The Serial Position Effect & How to Use it in Your Marketing

by | May 17, 2023 | Marketing | 0 comments

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Imagine you’re at a fancy restaurant in Paris.

The waiter comes with the menu and you start looking at it.

You look at the first item on the menu.

It seems costly.

So you browse through the pages and look at other items.

You find a cheaper option.

It doesn’t seem that costly.

You end up ordering it.

You’re happy that you saved some money.

But what actually happened?

The restaurant fooled you and sold you an overpriced item using the serial position effect.

Or you could also say that they used the serial position effect strategically to get you to pay more.

What is the serial position effect?

Essentially, it says that the first and last pieces of information you give to someone are the most important and will be remembered more than anything in the middle.

Why do you think that happens?

We remember the first few items more easily because of the greater amount of cerebral processing devoted to them.

And we remember the last few items more easily because they are still in our short-term memory when a recall is needed.

The serial position effect - Graph

This is exactly the reason why I am so focused on creating a strong customer journey.

And more than that, making sure each stage of the funnel is optimized well.

Because any stage can be the first stage or last stage for any particular customer.

(Yes, the customer journey is not as linear as you expect it to be!!)

How did the restaurant do it?

Here’s how they got you into the trap.

  • They strategically placed an overpriced item at the beginning of the menu
  • The price of the first item got stuck in your mind
  • You browsed the rest of the menu keeping the price of the first dish in mind
  • This made you feel other items on the menu are less costly, which otherwise may have seemed overpriced

And, boom.

SOLD.

What do you have to keep in mind?

Two things:

  • The first step is critical.
  • The final call to action is just as important.

By prioritizing the first and last pieces of information, you can create a more memorable and impactful experience for your customers.

You need to make sure you’re introducing yourself and your brand in the best possible way.

Preferably with a clear message and a compelling call to action.

You also want to make it easy for your customers to make a purchasing decision or take whatever action you want them to take.

But what’s equally important?

Think about creating experiences that will stick with your customers and resonate with them over time.

This can help to build loyalty and get repeat customers.

Real-world + marketing examples

You already know the restaurant menu example.

Now, look at some more examples.

1// Copywriting

Whenever you’re writing copy, especially direct-response, where the goal is to sell a product/service directly…

You always start with the biggest benefit first.

It gets easier for the target customer to remember it and make the buying decision.

And in your social media content as well, the hook & call-to-action are going to be remembered more than the post itself. (Use it wisely!)

2// Webpage structure & Ad Placement

There’s a reason the top menu is at the top.

Moreover, the ads that are placed at the top and bottom tend to perform better than the middle ones.

3// Emails

Here’s how I do it in my newsletter.

The top message:

Email newsletter - Top message

The top message is really important and I want everyone to remember it for a while.

Why?

This newsletter and domain are new, and I want to keep email engagement high to build my domain reputation.

Secondly, I end the post with my offers.

Email newsletter - bottom message

Why?

I want my subscribers to remember what I offer, even if they don’t need it right now.

Hence, those messages are at the top and bottom of every email that I send.

I do what I preach, so, you have my secret now.

Final Thoughts

Again…

The serial position effect says that the first and last pieces of information you give to someone are the most important and will be remembered more than anything in the middle.

So, remember its power and use it to your advantage in your marketing efforts.

How?

  • By focusing on the first and last pieces of information
  • Creating memorable experiences,

This way you can create a more effective and impactful marketing strategy.


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Rahul Choudhary

Rahul Choudhary

Founder, Beef Up Media

With almost 6 whole years of experience in the online marketing world & specialising in email marketing + funnels, I’ve seen most – the good, the bad, and the downright ugly.

My goal?

Try to share as much of my knowledge & experience as possible.

Don’t forget to connect with me on social media. ↓

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