Putting emotion into online marketing

by / Wednesday, 16 November 2011 / Published in Blog

The future success of online marketing is dependent upon making an emotional connection with the consumer.

One of the key online marketing themes that emerged at the recent Dublin Web Summit was the growing need to create an emotional experience for the user. Simply getting attention for your brand is no longer enough. Promising a good deal for the consumer is only half the battle — bad news for discount deals sites. The future (and in some cases the present) success of online marketing and advertising centres around creating an emotional ‘moment’ for the user.

If that sounds like a tall order, that’s because it is. Emotional marketing itself is nothing new, but the challenge for brands and businesses today is how to make that connection in the online world, where consumers have shorter attention spans and cannot be forced to sit through ads with movie-production values, moving storylines or swelling music.

Brian Wong from Kiip (pronounced ‘keep’) – a San Francisco-based start-up that delivers rewards to mobile gamers – spoke passionately on this subject at the Dublin Web Summit, outlining ‘7 ways to go beyond online ads‘.

“Nobody wants to see a banner ad in a game,” he said. His company is taking an innovative approach to marketing – targeting mobile gamers with real-world rewards for in-game achievements.

Marketers need to move beyond traditional advertising methods into a more holistic realm of connecting with the target audience, he said. So, here are his suggested ways to give your online marketing some emotional impact:

1. Grab more than just attention

Achieving brand/product awareness is simply not enough any more. You must aim to create an emotional experience – a moment of happiness or joy – for the user. Aim to make the user smile. Wong cites Apple as an example of a company which is brilliant at creating what he calls “smile moments”.

2. Create serendipity

Aim to “surprise and delight” the user with a reward that is unexpected. Wong calls it the ‘upgrade model’ – an upgrade when you’re flying gives you a special fuzzy feeling because it doesn’t happen every time. But be careful – if the user comes to expect the reward, they won’t appreciate it as much and are less likely to tell other people about it.

3. Acknowledge and validate the user

People care about little moments of approval and validation. The response is emotional, not logical. “Why should we care if someone retweets us?” asks Wong. “We shouldn’t care, but we do.” As an example, Wong says Kiip had great success when it linked up the game Mega Jump with the Guinness Book of Records; whoever achieved the highest score would get their name entered as a world record holder – the ultimate validation.

4. Offer an emotional return on investment (ROI)

This could take the form of fantastic customer service or a personalised service. Wong says that, for now, sharing photographs of people is the best way to share emotions and to give an emotional ROI for the user.

5. Offer gifts and rewards

Offer gifts and rewards to users. And – similar to 2 (above) – if you really want to inspire emotion, deliver a reward for no particular reason: a ‘just because’ gift is always better than a gift on an occasion. Wong calls it a “serendipitous reward”. He cites the example of MailChimp, who sometimes randomly send out a T-shirt to a new subscriber.

6. Humanise the process

Try to make your brand appear human. Advertisers have long practised this, choosing appealing, attractive people to represent their brands. What you’re really trying to achieve is love – if the audience loves your brand, they will give it a chance, they will attribute good qualities to it, and overlook indiscretions.

7. Inception

As in the movie ‘Inception’. Try to infiltrate people’s brains with an understanding of your company’s passion – why it does what it does. Your story will hopefully inspire others to share your message.

Wong’s parting message to the Dublin Web Summit audience was a dramatic “Feel or die”. So, are you ready to get emotional with your marketing?


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