Does Barnum Effect Have To Do With Marketing?

These examples have focussed on ‘sneaky’ ways of using the Barnum Effect for entertainment purposes. Of course, when applied in a marketing context, a bit of flattery, or the perception of personalization goes a long way.

You may have been influenced by the Barnum Effect when taking personality quizzes. We’ve all done the “Which Harry Potter house do you belong in?” quiz and felt smug getting into Gryffindor (or in my case, highly offended by being put in Slytherin).

In a more subtle way, even the media we consume has been using the Barnum Effect to make us feel valued as customers.

Streaming services provide us with their film or TV recommendations ‘especially’ for us. Spotify generates personal Daily Mix playlists and their yearly Spotify Unwrapped campaign based on our activity, which have all been successful tactics at making us feel valued and ‘understood’, even though deep down, we know it’s just an algorithm.


So… How Can I Put It Into Practice?

If you aren’t already using interactive quizzes for lead generation, what are you waiting for? According to Kapost, interactive content converts two times more than passive content. One of the reasons it’s such an effective marketing tool is because it plays into the old-school “AIDA” marketing funnel (Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action).

Gamification approaches like quizzes have major marketing potential; delight and entertain your audience, inform them, find a way to capture their data and push them down the funnel. If you’re lucky, they’ll even share it with their social media contacts.

We know that the Barnum Effect relies on providing people with general information that can be easily applied to almost anyone, and a complimentary message thrown in can’t hurt. This can be easily applied when building a quiz.

Like the Harry Potter quiz already mentioned, personality style quizzes are very popular and allow you to embrace the Barnum Effect. Playbuzz revealed in a recent report that out of their most popular social media quizzes (those with over 100,000 shares), 77% of those are personality quizzes.

A few examples of this are “What kind of entrepreneur are you?” or like the example shown below, “Do you have an Entrepreneurial mind?”.

entrepreneur quiz
Source: Tryinteract

When it comes to creating your quiz, think about your target audience carefully. The title of the quiz should call out to them based on what you know about them and the challenges they face. The content should be as relevant as possible in order to target potential leads, as the more relevant to your audience, the more powerful the Barnum Effect, as it will feel like you are really talking to them.

First, establish the objective of the quiz, and consider what outcomes you might create that aligns with what you want to achieve.

Example: you create a quiz for marketers with the end goal of getting people to download your e-book on content marketing. Your personality quiz could be “what kind of a content marketer are you?”, with favourable outcomes that pick up on typical elements of content marketing, such as ‘brand champion’ or ‘SEO Superstar’, which should be based on content in the e-book.

Here’s what you should look out for when building your quiz:

  • Quizzes can go viral, so improve your chances of this being a popular piece of content by making sure it’s as ‘shareable’ as possible. It needs to look good, and have fun and interesting outcome pages (your result having done the quiz that you might share).
    Here’s a good example that includes a clear outcome or result, an eye-catching image, a description with a bit of Barnum style flattery and social media sharing buttons:
quiz social share
Source: Buzzfeed
  • Keep it short and sweet! This kind of quiz is designed to move people through the questions quickly to reach the outcome, so keep it to 8 questions or less. Personality quizzes should err on the side of fun, even in B2B marketing, so keep your language light and casual.

It’s All About Lead Generation, Right?

All of this planning boils down to one thing: actually converting those leads. There are many ways you can use a quiz to capture data, two of these are:

  1. A form within the content of the quiz itself
  2. Offer gated content at the end of the quiz

Option 1 works if you put the form right at the end of the quiz, just before the outcome page. The theory is that as you’ve committed your time and got through the questions, it’s worth putting in your email to see the result (otherwise known as the sunk cost fallacy).

Source: TryInteract

Option 2 relies on a call-to-action to download or read your content. Instead of putting the data capture form within your quiz, make this content gated. To make this work, your content should be directly related to your quiz and should provide the solution to any problems or challenges highlighted in the quiz.

Example: If your quiz rates people on a scale, the results for the lower scorers should encourage them to download your content so they can scratch up on their knowledge. If doing a personality style quiz, whilst complimenting them for the outcome they did receive, draw attention to the ones they didn’t, and use your content as a way to help them learn more about the other personality types.

I Captured Some Leads!… Now What?

To keep pushing your new contacts down the funnel, you need a way to capture and utilize the data. There are quiz generator tools like Typeform that integrate with your email platform or CRM to make this an easy process. By also capturing the quiz results or outcomes from these leads, you can create even more personalized content for them and make your email marketing efforts even more effective. The first email you send them is your opportunity to wow with the Barnum Effect, using all the information you’ve collected about them. It’s all about personalization, flattery and connecting on a personal level.

Go On, Tell Us What You Think!

Did we miss something?  Come on! Tell us what you think of our article on lead generation quizzes using the Barnum effect in the comments section.

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Make Lead Generation Quizzes More Effective With Barnum Effect

by Fergus Taylor