Category Archives: Content Marketing

The Power Of Emotional Marketing

Consumers think with both their rational and emotional brains. Study after study says that when we buy, it’s for emotional reasons. Logic comes into play when we try to justify the money we have (or are about to) spend — especially when we’re giving into our wants.

Here is what one Psychology Today article says about our shopping habits.

  • fMRI neuro-imagey shows that when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences) rather than information (brand attributes, features, objective facts).
  • Advertising research reveals that emotional responses to an ad has greater influence on a consumer’s intent to buy an ad (more so than the ad’s content).
  • According to the Advertising Research Foundation, ‘likeability’ is the measure that best predicts whether an advertisement will increase a brand’s sales.
  • Positive emotions toward a brand have far greater influence on consumer loyalty than trust and other judgments.
  • Emotions are one reason why we gravitate toward brand name products over generics — big brands pump a steady stream of advertising dollars into branding initiatives.

Okay. The findings make sense. In fact, they’re common sense and have been instrumental to marketers for years. But how can businesses harness emotions to connect with their consumers? Harness the following example tacts. We’ll show you how.

Positive Emotions = Long-Term ROI

Emotions are the key drivers behind our everyday decisions. They’re what keep us motivated to get up and go to work at 6 AM. It’s how we convince ourselves to run that extra mile on the treadmill. Similarly, emotions are what convince us to do business with the brands that stand out to us.

The problem is that marketers are on a completely different wavelength. What makes us happy? Clicks, pageviews, time on site, and high conversion rates.

What marketers need to keep in mind is that conversion optimization is a process, not a moment. It’s the whole marketing funnel — not just the five minutes that it takes for your customers to sign a contract or commit to a sale.

Your company needs to prioritize long-term relationships above sales.

Researchers at the University of Michigan wanted to find out how positivity could affect a negotiation scenario. In the study, participants had to coordinate the final arrangements of booking a catering service for an upcoming wedding reception. The business manager of this catering company (a professional actor), explained that the quoted price of $14,000 would need to be increased by close to $3,000 due to market pricing fluctuations.

The study revealed that even a subtle change in pitch could dramatically impact the outcome of the conversation. People who heard a positively toned pitch were twice as likely to accept the deal as people who heard a negatively toned pitch.

Zappos is a brand that thrives on positive energy. The company aims to make its customers extremely happy — and it’s not just to get them in the door. Zappos wants to keep people happy through the entire sales cycle.

Zappos transformed what most companies consider to be a cost (call centers) into a positive customer experience. Zappos reps are not required to follow a rigid script. Instead, they’re encouraged to live in the moment and let their personalities shine through.

Zappos is famous for sending customers flowers, granting surprise upgrades to overnight shipping, and staying on the phone with some customers for hours.

“Sometimes people just need to call and talk”, said Shaea Labus, the employee who was on a call with a customer for almost 10 hours. “We don’t judge, we just want to help”.

Make your customers happy, and you’ll win their business for life. Your competition won’t stand a chance.

Engaging the Senses

Visual communication is the heart of online marketing. That doesn’t mean, however, that your company is limited to two-dimensional communication.

One way to harness the senses is to appeal to your audience’s imagination. Help them imagine an experience with your company’s products. One option? Sound. Talk to your customers by producing a branded explainer video or by hosting a webinar.

You don’t need to create something expensive or overly complicated, either. When Spotify launched in the U.S., the company created a very simple visual and soundtrack:

Coastal, an ecommerce store that sells contact lenses and glasses, has a ‘try-it-on’ feature that helps customers see what they’d look like in new glasses.

Brand Personality

A personality is something that we usually give our friends, family members, coworkers, and acquaintances. These are qualities that form a person’s distinctive character.

Personalities are in the eye of the beholder. We love people because of their personalities. We hate people because of their personalities. We find some personalities wonderful — and others, we find horribly obnoxious.

It’s weird to think that brands can have a personality. And yet, we talk about ‘brand personalities’ all the time.

What Is A Brand Personality?

A brand personality is the set of attributes that give an organization a distinct character. Some brands have incredibly strong and unique personalities. Others have weaker personalities (or no personalities at all). Usually, these personalities revolve around a distinct set of attributes.

Great personalities don’t happen by accident. They’re planned well in advance.

Moosejaw is a great source of inspiration. This sports and outdoors goods retailer is fun-loving, experimental, adventurous, and has an amazing sense of humor. Their marketing team takes the time to try new branding initiatives (like mystery gifts and freebies) and also deploys subtle tactics of making fun of the company’s own legalese. Check out the company’s return policy, for instance. It’s hilarious. It’s a “living will”.

Where Do Brand Personalities Come From

A brand personality can be whatever its leadership wants it to be — fun loving, serious, professional, or any combination of characteristics.

What’s most important is that the company defines it up front. This process should capture the entire time — not just a select few managers within the organization.

The reason why is that it’s your team members — at the ground level — who will ultimately put this carefully designed personality into action. These individuals will plan new product features, business development tactics, and customer service offerings around this extremely important identity.

As an example, take a look at KISSmetrics. The company strives to be analytical, educational, helpful, to-the-point, metrics-driven, aggressive, and (kind of nerdy). These core brand personality traits are readily apparent throughout the site — on the homepage and especially on the blog where the company is sharing tips, how-tos, and detailed best practices in web analytics.

