Emotion is a powerful tool. If there’s any proof needed of the fact, you would only need to look at the news headlines in 2016.
The language of politics, for example, seems to be increasingly framed in emotional terms. Look, for example, at Britain’s recent decision to leave the European Union. In the lead up to the referendum, the Leave campaign was repeatedly accused of using a highly charged rhetoric, appealing to the public’s fears and frustrations in light of an increasingly urgent refugee crisis. Similarly, in the US Presidential race, Donald Trump’s dramatic rise as the Republican nominee, which has seen him gain what seems like a sudden deluge of supporters, has been largely put down to the ways he uses language to evoke an emotional response.
Politics aside, commentators on both points are overwhelmingly asserting that in the battle of emotion vs reason, emotion will win.
But what can we learn from this, and how can we use emotion in marketing?
We can use emotion in marketing to tell stories
In the past, we’ve blogged about how data can be used in your PR strategy, and how it can be effectively used to illustrate the wider picture. In marketing, data is important in making sure that you’re knowledgeable about your customer base, and that you’re an expert in providing them with the right solutions.
But consider this: in the lead up to ‘Brexit’, Michael Gove said that “Britain is tired of experts”, and in some respects, he might have been right. Leading brands such as Nestlé have suggested that data-driven marketing detracts away from the power of communication.
Tom Buday, Nestlé’s Global Head of Marketing and Consumer Communications, recently told Marketing Week, “Measurement contributions are becoming more and more powerful, but there is still the creative, subjective element and for a long time it will be human beings that decide what is the best way to start a conversation, or deliver a message, or inspire people to do something.”
Despite all of our technical innovations, there is no replacement for human emotion when it comes to connecting with each other. Brands can utilise this by using emotion in their marketing to tell stories that connect with their audience. You don’t have to go full on John-Lewis-at-Christmas to make a meaningful connection – simply consider what ways your product or business contributes to your customers’ lives, and how you can incorporate that into your marketing material’s messaging.
We can use emotion in marketing to build brand loyalty
Research shows that emotion has always been a key driver in consumer behaviour. So how can we use emotion to understand how customer loyalty is formed?
Consumers choose one brand over another for a multitude of reasons, such as price and quality. However, one – perhaps less tangible – factor that plays a significant role is the importance of your brands values, and how they fit into your customers’ personal values and lifestyle. This might be about, for example, the environment or ethics, or it could be about family values or charitable giving. In short, things that people are passionate – even emotional – about.
Colin Shaw, co-author of ‘The Intuitive Customer: 7 imperatives for moving your customer experience to the next level’, told Marketing Week that humans are “complicated” and that “50% of (brand) experience is based on how a customer feels.” Loyalty is often based on customers having consistently positive experiences, causing them to put more and more trust in a particular brand. In order to ensure that customers have these positive experiences, marketers must therefore make sure that they understand their customers’ emotions before they can connect with them.
In some cases, this could be achieved simply by surveying your customers to find out what things they value and whether they feel appreciated and understood as a customer.
We can use emotion in marketing to inspire action
Have you heard of the Halo Effect? In essence, the Halo Effect refers to the cognitive bias which influences a person’s opinion on a certain object, based around the overall and wider impressions the person has of it.
For example, if you are a brand that is popular with a lot of celebrity influencers, this is likely to give a person a positive impression of your brand – even those aspects that are either neutral, or that they know nothing about. And, as we’ve discussed, the more positively someone feels about a brand, the more likely they are to be loyal to it. Ensuring that customers associate your brand with positive things will make them more likely to try it initially, and more likely to continue using it afterwards.
But what about negative emotion? It might seem counterintuitive to conjure negative emotion in your target audience, but in some respects, it can be very useful. For example, a security software company for computers would benefit from instilling fear into its audience by warning them of the risks to their personal data if they don’t purchase their product. In this case, the business inspires action by offering a solution to the negative emotion they conjured in the audience.
Being able to effectively use emotion in marketing is being able to make use of a tool that has the potential to persuade huge groups of people. While quantifiable emotional tracking does exist, and continues to be developed, this need not be a topic purely for the specialists – marketers are, after all, also human. Using emotion in marketing can be as simple as identifying your customers’ feelings and considering how your key messages fit with that.
Do you need help appealing to your target audience? Get in touch with Digital Glue and see what we can do to help.