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May 14, 2021

You’ve no doubt heard about the importance of customer emotions. By tapping into a customer’s emotional needs, you can increase their brand loyalty and create a customer for life. 

As a recent study in the Harvard Business Review, a team of researchers found out how to define and quantify customer emotions so they could be predicted and worked into business strategies. 

Today, we’ll be discussing the new science of customer emotions and offering some tips on how you can use this study to improve your marketing plans and start tapping into customer emotions in an informed way.

How to Use the Science of Customer Emotions to Market Effectively

About the new science of customer emotions

As the HBR notes, when businesses can connect their products to a certain emotion, everything falls into place. For instance, one bank card that tapped into Millennial emotional connections increased Millennial usage by a staggering 70%.

The scientific approach taken in this study shows that it’s possible to predict and evaluate emotions and work them into a structured business plan. 

Emotional motivators

The study looked at the factors that drive us as consumers and found that 10 motivators appeared in almost every field. In other words, most of the time, this is what customers really want:

I am inspired by a desire to: Brands can leverage this motivator by helping customers:
Stand out from the crowdProject a unique social identity; be seen as special
Have confidence in the futurePerceive the future as better than the past; have a positive mental picture of what’s to come
Enjoy a sense of well-beingFeel that life measures up to expectations and that balance has been achieved; seek a stress-free state without conflicts or threats
Feel a sense of freedomAct independently, without obligations or restrictions
Feel a sense of thrillExperience visceral, overwhelming pleasure and excitement; participate in exciting, fun events
Feel a sense of belongingHave an affiliation with people they relate to or aspire to be like; feel like part of a group
Protect the environmentSustain the belief that the environment is sacred; take action to improve their surroundings
Be the person I want to beFulfill a desire for ongoing self-improvement; live up to their ideal self-image
Feel secureBelieve that what they have today will be there tomorrow; pursue goals and dreams without worry
Succeed in lifeFeel that they lead meaningful lives; find worth that goes beyond financial or socioeconomic measures
Source: Scott Magids, Alan Zorfas, and Daniel Leemon; The New Science of Emotions, November 2015, via HBR

By aligning your brand with these motivators, you’ll immediately begin to connect on a deeper, more emotional level with your customers.

Defining your customers’ unique emotional motivators

Of course, every demographic has their own emotional trends. A group of Gen Z teens who live in a city are likely to have different emotional motivators to a group of middle-aged moms who live in the countryside.

As HBR suggests, begin by defining your target group. Then, using big data customer analytics, look for patterns to determine the emotional trends of this group. What do they want most? What drives their purchasing habits? 

Align your brand with your customers’ values and emotional motivators

Once you’ve determined what drives your target group of customers, you can begin to create a marketing plan that reflects these emotional motivators right back at your customers. 

Everything from your graphics to your message branding to your company’s investments can help to bridge any emotional gaps that may exist between your customers and your current brand positioning.

two yellow emoji on yellow case

A guide to customer sentiment analysis

Using customer feedback is an excellent way to track the success of your campaign to engage with customers on an emotional level and continue to refine your strategy. This is especially true as customers increasingly turn to social media for customer service reasons.

Customer sentiment analysis is performed using Natural Language Processing, or NLP, to determine the underlying emotional response to your brand. Instead of poring through thousands of customer comments by hand, NLP makes it possible to automate the process and still get a good idea of how customers are feeling about your brand

So, how does it work?

Often, it involves an algorithm that is able to determine whether the language used in a comment is positive or negative. If a phrase read, “I always come back to this brand,” this would be seen as positive. A phrase like, “I will never come back,” would be read as negative.

Of course, this system has its flaws as some customers may use words that are traditionally seen as negative within a positive review.

As algorithms become more intelligent, they are able to detect the actual meaning more and more frequently. 

Using this type of algorithm to automate the review of your feedback can help you to quickly pinpoint which areas of your brand need improvement and which areas are fostering a strong emotional connection with consumers. 

Using a system with NLP can help you to:

  • Improve your customer service by giving agents access to customer data, which 34% of them feel they’re lacking
  • Track down dissatisfied customers to offer hands-on support.
  • Identify specific products that are eliciting either a positive or negative response. 
  • Identify demographics trends. Which groups tend to be pleased with your products and which are not?
  • Identify trends in language to find out where emotional connections are happening. For instance, if the word “useful” comes up a lot, this may mean that your product is particularly good at responding to the “succeed in life” emotional motivator. Or, if the word “eco-friendly” is often appearing in reviews, you may be satisfying your customers’ need to “protect the environment.”

Summing up

Customer emotions play a surprisingly important role in determining the success of your business. While most customers like to think that they make logical, well-reasoned decisions about what they purchase, more often than not, purchases are driven by their emotional needs.

By using the new science of customer emotions in an informed way alongside customer sentiment analysis, you can begin to harness customer emotions to transform your products, your marketing plan, and your customer relationships for the better.



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