Emotional Marketing Impacts The Way People Feel. Content Can Help Reshape Feelings, Strengthen Attention, And Make People Readier For Buying.
As a solopreneur content-marketer you don’t often contend with the fact that your blog readers may arrive with varying moods or feelings. These moods and emotions can make a big change to the way they see or react to your content.
Your intentions to deliver relevance, value, and quality in your content may get wasted. And all because the readers were in an unpleasant mood (not your fault). Have you thought about this?
Well, there’s more and more help to hand now. Psychologists and tech companies are studying human emotions like never before. They are able to show you ways to capitalize on the existing emotions of readers. And they will soon also be able to show you how to change those emotions in people to make them buy more from you.
At Solohacks Academy, we’ve put together nuggets of strategy that can help you pursue your content marketing with a whole new emotion-based view-point. If this topic excites you, read on …
1. What is emotional marketing, why does it matter, and what is its significance?
To understand emotional marketing, we may first have to examine what emotions are. How are they different from feelings and thoughts?
Technical experts would say thoughts are ideas in the mind. Feelings are bodily sensations that appear in response to thoughts or external events. And emotions are mind-states – rather like moods. They can be things like happy, sad, glad, exuberant, enthusiastic. They can also be lethargic, pained, distressed, tired or apathetic.
Emotion derives from the word e-motion … the mood that gives rise to some motion or action. The sequence goes something like this. An emotion makes your body feel energetic or lethargic. You then get ready to act on the thoughts in your mind. Your type of emotion causes your type of energy and your type of action on a thought.
Ancient meta-physicists insisted that there are only two real states of emotion. You have energy-rousing emotions. You also have energy-dousing emotions. All emotions fall into these two categories.
Modern psychologists like Robert Plutchik have plotted many finer nuances of emotions. See Plutchik’s Wheel Of Emotions in this classic diagram below:
Why are emotions so important to content marketing? What is their significance?
Well, content marketing has a goal to make people buy your products or services, right? You need to drive people to act. If people are in a no-energy or low-energy state, they will not act. So how can you use your content to create some rousing energy in a person to make him desirous of acting i.e. buying?
First, you have to think of how you want your potential buyers to act. Second, you have to gauge their current states of emotion. And third, your content has to help raise their emotional energy to do what you wish they would.
How do you achieve this energy-rousing via “emotional marketing”? Read on …
2. The exciting field of neuroscience and how to change human emotions subtly
Neuroscience is a very interesting subject. It is based on a study of the way emotions impact the human brain and vice versa. In fact, there is also something called “neuromarketing” where marketers aim to use the ideas of neuroscience to impact the minds of their consumers psychologically.
Without trying to get overly scientific about the whole thing, it’s important to realize that certain hormones and secretions in the brain create low, dull, apathetic or slow-moving emotions. People feel lethargic to act, apathetic towards things and generally downbeat. Similarly, there are certain hormones and secretions in the brain that create upbeat emotions like feeling on top of the world, feeling energetic and enthusiastic, feeling an outpouring of happiness for love.
Nobody enjoys being low and downbeat because being like that creates more and more depressive feelings and it’s a downward spiral. On the other hand, people love feeling upbeat because again its a spiral, only it’s a positive spiral. The happier you are, the more energy you have, the greater you feel and the spiral of good feelings brims over.
Knowing this much, brands that want customers to feel trust, loyalty and bondedness with them must somehow be able to take people from a downbeat spiral to an upbeat one. When people see how a brand can help them dispel those negative spiral feelings to positive spirals of feeling, every time they come into contact with the brand, they begin to see the brand as a “fix” – something that has the capability to make them feel better every time. Loyalty to the brand increases because it gives customers what they want. In return the customers allow the brand to give them more and more of the happy feelings that they have come to expect from the brand.
