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Emotional Marketing: Customer Decision-Making 101

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Google knocked it out of the park in regards to emotional advertising this year. During the 2020 Super Bowl, they aired the Don’t Forget/Loretta commercial. I don’t know about you, but the tears were streaming.

As a quick (and not nearly as stunning as the actual ad) recap, an elderly husband uses Google in an effort to “not forget” the wonderful life between him and his wife. In the end, he asks Google to remind him that he’s the luckiest man in the world. (I’m not crying, YOU’RE CRYING).

Google’s “Don’t Forget/Loretta” Commercial – images sourced from video

This ad is just one example of a marketing and advertising tool where marketers use emotion to make the audience notice a brand and purchase products. Typically, emotional marketing works by tapping into a singular emotion to get a response from the target audience. 

With the Covid-19 crisis in full swing, people all over the world are more receptive to emotional outreach today than they were just a couple of months ago. Here’s an example of how Lowe’s is responding to customer’s emotional realities during Covid-19.

To accompany its $170 million commitment to Covid-19 relief, Lowe’s just announced a new campaign inviting people to make thank-you signs for essential public workers to display outside their homes. Lowe’s Chief Brand and Marketing Officer Marisa Thalberg noticed an organic trend across the country and wanted to “fan the flames of that positivity.”

“Home has never mattered more, and we can’t begin to unpack the new emotional importance of home… Right now we want to evolve our messaging to speak with a different level of connection and empathy.” 

Marisa Thalberg, Chief Brand and Marketing Officer, Lowes

Emotional advertising and marketing are exceptionally powerful. Studies show that many people rely on emotions, as opposed to facts or information, when they are making purchasing decisions. This is one reason why campaigns with emotional content performed twice as well as campaigns with rational content, according to one study of 1,400 successful ad campaigns.

But, how is it done? How do top advertisers and marketers tap into emotions in such a real way that it makes consumers want to buy?

This post will cover the following basics:

  • How marketers and advertisers detect emotions using market research
  • The crucial role of emotional decision-making factors in the B2B path-to-purchase
  • Emotional marketing strategies

Let’s get started!

How do marketers and advertisers detect relevant emotions of their target audience for emotional marketing?

When it comes to creating an emotional marketing advertising campaign, how do you know which emotional direction to go? Should you target happiness in an effort to get people to share your message, or should you create a sad message to help your audience connect with each other?

It’s true there are so many different emotions you can tap into, but not all emotional messages will resonate well with your target audience. If you don’t do your customer market research, your emotional marketing messages may even backfire, even if your intentions are good. Seriously, remember the Kendall Jenner “end racism with a Pepsi” ad of 2017?

Additionally, no two companies have the same target market, so there is no one-size-fits-all formula for emotional marketing. The best approach to hitting an advertising home run is to conduct tight market research. With excellent market research, you seek to find out everything you can about your audience, who they are, what their preferences are, what they care about day-in and day-out, and more.

Once you conduct target audience market research, you can use your findings to pinpoint an emotional message that will be well received. 

There are several approaches to creating an accurate customer profile for emotional marketing, but here are the market research methods you absolutely must include in your strategy.

1. Mine your CRM for telling data points

Your Customer Relations Manager (CRM) is not only an excellent place to organize and store customer information, but it’s a gold mine for market research. 

As you look through your CRM, or contacts database, you can uncover trends about how customers consume your content. This information will help you understand basic, yet telling, demographic information, and help you get a grasp on some behavioral data. 

2. Use form fields to capture persona data

Email marketing is one of the most powerful marketing tools. In fact, the median ROI of email marketing is 122%. There are several reasons for the success of email marketing, but one is that email marketing connects you to relevant customer data from the get-go.

When you use an email service provider to capture new subscribers on your website (either with a subscriber form or a lead magnet), you have the option of collecting as much customer data as you want. This can include name, email, age, gender, preferences, company size, etc. Here is a simple example from Hubspot.

You may not want to over-do it and ask for too many details on your email subscribe form, but once you have customer contact information, you can continue to reach out to customers via email and ask for more information. You can also continue to leverage customer behavior and preference data from your subscribers.

One smart strategy is to include a link to your preference center. Here is a cool example from AutoTrader.

A preference center is a place where customers can opt-in to various messages and include additional information about themselves. This acts as a tool to help you connect with your customers in more meaningful and relevant ways. It’s also one more way you can leverage data to find out what really drives your most loyal customers.

