emotionally relevant customer experiences

Can you ever truly understand your customers? Do you ever really know how they make purchase decisions?

Chris Goward, Founder and CEO of WiderFunnel, seeks to answer these questions. He recently presented the webinar “Creating Emotionally Relevant Customer Experiences” in conjunction with Evergage. At the beginning of the webinar, Chris quoted one of his personal heroes, Tom Hopkins (author of How to Master the Art of Selling), saying:

People make a purchase emotionally and defend the purchase rationally. You must create the emotions necessary to close the sale backed up with the logic of the decision to defend it.

Thus, it’s our job as marketers to provide the triggers that drive our customers to make a purchase emotionally, but also provide all the justification to help them defend the logic of their decisions. And since we’re all human, this applies to both consumer and business purchases.

Then Chris delved a bit further into human nature. He said that humans can detect a lot across our five senses, but our brain can only process a tiny fraction of that information. As a result, much of what we perceive is implicit — we don’t know where it’s coming from and can’t justify it explicitly, but we know it’s true. That means that our decision-making isn’t just emotional. Many times, we’re simply basing our decisions on information we can’t explain because our brain can only recognize so much of what it’s interpreting. Instead, we decide first and come up with justifications later.

As a marketer, what can you do to take advantage of this decision-making style?

Understand the emotions behind the purchase

As marketers, it’s our job to connect the dots for our customers and prospects. We can’t just present our products or services and expect people to understand immediately why they should buy them. We need to deliver the right messaging that captures their attention, speaks their language, and adequately explains the value of our offerings.

It’s easy to be bad at this. You are convinced that your messaging will resonate with your audience because you know your products or services backwards and forwards. But do you really understand all of the different stimuli that are factoring into the decision — if your customers can’t explain it themselves? For many marketers, the answer to that question is likely “no.” That’s why it’s important to do the emotional research first to understand the challenges your customers are facing and the emotions they are experiencing. Then, you can design your experiences and messaging around what you’ve learned.

In the webinar, Chris describes a number of different examples of how he and his team have done this for clients using The Limbic Map, which helps marketers understand and navigate customer motivations. Here’s an example of what the map looks like for one particular example Chris described:

I won’t get into the details here, but if you’re interested in learning more about how the map reveals the different emotional systems that exist in your customer’s head, how these systems interact in the brain, how they influence behavior, and how it can be used to improve customer experiences, let Chris Goward explain it to you in the webinar replay.

Once you have a firm grasp of the emotions involved in your customer journey and the areas that need improvement, you can develop better messaging and smoother experiences that will truly resonate with your audience.

Use a personalization platform to deliver the best experience to each person

With rules and machine-learning algorithms, you can deliver the most relevant headline copy, piece of content, product recommendation, promotion, or anything else you can think of to each person on your site, in your mobile app, or through your emails. But if you don’t know enough about your customers to begin with, all of those experiences will be ineffective — even if targeted well.

So do your emotional research upfront. Then, after you have a good understanding of the messages and types of experiences that will resonate, leverage a solution that will target the most relevant experience to each person. Has your research uncovered that different audience segments require different messages or have different levels of emotional responses? What about people in different stages of the journey? What types of content does each group need to justify their decisions with rational facts? One group may want customer testimonials while another may want technical specs.

For example, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows targets different homepage experiences to different segments of people based on their needs. Season pass holders may see messaging around how they can get the most out of their season pass:

emotionally relevant customer experiences

While the family segment will see something else that will resonate with them:

emotionally relevant customer experiences

Final Thoughts

There are a host of small factors that add up to influence someone’s decision, and it’s critical to do all you can to uncover how your customers actually make their decisions. Without that knowledge, your marketing efforts — particularly your efforts to personalize your communication at the one-to-one level — can never reach their full potential.

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