Emotion can be a difficult ‘sell’ in the boardroom. Typically, we’re told to leave it off the table and act upon more tangible factors such as sales figures, open rates and engagement data. But what if we told you that it all comes down to emotion?

As a marketer, it’s your job to turn interactions into conversions, and since the dawn of advertising, we’ve relied on simple human connection. Whether you’re selling a discounted return flight to Honolulu or an energy-saving air fryer, the premise is the same; your audience must feel something in order for them to do something.

Horst Schulze, co-founder of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company said it best:

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Customers may not remember what the quality of your product was, but they will always remember how their customer experience made them feel.

Horst Schulze
Co-founder of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company

Does this make customers fickle? Are we simply simple beings who just need a fresh hit of dopamine rather than a product that lives up to its promises? In the age of the short attention span and quick gratification, you could be forgiven for assuming so. But the truth is, the way we process experiences is a little more complicated than a frown, smirk or smile.

 

What do customers feel?

Let’s look at “purchasing” as “decision making”. Advertising and marketing studies have proven time and time again that customers’ emotions are important indicators for one-off purchases and longer-term brand allegiance. So while we are acknowledging the quality of a product in the moment that we buy it or use it, that’s not the memory we hold on to. Instead, we remember how the product or service made us feel.

Did a new bus service finally get you to work on time? You feel relieved.
Did your bank reach out to you to flag something before it became a problem? You feel grateful.
Did a cosmetic treatment transform the way you see yourself? You feel confident.

Of course, these are all positive emotions. And for a positive emotion brands need to deliver positive experiences. It can very quickly swing the other way too, with poor quality products and services not only delivering negative emotions but a lasting distaste for the brand at fault.

 

 

Why customer experience is key to marketing success

If you’re a Head of Marketing or Marketing Manager, you know that marketing is an end-to-end process. It’s no longer enough to sell the product and be done with it. Brands must work hard to not only win customers, but retain them, reward them and remember them. In short, a customer is for life, not just a late-night Instagram purchase.

We’re not just talking about B2C here. You could be forgiven for thinking that emotion and customer experience take a back seat in B2B marketing. But for as long as there’s a human being in the transaction, there will always be an emotional response. Even the most experienced B2B sales execs—swimming in the rich depths of monthly commission—will tell you that “gut feel” is a key part of knowing when a potential sale feels right or wrong. 

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According to Qualtrics research, individuals who experience negative customer experiences and emotions are 30% less likely to buy from a brand again. Individuals who experience positive experiences and emotions are 93% more likely to buy from a brand again.

The stat above shows the staggering difference between keeping and losing a customer. And whilst it might sound easy enough to just make everyone happy, you really must consider the entire customer experience journey from beginning to whatever the end looks like. In an ideal world, there isn’t an end at all. But more on that later.

 

Emotion across the breadth of your brand

We’ve spoken before about the importance of touchpoints. Everything matters. From the language you use on a website form to the feelings you conjure up in your latest ad. It really does pay dividends to go right back to basics and look at your overarching brand ambition, the emotions you want to foster in your fanbase, and exactly how that translates across different channels, platforms and even regions.

For us and our clients, this begins with brand strategy and marketing strategy:

Brand strategy: Our mantra here is “Be bold, be memorable, be consistent.” We celebrate brands that are unique (even if they don’t realise it themselves). We help them leverage what makes them cool and bake that into their brand, from the vision and values to their mission and marketing…

Marketing strategy: This is a natural progression from brand strategy, and we like to cover a brand’s overall approach to promotion, advertising and position. That’s everything from content and social to the nitty gritty like SEO and conversion.

A common thread through both of these areas is helping our clients understand what “good” looks like. We will often ask about recent positive brand experiences – ones that left a lasting impression and left them smiling. We will often share our own, too. Better still, we’ll share case studies of our own work where we’ve leveraged emotion to support the brand.

 

 

It’s a never-ending story

We like to believe that the perfect marketing funnel has no bottom (oh, matron). Retention is nothing new, but the age of the fan girl and fan boy is still in its relative infancy, so we believe that it’s crucial that brands invest in the retention side of customer experience. How can you deliver such an emotionally positive experience that customers become fans? What can you do to make them advocates of your product or service? You’ve guessed it – you need to make them feel good.

A recent ad from Monzo delivered a great example of leveraging emotion, and in particular, the contrast of negative and positive emotions found in everyday personal banking.

 

 

While complex in its visual execution, the overall sentiment is simple. Banking should feel good. And Monzo delivers upon this with their product – banking that’s easy, straightforward and free of complication, stigma or stress.

The pay-off? For Monzo, it’s a thriving customer base, that not only continues to grow year-on-year but creates a huge talking point amongst its consumers. 

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The Harvard Business Review report listed over 300 emotional motivators including concepts such as “being seen as unique,” “enjoying a sense of well-being,” “feeling a sense of belonging,” and “having confidence in the future.

It’s time to get emotional

So if your product or service is something that you truly believe in and something that you truly believe can deliver good value to customers, then it’s time to jump that final hurdle: Get emotional. Have those unconventional conversations across the boardroom table. 

Three ways to put the ‘feeling’ into your brand:

Customer profiling

This is an essential process for understanding what your ideal customers look like. Research can help you build personas, which in turn can help you tailor your overall marketing strategy or more nuanced approach to particular demographics. And most importantly, understanding their emotional needs.

Brand strategy

We teased upon this earlier: Establish your vision, mission and values. Where do you want to go as a brand? What are your goals and aspirations? Which values are key to being successful? Telling this brand story is not only your chance to create a compelling emotional narrative for your brand, but also a set of guiding morals that help you make your own business decisions.

Marketing motivators

This is the important bit. How and where are you going to make that connection with your customer? We can’t all just do a ‘John Lewis’ and make them cry off the bat. That won’t suddenly deliver a spike in sales. Emotions are complex and we must deploy the right message to the right people at the right time.

If you’re struggling to sell emotion to the board or you’re unsure where that untapped emotion is within your brand, let’s talk. We’re experts in unlocking the right marketing message – one that will get your customers talking, recommending, returning, and maybe even crying. With joy, of course.

Let’s have a chat…

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