Psychology 101

Reveal marketing utilizes psychological techniques to improve campaign effectiveness. But how does it work? Reveal marketing is a proven method for raising engagement by requiring the recipients of a message to perform an interactive action in order to reveal the contents of the message.

How does it work?

  • Hiding a message triggers curiosity which increases engagement.
  • Requiring the user to put forth effort adds value to the message.
  • The possibility of winning heightens intrigue and increases engagement.
  • Interactivity increases the time spent with a brand by up to 500%

That’s the overview. But what are these psychological concepts and how do they really work to increase engagement, click thru, and conversions? Read on for an in-depth guide to reveal marketing psychology.


People are driven by curiosity. It causes them to search for knowledge, it brings them joy when they find it, and it is classified more and more as one of the key emotions people experience.Those marketers who are tapping into their potential customers’ curiosity are happily seeing the results of increased engagement and higher conversions over their competition.

Endowment Effect

In 1990, economists Richard Thaler, Daniel Kahneman, and Jack Knetsch conducted an experiment at Cornell University. They gathered a group of students and gave half a Cornell University coffee cup (retail value $6.00) and nothing to the other group of students. They then asked the coffee cup group and the no-cup group to set selling and buying prices for the mugs. The results were very interesting to the economists. The students who had mugs refused to sell for less than $5.25. The students who didn’t have the mugs refused to buy for more than $2.75. What causes the discrepancy? This is what’s called the endowment effect. By Thaler’s definition, it is “goods that are included in one’s endowment – that is, goods that one owns – are valued more highly than identical goods not held in the endowment.”


Remember Pavlov’s dogs? They were the classic conditioning example, the dogs learned that when a bell was rung before were fed their favorite meal, they would start to salivate. Eventually, Pavlov found that he could ring the bell, and not feed the dogs, and get the same result from the dogs. The dog’s brains had been conditioned to anticipate something they enjoyed, even if they did not get the results in the end.


You know, that feeling that you’re missing some fun somewhere? That any event you aren’t at is the best time ever? That someone’s Instagram feed is way more exciting than yours? Wait, before you even answer, chances are you have experienced it from time to time. It’s the “Fear of Missing Out.” The term is relatively new (it was only officially added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013). And while the advent and explosion of social media have played a direct role in naming this specific type of social anxiety, the feelings actually associated with it have been around for a very long time.

Near Miss Theory

If you’ve played poker or blackjack, you know the feeling, watching the cards land, or the wheels spin only to find out you just missed hitting the jackpot. When that happens, what do most of us do? Get up and walk away? Maybe…but the more likely case is that most of us are going to reach into our pockets and lay another chip on the table or drop another coin in the slot. We’re compelled by that feeling of being so close to winning that we’re willing to stick around and keep trying again.

The Ikea Effect

Psychologists have found the more effort we exert in an activity, the higher the value we place on it. When Harvard Business School studied this, they dubbed it “The Ikea Effect.” It means that because you built your coffee table, to you it’s worth more. You’ve placed a higher value on something because you became emotionally attached to it while creating it.

So now that you’ve gotten a good look at what makes the 6 principles of reveal marketing tick. What now? Time to implement them, of course! Check out our example below.

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