Who Is Responsible For Your Company’s Brand Identity?

he short answer? Everyone.

The personality that you assign to your brand should touch every aspect of your business from marketing copy to social media, customer emails, and product descriptions. Every single person on your team — executive leaders, mid-managers, and entry level team members should be able to clearly define and embody who your brand is.

In many ways, your team members are your company’s brand identity. In building out your team (hiring) and forming strategic partnerships, you need to hire people who live and breathe your brand’s core values. When your team is committed to a shared and focused set of values, your company will have an easier time.

Culture, marketing, and design are elements that go hand-in-hand. For these disparate business goals to converge, a clear strategy needs to be defined from the top-down.

How Do You Define Your Company’s Brand Identity?

A brand identity isn’t something that will materialize into thin air. The process takes careful planning and consideration. You’ll need to hire a team, and if you have the funds, you may need to hire a consultant. This core business asset will unify your product, marketing, design, and customer communication. In other words, it’s really important. You’re not wasting time by overthinking it.

Here are step-by-step guidelines to help you get started:

  1. Come up with a big list of keywords that represent your brand image (right now). Invite your entire team to participate in this process. You can use a whiteboard, Google doc, or spreadsheet to sketch out the details ­— whatever you think is most effective — to share ideas.
  2. Come up with a big list of keywords that describe how you’d like your brand to be perceived. Repeat the process of involving your entire team. Compare your two lists and examine the gaps between who you are now and who you want to be.
  3. Trim down the big list of keywords to 2-3 key phrases. This process will be excruciating, but there is no way that you can rely on dozens of words to describe your brand. At the end of the day, human beings will be processing this information. If you overwhelm folks with more information than they can handle, you’ll end up wasting time.
  4. Create a message architecture. A what? This is a hierarchy of communication goals that clarify your brand’s most high-impact attributes. These attributes and terms reflect a broader discussion to establish concrete, shared terminology (not just abstract concepts). There is no cookie-cutter approach to crafting your brand’s message architecture. Pick an approach that best aligns with your company’s goals. Just make sure that you’re communicating (and organizing) your brand’s identity clearly.
  5. Create a style guide. This document will translate all of your ideas into a concrete set of instructions for your marketing team. This (short and sweet) document will unify your company’s brand messaging. It takes a few sentences to keep your company on the same page.

Here is an example of a simple brand styleguide:

The concept is just that simple. The less information your team has to filter through, the more they can focus on creating a cohesive marketing strategy.

Avoiding Cheesiness

Emotions can easily transition from effective to downright cheesy. It’s a fine line. One moment, your brand is doing a great job building a rapport. The next moment? Audiences are making fun of your company’s over-the-top marketing message.

How do you avoid this?

  1. Embrace honesty within your organization. Make it easy for your team to deliver blunt and honest perspectives.
  2. Collect feedback from a variety of audiences. Don’t just listen to your organization’s baby boomers. Ask your Gen Xers and Gen Yers to share ideas too.
  3. Face test your marketing message with a group of customers that you trust. Ask this ‘focus group’ to deliver blunt and honest feedback.
  4. Remember the needs of your audiences. Baby boomers, for instance are more receptive to cheesy marketing messages than other groups. Gen Yers? They’ll tear your marketing apart.

Cheesiness is in the eye of the beholder. The best way to connect with your audience is to put your marketing team in their shoes.

Creating Viral Campaigns

Some brands make viral marketing look so darn easy. Dollar Shave Club, for instance, used a hilarious marketing video to build a customer base. Overnight. Literally.

The thing is, viral marketing campaigns are more formulaic than they look. While performance isn’t guaranteed, brands can optimize their chances of success by striking an emotional chord with their customers.

In a Harvard Business Review article, Kelsey Libert and Kristin Tynski explain how marketers can increase the chances of a creating a viral campaign:

  1. Make people care (and share). Engage them with a powerful message — without trying to sell your brand. Heavy use of branding can push viewers away. They’ll jump to disregard the content as spammy and quickly lose interest. Don’t manipulate your audience’s emotions. Respect them, and make an effort to understand their core needs.
  2. Understand the emotions that drive the success of viral content. Patterns are a core part of human nature. That’s why Libert and Tynski conducted a study of 30 of the top 100 images of the year from imgur.com (as voted on the top social sharing site Reddit). Negative emotions were less commonly found in viral content than positive emotions. However, viral success was still positive when these negative emotions came with an element of anticipation and surprise. Certain emotions were common in viral content (and others were uncommon). Common emotions included: curiosity, amazement, interest, astonishment, uncertainty, and admiration.
  3. Build your brand into an emotional message without being salesy. The key is to think about how your company, products, and services relate to your target audience. Make sure to select a topic that underscores the position of your brand.
  4. Pay attention to the public good.
  5. The world is bigger than your brand. Focus on adding value to the world, and your customers will notice.

The Unspoken Power Of Delight

Delight is a force that is infinitely more powerful than any marketing message. It’s the experience of watching a toddler use a smartphone for the first time. It’s what happens when you walk into your favorite boutique (after a tough day) and are surrounded by racks of beautiful items and great music. It’s when Zappos surprises you with overnight shipping.