We’ve seen this happen every day in our lives. When we feel downbeat for long periods of time, we get even more lethargic. When we feel upbeat most of the time, we can’t stop acting. If a scientist were to describe it he would say “A body in motion stays in motion. A body at rest stats at rest.” But the scientist doesn’t usually add that a body at rest is feeling restful. It may be at rest but restless. Everybody wants to feel full of life!
How emotions can be transformed subtly
Now comes the part where we examine how brands can help people feel better if they are downbeat so that they begin to associate the brand with upbeat feelings in themselves. The answer lies in the brand being able to trigger actions (even small actions) in a downbeat person, because action usually breaks the downward spiral and gets it revving into an upbeat spiral.
Let’s take a few examples from real life to see how actions wag the tail of feelings to make them wag harder and harder with happiness eventually.
You are feeling tired and frustrated and lethargic. You don’t feel up to doing exercise, though you know that if you somehow start the exercise, it gets you into an endorphin-high that you enjoy. To get yourself into that first step away from lethargy you take a small act of changing into exercise clothes and shoes. That makes you feel empowered, because you’ve given yourself that self-care.
Suddenly, in a few seconds, the mood lightens, and you feel like stretching, your muscles feel like they want to move and before you know it you are limbered up. Now you can start walking, then jogging and when the time comes to stop, it’s hard to slow down, right? The small action of donning the exercise outfit triggers the motion, and the motion then grows upon itself.
This happens a few times, and your mind gets the picture. Every time it wants a high, it turns to wearing those exercise clothes, because it knows that little act kicks up the adrenaline.
You are bored and listless, not knowing what to do with your time, and coming to think of it even if you knew what to do, it would be a stretch to get up from the couch. Suddenly your eyes fall on an open magazine with pictures of lush flowering home gardens. Your mind then goes into overdrive imaging a rose bed in your own garden, all full of blooms. You feel empowered because you feel that a garden of roses is something you too can create.
Before you know it you’re hunting n your gardening cupboard for the compost bag and the spade to do a “little gardening”. You needed that little trigger (imagining your own garden) to get you feeling your own power, and now that you’re in motion, you kind of love being in motion. Right, again?
Now if the same rigmarole happened a few times, your mind would begin to associate that magazine browsing idea with feelings of high happiness. So it would reach for that magazine each time it needs a “fix” in a low moment.
Now think of the same idea in marketing terms. If your brand could provide the trigger that makes people go from low feelings to upbeat feelings with some small actions, and if the brand consistently did this, consumers would reach for the brand each time they wanted to get out of a rut into a high mental and physical gear. The secret therefore in emotional branding is to strategize on how your brand can provide the empowering triggers that turn the positive spiral switch on for consumers.
3. Why and how does emotional marketing work in tandem with content marketing?
There are 4 ways content marketing can help you utilize your audiences’ moments of heightened emotion to your advantage. What are these moments of heightened audience emotion?
1. The moments when customers first come across something new
When people come across something new, there is a vulnerable moment. People always feel a flutter of something. They stop for a space and examine their feelings.
Maybe they feel curiosity, intrigue, attraction. Or maybe they feel distaste, boredom or disenchantment.
We’ve all heard of “first impressions” and how powerful they can be. We often tell people not to judge books by their covers, but that’s what happens every time. People do get their first sense of emotions about anything at the moment they first set eyes on it.
For the better or worse they make judgments that can last a long time. Once people feel “first impression” emotions, it’s mighty hard to change their perceptions.
Moral of the story: always ensure your content make a great first impression. It has to signal class, quality, authority and any other value your brand wants to reflect.
2. The moments when customers examine their hearts and preferences
At many stages of the buying journey, customers stop to evaluate what they have learned so far. They examine how their hearts feel and what their emotions tell them. They make next-action decisions based on these emotions.
They have certain perceptions of their own. They also come across perceptions of others whom they respect or like. They pull all this together and ruminate. How does it all make them feel? Do they feel moved to decide one way or another?
In content marketing, we often say our content should match the stages of the buying journey. Experts also talk of “moments of truth” along the buying journeys. What are these?
