Emotional Marketing: Quick Steps to Convert More Online

Written by Helena_Andrade

On June 14, 2020

Emotional marketing is key to understand and influence people’s behavior. However, the more I study Digital Psychology and Behavioral Design, the less I can separate emotions from motivation

Emotion equals motivation, which makes these two concepts crucial components of emotional marketing, and for conversion.

Today’s post aims to show you:

  • A quick brief about what are emotions (essential for emotional marketing)
  • The main emotions shaping customers’ behavior
  • Three practical hacks to implement design emotional strategies today

All of it will be based on the latest research from Brian Culgeman’s course at CXL. Brian is a behavioral scientist known around the world for his ability to apply Neuroscience concepts to business strategy in a simple way.

What are emotions? 

Emotions are a series of physiological responses to a perceived threat or opportunity. They exist online as they do face to face. They activate us to deal with different situations, such as telling us that: “This place is safe”. Or instantly getting us to react to certain situations by alerting us: “heads up, this place is not too great”. 

Nowadays, Neuroscience is the best source to understand emotions. The reason being, it researches what happens in the brain during emotional states. A few emotions are very specific for certain types of behaviors. With a better understanding of emotions, you can increase the chances to ultimately drive consumer’s behavior in a favorable way. Let’s take a look at the image below. 

emotional marketing
Source: Digital psychology & behavioral design training course, CXL

What are the main emotions shaping consumer behavior?

By following the Cugelman Emotion Map (2019), we can break these emotions down into four quadrants: optimistic, insecure, secure, and pessimistic emotions. When planning emotional marketing actions, they should be our focus:

emotional states
Source: Digital psychology & behavioral design training course, CXL

The green areas represent when people take actions online: Insecure emotions and Optimistic emotions. Emotions of insecurity translate to “I am damned if I don’t act”. They are closely related to FOMO, threatening sensations and loss aversion. 

In addition, optimistic emotions translate to “I’m fortunate if I act”. People when in this state, are excited, feeling rewarded, and opportunity-driven. On the other hand, the bottom shows secure states (in red). In a secure state, you don’t really want to change. For instance, in a pessimistic state, we tend to feel like “we’re unfortunate if we act”. That’s because people find it very threatening to change something at this point.

When compared to the secure emotional state, the pessimistic state translates to the feeling of “I’m damned if I act”. This is the desired “Golden state”, where we lock our audience in a long-term relationship. The loyalty is so beyond reason, that customers feel that breaking the relationship would make things worse. 

However, the online conversion might be tougher for this group: they have a certain level of contentment, turning them resistant to defection. Why would they want to go with another company if things are pretty good with this one?

➡️ From an emotional marketing angle, the state where people feel secure and loyal is not the area you challenge for motivation. So we should focus on the insecure and optimistic states, always. But how can we actually do it?

Useful hacks to design your emotional marketing strategies 

1) Don’t’ trap users in pessimistic emotions

Going towards pessimism makes people lose hope, feel humiliated, and helpless. In fact, such depressive states bring out the worst of human emotions. When getting into helpless emotional states, some people may accept it, but others might fight back. We do not want to leave people there.

That’s why highlighting these emotional states might backfire significantly.

Let’s look at how to trap a consumer into such a bad mood?

Just look at Lucky Orange’s example.

When your website’s stats are low, they send a pretty pessimistic report, even showing the icon of a pessimistic guy.

This leads people to feel hopeless. So, if you have to deal with emotional tones, it’s better to find something more positive.

2) Ban all uninformative messages and stop causing people stress 

Microsoft’s error message

Although stressful emotional states can make people take action, there’s a point where people feel so helpless that they actually give up on brands for good.

For instance, using dysfunctional software that has error after error, where people really feel like they cannot complete a test within a reasonable time frame. Have you ever felt hopeless after getting a message like this?

Your customers can abandon your service entirely by saying “I can’t do this!”. In fact, when trapped in that situation, the level of emotional agony can be tremendous. 

This self-hating, very unpleasant emotion is actually observed more often than we’d think. Even great brands still ignore these emotions, like Microsoft does (picture).

Remove your users from that state by reviewing your communication, even for a simple endpoint as an error message. Instead of activating a stressful state, focus on taking your online customers to a secure emotional state.

3) The key to converting: Take customers to a secure emotional state

Emotions of security are responsible for establishing a sense of loyalty. They must be our target when marketing a product or service. So how do we get people there? 

✔️  Instead of causing stress, communicate your efforts on solving their problems

Brands satisfy and gratify clients by getting rid of their stress. Start by having empathy and respect for your audience.

The previous example, from Microsoft, was a clear sign that the company is probably ignoring the impact of absurd messages in their customer’s experience. Make sure to address people’s needs and problems proactively.

✔️  Replace negative messages with positive approaches to reduce your audience’s stress online.

Neuroscience shows that when exposed to something that has the right imagery, we can evoke a positive response. Even when communicating a negative message.

That’s what Amazon did by replacing unhelpful 404 pages filled with a dozen dogs:

emotional marketing

The page, called “Meet the dogs of Amazon”, features the dating profile of a couple of dozen dogs. The technique used in this example is called cute aggression. By evoking cute responses in users, we likely arouse a nurturing response from their side. That cute feeling that causes a nurturing response can be a very nice distraction to the original message.

✔️  Last but not least: use powerful emotional marketing motivators

You can’t keep your audience secure without having them feel vulnerable. It’s important to bring out their pain points. If you think about it, we’re talking about stress and anxiety, we’re also talking about safety and calmness.

The intention is not getting too negative in our messaging, but to take advantage of powerful motivator, such loss aversion.

Netflix uses this concept repeatedly on their signup page:

emotional marketing

By offering unlimited movies and more, as well as a 30-day trial, Netflix leveraged the power of free trials (also explained here). It starts with the fact that customers love the feeling of owning a product or service without spending money on that.

The loss aversion principle gets stronger when they actually try Netflix and like it. Clients may not be willing to pay the market price to try your product, but they may pay the market price to avoid losing it.

 〰️ These are a few examples among so many emotional tactics we can apply to businesses. Ultimately, by mastering emotions, you’ll be able to influence consumer engagement. I hope this post brings a lot of insights into your marketing strategies 🙂

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