Some leaders stereotype delight as something fluffy. The thing is, it’s not. It ties directly into your company’s bottom line. It’s probably true that you can’t measure the correlation between exposure to purple lighting in the Virgin Airlines check-in area and profitability. But honestly, who cares? We know that delight influences sales. It’s a waste of time to chase numbers and micromanage the details. Focus on growing your business by creating delightful brand experiences.

Delight doesn’t happen on accident. It’s carefully crafted into the core functional areas of your business:

  • Product
  • Marketing
  • Account management/client services
  • Aesthetics

Delight can strike a chord with the following emotions:

  • Humor
  • Inspiration
  • Admiration
  • Awe
  • Surprise

The problem with delight is that it is — by definition — a nebulous concept. Your finance and revenue teams will second guess your pitches around the topic. Your sales and marketing teams might be on board, but your number crunchers? Not so much. When asked about your plans, you need to distill your goals into a set of tangible steps. Here are the steps needed to create a delightful brand experience:

  • Evaluate your customers’ pain points. Examine their online and offline behavior, research what they need, and piece together the touch points that illustrate their unique conversion paths. Talk to them directly, and build brand personas around the answers that you receive.
  • Define your brand. Take the research that you did in step 1, and translate the information into a concrete set of action items. Distill what you’ve learned into one or two sentences about your company.
  • Start brainstorming action-items that deliver your intended brand experience.

Branding is something that your company should measure on the macro-level. Pay attention to general trends in your customer data:

  • Repeat Customers: How many customers are coming back to do repeat business with your company?
  • Word of Mouth Recommendations: Shares through social media can help you quantify this important concept. It’s not a perfect 1:1 relationship; however, shares are a strong proxy for how many people are engaging with — and ultimately recommending your brand.
  • Average Order Values: Take a look at how much customers are spending with each individual transaction. A positive sign is when you see growth over time.
  • Lifetime Customer Values: Are your marketing initiatives increasing the worth that your company is generating over the long-term?
  • Market Share: How does your brand compare to its top competitors? Are customers sticking with your company or making the jump to other organizations?

Delight is something that you can craft in tandem with your brand’s personality. Delight is the customer-centric piece, and personality is the brandcentric piece.

Staying Ethical

There is a fine line between courting and manipulating customers. Remember that emotions can make us vulnerable. No matter how strong we think we are, we’re still very complex. In appealing to emotions, brands are constantly walking the line. It is extremely important to treat your customers with the utmost respect.

Fear is one example of a powerful yet heavily abused emotion.

In some instances, fear is appropriate. Especially when it comes to vital health concerns, companies/brands/nonprofits have an obligation to inspire emotion. This ad from the CDC, for instance, is designed to stop people from smoking:

The main element that influences whether a person is likely to take action to avoid a threat is efficacy — a person’s perception as to whether or not they can do anything about the threat.

Marketers and business owners can literally scare their customers into making a purchase. But is it ethical? Probably not — if you’re using fear tactics, then definitely no. If you’re communicating something truthful (and possibly saving your customers from a big problem), then fear is ok.

The key is to give your brand a value test. Is your marketing message adding or extracting value from the world? If you’re extracting value (like a leech), you should probably change your approach.

Logitech is an example brand that strikes this balance well. Here is an ad for a home video security system — it’s based around the questions that parents are already asking. In speaking to its audience’s fears, the marketing message is comforting because it shows worrisome parents that they are not alone in their fears.

Logitech also ran a “busted” video campaign to expose prospective customers to credible, real threats. Unethical? Not so much. But the campaign may make you consider buying a Logitech camera.

Here’s an example of an ad that takes fear too far. The ad reads “If you aren’t totally clean, you are filthy”.

The ad is questionable because it’s unreasonable. Yes, our hands are covered in germs. But are we covered in disgusting cockroaches, and are we allowing those nonexistent cockroaches to crawl all over our children? Probably not.

The thing is, many people have phobias for cockroaches and other insects. They are likely terrified and jolted after looking at this very unrealistic ad.

A point that we emphasized earlier is that emotions expose our greatest vulnerabilities. Marketers should treat carefully and thoughtfully. You never know who you’ll possibly make very, very angry.

Build Emotions Into Your Brand Community

Social media is a great way to encourage customers to talk about how they’re thinking and feeling — especially about your company. It’s important to keep this dialogue open — you’ll promote word of mouth marketing around your brand. A potential issue arises, however, when customers are angry about a negative experience.

Many companies will jump to deleting negative comments or moving all customer communication into a private forum.

Don’t do that.

Instead, if a problem arises, use the opportunity to show that there is a real person behind your brand. Apologize, make the situation better, and try to offer an amicable solution. Don’t let a complaint or negative review scare you away from the experience of talking with your customers in a public forum. Instead, be authentic and show that you care. Reciprocate emotions with emotions, and stay calm — even if the conversation gets heated.

FedEx did a great job striking this balance with this summer, a video of a careless package delivery driver went viral on YouTube. The company released an official video statement to basically say, “I’m sorry. We’re on it”.

Own your mistakes. If all else fails, make it a point to show that you care.