Moments of truth (MoTs) represent points in customer journeys. People come across the need to make decisions at such moments. They feel the need to reconsider their opinions about the brand. These are the touchpoints when customers either fall more in love with your product – or turn away and leave.
Check where your customers face “moments of truth” in their buying journeys. You can then be ready to affect their emotions with the right content.
3. The moments customers examine if they have the energy to act
It’s sometimes not enough to merely affect a customer’s emotions at the “moments of truth”. They have to feel strongly enough to want to act on the emotional states created in such “moments of truth”.
Decision is one thing. Readiness to act is another. You need less emotional energy to mentally decide. You need more emotional energy to physically act.
As a content marketer, you need to increase the vigor of the content that audiences may come across at critical moments. There has to be enough motivation for action.
Most often the very visibility of a strong Call-To-Action makes people act. It scratches the itch to complete some step to get on with life. Make sure your CTAs appear at the right moment. Have content that helps rev up and crystallize action.
4. The way customers think they’d feel after the actions they take
Did you know that after every purchase every customer always has a moment of “buyers’ remorse”? It is a low feeling in the pit of the stomach when doubts arise on whether the decision to buy was a good one. This is particularly palpable with the purchase of high-priced items.
It’s part of good customer nurturing to help your customer at an emotionally down moment. Pat him on the back with your content. Reassure him of his choice. Make him feel proud of the new ownership. Make him feel he will get others’ respect for his wisdom.
You’ll notice many ecommerce experts encourage social sharing after purchases. The idea is to spur people to tell others on social media about their new buy. When people declare their buys, they drop that unpleasant emotion of buyers’ remorse. Instead, they start feeling a sense of status and pride.
New York Times author Tucker Max boils the psychology of sharing down to one truth: “Word of mouth is a status play.” If sharing something raises your status, you will share it. That’s why this trick of giving customers a push, to share socially after purchase, works so well in content marketing.
4. The few important customer emotions that are of special interest to content marketers
4 emotions are of particular interest to content marketers because people with these emotions tend to swing to extremes – and thereby action becomes easier to elicit.These 4 emotions are:
1. Happiness – it results in more shares
Research has shown that happiness is a positive “overflowing” emotion. That’s why it can make people want to share more. Brands can improve their reach and visibility by creating happy and shareable content. Good news is a typical case in point.
People say “bad news travels fast” but actually the opposite is true. It’s good news that proliferates. A study by New York Times revealed that emotional articles received the most shares. Positive posts got more attention than negative ones.
2. Sadness – it results in more clicks
This surprises most marketers to hear that sadness produces more clicks. Why would this be so? Scientists think this can be because sad information makes us want to know if there is a happy ending that makes things okay. So we click to read the whole story with some hope.
This is a trick a lot of content marketers use in brand storytelling. They reveal the saddest part of the story in the headline. They hope people will click to read whether it all got positively resolved. Empathy for others is at the heart of this “sadness producing clicks”. This is also why sad puppy pictures often get lots of donations for animal charities.
3. Fear – it results in greater loyalty
You may have already heard of this dictum, that fear creates greater loyalty. How does it do this? When there is fear, there is a human need for community as a safe place. It’s good to build a bond with your fans and followers on your site to give them a haven.
Fear is also palpable when people feel afraid of being left out of the crowd. They feel that they may face scorn or rejection if they are not in tune with the happenings around them.
This is why content marketers use the FOMO trick (Fear Of Missing Out) to get people to sign up to mailing lists. Self-preservation via “being with the herd” is at the heart of this.
4. Anger – it results in action
Anger – especially anger against injustice – can make people take immediate action. People feel powerful when they come to the rescue of others. So, justified anger is a strong motivator for immediate action.
Anger also becomes the emotion at play when a brand’s service is poor. That’s why irate customers are so quick to air their grievances. But anger cools quickly too, since it’s an intense emotion difficult to sustain. So it’s easy to deal with a customer who is very angry.
