Humans are emotional creatures. In fact, most scientists agree that the most crucial emotional responses we have to the world around us – fear at a threat, anger at a slight, love and caring for those in need – are rooted in the instinct to survive. After all, most of these emotions are geared toward protecting ourselves or the future of the human race. Harvard Business Review calls this “emotions before reason“.
This behaviour seems illogical – until you consider the fact that most parents would put their child’s safety before their own, effectively defying the logic that comes with your own personal survival.
Alternatively, consider just how many people throughout the course of humanity have done truly stupid or terrible things in the name of love, one of the most basic, and most notorious emotions in existence.
Emotion, then, sometimes defies logic, which is why it is interesting that business, arguably one of the world’s most logic-focused sectors, has tended to ignore much of human emotion in the day to day operations, all while retaining the desire to home in on the emotional impact of marketing.
Business As Logic
So much of our focus in business is geared toward logic.
For example, managers are instructed to leave emotions at the door when making hiring and firing decisions. We are taught to “keep family family and business business” and shy away from emotional connections that may negatively impact our ability to make smart decisions that affect profit.
So too, go many of the decisions we make in marketing. Consider the data-driven research you perform to determine a target market, and then make some of the essential determinations regarding where, when, and how to direct your marketing dollars at those who stand to have the most significant impact on our bottom line.
Data is often a rather unemotional thing. However, even if you make excellent choices regarding whom to target with your marketing efforts, which channels to use to reach them, and when they respond positively, you do not stand much of a chance of holding their interest if you ignore the emotional aspect of marketing.
Marketing Can Be Emotional
Imagine you have recently begun making a product directed at persons aged 35+. You have determined this group tends to respond well to social media marketing, mainly when it includes video. As such, you decide to produce a video extolling the virtues of your product, taking care to release the video across all social media channels used by your target market.
However, you neglect to address the emotional aspect of your message and make a lighthearted joke in an attempt to make users feel more at ease with your new product. Unfortunately, your audience sees the joke as an attempt to make light of a problem they face.
In this way, neglecting the emotional aspect of marketing can be hazardous to your bottom line.
Consider the Sarah McLachlan commercial for ASPCA.
You know the one.
It is the one where that devastatingly sad McLachlan tune (Angel) plays over a video montage of abandoned and abused animals practically begging you to take them home or at least donate to their care. Even McLachlan says that she can barely watch the final cut. However, it was effective, raising over $30 million for the organisation during its air time.
Just ask Budweiser and its Clydesdales, Jeep and its soldier homecomings, or Sarah McLachlan herself. It is clear that effective use of emotional marketing can be a valuable tool in today’s landscape.
Emotional Marketing Starts At The Bottom
As humans, we experience emotion in almost everything we do, including interacting with and purchasing products. While it is easy to see where emotions play a large part in how we respond to specific ad campaigns, true emotional marketing starts from the first time we encounter a brand.
If you are not a web designer by trade, and most people are not, you may not know where to begin when assessing the emotional impact of your website. Take a step back and approach your site with fresh eyes, as a new potential customer would, and consider the overall effect.
Is It Positive? Negative? Fresh? Professional? Staid? Neutral? Exciting?
Any of these adjectives may or may not be what you are trying to achieve, but considering how your website affects those who look at it is a valuable tool when it comes to an understanding why some potential clients bounce off your site instead of taking the time to learn what your product is all about. Bounce rate is one of the critical factors marketers look at to determine how effective a website is at performing its primary responsibility – getting users to click through and purchase your product.
This first impression is the most basic level of analysing website design. If a site incites a viscerally negative reaction, it does not matter how great the message is, or how prominent the brand is on the site. The branding and emotion must work in tandem if the user is to move past the initial reaction to actual interest in your product.
Multiple things can affect emotion upon this first look at a website. Factors like the emotional reaction to certain colours, certain celebrity or brand cosponsors, and even the quality of the layout and imagery work together to incite the initial reaction.
Intriguing Potential Customers
Even if the initial view of the website leaves users feeling neutral or pleasant, more emotional work is necessary on your part to move potential customers to the next stage of engagement with your site. Now, you must provide enough intrigue to get them to stick around and see what products or services you have to offer.
What makes your website inviting and intriguing? Are you using photos to help provoke the desired emotional response in your users? What about video? Though the number has often been disputed, humans process visual imagery much faster than text – purportedly up to 60,000 times faster.
Consider a website for a brand that appeals to its physically active users to get out and see what its products can do for their active lifestyle. A staid, static website hardly evokes the emotions necessary to intrigue the target audience. However, appropriate video of the product in use and proper use of colours that imply energy could do just the opposite.
If your website is a wall of text or an expanse of blank space, you are not emotionally engaging your audience, and you are missing a crucial opportunity to get them to interact with your brand.
Involving Your Customers So They Will Interact
The final step in an emotional appeal to your audience is to get them to become involved in your site, and engage with your product. One of the most intriguing ways businesses are achieving this step in 2019 is with the use of augmented reality (AR).
AR marketing takes the user’s environment and inserts the product into it, allowing the potential customer to get the first-hand experience with the product while making the purchasing decision. Companies using AR to great effect include IKEA and popular makeup brands like Covergirl and Sephora.
Consider IKEA for a moment. What better way to appeal to the emotions of a potential customer than to allow them to experience the impact a new piece of furniture could have on their home? That is precisely what IKEA planned when it designed its new catalogue, aimed at users experiencing the emotional effects of being able to incorporate furniture before even purchasing it. To complete the effect, all the user had to do was click through to the order page.
Immersive experiences are hardly new for IKEA, considering the way the company showcases nearly all of its products in-store as a sort of interactive “this is how our entire line would look in your home” schematic. However, it is the first time they have attempted it online, and the emotional appeal is undeniable.
Emotions play a much more significant role in marketing than you would think, and it is essential to consider them when making decisions crucial to your business. If your website or other marketing tactics are not appealing to the emotions of your target audience, you are not capitalising on the maximum potential that it can achieve.
Want to learn more?
If you’re interested in the managerial and strategic aspects of UX, then consider to take the online course on UX Management and Strategy. If, on the other hand, you want to brush up on the basics of UX and Usability, then consider to take the online course on User Experience (or another design topic). Good luck on your learning journey!
(Lead image: Depositphotos)