Key Takeaways

  1. Consumers buy because of what they’re feeling — not necessarily what they’re thinking.
  2. Emotions are valuable for marketing. Marketers and business owners need to make sure that they’re connecting with audiences on a human-to-human level.
  3. Emotions are difficult to quantify. Diehard finance people will be skeptical of your marketing initiatives. If you listen to them, however, your company will miss out on valuable relationship-building experiences.
  4. A company should take the time to establish its brand personality upfront, from the top down. Style guides and message architecture templates can help your organization create a centralized workflow for all of your company’s marketing channels.
  5. Remember that your company’s culture will also define your brand. Your teammates are the people who will execute your company’s brand strategy at the ground level — in every aspect of your business from customer communication, sales, and social media. Make sure that you’re hiring the right people who embody your company’s core traits and values.
  6. You can measure delight, brand loyalty, and customer happiness by looking at macro-level ROI metrics including long-term customer value, average order value, company market share, and social media mentions.
  7. Emotions make us vulnerable. Don’t be a jerk. Be considerate of the fact that there are highly public consequences to your actions as a brand.
  8. Social media is a platform for your customers to share what they are thinking and feeling. Don’t inhibit this very healthy dialogue. It’s perfectly normal for customers to feel frustrated and angry sometimes. Don’t feel pressure to squash what they’re saying. Focus on solving the problem, discussing the problem openly, and connecting with your audiences in a very human way.

The Power Of Emotional Marketing

Consumers think with both their rational and emotional brains. Study after study says that when we buy, it’s for emotional reasons. Logic comes into play when we try to justify the money we have (or are about to) spend — especially when we’re giving into our wants.

Here is what one Psychology Today article says about our shopping habits.

  • fMRI neuro-imagey shows that when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences) rather than information (brand attributes, features, objective facts).
  • Advertising research reveals that emotional responses to an ad has greater influence on a consumer’s intent to buy an ad (more so than the ad’s content).
  • According to the Advertising Research Foundation, ‘likeability’ is the measure that best predicts whether an advertisement will increase a brand’s sales.
  • Positive emotions toward a brand have far greater influence on consumer loyalty than trust and other judgments.
  • Emotions are one reason why we gravitate toward brand name products over generics — big brands pump a steady stream of advertising dollars into branding initiatives.

Okay. The findings make sense. In fact, they’re common sense and have been instrumental to marketers for years. But how can businesses harness emotions to connect with their consumers? Harness the following example tacts. We’ll show you how.

Positive Emotions = Long-Term ROI

Emotions are the key drivers behind our everyday decisions. They’re what keep us motivated to get up and go to work at 6 AM. It’s how we convince ourselves to run that extra mile on the treadmill. Similarly, emotions are what convince us to do business with the brands that stand out to us.

The problem is that marketers are on a completely different wavelength. What makes us happy? Clicks, pageviews, time on site, and high conversion rates.

What marketers need to keep in mind is that conversion optimization is a process, not a moment. It’s the whole marketing funnel — not just the five minutes that it takes for your customers to sign a contract or commit to a sale.

Your company needs to prioritize long-term relationships above sales.

Researchers at the University of Michigan wanted to find out how positivity could affect a negotiation scenario. In the study, participants had to coordinate the final arrangements of booking a catering service for an upcoming wedding reception. The business manager of this catering company (a professional actor), explained that the quoted price of $14,000 would need to be increased by close to $3,000 due to market pricing fluctuations.

The study revealed that even a subtle change in pitch could dramatically impact the outcome of the conversation. People who heard a positively toned pitch were twice as likely to accept the deal as people who heard a negatively toned pitch.

Zappos is a brand that thrives on positive energy. The company aims to make its customers extremely happy — and it’s not just to get them in the door. Zappos wants to keep people happy through the entire sales cycle.

Zappos transformed what most companies consider to be a cost (call centers) into a positive customer experience. Zappos reps are not required to follow a rigid script. Instead, they’re encouraged to live in the moment and let their personalities shine through.

Zappos is famous for sending customers flowers, granting surprise upgrades to overnight shipping, and staying on the phone with some customers for hours.

“Sometimes people just need to call and talk”, said Shaea Labus, the employee who was on a call with a customer for almost 10 hours. “We don’t judge, we just want to help”.

Make your customers happy, and you’ll win their business for life. Your competition won’t stand a chance.

Engaging the Senses

Visual communication is the heart of online marketing. That doesn’t mean, however, that your company is limited to two-dimensional communication.

One way to harness the senses is to appeal to your audience’s imagination. Help them imagine an experience with your company’s products. One option? Sound. Talk to your customers by producing a branded explainer video or by hosting a webinar.

You don’t need to create something expensive or overly complicated, either. When Spotify launched in the U.S., the company created a very simple visual and soundtrack:

Coastal, an ecommerce store that sells contact lenses and glasses, has a ‘try-it-on’ feature that helps customers see what they’d look like in new glasses.

Brand Personality

A personality is something that we usually give our friends, family members, coworkers, and acquaintances. These are qualities that form a person’s distinctive character.

Personalities are in the eye of the beholder. We love people because of their personalities. We hate people because of their personalities. We find some personalities wonderful — and others, we find horribly obnoxious.

It’s weird to think that brands can have a personality. And yet, we talk about ‘brand personalities’ all the time.

