Cultivating Emotional Connections


Sophisticated brands understand the value of harvesting emotional connections with customers. Wondering how your existing customers can become more engaged with your brand? Harvard Business Review has published its research on customer emotions to help you get the upper hand in customer engagement. Turns out brands can make considerable gains in ROI by incentivizing how they make people feel.

According to HBR’s research, a brand’s success lies not in the acquisition or conversion of new customers, but in the potential of ones who’ve already shown interest. The key is learning how to advance them to the next stage of the buyer’s journey.

Fully connected customers are 52% more valuable, on average, than those who are just highly satisfied.

At the heart of HBR’s research is something executives need to create smart strategies for improved profits—big data analytics. Big data analytics is all about collecting and analyzing large amounts of data to uncover insights (think hidden patterns, correlations, trends, customer preferences, etc.) to build better marketing, financial and operational strategies for businesses.

Those insights are key to strategizing customer emotions mainly because they can help you uncover what HBR calls “emotional motivators” or more simply put, the feelings associated with your customers’ buying behaviors. When you know why and how customers make purchases; you can measure the desires, needs and influences that funnel them to particular goods and services.

10 Most Common Customer Emotions

According to HBR’s research, brands that transition highly satisfied customers to fully connected offer three times the return of converting unconnected customers to highly satisfied ones. In fact, fully connected customers are 52% more valuable, on average, than those who are just highly satisfied. They key to building your fully connected customer base is to teach your organization that emotional connection affects its growth.

Looking to find out what emotions drive your customers, but not sure where to start? Conduct surveys and analyze demographics to learn more about what they find most important in life. Then, compare their answers to HBR’s 10 most common emotional motivators:

  • Individuality
  • Confidence
  • Well-being
  • Freedom
  • Thrill seeking
  • Belonging
  • Environmentalism
  • Personal fulfillment
  • Security
  • Success

Once you identify the emotions that make customers feel closer to your brand, you can execute a strategy targeting niche groups with the most potential to move into that “fully connected” sphere.

Leveraging Customer Emotions

So once you’ve identified the emotions driving your customers, how can you leverage them? One idea is to “think backwards” as marketer Seth Godin would put it. Figure out what benefits your brand can offer then target an emotion that speaks to that benefit. The idea is to strengthen the experience your customer has with your brand based on an authentic emotion. It’s not so much about touting the features of your product or service; it’s about capturing the feeling of [insert emotional motivator here] so that customers relate that feeling to your brand. As Digital Brand Strategist Aaron Pierson says, “Features can be identically mimicked. To sell someone on something, you have to sell them not only on the product itself, but how the product will enhance their lives.”

That’s a lot of information to chew on, right? To help you digest, here are a few excellent examples of brands who know how to leverage customer emotions. Which one is your fave? Tell us in the comments below.

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This Is Why It Pays to Give Your Customer the Feels
Make gains in ROI by incentivizing how people feel. Harvard Business Review has published its research on customer emotion to help you get the upper hand in customer engagement.
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Isadora Agency
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