As the old saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. To that point, even such novel notions as walking on the moon, driverless cars, or having every imaginable fact at our fingertips seems old hat as technology pushes boundaries, reinvents our daily lives, and transforms how we interpret the world around us.
Still, with all of that change swirling around us, the basic tenets that have forever driven humanity remain very much intact. Marketers, of course, are all too aware of this concept as the same underlying principle that has defined the most successful campaigns in history still govern what appeals, engages, and converts – customers gravitate towards products, services, and brands that they feel an emotional bond towards.
This isn’t to say, however, that highly impactful, emotional marketing is somehow impervious or insulated from the constant drive of technology. In fact, as innovations like machine-learning and big data take hold of countless facets of modern industry and life – sometimes so subtly that we might not even be aware of their impact and importance – it becomes increasingly obvious that technology should play a pivotal role in helping marketers and brands develop, foster, measure, and grow those ever-important emotional connections with consumers.
Brands finally have the technological tools to leverage the full scope of this brave new world to significantly improve their ability to create those old fashioned but ever-important emotional connections to effectively compete in a crowded and dynamic marketplace.
The Science of Emotional Connection
Thanks to recent research, brands now have a much more thorough understanding of how a deep sense of engagement and loyalty are driven by emotional connections to consumers. In fact, such connections are far less reliant on more rational elements and factors like price or promotions than logic might dictate.
Fostering meaningful, lasting brand loyalty is less about points and rewards and more about infusing a message with tone and content that will drive emotional connection. To that point, additional research has shown that an engaged, emotionally connected audience will spend more on brands they feel a sense of loyalty towards and have a far higher propensity for brand recall that, ultimately, converts to sales. Nearly 75% of consumers that experience positive emotions with a brand will advocate for it while 63% will be retained as continuing customers.
To place a finer point on this notion, studies have also demonstrated that specific emotions like feeling valued, appreciated, respected, confident, and understood by a brand contribute most to customer loyalty. Likewise, when an audience feels annoyed, frustrated, angered, disappointed, or neglected by a brand, they are far less likely to demonstrate the sense of loyalty that brands and marketers crave most from a customer base.
Furthermore, recent research into the importance of emotion in brand marketing places connections into a broader context, noting that marketing is significantly enhanced when brands are able to combine sensory elements within a message with rituals that are widely recognized and experienced throughout a target community.
In fact, harkening back to another innate and long-standing need within humanity – the sense of personal fulfillment when sharing with others – a feeling of community is greatly strengthened simply by sharing products and purchases with other people. Today, much of that community exists in the online world. With the specific emotions of trust and a sense of belonging being so pivotal to our collective sensation of becoming part of a group, marketers are best served by concentrating on tactics that develop and foster these sensations.
Quantifying Emotional Connection with a Brand
Of course, analyzing and measuring the level of emotional bonds formed between a brand and consumer base isn't a particularly new notion. In fact, brands have relied on the Net Promoter Score (NPS) for years as an indicator on the strength, depth, and longevity of their relationships with their customers.
Simple in form and function, NPS relies on the willingness of a large group of customers to participate in a short survey indicating their willingness to recommend a brand to a friend of colleague. Although strictly limited to those consumers willing to participate in the first place, the NPS can provide insight into how likely respondents are to recommend a brand and its products to others. While certainly useful in a limited capacity, the NPS obviously has some severe limitations by providing brands an incomplete picture that is based on just a single metric.
Likewise, while it can be a good indicator of overall brand engagement, its results operate in a vacuum, lacking a context that places specific brand identity and loyalty against competition. For that reason, brands must look well beyond the NPS and generic, inherently limited surveys to obtain far greater sample sizes and more accurate, unaided sources of customer feedback.
Mining the Digital Landscape for Guidance
In developing more thorough, comprehensive sources of feedback, marketers need to mine the vast troves of unaided, unsolicited consumer data points through the many online reviews, forums, blogs, and social media platforms to gauge their brand and, just as importantly, the competition's brands from the audience's perspective. With 62% of the customer base actively advocating their brand loyalties on social media, this type of consumer-generated content is essential to better analyze and understand those loyalties.
In essence, by better understanding consumer preferences afforded by these feedback driven insights, brands can more thoroughly research the specific emotions that serve as powerful drivers behind loyalty and engagement. As is often the case with such broad-based innovations, however, deriving measurable, actionable insights rather than mere random data points from millions of pieces of feedback is absolutely critical to yield positive results.
A Better Way: O360’s Consumer Emotion Score™
Through our Digital Landscape studies, O360 has demonstrated our deep understanding of the many aspects that form consumer perceptions, particularly by the various emotions expressed in online consumer conversations. With the O360 platform, brands can quantify a far more nuanced, meaningful measure of consumer engagement – the Consumer Emotion Score™.
Leveraging the insights derived from O360’s machine learning platform, the Consumer Emotion Score™ helps brands better understand their target audience’s personality types and, perhaps more importantly, the emotions being expressed in user-generated content that either strengthen or weaken engagement with their brand. For instance, rather than being relegated to the overly simplified guidance of the NPS, the Consumer Emotion Score™ can measure the percentage of comments expressing specific emotions, like joy or disgust, to calculate the consumer emotions being expressed by a consumer base.
Furthermore, by not only differentiating between positive and negative emotions but the lopsided impact of specific emotional responses as well, different emotions can be provided different quantifiable weights to get a true, unfettered perspective of emotional impact. For instance, although love and esteem are both positive emotions, love is the stronger emotion of the two and, thus, is given more positive weight in the Consumer Emotion Score™. Likewise, since disgust is more impactful than fear, it is given additional negative weight.
Given the varying needs of different brands and industries to tailor their respective messages to often diverging segments, O360 also measures attributes so brands can customize the weights placed on particular emotions. To use the fast-paced, fickle CPG industry as an example, the emotion of love being associated with taste is obviously extremely beneficial and, therefore, can be given more weight than love expressed towards simple packaging.
In other words, the Consumer Emotion Score™ creates a meaningful, nuanced measurement of brand loyalty and engagement that can be tracked for brands as well as their competitors over any duration of time as consumer sentiment and perceptions continue to evolve. With the guidance of the O360 platform, brands can now measure and understand the often intricate emotions behind engagement and brand loyalty to improve the conversion and retention that marketing campaigns are designed to foster in the first place.