3. Elicit customer feedback via a survey and employee interviews

There are several common uses in market research for a customer feedback survey, including capturing NPS information, understanding customer satisfaction levels, and leveraging quantifiable data to make better business and marketing decisions.

If you’re looking to truly understand your customers, thinking outside of the box and creating a short customer survey to ask what motivates and drives your customers will yield excellent results. 

Another approach is to talk to the people who interact with your customers on a daily basis—your sales team. Your sales team can offer valuable feedback and provide generalizations about the types of customers and potential customers they talk to every day.

4. Conduct focus groups and interviews to glean insights about emotional marketing

Let’s say you’re not quite sure yet what questions to ask on your survey, or you want to delve a little deeper into what drives your customers. This is when a focus group and personal interviews are in order.

The first step to conducting a successful focus group or interview is to select participants that represent your target demographic well (mining your CRM will help with this too). It also may be beneficial to reach out to your most loyal customers and “bad” customers to see if there are any measurable differences.

Then, you’ll want to conduct interviews to discover what customers like and don’t like, what drives them to buy, how they feel about your products and company, etc.

5. Dive into your marketing analytics

Unless you are a brand new company that has never launched a marketing campaign before, you already have a treasure trove of valuable customer insights within your marketing analytics.

Tracking marketing KPIs (likes, shares, comments, engagement, customer mentions, etc.) across various campaigns will provide valuable insight into what type of emotional messages your customers love.

6. Create and monitor online community data

Surveys, focus groups, and interviews are helpful because they can provide instant insight into customer behaviors and feelings. However, truly understanding who your customers are often requires a long-term market research commitment.

Starting an online research community is the perfect solution to constantly learning from your target market. With an online research community, you can engage with your customers daily, see how they interact with each other over time, and glean valuable qualitative data that will tell you exactly who your customers are.

With a tool like Fuel Cycle, you get a mobile-first community platform that integrates with other market research industry tools, keeps your customers engaged, and helps you make better marketing and business decisions.

The crucial role of emotional decision-making factors in the B2B path-to-purchase

Market research can be a big investment and time-consuming and may leave you wondering if it’s worth it to go to all the trouble to get to know your target audience.

The short answer is…YES, it is absolutely worth it.

Studies show that purchases are mostly emotionally driven, even among the B2B community. Here are some stats worth mentioning to back up this claim:

  • 90% of purchasing decisions are made based on emotion rather than logic.
  • Business professionals are nearly 50% more likely to buy something that demonstrates personal value through emotional appeals.
  • Of the hundreds of B2C brands studied in research from EB’s Marketing Leadership Council and Google, emotional connections with consumers tended to be between 10% and 40%. Seven of the nine B2B brands studied surpassed the 50% mark.
  • B2B purchasers are almost 50% more likely to buy a product or service when they see personal value, according to the same study.

We may assume organizations are rational and logical in their purchasing and decision-making, but research shows the opposite. B2B companies make emotional decisions, just like personal consumers.

What does this mean? It means employing market research tactics to make sure you understand what your audience cares about is worth its weight in gold.

What are some top emotional marketing strategies?

We have already covered the first, and arguably the most important, emotional marketing strategy—getting to know your target audience through sound market research practices. But, what’s next?

Once you know who you are marketing to and what your advertising goals are, the next step is to start creating your ad. Things to keep in mind include:

  • Create an identifiable character. People identify with certain characters. This is one reason why advertisers use celebrities in their advertising. But, it doesn’t have to be a celebrity. It can be someone like Progressive’s Flo or Allstate’s Mayhem.
  • Tell an emotional story. People love stories, especially short inspiring ones. Work on telling a short touching story like the Duracell soldier coming home to his daughter commercial.
  • Create a community with a cause. You don’t have to sell a story to tug at the heartstrings. Advertising a community (think outdoor brands that save the environment or stores that donate shoes to kids in Africa) is also a powerful way to go.

Wrap Up

Emotional marketing is a surefire way to gain trust, credibility, and loyalty with your customers. While it may seem difficult to either get started with market research or to overhaul your current market research practices, it’s not. Recent quick pivots made by countless global organizations to reach their customers in a way that really counts proves otherwise.

Solutions like Fuel Cycle make it easy to set up research studies and quickly capture, organize, and analyze data, so you can make better emotional marketing decisions.

For more information about Fuel Cycle and the special support we are offering businesses during the Covid-19 crisis, speak to an expert today.