Act on his complaint immediately, and he will cool down as fast he got fired up. If you try to brush his issue under the carpet you are actually helping him hold his anger longer. You are helping him become a center of attention.
5. The evergreen and compelling power of storytelling as an emotion-leveraging tactic
There are stories that make us excited and exhilarated. And then there are stories that do nothing to us.
For example, “I came, I saw, I conquered” is also a short story, right? What does it do to you? Nothing. On the other hand, from ages gone by there is a formula for storytelling that has always – but always – been a resounding success with generations of listeners. If you want your brand story to be truly compelling, you have to get as close to this formula as you can. It never fails.
What is that formula, you ask? Here it is …
In every story-telling tradition, across centuries and continents and civilizations, the eight-stage story structure that captures human fancy has never changed.
- Whether you take the mythological trek of a hero after many travails succeeding towards a grand redeeming discovery …
- Or the rags to riches tale of a never-say-die young entrepreneur who makes millions eventually …
- Or the romantic story of a young couple having to battle all societal and financial odds to become one, and to become role models for lovers everywhere …
- Or the detective story where a mystifying murder has to be solved after many setbacks by a great reasoning brain …
All stories have the same eight stages.
There is a sequence of Context, Conflict, Comparison, Compulsion, Courage, Climax, Comfort, Closure and Conclusion.
Let’s see how this works …
- Context: There is a hero (or heroine, the main character) who has a goal or dilemma … that sets the context.
- Conflict: The hero faces a conflict in the shape of the goal or dilemma. How can he solve it, he wonders ..?
- Comparison: There are many confusing paths to take before the hero. He is perplexed – and so are we, who hear the story.
- Compulsion: Now comes a bigger hurdle. There is an unshakeable something that prevents the hero from taking the decision he’d like to.
- Courage: With the soft options closed, the hero has to steel himself to take the harder and only option before him.
- Climax: This is where the story hits a climax. The hero has to perform some incredible heroics to get by this stage.
- Comfort: Almost as he loses this struggle, a fortunate helping hand appears – an angel, an idea, a spark of genius …
- Closure: With the help of this sudden intervention, the hero finally surmounts his challenge and gets his final closure.
- Conclusion: For us listeners there’s a moral to be learned, or maybe an insight that makes us finally sigh with relief.
Think of any story from childhood – or the latest thriller or piece of fiction you have read. You’ll always find this formula underlying the theme, whoever the characters are, and whatever the story is about. Jog your mind and you’ll see what I mean. When your brand tells a story, about its own self or its case studies, never forget this formula that’s worked for aeons.
6. The excitement, possibilities and future of new emotion-detection technologies
Try to think how this would be. You have a piece of content created for your audiences. But the person reading it has arrived in a grouchy mood. That wouldn’t give your piece a chance of sinking into his mind. Right?
But here’s what can happen instead. Technology may have been enabled to read the reader’s emotions and changes your content dynamically. Mr. Grouch therefore finds his mood lightening as he reads, and he absorbs your content with glee.
Would that be great, or what?
That’s what this new Emotion-Detection technology is working to bring into content marketing. Research shows that people with negative feelings have closed-down parts of the brain. So decision-making becomes impossible.
We have to make the emotional state of the reader more pleasant first. Otherwise, the content hasn’t a chance to encourage decisions towards our brands. This applies to both B2C and B2B target audiences.
This technology is not somewhere in the future. The future is already here.
Apple, earlier this year, bought an emotion-detection company called Emotient. This company Emotient has acquired a patent for collecting and labeling up to 100,000 facial images a day. How do they do this? They use Facial Recognition technology.
Another company making huge strides in Emotion-Detection is Affectiva. See their video below to see what their entire approach to the topic is …
Where is all this heading? This is the most interesting part. At start, people found this emotion-detection interesting because they could decode reader’s emotions. The new twist is that by using this technology they want to do more than read emotions – they want to reshape emotions. They hope to be able to do this by changing content dynamically in real-time, in response to reader’s existing moods.
