How to Develop an Emotionally Resonant Digital Marketing Strategy

by The Insights

Emotional resonance is almost mandatory in today’s marketing landscape. You can’t just make an outstanding product and rely on buyers to come to you, you have to attract them. And with inflation driving customers to value savings, you can’t rely on brand loyalty to keep them coming back.

To grab and hold a customer’s attention in an increasingly competitive and unpredictable marketplace, you need to build deep and lasting connections. Then, like a good romantic partner, you need to make him feel truly seen and understood. Here are a few ways to get started.

1. Explore your customer’s feelings

Research shows that people’s decisions are driven more by emotion than logic. If you can understand what’s in your customers’ hearts, you can calibrate your strategy to pull on the right strings.

To do this, you can use traditional market research tools such as customer analysis, surveys, and CRM data. But these may not give you the level of depth you need to truly relate to your customer. You don’t just need to anticipate your customers’ behavior and decisions. You really want to understand Why they make the choices they make and what they think of their decisions.

Focus groups and other qualitative research tools give you more information, but they take a lot more time and money. Instead, you can partner with companies that are breaking new ground in the science of emotional data collection, developing more advanced methodologies to understand customer reasoning. With advanced analytics, they can quickly determine what motivates customers and figure out how to persuade them to act.

2. Rewrite your story

Once you understand what matters to your customers, you can begin to realign your message with their sometimes surprising feelings. If you’re selling hybrid cars, you might find that your audience cares more about feeding their families than saving the planet. If your current brand story is about environmental benefits, you can start proselytizing the long-term savings of the hybrid instead.

Or you can go in a different direction with emotions, a direction that has little to do with your brand story. You can simply use the motivating emotions of your customers to gain visibility, as in the case of “sad advertising”. The message doesn’t even have to be product-related if you’re convincing customers that your brand shares their values.

Remember the benevolent protagonist of the Thai life insurance ad that went viral a few years ago? The spot played on consumers’ sense of empathy and desire to connect, without actually saying anything about the product. Ads like this work because they make customers feel something and remember you.

3. Segment and organize

In addition to polishing your overall brand story, you need to curate emotion-based content for different types of customers and interactions. To do this, segment your marketing based on the motivating emotions of different customers. Maybe you have a demographic that fears toxic chemicals in their food. Another is driven by extreme jealousy of his fitter, thinner friends. These two groups should receive very different advertisements for your vegan meat substitute.

When developing your marketing strategy, you can also think about how you want customers to respond. You can organize your content around different business goals, like establishing a bigger online presence or building customer loyalty.

Research shows that anger and fear tend to go viral the fastest. If you want to reach more people quickly with a new product, target your ads around those emotions. If your goal is to build brand loyalty, on the other hand, research shows that your marketing should create fear.

4. Use testimonials and word of mouth

One of the best ways to connect with customers is to make them feel closer to the product. Social media marketing, testimonials, and other word-of-mouth strategies can be some of the best emotional marketing tools. In fact, 81% of customers said that social media posts from influencers or personal connections made them consider buying something.

Hiring trusted influencers to promote your product to their social media followers is one way to do this. Another is to create viral content that people will voluntarily share on their social networks. A link from a friend makes a customer feel much closer and more connected to a product.

Getting more customers to review your offering can also go a long way to fostering that sense of connection. Research shows that people trust online product reviews almost as much as personal recommendations and more than brands.

5. Give the right clues

There are other, more subtle ways digital marketers play on customer emotions. Certain colors and word choices, for example, evoke particular emotional reactions in customers.

Blue can signify trust and reliability, increasing customer confidence in hospitals or health insurance companies, for example. Green signifies nature and is ideal for selling eco-friendly products and fresh food. Red can evoke urgency or make a customer hungry, so it’s a good choice for sales or fast food.

If all else fails, you can go the old school route of making customers uncertain about their looks. But these days, inclusiveness and positive marketing will get you a lot more bang for your buck.

Know thyself

The heart of an emotionally resonant marketing strategy is, above all, knowing and satisfying your customer. Before making big changes, check your current marketing strategies to see what is already resonating. Be as clear as possible about what your brand has to offer and expand on what works.

Keep in mind that you can always adapt, segment and redesign your emotional marketing, up to a point. But beware of never straying too far from your brand’s core message and values. The most important fundamental emotion you need from your customers is trust. To win it, you have to keep your story straight.

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