What Is A Brand Personality?

A brand personality is the set of attributes that give an organization a distinct character. Some brands have incredibly strong and unique personalities. Others have weaker personalities (or no personalities at all). Usually, these personalities revolve around a distinct set of attributes.

Great personalities don’t happen by accident. They’re planned well in advance.

Moosejaw is a great source of inspiration. This sports and outdoors goods retailer is fun-loving, experimental, adventurous, and has an amazing sense of humor. Their marketing team takes the time to try new branding initiatives (like mystery gifts and freebies) and also deploys subtle tactics of making fun of the company’s own legalese. Check out the company’s return policy, for instance. It’s hilarious. It’s a “living will”.

Where Do Brand Personalities Come From

A brand personality can be whatever its leadership wants it to be — fun loving, serious, professional, or any combination of characteristics.

What’s most important is that the company defines it up front. This process should capture the entire time — not just a select few managers within the organization.

The reason why is that it’s your team members — at the ground level — who will ultimately put this carefully designed personality into action. These individuals will plan new product features, business development tactics, and customer service offerings around this extremely important identity.

As an example, take a look at KISSmetrics. The company strives to be analytical, educational, helpful, to-the-point, metrics-driven, aggressive, and (kind of nerdy). These core brand personality traits are readily apparent throughout the site — on the homepage and especially on the blog where the company is sharing tips, how-tos, and detailed best practices in web analytics.

Who Is Responsible For Your Company’s Brand Identity?

he short answer? Everyone.

The personality that you assign to your brand should touch every aspect of your business from marketing copy to social media, customer emails, and product descriptions. Every single person on your team — executive leaders, mid-managers, and entry level team members should be able to clearly define and embody who your brand is.

In many ways, your team members are your company’s brand identity. In building out your team (hiring) and forming strategic partnerships, you need to hire people who live and breathe your brand’s core values. When your team is committed to a shared and focused set of values, your company will have an easier time.

Culture, marketing, and design are elements that go hand-in-hand. For these disparate business goals to converge, a clear strategy needs to be defined from the top-down.

How Do You Define Your Company’s Brand Identity?

A brand identity isn’t something that will materialize into thin air. The process takes careful planning and consideration. You’ll need to hire a team, and if you have the funds, you may need to hire a consultant. This core business asset will unify your product, marketing, design, and customer communication. In other words, it’s really important. You’re not wasting time by overthinking it.

Here are step-by-step guidelines to help you get started:

  1. Come up with a big list of keywords that represent your brand image (right now). Invite your entire team to participate in this process. You can use a whiteboard, Google doc, or spreadsheet to sketch out the details ­— whatever you think is most effective — to share ideas.
  2. Come up with a big list of keywords that describe how you’d like your brand to be perceived. Repeat the process of involving your entire team. Compare your two lists and examine the gaps between who you are now and who you want to be.
  3. Trim down the big list of keywords to 2-3 key phrases. This process will be excruciating, but there is no way that you can rely on dozens of words to describe your brand. At the end of the day, human beings will be processing this information. If you overwhelm folks with more information than they can handle, you’ll end up wasting time.
  4. Create a message architecture. A what? This is a hierarchy of communication goals that clarify your brand’s most high-impact attributes. These attributes and terms reflect a broader discussion to establish concrete, shared terminology (not just abstract concepts). There is no cookie-cutter approach to crafting your brand’s message architecture. Pick an approach that best aligns with your company’s goals. Just make sure that you’re communicating (and organizing) your brand’s identity clearly.
  5. Create a style guide. This document will translate all of your ideas into a concrete set of instructions for your marketing team. This (short and sweet) document will unify your company’s brand messaging. It takes a few sentences to keep your company on the same page.

Here is an example of a simple brand styleguide:

The concept is just that simple. The less information your team has to filter through, the more they can focus on creating a cohesive marketing strategy.

Avoiding Cheesiness

Emotions can easily transition from effective to downright cheesy. It’s a fine line. One moment, your brand is doing a great job building a rapport. The next moment? Audiences are making fun of your company’s over-the-top marketing message.

How do you avoid this?

  1. Embrace honesty within your organization. Make it easy for your team to deliver blunt and honest perspectives.
  2. Collect feedback from a variety of audiences. Don’t just listen to your organization’s baby boomers. Ask your Gen Xers and Gen Yers to share ideas too.
  3. Face test your marketing message with a group of customers that you trust. Ask this ‘focus group’ to deliver blunt and honest feedback.
  4. Remember the needs of your audiences. Baby boomers, for instance are more receptive to cheesy marketing messages than other groups. Gen Yers? They’ll tear your marketing apart.

Cheesiness is in the eye of the beholder. The best way to connect with your audience is to put your marketing team in their shoes.

Creating Viral Campaigns

Some brands make viral marketing look so darn easy. Dollar Shave Club, for instance, used a hilarious marketing video to build a customer base. Overnight. Literally.

The thing is, viral marketing campaigns are more formulaic than they look. While performance isn’t guaranteed, brands can optimize their chances of success by striking an emotional chord with their customers.