7. What exactly is emotional analytics? And how does emotional analytics work?
What does Emotions analytics (EA) mean? Well, in the old days (not too long ago) we content-marketers used to research target audiences both quantitatively and qualitatively, but not really get a measure of how they are emotionally impacted by our content. Now it appears there are ways to scientifically measure emotions in content-consuming audiences.
There is now software that collects data on how a person communicates verbally and non-verbally and thus “understands” the person’s mood or attitude. Using these insights, content can be closely customized to our target audiences, in the many interactions they have with our content … especially in areas like customer relationship management (CRM) and customer experience (CX) management.
Recent research appears to predict that the Emotional Analytics technology market will grow from the $3.37 billion it was in 2016-2017 to almost $7.76 billion by 2022. That’s a huge leap forward, if it happens.
The larger area of Emotional Analytics may well also become more segmented into clear sub-areas such as sentiment analysis, quantification of mood, or emotional variance by digital media types like images, video, audio, and text.
A statistic that may be of great interest to marketers, is that consumers who have a positive emotional experience are 15 times more likely to recommend the company that allowed them to feel that experience, according to a study by customer experience firm Temkin Group. Customers who had positive experiences thanks to a brand, are also six times more likely to forgive the brand if it made a mistake. The need for measuring the “positive” emotions thus becomes paramount.
There may also be a lot of value in being able to see whether using triggers of certain types can help reshape emotions and moods, and if so how.
How does emotional analytics work? A behind-the-scenes glimpse
Every day, millions and billions of people post their emotions on social media – on Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as on websites and in videos. So there is plenty of “emotions data” already out there, available to the new breed of EA software vendors, to analyze and arrive at insights.
Essentially these vendors have the onerous task of sifting through gazillions of human emotional cues and human interactions – to see if there is a clear correlation between actions leading to emotions, and then emotions leading to actions.
The “emotions data” is obtainable from video cameras that capture facial expressions during chats, microphones that collect data on tones of voice, or samples of text in blogs and articles, and social updates. Of course, we also have the emojis that people like to annotate their text with. All this data, fed into machine learning algorithms, can help us learn to recognize expressions, tones, and other characteristics that correlate to specific emotions.
Although today’s emotional range may cover typical broad categories of emotions – like anger, contempt, confusion, disgust, fear, frustration, joy, sadness, or surprise – we may have finer shades or nuances of emotions recognized by machine learning. The end result we expect to see is not just what emotions people had at the time they typed text, or spoke via voice or video, but what actions they took immediately before and immediately after. That is the point that marketers are more interested in.
Soon there are likely to be dashboards where we can, as marketers, see the pattern waves of emotions in our target audiences in real-time. We may thus be able to shape our triggers to create fluctuations in emotions that can alter buying behavior. That is the general objective all experts are working towards.
8. Tips for creating emotionally powerful content that works to transform buyers
3 tactics that work exceptionally well in emotional marketing are these:
1. Building trust and co-ownership via user-generated content
People always feel great about something they own and feel empowered to improve. That’s why user-generated content is so powerful. It arouses feelings of co-ownership of a brand.
There is more than trust in a brand built here. There is a sense of being one of the custodians of the brand, which is a pretty powerful emotion. Let customers contribute creativity to your brand’s repertoire. They will begin to feel “part of the brand family”.
2. Keep surprising audiences to keep them in high anticipation
There is a theory called “Positive Intermittent Reinforcement”. It suggests that when people know they can expect only happy surprises, but they don’t know when these will appear, they then stay in a state of heightened anticipation and curiosity.
Figure out what your customers would love to get, and make a commitment to give it to them. Only don’t tell them when and how often they’ll get what they want. You’ll have people looking out for your content with eagerness.
