Market Well: 6 Ways Your Brand Can Build An Emotional Connection With Customers

Our must-read column, Market Well, explores the key marketing strategies that are essential for the growth of a wellness business.

Every month, Vicky Ellison, who is also the Director of Marketing for Equinox in the UK, examines how brands can create and maintain a marketing campaign that connects with both their intended audience and potential investors.

Providing valuable insight into the methods, services, and tools needed for both new and established businesses to drive exposure and boost brand value, this month Vicky is focusing on the benefits of building an emotional connection with your customers….

Should your brand be striving for an emotional connection with its customers?

This question is becoming more and more prevalent, with the number of people suffering from anxiety in the UK exceeding 8 million.

Despite being more digitally connected than ever before, the Mental Health Association says millennials are the loneliest generation in history, and people are looking to brands for more than just products. They want support in order to feel the connections they’re missing.

In his Neuromarketing blog, Roger Dooley argues that campaigns with purely emotional content perform twice as well as those based on statistics, while research by the Harvard Business Review found that an emotional connection is more important than customer satisfaction when maximizing customer value and business success.

Although it is extremely rare to find a customer that is 100% loyal to one brand in a category; the Harvard Business Review found that on a lifetime basis, emotionally connected customers were more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers. It listed high impact motivators including ‘enjoying a sense of well-being’, ‘feeling a sense of belonging’ and ‘having a sense of confidence in the future’.

Moreover, the Danish TV2 advert ‘All That We Share’, highlighted what binds us together rather than what divides us, and it went viral. It was heralded as a message that the world needs now, more than ever.

Given the impact of emotion in marketing and brand experience, how can your brand make the most of this opportunity to connect with customers?

Understand the emotional need your brand can fulfill for your customers

Explore the emotion your brand evokes, and consider how you can bring that into touch points in your customer journey.

Connect with your customers to explore how they feel about your brand. 90% of social media messages are unanswered by brands, but reaching out to consumers who are trying to connect is a good place to start.

Some of the most successful brands and campaigns touch our most basic emotional need; to become part of something bigger than ourselves.

Examples include Apple, who offers its customers the chance to become part of a new way of life filled with innovation. Similarly, the #ThisGirlCan campaign empowers women to join a movement and feel a sense of achievement. And CrossFit has become popular because it taps into a human desire for team victories –– with both CrossFit and Tough Mudder finding success in playing on discomfort, and by helping people relieve anxiety by facing their fears to collectively achieve.

Whatever your brand’s emotional driver is, being clear about it, and considering it as you plan your marketing and customer experience could support your business success.

Tell a story

The saying goes: ‘tell me a fact and I will learn, tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.’

In fact, a well-told story activates a much greater proportion of your brain than processing a fact. Stories activate parts of the brain that allow the listener to convert the message into their own experience, through a process called neural coupling. And in particular, an emotionally charged story encourages the release of dopamine in the brain, which will help to form memories that stay top of mind.

The best-told stories can sell without even meaning to. When the film Top Gun was released, sales of Ray-Ban Aviator sunglasses rose 40% and the Air Force set up recruitment booths in US movie theatres because of the unexpected increase in applications.

Nike is well known for using the classic hero and villain storyline in its advertising. The brand internalises both characters to create an emotional response from its customers; you could be the hero, if you fight your internal villain — laziness.

During the Olympic Games, Gatorade told Usain Bolt’s story from childhood to victory in its ‘The Boy Who Learned To Fly’ campaign. The viewer became emotionally connected to Usain, his mother, and as a result, Gatorade. See the connection?

Review your creative

Does your advertising help create a connection with your customer?

In his book ‘Designing For Emotion’, Aaron Walter explains why we enjoy human faces. He says that we explore the world around us looking for something familiar to connect with.

As part of its commitment to ‘help Britain prosper’, Lloyds Banking Group released a study into inclusion and diversity in advertising called ‘Reflecting Modern Britain’.

The study found that only 19% of the people featured in advertising represent minority groups, and only 47% of the population feels accurately portrayed in adverts.

Being aware of diversity and unconscious bias in your marketing choices could help you represent your audience in a way that makes the best possible connection.

Create shared experiences

The word ‘experience’ has almost become a cliché. Be mindful not to create experiences for experiences sake, but consider how a meaningful shared brand experience can create connection.

As part of its Plan A eco and ethical initiative, M&S launched its Frazzled Café with leading mental health campaigner Ruby Wax. The brand recognised the opportunity to use its spaces to bring people together, creating a sense of belonging and comfort that the brand is known for.

Ikea staged a 6-day festival during Milan design week, bringing its brand philosophy to life for customers to share. Its ‘Let’s Make Room For Life’ activation showcased the brands hospitality and new designs. It included elements of wellness such as morning yoga in the future living room, and chill out areas for weary design week visitors, all designed to make people feel at home with Ikea.

Even online retailer Amazon has started to invest in stores, demonstrating the desire for consumers to have a real-life experience with the brands they love.

Consider how your brand can engage with your customers in a way that creates meaningful emotional connection.

Utilise User Generated Content (UGC)

85% of people surveyed by OfferPop found visual UGC more influential than brand content, but more than 50% of users want some direction and only 16% of brands provide that guidance, while UGC ads get 4x higher click throughs and 10x more views on YouTube vs brand uploaded content.

Yogurt brand Chobani increased its sales by 225% with their ‘share your chobani love story’ campaign. The company asked users to submit videos and photos sharing what they loved about Chobani, and those submissions were shared across digital, social and billboards.

Co-creating your content with your customers’ experience at the heart of your strategy, could make a difference to both your content budget and the sentiment around your brand.

Don’t rely on data, focus on insight

A lead designer at GE Healthcare, Doug Dietz, created an award winning MRI scanner. The team was very happy with their breakthrough design until he saw a young girl terrified to go into the scanner. Seeing the heartache the procedure caused families, Doug took it upon himself to redesign the experience.

The machine remained the same, but decals and decoration were added turning it into a pirate’s ship. A story was told by the doctors that took the children on an adventure, and encouraged them to lie still on the voyage.

Once the children felt part of the experience, the hospital saw a reduction on sedation, less delayed treatments and happier families.

This simple reaction to insight made a potentially traumatising experience a human-centered exercise in empathy.

Can this simple story inspire your brand to gain insights from your customers? Can you use that insight in brand touchpoints, as well as content and messaging, to strengthen your brand appeal? Perhaps adding a little authentic emotion could enhance your business success.

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