Do You Really Need to Worry about Building Emotional Connections with Your Target Audience?

YES. And here’s why. 

There’s a lot of conversation around behavior science and how emotion influences the decision to buy, donate or join in the marketing blogosphere these days. Many of those conversations cite the work of Nobel Prize winner and psychologist, Daniel Kahneman. In his 2011 book, “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” Kahneman argues that the mind incorporates two systems for decision-making: one that works quickly making decisions more on intuition and emotion, and a second that works more slowly to rationalize the decision. Because it takes less effort, we’re more likely to rely on the first system.

That means that when it comes to making decisions, the average person follows their emotions.  

Kahneman’s theories have many applications and are supported by dozens of research studies, including one by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising that looked at 1,400 advertising case studies and compared the success and effectiveness of campaigns that relied on emotional appeals vs. rational persuasion and information. The study found that advertising campaigns with purely emotional content performed about twice as well as those with only rational content. Other studies report that “emotionally connected” customers are 2X+ more valuable than just “highly-satisfied” customers over a lifetime. 

But, how exactly do you connect emotionally?

It all begins with data.  Whether you’re responsible for sales, customer retention, fundraising or enrollment, knowing your audience is the key. You start with your data on existing audiences. The goal is to identify:

  • the right segments of your audience to target
  • the right channels to use to reach them
  • the right timing for those communications and
  • the right message to motivate them to act

This will involve a combination of mining your existing data, appending additional data points and surveying your audience for further insights into the key motivations behind their decision to engage with your organization in the first place. With customer insights in-hand, you can then create personally relevant messages that build a connection with your audience. This used to be the luxury of only advertisers with massive budgets and advanced tech capabilities. But, that’s no longer the case. Now even small non-profit organizations are able to take advantage of sophisticated data and communications technology to build stronger, more emotional connections with their audiences.  

What’s the pay-off?

Knowing how to connect with your audience’s emotional triggers can lead to much more effective and efficient marketing with multiple benefits, starting with increased ROI on your marketing or fundraising spend. By speaking to your audiences in more relevant and motivating ways, you’re not only being a good steward of your marketing budget, but you’ll also build the loyalty and commitment that will help your organization grow in good times and weather through challenging financial periods.

If your organization isn’t already talking about how to build emotional connections with your target audience, now is the time to start.  

Take a look at our case studies. We've been using this approach for over a decade to build stronger, emotional connections with audiences and achieve astonishingly good results for organizations of all sizes. We would welcome the opportunity to talk about how we can help your organization. 

Sources: "An Emotional Connection Matters More than Customer Satisfaction," Harvard Business Review; "Emotional Ads Work Best," Neuroscience Marketing

Mark M Gaskill
Mark M Gaskill

EVP of Marketing Solutions

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