When you make a purchase, what’s the deciding factor that pushes you to click “buy now”? While you might have considered things like price, convenience, and quality, chances are your biggest motivator is how that particular product or brand makes you feel.
At the end of the day, your emotions have the most influence on the purchase decisions you make. That’s why you decide to buy that bright purple lipstick or try the brand new cookie-flavored protein powder from your favorite supplements brand. These purchases aren’t fuelled by need but rather by our desire to experience the way these products make us feel.
Understanding how powerful emotions are will help you tailor your customer experience to draw these out of your customers. The trick is knowing which emotions to tap into.
Some emotions are more powerful than others
As advertising becomes less and less effective, emotional relationships are more important than ever. Without a solid emotional foundation, your customers won’t be willing to invest in your brand long term, denying your business the opportunity for sustainable growth.
In order to build those long-term relationships, you need to focus on the three emotions your customers desire most: joy, trust, and belonging.
Nobody wants to be thought of as a negative person, which is why happiness is the one of the strongest emotional desires. That’s also why positive content is shared so widely — in an effort to protect the idea of ourselves as approachable, fun-loving people, we do our best to create personas that reflect that idea.
Joy is also one of the most addictive emotions. When we experience happiness, we want that feeling to continue and will seek opportunities to feel that way again. By tying your brand to this feeling, you create a sense of instant gratification your customers won’t be able to imagine themselves without. This will bring them back to your store to make more purchases that protect their view of themselves and make them feel good all at the same time.
Trust is the foundation for lasting customer loyalty. When your customers trust your brand, it means they see you as being transparent, sincere, and authentic. As one of the only emotions that can’t be faked, this sense of trust lays the groundwork for sustainable relationships that go beyond simply making a purchase. Instead, your customers will choose to engage with you in whatever ways you offer because they know you have their best interests in mind.
This redefines your brand-to-customer relationships in a way that makes you more human, more relatable, and more appealing.
As human beings, we are social creatures hardwired to avoid loneliness. This means that brands who can make us feel like part of a group are more appealing than those that focus on individual success or existence.
When you validate your customer’s decision to shop with your brand instead of a competitor’s, you create a space that makes them feel welcome and valued. These are the emotions that inspire a strong sense of community that can help your brand cut through the noise of competitive advertising.
By letting every new and returning customer know that they have a place as part of your brand’s story, you position yourself as a brand who truly cares about their customers — a feeling that everyone wants to be a part of.
How to build emotional connections with customers
Knowing which emotions are most beneficial for your brand is only half the battle — the second half is knowing how to encourage them. Since your brand is a mental representation of your products, you need to be able to root that representation in each of these strong, positive emotions. Otherwise, your customers won’t be motivated into action.
Remember: product features aren’t what convinces your customers to make a purchase decision. It’s the emotions associated with them that do.
Here are the three best ways to build motivating emotional connections with your customers.
Create an engaging brand narrative
One of the biggest reasons we choose to shop with certain brands is the story they’re telling. For Nike, that story revolves around high performance and sleek design. For Whole Foods, the story is based on fresh food for a healthier lifestyle. In both of these examples, the brand has developed a story that communicates who they are and why we as customers should care.
The same applies to your own brand. By taking the time to develop a singular story for your brand, you can show your customers what’s important to you. If they share these values, they’ll be much more likely to align themselves with you and your store.
By far the best example of this principle at work is Apple. Steve Jobs understood that in order to build an emotionally engaging brand, he had to combine his product’s features (otherwise known as rational triggers) with a story fuelled by emotional triggers.
He and his team accomplished this by painting the picture of a brand community that allowed customers to become the best version of themselves with Apple products. Whether they were an artist, engineer, or stay-at-home mom, everyone can see themselves represented in each of Apple’s meticulously crafted marketing messages and, as a result, understands the ways each product will enrich their life.
These positive images, combined with voice-overs that specifically speak to the emotional benefits of using Apple’s products, are extremely good at fostering feelings of belonging that everyone wants to experience. It’s this type of community that has allowed Apple to dominate the tech industry for decades, with no signs of slowing down.
Develop a brand personality
When customers discover your brand for the first time, it’s just like introducing yourself to a new person. How you choose to present yourself will have a huge impact on whether they want to engage with you again, and since you want them to like you that’s pretty important.
Luckily, there are a lot of things you can do to make sure your customers are happy to have met you!
- Visuals — use lots of images to show your customers what being part of your brand community looks like. Use faces, bright colors, and dynamic composition to show customers how good it feels to be part of your community, and inspire new them to get involved.
- Language — the way we talk has a huge impact on how people respond to us. This includes not only the words we use, but how we use them. Make your brand more human by choosing words and phrases that feel conversational, and keep your copy short and sweet. These considerations make you feel relatable and real, inspiring a sense of trust early on in your relationship with each customer.
- Packaging — whether you realize it or not, your customers care how you package your products. Paying attention to these types of details is a fantastic way to incorporate value-add marketing into your existing marketing strategy and inject each customer experience with a little bit more joy.
If you want a great example of a strong brand personality at work, look no further than Spectrum. With a passion for unicorns, mermaids, and everything pink, Spectrum understands that their target customers have a passion for beauty, imagination, and anything that glitters. That’s why every touchpoint of their customer experience features each of these things with abundance.
From the products they sell to the additional content they put out, Spectrum’s voice as a brand is consistent, making them someone customers know they can trust. With a heavy presence on platforms like Instagram and YouTube, Spectrum has made themselves into that always there, always helpful beauty expert their customers know they can always turn to for advice, support, and inspiration.
Offer customers additional value with rewards
The idea of “value” has a lot to do with how willing customers are going to be to interact with your brand. Words like “free” can carry a lot of weight and inspire extremely positive feelings, which means you want to be delivering as much value as possible with every interaction.
While value-add marketing tactics like blog, video, or social content is a good start, rewards are by far the most effective way to motivate more purchase decisions for your brand. Not only do they excel in the joy and delight department, but they also allow you to establish a continuous cycle of reciprocity between you and your loyal customers.
When your customers know and believe that you’ll follow through on your promise to deliver more value, they’ll grow to trust you even more. This solidifies their decision to engage with you, drawing them deeper into your brand community and inspiring them to tell others about their positive experiences.
littleBits understands the importance of prioritizing customer value, which is why they started the littleBits Rewards program. As a member, customers can earn Inventor points that they can then redeem for discounts off of future purchases. These points are earned in a number of different ways, from celebrating a birthday to engaging on social or making a purchase.
By including so many different opportunities to earn, littleBits turns each purchase into the opportunity to unlock even more value for every customer. This transforms each customer relationship from a transactional one to an emotional one, as they put their customer’s needs first. With these considerations driving each interaction, their customers are filled with joy, excitement, and a sense of belonging as they understand where they fit in littleBits’ larger brand community.
A strong community is the key to emotional marketing
No matter what you sell, your brand’s number one goal should be to make every customer feel like part of your community. Building emotional connections in the three ways we discussed above is how you can create a thriving community that accurately shows off who you are and why every customer should want to join.
With a strong brand community, your brand can become the place everyone wants to be. Using rewards, a strong brand narrative, and a distinct brand personality, you can create positive emotional relationships that encourage every customer to turn their experiences into emotional marketing fire. When they share their experiences with others, they create positive connections that create a ripple effect back to your brand — a ripple effect whose payoff is unbreakable, sustainable growth.
All it takes to start is a smile.