In a Harvard Business Review article, Kelsey Libert and Kristin Tynski explain how marketers can increase the chances of a creating a viral campaign:

  1. Make people care (and share). Engage them with a powerful message — without trying to sell your brand. Heavy use of branding can push viewers away. They’ll jump to disregard the content as spammy and quickly lose interest. Don’t manipulate your audience’s emotions. Respect them, and make an effort to understand their core needs.
  2. Understand the emotions that drive the success of viral content. Patterns are a core part of human nature. That’s why Libert and Tynski conducted a study of 30 of the top 100 images of the year from imgur.com (as voted on the top social sharing site Reddit). Negative emotions were less commonly found in viral content than positive emotions. However, viral success was still positive when these negative emotions came with an element of anticipation and surprise. Certain emotions were common in viral content (and others were uncommon). Common emotions included: curiosity, amazement, interest, astonishment, uncertainty, and admiration.
  3. Build your brand into an emotional message without being salesy. The key is to think about how your company, products, and services relate to your target audience. Make sure to select a topic that underscores the position of your brand.
  4. Pay attention to the public good.
  5. The world is bigger than your brand. Focus on adding value to the world, and your customers will notice.

The Unspoken Power Of Delight

Delight is a force that is infinitely more powerful than any marketing message. It’s the experience of watching a toddler use a smartphone for the first time. It’s what happens when you walk into your favorite boutique (after a tough day) and are surrounded by racks of beautiful items and great music. It’s when Zappos surprises you with overnight shipping.

Some leaders stereotype delight as something fluffy. The thing is, it’s not. It ties directly into your company’s bottom line. It’s probably true that you can’t measure the correlation between exposure to purple lighting in the Virgin Airlines check-in area and profitability. But honestly, who cares? We know that delight influences sales. It’s a waste of time to chase numbers and micromanage the details. Focus on growing your business by creating delightful brand experiences.

Delight doesn’t happen on accident. It’s carefully crafted into the core functional areas of your business:

  • Product
  • Marketing
  • Account management/client services
  • Aesthetics

Delight can strike a chord with the following emotions:

  • Humor
  • Inspiration
  • Admiration
  • Awe
  • Surprise

The problem with delight is that it is — by definition — a nebulous concept. Your finance and revenue teams will second guess your pitches around the topic. Your sales and marketing teams might be on board, but your number crunchers? Not so much. When asked about your plans, you need to distill your goals into a set of tangible steps. Here are the steps needed to create a delightful brand experience:

  • Evaluate your customers’ pain points. Examine their online and offline behavior, research what they need, and piece together the touch points that illustrate their unique conversion paths. Talk to them directly, and build brand personas around the answers that you receive.
  • Define your brand. Take the research that you did in step 1, and translate the information into a concrete set of action items. Distill what you’ve learned into one or two sentences about your company.
  • Start brainstorming action-items that deliver your intended brand experience.

Branding is something that your company should measure on the macro-level. Pay attention to general trends in your customer data:

  • Repeat Customers: How many customers are coming back to do repeat business with your company?
  • Word of Mouth Recommendations: Shares through social media can help you quantify this important concept. It’s not a perfect 1:1 relationship; however, shares are a strong proxy for how many people are engaging with — and ultimately recommending your brand.
  • Average Order Values: Take a look at how much customers are spending with each individual transaction. A positive sign is when you see growth over time.
  • Lifetime Customer Values: Are your marketing initiatives increasing the worth that your company is generating over the long-term?
  • Market Share: How does your brand compare to its top competitors? Are customers sticking with your company or making the jump to other organizations?

Delight is something that you can craft in tandem with your brand’s personality. Delight is the customer-centric piece, and personality is the brandcentric piece.

Staying Ethical

There is a fine line between courting and manipulating customers. Remember that emotions can make us vulnerable. No matter how strong we think we are, we’re still very complex. In appealing to emotions, brands are constantly walking the line. It is extremely important to treat your customers with the utmost respect.

Fear is one example of a powerful yet heavily abused emotion.

In some instances, fear is appropriate. Especially when it comes to vital health concerns, companies/brands/nonprofits have an obligation to inspire emotion. This ad from the CDC, for instance, is designed to stop people from smoking:

The main element that influences whether a person is likely to take action to avoid a threat is efficacy — a person’s perception as to whether or not they can do anything about the threat.

Marketers and business owners can literally scare their customers into making a purchase. But is it ethical? Probably not — if you’re using fear tactics, then definitely no. If you’re communicating something truthful (and possibly saving your customers from a big problem), then fear is ok.

The key is to give your brand a value test. Is your marketing message adding or extracting value from the world? If you’re extracting value (like a leech), you should probably change your approach.

Logitech is an example brand that strikes this balance well. Here is an ad for a home video security system — it’s based around the questions that parents are already asking. In speaking to its audience’s fears, the marketing message is comforting because it shows worrisome parents that they are not alone in their fears.

Logitech also ran a “busted” video campaign to expose prospective customers to credible, real threats. Unethical? Not so much. But the campaign may make you consider buying a Logitech camera.

Here’s an example of an ad that takes fear too far. The ad reads “If you aren’t totally clean, you are filthy”.

The ad is questionable because it’s unreasonable. Yes, our hands are covered in germs. But are we covered in disgusting cockroaches, and are we allowing those nonexistent cockroaches to crawl all over our children? Probably not.

