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Omnichannel commerce | Customer Experience

Getting Emotional Pays Off

image: a young couple together with a setting sun illuminating the scene.
Creating an emotional connection with customers goes far beyond cute Christmas adverts

Having customers who are advocates—not only loyal themselves but also devoted enough to the brand to persuade others to become loyal customers as well—is a holy grail among companies. But Scott Magids, co-founder/CEO of Motista, contends that customer advocacy is actually the result of what should be a company's real goal: "Becoming an advocate is an outcome; emotional connection is how it happens. The number-one driver of customer advocacy is a customer becoming emotionally connected with a brand."


Given that Motista provides solutions to create and amplify emotional connections between consumers and companies, it's not surprising Magids says that. But he backs up his thesis with some compelling stats. One retail client increased average spend per year 45% among customers it cultivated into becoming "emotionally connected" versus those who were merely "satisfied." Another client, a luxury retailer, more than doubled the average annual spend of its emotionally connected customers compared with its satisfied one.


image: Financial Impact of Emotional Connection chart

image: Financial Impact of Emotional Connection chart


And the concept itself isn't new. From the classic "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke" commercial to the Christmas adverts of department store John Lewis, businesses have long strived to connect with their audience emotionally. But true emotional connection, according to Magids, entails much more than a short-term case of the warm-and-fuzzies.


"Consumers are fundamentally motivated by their emotions. We all seek empathy, we seek social acceptance," Magids explains. "Emotional connection occurs when a brand and its products and its omnichannel messages connect with the exact motivations that drive business results."


Motista has identified and quantified 40 emotions "that most consistently drive behaviors" in specific industries. Just as not all industries and market niches should address the same combination of emotions to connect with their audiences, nor should all competitors within an industry or niche. One apparel retailer might find that its most valuable customers identify primarily with the need for a sense of belonging, while another's customers might more strongly want to stand out from the crowd. It's easy to see that each of those retailers would take differing approaches to appeal to their customers.


But as researchers know—and companies often learn the hard way—what consumers say they want and what they really want are often two different things. This is especially true in focus groups, where peer pressure can lead to participants stating that the last book they read was War and Peace when it was really Fifty Shades of Grey.


Even when customers are honest, Magids says, "they generally cannot articulate their emotional motivations. An Apple customer might say, 'I want this device to be really easy to use,' but a deeper reason may be that using an iPad helps her feel more creative—those are deeper, more intrinsic emotions."


Sussing out the optimal emotions a company should appeal to is of course part of what Motista does. Companies can, however, try to develop their own theses of emotional drivers for their customers via questionnaires, one-on-one interviews, and behavior analysis, then use A/B testing to fine-tune their findings.


Appealing to consumers' emotional drivers goes beyond advertising and marketing; it should permeate every aspect of the brand experience, including merchandising, website design, and customer service. One national apparel retailer Motista worked with used insights about mothers wanting both to be better parents and to experience a touch of daily indulgence to trickle down into such seemingly obscure elements as the amount of beading in its sweaters.


Another client, a 1,500-store omnichannel retailer, found that personal expression was a significant driver among its customers. It applied that knowledge across 100 touchpoints, including a mobile app used for browsing styles and the "buy online/pick up in store" functionality. From there, Magids says, it homed in on 10 aspects "that really optimised the experience." One was to switch from using stock models in its store imagery to more-relatable people, including real customers. Another was to create an online forum where customers could submit photos in which they showed off their personal style.


When determining the most effective ways to address consumers' emotional motivators, it's important that your company is "intellectually centered," Magids notes. "You can say, 'I'm going to build a product with these 10 features,' or you can say, 'I'm going to build a product that will help customers.' That product may then have those 10 features"—or it may have features that resonate even more strongly with customers, because it addresses their needs rather than those of the company.


Focusing on emotional connectivity with customers isn't a nicety that only larger companies can or should indulge in. After all, small businesses are competing with those larger ones. "If I'm running a smaller retail business, I'm still operating in a competitive marketplace but in a more resource-restrained environment," Magids says. "Emotional connection as a customer strategy delivers a much higher ROI." And smaller businesses have at least one advantage over their larger peers: They can often implement tests and changes much more quickly.


image: Scott Magids, Motista co-founder/CEO

image: Scott Magids, Motista co-founder/CEO


"We as consumers, we are motivated primarily by emotion," Magids says. "The more we can tap into the why, the more consumers are likely to devote time, eyeballs, etc. to a brand."


author: Sherry Chiger

Sherry Chiger

The editorial director of Your Commerce, Sherry Chiger is an award-winning writer and editor. She was formerly editorial director of Multichannel Merchant and Catalogue e-business magazines.


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