Numerous studies have shown that emotion and instinct, rather than rational thinking, are more often the driving force behind consumer behavior and purchasing decisions.
When customers feel a deep emotional connection with a brand, this is known as ‘brand intimacy’.
Brand Intimacy agency MBLM’s annual study American consumers’ emotional connections with the brands they use confirms that the brands that create the most brand intimacy are also the fastest growing brands.
This means that all companies and brands can benefit from marketing that creates emotional connections with their customers, in turn, ideally, creating a sense of brand intimacy.
Here are five strategies companies can use to achieve this.
It’s much easier to feel an emotional connection to a person than a concept, so it’s always worth humanizing your brand by featuring the people behind the brand on your website.
This is as true for large companies as it is for startups (if not more so). The way Apple marketed Steve Jobs as the person who encapsulated the brand ethos in the years when they first launched their revolutionary iPod, iPhone and iPad products is a good example of this in a larger company.
For smaller companies, featuring the founder(s) on the website, and potentially the entire team (or the executive team, or those team members who interact with customers, depending on each company) will always be helpful in terms of developing an emotional connection.
Equally important is the information you provide about your team. Rather than their qualifications, it’s better to humanize them by including details about their lives or interests. For example, you can give ‘Meet the team‘ page.
Trust is an integral part of all emotional relationships, including between consumers and brands.
In order for a customer to trust a brand, it is important for them to feel that it is authentic and reliable. There are several ways to achieve this.
Providing real customer reviews (including videos) is a great way to help new customers trust the brand.
It can also be useful to provide a ‘behind the scenes’ insight, perhaps by creating a ‘meet the team’ video, or a production process video, or a tour of the company’s workshop or premises, including who does what and a bit about them.
Engaging with customers is another way to build trust, such as providing quick and accurate responses to customer inquiries.
Finally, making sure you ‘walk the walk’, by consistently delivering what you promise, is key to building brand trust and thus meaningful, lasting emotional connections with your customers.
Two-way empathy is an important aspect of any emotional connection, and the onus is on the brand to develop it.
Start by gaining a clear and detailed understanding of your customers’ characteristics, needs, and frustrations.
With this understanding, you can communicate with them in a way they can relate to, using a language and communication style they are familiar with and comfortable with, and letting them feel that you understand them and are like them. It can also be helpful to cultivate like-minded communities that your customers can join, either in person or online.
Finally, build and nurture relationships with your customers. Keep track of their communication preferences and purchase history so you can communicate with them appropriately. Depending on the type of business you run, this may include additional meaningful communication related to their needs and interests, or you may go further and keep records and refer to their family details when you speak to them, or send them a message for Happy birthday.
You should also personalize your customer relationships as much as possible. For example, Netflix created an algorithm that personalizes viewing recommendations instead of using demographic profiles or location.
Using emotional triggers in your website messaging can be a powerful way to develop an emotional connection and increase sales.
Consumer psychologists have identified hundreds of emotional triggers that drive purchase decisions, depending on the specific brand and product.
Some of the most common, compelling emotional triggers are:
– Fear. A good example of this is insurance marketing. Or, it could be the fear of missing out on an offer or opportunity. Be careful before playing on negative emotions when trying to develop positive feelings about your brand.
– Guilt. Many people feel guilty about the impact our lifestyles have on the environment, or charities sometimes use challenging images to induce feelings of guilt to encourage donations.
– Belonging. The feeling of wanting to belong to a particular movement or social group can be powerful. These could be Mac owners, or drivers of a certain brand of car, or young or healthy people, for example.
– Aspiration. It often refers to striving for a better life or type of life, which can be alluded to by buying a certain product or brand.
– Instant gratification. Chocolate, alcohol and lottery tickets are among the many products and services that tempt consumers with the allure of instant gratification.
– Liberation, or well-being. These are some of the more positive emotions marketers can tap into.
The key to using emotional triggers is to let your understanding of your customers’ buying motivations inform which trigger you use, and then tailor your messaging and images (or videos) accordingly and effectively.
Storytelling has facilitated human connection since time immemorial, and telling stories with an emotional dimension can enable businesses or brands to engage consumers and create an emotional connection.
This could mean telling a brand story, founder story or team member story, or customer success stories, or creating a video that tells a story that illustrates the lifestyle associated with your brand, for example.
Incorporating emotional drivers into brand storytelling can create a particularly compelling purchase motivation and emotional connection.
Are you interested in the world’s leading brands personally discussing such topics? Learn more about World Digital Marketing Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America and Singapore.