We’ve all laughed, rolled our eyes, cried, and maybe even applauded during commercials.
Why? Because those commercials hit us in the feels in unique ways.
These commercials are most memorable because they cause us to experience feelings and emotions. And emotions play a big part in how we relate to the world around us, including the brands we encounter.
From a marketing standpoint, you need to consider how your content will evoke emotions and what your audience will feel.
Emotional marketing is an essential piece of your overall inbound marketing strategy for good reason.
Why Emotions Matter
Marketers are competing with a lot of noise to stand out to their audience. Your ideal customer is likely consuming a lot of content throughout their day. It’s easy to get buried amongst all the noise.
What makes you stand out? The powerful emotional connection you can create between your brand and your audience.
Maya Angelou, one of the most important literary voices in American history, explained this perfectly:
I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
This sentiment is backed by some hard data, which is why marketers invest a lot of resources into creating content that inspires, entertains, educates, and engages people on a deep level.
Here are a few noteworthy facts on how emotions impact connections made between your brand and your audience:
- Consumers who have a positive emotional experience with a brand are:
- 8.4 times more likely to trust the company.
- 7.1 times more likely to purchase more.
- 6.6 times more likely to forgive a company’s mistake (Temkin Group 2016 Consumer Benchmark Study).
- Ads with an above average emotional response from consumers earned a 23% increase in sales compared to average advertisements (2015 Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience Internal Study).
- Campaigns with more than 100 media placements were 3 times more likely to have a strong emotional element than campaigns that were less successful (Fractl and Moz -- 2016 research).
To put it simply, content that is emotionally evocative can deliver a high return on investment (ROI). This is why your content marketing strategy should be focused on creating content that aims to elicit strong feelings and emotions, like joy, surprise, anticipation, and love.
The Pillars of Emotional Content
When you’re aiming to elicit strong emotional reactions from your audience, keep in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all strategy. There is no magic wand you can wave to create the perfect piece of emotional content.
However, there are three pillars you need to know. These are the foundation of emotional marketing content:
Nothing is worse than being disingenuous with your messaging. You want your content to be an extension of your brand. It needs to align with your company values and mission.
One of the best examples of authenticity comes from Microsoft. To promote virtual care rooms they were powering in Sweden, they teamed up with a marketing agency to make a mini documentary about a patient, Anna Lisa.
She visited a virtual care room and discovered that she had diabetes during her consultation. The film captures her story and shows how her visits to the care room are important for her treatment.
This campaign was targeted and, most importantly, real. It showed how Microsoft is committed to advancing healthcare technology, and the content captures the actual impact their technology has on real patients.
Tip: Keep your brand’s why in mind when you’re developing your content strategy. Revisit your values and your mission and vision statements.
When you remember the bigger picture and the purpose of why you’re educating your audience on a specific topic, you’re better suited to develop an authentic, values-driven message through awesome content.
Microsoft’s core values include innovation and trustworthy computing. Their messaging for their mini documentary centers on how their innovations in healthcare tech benefits people all over the world, including Anna Lisa in the small Swedish village of Slussfors.
You won’t create an emotional connection if you’re creating content for the wrong audience. For example, if you’re marketing IT security services, you shouldn’t be publishing content in human resources publications.
This is why you need to know exactly who you’re trying to connect with. When you have your buyer persona in mind, you understand what their needs are and how your offerings can serve them.
United Healthcare, for example, created a funny TV ad campaign that was aimed at consumers. The content is relevant to a particular challenge -- consumers are often baffled by how to navigate the healthcare system, especially when an emergency strikes.
Their ‘Way In’ campaign shows how humorous injuries can force people to seek medical attention. The humor is essential because the situation (like jumping through a table) evokes laughter, which helps viewers with retention. In fact, a 2010 study published in Communication Education found that, when used correctly, humor can improve retention in students from kindergarten through college.
So while viewers laugh at the comedic elements, they also remember the informative aspect of the video, which shows the patient speaking with a doctor through a virtual clinic offered by United Healthcare.
Tip: Using your buyer persona, you can identify one specific pain point to address with each piece of content.
Ensure you’re mapping your content strategy to specific challenges. Otherwise, if your messaging is too broad, your content won’t resonate with anyone in a big way.
Building a brand experience is done by you and your team, not a machine. Customers can only connect emotionally with content when it has a human element, not boring content from a faceless corporate entity.
The best way to add a human element is through storytelling. When you tell impactful stories, your audience remembers the feelings they experience and the elements of your story they connect with.
For example, Subaru created a commercial showing a father give his young daughter keys to drive her car for the first time. That experience (watching your children grow up and become more independent) is common and emotionally impactful.
Another great example comes from the UPS Wishes Delivered campaign, which started in 2014 when they first introduced the world to Carson, the four-year-old boy who befriended Mr. Ernie, a UPS driver. The video went viral, earning millions of views while tugging at America’s heartstrings.
It shows Carson getting dressed in a UPS uniform, driving in his toy UPS truck, and delivering packages to nearby neighbors. This tells a sweet story of an enthusiastic kid doing what he loves, which happens to align with the UPS brand.
Tip: Stay true to your brand’s personality and let it shine by telling stories that include elements that ring true to the human experience.
Identify a specific emotion you want to evoke when you plan your content, then imagine the overall experience your audience will have.
Does your content address the human experience? What will your audience likely relate to? How will they respond?
Don't overlook the impact emotional marketing content can have on your overall inbound strategy. You won't just win customers; you'll win hearts.