3. Offering nostalgic content creates a lot of warmth and fuzziness
Of late a lot of brands have begun to tap into the feelings of nostalgia to get their content across to customers. The world is becoming faster and technology-focused. That’s making many of us yearn for days that were slower and simpler.
Netflix for example has seen a rise in the demand for old movies with softer emotions. See if your brand too can have some association with things “olden and golden”. See how you can intersperse some “warm memory” into stark modern-day content.
9. Some great examples of brands using content smartly for emotional marketing
These examples below show how cleverly content marketing can use emotion to tug at heartstrings. See if they give you ideas for your own brand …
1. How Lego helps children express their imagination … and parents feel proud of their creations
It’s hard to tell who is more proud of a child’s creative achievement: the child or the parents. This is the emotion Lego taps into with this ultra-cute message of a child that has built a masterpiece with Lego bricks. Notice how the content says that whatever the shape of a child’s ultimate creation, it’s always beautiful. Awww!
2. When Volkswagen say they trash one in every fifty cars they create to give you only the best, you have hold them in awe
Remember that after World War II, selling German stuff to any other country was already tough. But Volkswagen made Germany coveted again. It was a softer Germany, but without giving up the uncompromising eye for great engineering. The very size and shape of the car was fun too, erasing all other unhappy memories.
3. UPS deliver more than couriered packages … they deliver joy and happiness
This is a content campaign with one of the greatest examples of storytelling. The UPS video shows how UPS drivers make friends with the kids they deliver parcels to. They grow closer and closer with every parcel delivered. Adults would shed tears of happiness when they see this content!
10. How to measure results, performance, and success with emotional marketing
Emotional marketing is more often measured qualitatively. At best people are given a scale of 1-10 to rate their feelings. They try to reflect their strengths of feelings on such scales.
But this system is rather rudimentary. It cannot tell you both – which feelings they feel, and to what degree of intensity. When doing such surveys there is also a lot of subjectivity. Results are unreliable.
I have given below 4 good ways to get more objective metrics:
1. Try to measure Net Emotion Value (NEV)
Net emotion value (NEV) is positive emotions minus negative emotions. You can still use a scale that rates a set of positive emotions and negative emotions from 0-10. Take the average of the positive feelings and the average of the negative feelings. See which one exceeds the other – and by how much. By using this method, we get more of an overall objective understanding rather than too much subjectivity.
There are two benefits to using NEV metrics … it’s easy to set up and easy to put in place. It gives respondents freedom to choose their preferred emotions and rate their scores for these.
2. Use Sentiment Analysis for individual interactions
Sentiment analysis measures whether an interaction is positive, neutral or negative. It is also known as opinion mining. Sentiment analysis checks messages coming from customers to the business … on email or chats. It then tries to deduce feelings and attitudes. You have sentiment analysis software now that can detect some typical customer feelings … like sarcasm, surprise, anger or disappointment.
Sentiment analysis is more interested in the conversations with customers. You can use it to spot changes in emotional responses over time. Or you can decode the reasons behind customer churn.
3. Monitor Social Media for emotional temperature
Using social media analysis to detect your customer’s emotions is one way to monitor. The complexity is that you have to do it social channel by channel. Metrics applicable to different channels are different.
To track social media sentiments well, you have to limit yourself. You have to focus on a specific campaign on a specific channel. Monitor conversations, moods, feelings and language in customer interactions. You can include likes, dislikes, shares, retweets, comments. Tools like SocialMention can also help.
4. Measure User Experience on your website
Among the most common metrics to measure user experience on a website would include:
- Time spent on page
- Number of pages visited
- Degree of engagement on page
- Response to Call-to-Actions
Other factors to check would be those that can increase “dissatisfactions”:
- Mobile responsiveness is poor
- A lot of features do not work
- Sites are too slow to load
- Many pages frequently return errors
So What Are Your Thoughts? Do Share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of Knowledge Commerce solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us, in the comments field below this post.