Whether you care to admit it or not, the decisions you make today will be driven by your emotions. In emotional marketing, we talk a lot about using psychological triggers to get customers to click, convert, engage, etc.
“By leveraging common psychological triggers all people have,” you might hear, “you can drive more sales.”
While it may feel like we make decisions with our minds, using logic and reasoning, the “mental triggers” we hear about are tied more to emotion than anything else.
Case in point, Antonio Damasio spent time studying individuals with damage to the area of the brain where emotions were generated and processed.
While these subjects functioned just like anyone else, they couldn’t feel emotion.
The other thing they had in common was they all had trouble with making decisions.
Even simple decisions about what to eat proved difficult.
While they could describe what they should be doing using logic and reason, most decisions couldn’t be settled with simple rationale.
Without emotion, they weren’t able to make a choice.
This is supported by data from Gerard Zaltman, author of “How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market.”
Zaltman found that95% of cognition happens beyond our conscious brain, instead coming from our subconscious, emotional brain.
Emotions are an X factor you can’t control, but you can’t afford to ignore them in your content marketing.
Why is Emotion Marketing so Effective?
When you make an emotional connection with your audience, it’s incredibly easy to steer them to the desired outcome.
You’ve formed an emotional bond, however brief and fleeting, that makes them open to ideas and suggestions. It creates a certain level of trust that’s virtually impossible to artificially manifest.
Rob Walker and Joshua Glen found firsthand what an emotional connection can do.
In one experiment, they bought hundreds of items from thrift stores and similar locations — all cheaply priced.
The duo wanted to see if they could sell the products using an emotional connection through the power of stories alone.
With 200 writers on board, they generated fictional stories for the products and used those stories to sell the thrift store items at auction on eBay.
How do you feel when you look at this major brand comparison?
Here’s another common one that has people divided, sometimes within the same family:
And then there’s this brand rivalry we know all too well.
In each of these, you likely have an opinion almost instantly about which you prefer, but it’s not because you have a logical reason.
It’s typically tied to emotion and/or experience; how you feel using their products, or how the brands left you feeling after an experience or reading a news article.
The brain then tries to rationalize that emotional response.
For example, your emotional response goes straight to Coke and then your brain works to rationalize the decision by deciding that it tastes better in a can, it’s fizzier, has a stronger bite than Pepsi, etc.
So, while you might feel like you’re making a rational choice about your beverage, it’s really just an emotional one.
The most successful marketers know how to lean on the emotional over logic in order to make their content draw in the audience.
That’s whynearly a third of marketers report significant profit gains when running emotional campaigns, but the number of successful campaigns dips if you introduce logic into the marketing.
And those results get sliced in half when marketers switch to logic over emotion.
The videos profile a person around the world who uses Intel’s technology to create new experiences and build new technology that makes a difference in the world.
Like 13-year-old Shubham Banerrjee, who used Intel’s technology to build an affordable Braille printer.
And of course, some companies try to leverage emotion and create viral campaigns that just don’t take off.
CIO reported a number of failed viral marketing campaigns, such as “Walmarting Across America.”
In this blog, two average Americans travel across the country visiting Walmart locations, reporting their interactions on a blog along the way.
After countless upbeat entries about how people loved working for the company, it was discovered that the trip was paid for by Walmart and the entire thing was a campaign created and managed by the company’s PR firm.
That didn’t receive a warm reception from the blogosphere, which deemed the content to be a “flog” or fake blog.
Which Emotions Attract the Most Marketing Engagement in Content?
Many emotions fuel our behaviors and our decisions, especially our purchase decisions.
Some more than others — especially when they’re authentic.
A study wasdone by Buzzsumo analyzing the top 10,000 most-shared articles on the web. Those articles were then mapped to emotions to see which emotions had the greatest influence on content.
The most popular:
Conversely, the least popular were sadness and anger, totaling just 7% of the content that was most shared.
Two researchers at Wharton also wanted to dig deeper into virally shared content to find commonalities and better understand what makes that content spread.
What they found was the emotional element, and some very specific results tied to emotions.
Content is far more likely to be shared when it makes people feel good or it creates positive feelings such as leaving them entertained.
Facts or data that shock people or leave them in awe were more likely to be shared.
Instilling fear or anxiety pushes engagement higher, from comments being posted to content being shared.
People most commonly shared content that incited anger, leaving comments as well.
While some emotions are more likely to engage than others, every audience is different. What drives one to action may do very little for another.
This modern adaptation of Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotion,illustrated by CopyPress, shows the range under eight primary emotions: joy, trust, fear, surprise, sadness, disgust, anger, and anticipation.
For content to be widely shared and have an impact on your audience, it needs to leverage one or more of these emotions.
The proof is on the web, not only in the statistics I shared above, but also in the popularity of user communities that regularly share content.
Just look at Reddit and some ofthe most popular subreddits by subscriber count. Each can be tied back to emotions (some more obviously than others) like anticipation, awe, joy, and more.
Here’s how some of those emotions can play into the engagement with your audience:
Anxiety May Cause Uncertainty For Customers
You don’t want your audience to make bad decisions. Bad decisions can lead to buyer’s remorse, which can paint your brand and the overall experience in a negative light.
But it can be helpful if you leave the audience a bit more open to influence.
A Berkeley study revealed that anxiety can be linked to difficulty in using information around us to make decisions. When we experience uncertainty, it becomes harder to make decisions and our judgment is clouded.
Still, anxiety can also spur people to act as a result of that uncertainty.
Take a two-year study by Wharton Ph.D. student Alison Wood Brooks and a Harvard Business School professor.
They found that upon increasing the anxiety of certain subjects with video footage, 90% of the “anxious” participants opted to seek advice and were more likely to take it.
Only 72% of the participants in a neutral state, who viewed a different video, sought advice.
Capture the Focus of Your Emotional Marketing Audience With Awe
Awe is comparable to wonder, but it doesn’t always fall under the umbrella of joy or humor.
It’s intended to captivate the audience and keep them riveted.
You often see this kind of hook in headlines that seem so earth-shatteringly significant that no one in their right mind would want to miss it.
In fact, Berger’s study of the New York Times content found that content which incites feelings of frustration or anger is34% more likely to be featured on the Time’s most emailed list than the average article.
Now, I’m not suggesting that you deliberately create controversy by taking shots at readers or picking fights.
The key with using anger in content is to frame an issue that incites anger or frustration in a way that’s constructive.
By changing the words you use, however, you can make content appeal more to the emotions of the audience and prospective customer.
The simplest approach to finding the right high-emotion words takes only three steps:
Think about the action you want your audience to take when they read your content.
Decide what kind of emotional state will drive that action. What would make them do what you want them to do?
Choose emotionally persuasive words appropriate to the action and the emotion.
What you’ll find in researching the right words is that emotionally persuasive and impactful words tend to be abrupt. It’s the short, concise, basic words that appeal most to our emotions over our intellect.
You hold a great deal of influence with your audience when you’re able to tap into their emotions.
Once you understand your audience, you can better determine their emotional state.
From there, make the decision about whether you need to influence and exploit emotions that are already present, or if you want to create or give rise to emotions the audience wasn’t initially expecting or experiencing.
Even the most (seemingly) rational decisions are influenced by emotion — and that applies to everyone.
When you learn how to leverage that emotion in your content, you will see increases in engagement, social action, and conversions within your funnel.