The thing is, many people have phobias for cockroaches and other insects. They are likely terrified and jolted after looking at this very unrealistic ad.

A point that we emphasized earlier is that emotions expose our greatest vulnerabilities. Marketers should treat carefully and thoughtfully. You never know who you’ll possibly make very, very angry.

Build Emotions Into Your Brand Community

Social media is a great way to encourage customers to talk about how they’re thinking and feeling — especially about your company. It’s important to keep this dialogue open — you’ll promote word of mouth marketing around your brand. A potential issue arises, however, when customers are angry about a negative experience.

Many companies will jump to deleting negative comments or moving all customer communication into a private forum.

Don’t do that.

Instead, if a problem arises, use the opportunity to show that there is a real person behind your brand. Apologize, make the situation better, and try to offer an amicable solution. Don’t let a complaint or negative review scare you away from the experience of talking with your customers in a public forum. Instead, be authentic and show that you care. Reciprocate emotions with emotions, and stay calm — even if the conversation gets heated.

FedEx did a great job striking this balance with this summer, a video of a careless package delivery driver went viral on YouTube. The company released an official video statement to basically say, “I’m sorry. We’re on it”.

Own your mistakes. If all else fails, make it a point to show that you care.

Key Takeaways

  1. Consumers buy because of what they’re feeling — not necessarily what they’re thinking.
  2. Emotions are valuable for marketing. Marketers and business owners need to make sure that they’re connecting with audiences on a human-to-human level.
  3. Emotions are difficult to quantify. Diehard finance people will be skeptical of your marketing initiatives. If you listen to them, however, your company will miss out on valuable relationship-building experiences.
  4. A company should take the time to establish its brand personality upfront, from the top down. Style guides and message architecture templates can help your organization create a centralized workflow for all of your company’s marketing channels.
  5. Remember that your company’s culture will also define your brand. Your teammates are the people who will execute your company’s brand strategy at the ground level — in every aspect of your business from customer communication, sales, and social media. Make sure that you’re hiring the right people who embody your company’s core traits and values.
  6. You can measure delight, brand loyalty, and customer happiness by looking at macro-level ROI metrics including long-term customer value, average order value, company market share, and social media mentions.
  7. Emotions make us vulnerable. Don’t be a jerk. Be considerate of the fact that there are highly public consequences to your actions as a brand.
  8. Social media is a platform for your customers to share what they are thinking and feeling. Don’t inhibit this very healthy dialogue. It’s perfectly normal for customers to feel frustrated and angry sometimes. Don’t feel pressure to squash what they’re saying. Focus on solving the problem, discussing the problem openly, and connecting with your audiences in a very human way.

The Power Of Emotional Marketing

Consumers think with both their rational and emotional brains. Study after study says that when we buy, it’s for emotional reasons. Logic comes into play when we try to justify the money we have (or are about to) spend — especially when we’re giving into our wants.

Here is what one Psychology Today article says about our shopping habits.

  • fMRI neuro-imagey shows that when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences) rather than information (brand attributes, features, objective facts).
  • Advertising research reveals that emotional responses to an ad has greater influence on a consumer’s intent to buy an ad (more so than the ad’s content).
  • According to the Advertising Research Foundation, ‘likeability’ is the measure that best predicts whether an advertisement will increase a brand’s sales.
  • Positive emotions toward a brand have far greater influence on consumer loyalty than trust and other judgments.
  • Emotions are one reason why we gravitate toward brand name products over generics — big brands pump a steady stream of advertising dollars into branding initiatives.

Okay. The findings make sense. In fact, they’re common sense and have been instrumental to marketers for years. But how can businesses harness emotions to connect with their consumers? Harness the following example tacts. We’ll show you how.

Positive Emotions = Long-Term ROI

Emotions are the key drivers behind our everyday decisions. They’re what keep us motivated to get up and go to work at 6 AM. It’s how we convince ourselves to run that extra mile on the treadmill. Similarly, emotions are what convince us to do business with the brands that stand out to us.

The problem is that marketers are on a completely different wavelength. What makes us happy? Clicks, pageviews, time on site, and high conversion rates.

What marketers need to keep in mind is that conversion optimization is a process, not a moment. It’s the whole marketing funnel — not just the five minutes that it takes for your customers to sign a contract or commit to a sale.

Your company needs to prioritize long-term relationships above sales.

Researchers at the University of Michigan wanted to find out how positivity could affect a negotiation scenario. In the study, participants had to coordinate the final arrangements of booking a catering service for an upcoming wedding reception. The business manager of this catering company (a professional actor), explained that the quoted price of $14,000 would need to be increased by close to $3,000 due to market pricing fluctuations.

The study revealed that even a subtle change in pitch could dramatically impact the outcome of the conversation. People who heard a positively toned pitch were twice as likely to accept the deal as people who heard a negatively toned pitch.

Zappos is a brand that thrives on positive energy. The company aims to make its customers extremely happy — and it’s not just to get them in the door. Zappos wants to keep people happy through the entire sales cycle.

Zappos transformed what most companies consider to be a cost (call centers) into a positive customer experience. Zappos reps are not required to follow a rigid script. Instead, they’re encouraged to live in the moment and let their personalities shine through.

