There is irrefutable evidence that, even in the age of instant online purchasing, customers who emotionally connect with a business or brand purchase more, stay longer, and provide hundreds of percent more lifetime value. Yet when you look at the way most businesses market themselves, you’d think this was radical, reckless thinking.

Despite emotional connection having proven bottom line impact, most businesses default to conversations around function: price, value for money, and what competitors do or don’t have by comparison.

The reason for this is simple: building emotional connection with customers is difficult. It requires a deep understanding of customers, and what they value emotionally. It requires a business to think entirely differently about how they communicate, and how they measure the value of their customer interactions. And it requires pinpoint accuracy to execute.

Deep understanding of customers: counter to what many believe, new technology has not made it easier for businesses to gain a deep understanding of customer emotions. This is because most digital/online data tracks functional interactions that offer little insight into a customer’s emotional state. Often this data is over-relied upon and its value artificially inflated because it’s cheap, high volume and makes clear charts. By comparison human emotion seems random. But while human emotion might seem more difficult to graph it doesn’t change this fact: businesses with emotionally connected customers do better and make more money than their competitors. Taking a different approach to measuring customer interaction is worth it.

Emotional value comes from meeting a customer’s unmet emotional needs. Experts recently deduced that a business must make three distinctly different emotional connection experiences in order to create the emotionally invested customer that drives significantly more revenue. When collecting customer data, you need to ensure it delves deep into the emotional state of customers so that all connection opportunities become visible. This will be more of a challenge than collecting functional data, but it is the only approach that will provide a solid foundation for marketing that genuinely connects with customers’ unmet emotional needs.

Executing with pinpoint accuracy: it’s hard to express how spot on you have to be to create an emotional spark. Marketing is usually tasked with making the all-important first impression, the hardest part to get right. In most cases where marketing ‘fails’ it’s because neither the marketing team nor their client had a deep understanding of customers. Extrapolating a marketing premise from functional customer interactions is not sufficient – you need data that clearly allows you to interpret a customer’s emotional state. This requires stepping into an arena of complex nuance, using empathy and emotional intelligence to decode a customer’s unmet emotional needs. It’s a skill, even an art, and the better you do it the closer you’ll get to hitting the emotional value bullseye.

Emotional hooks don’t create emotional connection: businesses and marketers who do try to reach people’s emotions tend to wield it the same way Wile E Coyote wields a giant magnet. Emotion is used like a crude hook, a loud noise, a silly jingle, a dumb joke, intended to increase the essentially useless data point that is ‘eyeball time’. What’s worse is this emotional hook usually segues immediately into a functional talking point: a price, a convenience, a deal. Nothing about this approach creates the value that forms a true emotional connection.

We encourage all businesses to shake their infatuation with the functional and with data points like ‘eyeball time,’ and instead focus on gaining a deep understanding of the emotional needs of their customers. We encourage businesses to design everything they do to deliver true emotional value, and treat every interaction with a customer as a crucial opportunity to do so. 

Eyeball time is utterly useless if you don’t know how someone is feeling behind their eyes.


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