Are you hooked on a feeling? If you aren’t doing so in your content marketing efforts, the time is ripe to do so.
Research has shown that while your rational brain helps to process and sort out the minutiae of information, it is your emotional brain which eventually presses the “buy” button.
But wait a minute.
Can problem-solving and SEO keyword enhanced content marketing be emotional? After all, your readers and viewers do come to you because your content is perceived to be all about help and not hype.
The answer is “Yes!” and I’ll show you why.
Revisiting Aristotle’s Ancient Wisdom
If you read my previous post on Aristotle, you’ll know that he was famed for his three timeless appeals:
- Ethos: How credible and believable you are as a source of information
- Logos: How logical or reasonable your content is
- Pathos: How deeply you can strike a chord with the feelings of others
While being credible and rational helps you to get past the front door of your prospect’s brain, it is often the emotions which moves them to take action.
To resonate with your target audience, your content should contain an emotional trigger – a hook which considers their experiences, feelings, beliefs, values, narratives and passions.
Emotions That Trigger Buying
Not all emotions are equal, however. The strongest emotions which can stimulate spending in your prospect tends to fall into the following categories:
Let us go through each of them.
For the longest time, fear-based advertising has been a mainstay for marketers around the world. As the world goes digital and social, it has transformed into Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) – a phenomenon common to social media users scrolling their newsfeeds full of holidays, food, fashionable clothes, parties, and other pleasures which money can buy.
To craft fearsome content, consider this 3-step process:
- Make the fear tangible for your readers, using facts (not hyperbole) gleaned from research.
- Present the dreadful alternatives of not taking action, and how it could impact your prospect.
- Show them your “option B” and relate how this course of action could change their situation for the better.
Here’s an example of how fear-based content could be used. In the article, Larry Kim not only wrote about how Facebook’s News Feed changes could affect marketers, but provided a few “lifelines” for them thrive.
Heard of the term “guilt trip?” Well, the phrase is associated with a form of psychological manipulation whereby the party involved is made to feel responsible for something even though it is unjustified to do so.
While I do not condone frequently using this form of passive-aggressive tactic, there are instances where guilt-based content could swing your prospect to learn more about what you have to offer, and even become a paying customer.
Guilt is a common emotion used to discourage socially negative behaviours like gambling and other vices. Have a look at this latest video by the National Council of Problem Gambling (NCPG) in Singapore.
OK, maybe you don’t really enjoy whipping up those negative emotions.
In that case, why not build trust and use it as an emotional trigger?
The good thing about trust is that it hits two of Aristotle’s appeals – Ethos and Pathos. To build online trust, here are some ways to build your trustworthiness:
- Build a professional website or social media account
- Be helpful and responsive
- Be consistent
- Be transparent with your policies
- Under promise and over deliver
A good example of trust is from General Electric (GE). Featuring how their customers benefit specifically from their products and services, their Digital Stories helps to build trust like nothing else can.
To some, happiness occurs when good things happen to you. To others, happiness is a choice which you consciously make in all situations.
As a universal emotion, happiness (and its deeper cousin joy) is a powerful trigger for purchase behaviours. The entire goal of retail therapy hinges on creating happiness through the pursuit of material goods.
To create “happy” content, you need to paint the positive picture of how things would improve if your reader or viewer take a certain step. Make it rich and evocative using deep metaphors in your copy and images to transport them to a vivid paradisiacal future.
Here’s an example of delight-invoking content from none other than Zappos.com. I’m sure you would be happy to give them more of your money if you received this!
Humans are social animals. Studies have shown the devastating consequences of isolating babies from other humans.
As an emotional trigger, the sense of community and belonging is especially strong in traditional Asian societies. Our innate yearning to connect and bond with others around us is so strong that an entirely new category of media – social media (yep that’s right) – was developed to meet this need.
There are several ways to nudge your audiences towards feeling warm and loved:
- Use colloquial language and a “community lingo” to build intimacy. For example, Lady Gaga calls her fans “little monsters,” while fans of my website are “cool insiders.”
- Encourage fans and customers to share their experiences and stories
- Develop symbols and signs to distinguish members of your brand tribe
Donald Trump’s presidential campaign war cry “Make America Great Again” is a great example of content that elicits a sense of belonging amongst conservative Americans. While the current US president certainly has his critics, you’ve got to admit that it is a powerful slogan which underscores his communication and content marketing efforts.
Last, but certainly not least, value is perhaps one of the strongest emotions which can trigger purchase.
In the age of e-commerce and omnichannel retailers, price alone can no longer be a competitive edge (unless you’ve got the scale and reach of Alibaba or Amazon.) Me-too products and services are also falling out of favour, with discerning consumers preferring unique offerings that provide both tangible and intangible value.
To ascribe value in your content marketing efforts, you may consider both tangible and intangible attributes:
- Tangible Value: Anything that has a quantifiable variable, eg save money, make money, save time, improve customer service, multiple Return On Investment (ROI), increase your longevity, and reduce maintenance costs. Here, it pays to include specific quantums in order to be believable.
- Intangible Value: This is a little more tricky to measure, but it can still be communicated. For example, stress-free living, financial freedom, more vacation time, strengthen family relationships, etc.
Here’s an example of using value in content marketing from Dollars and Sense blog. If you read the article, you’ll notice how it specifically addresses the needs of a Singaporean target audience, while emphasising the emotion of value throughout the piece.
Question: Are there other psychological triggers which you’ve discerned in the Dollars and Sense article beyond just “Value” alone?
Weaving Emotions into Your Content Marketing
Famed sales expert Zig Ziglar once said that “people don’t buy for logical reason. They buy for emotional reasons.”
While the field of content marketing is better known for emphasising customer education as opposed to entertainment, incorporating a dash of emotions helps your content pieces to be more appetising and digestible.
Are there other emotions that we should include here? I’d love to read your suggestions.