Zappos is famous for sending customers flowers, granting surprise upgrades to overnight shipping, and staying on the phone with some customers for hours.

“Sometimes people just need to call and talk”, said Shaea Labus, the employee who was on a call with a customer for almost 10 hours. “We don’t judge, we just want to help”.

Make your customers happy, and you’ll win their business for life. Your competition won’t stand a chance.

Engaging the Senses

Visual communication is the heart of online marketing. That doesn’t mean, however, that your company is limited to two-dimensional communication.

One way to harness the senses is to appeal to your audience’s imagination. Help them imagine an experience with your company’s products. One option? Sound. Talk to your customers by producing a branded explainer video or by hosting a webinar.

You don’t need to create something expensive or overly complicated, either. When Spotify launched in the U.S., the company created a very simple visual and soundtrack:

Coastal, an ecommerce store that sells contact lenses and glasses, has a ‘try-it-on’ feature that helps customers see what they’d look like in new glasses.

Brand Personality

A personality is something that we usually give our friends, family members, coworkers, and acquaintances. These are qualities that form a person’s distinctive character.

Personalities are in the eye of the beholder. We love people because of their personalities. We hate people because of their personalities. We find some personalities wonderful — and others, we find horribly obnoxious.

It’s weird to think that brands can have a personality. And yet, we talk about ‘brand personalities’ all the time.

What Is A Brand Personality?

A brand personality is the set of attributes that give an organization a distinct character. Some brands have incredibly strong and unique personalities. Others have weaker personalities (or no personalities at all). Usually, these personalities revolve around a distinct set of attributes.

Great personalities don’t happen by accident. They’re planned well in advance.

Moosejaw is a great source of inspiration. This sports and outdoors goods retailer is fun-loving, experimental, adventurous, and has an amazing sense of humor. Their marketing team takes the time to try new branding initiatives (like mystery gifts and freebies) and also deploys subtle tactics of making fun of the company’s own legalese. Check out the company’s return policy, for instance. It’s hilarious. It’s a “living will”.

Where Do Brand Personalities Come From

A brand personality can be whatever its leadership wants it to be — fun loving, serious, professional, or any combination of characteristics.

What’s most important is that the company defines it up front. This process should capture the entire time — not just a select few managers within the organization.

The reason why is that it’s your team members — at the ground level — who will ultimately put this carefully designed personality into action. These individuals will plan new product features, business development tactics, and customer service offerings around this extremely important identity.

As an example, take a look at KISSmetrics. The company strives to be analytical, educational, helpful, to-the-point, metrics-driven, aggressive, and (kind of nerdy). These core brand personality traits are readily apparent throughout the site — on the homepage and especially on the blog where the company is sharing tips, how-tos, and detailed best practices in web analytics.

Who Is Responsible For Your Company’s Brand Identity?

he short answer? Everyone.

The personality that you assign to your brand should touch every aspect of your business from marketing copy to social media, customer emails, and product descriptions. Every single person on your team — executive leaders, mid-managers, and entry level team members should be able to clearly define and embody who your brand is.

In many ways, your team members are your company’s brand identity. In building out your team (hiring) and forming strategic partnerships, you need to hire people who live and breathe your brand’s core values. When your team is committed to a shared and focused set of values, your company will have an easier time.

Culture, marketing, and design are elements that go hand-in-hand. For these disparate business goals to converge, a clear strategy needs to be defined from the top-down.

How Do You Define Your Company’s Brand Identity?

A brand identity isn’t something that will materialize into thin air. The process takes careful planning and consideration. You’ll need to hire a team, and if you have the funds, you may need to hire a consultant. This core business asset will unify your product, marketing, design, and customer communication. In other words, it’s really important. You’re not wasting time by overthinking it.

Here are step-by-step guidelines to help you get started:

  1. Come up with a big list of keywords that represent your brand image (right now). Invite your entire team to participate in this process. You can use a whiteboard, Google doc, or spreadsheet to sketch out the details ­— whatever you think is most effective — to share ideas.
  2. Come up with a big list of keywords that describe how you’d like your brand to be perceived. Repeat the process of involving your entire team. Compare your two lists and examine the gaps between who you are now and who you want to be.
  3. Trim down the big list of keywords to 2-3 key phrases. This process will be excruciating, but there is no way that you can rely on dozens of words to describe your brand. At the end of the day, human beings will be processing this information. If you overwhelm folks with more information than they can handle, you’ll end up wasting time.
  4. Create a message architecture. A what? This is a hierarchy of communication goals that clarify your brand’s most high-impact attributes. These attributes and terms reflect a broader discussion to establish concrete, shared terminology (not just abstract concepts). There is no cookie-cutter approach to crafting your brand’s message architecture. Pick an approach that best aligns with your company’s goals. Just make sure that you’re communicating (and organizing) your brand’s identity clearly.
  5. Create a style guide. This document will translate all of your ideas into a concrete set of instructions for your marketing team. This (short and sweet) document will unify your company’s brand messaging. It takes a few sentences to keep your company on the same page.

Here is an example of a simple brand styleguide:

The concept is just that simple. The less information your team has to filter through, the more they can focus on creating a cohesive marketing strategy.

Avoiding Cheesiness

Emotions can easily transition from effective to downright cheesy. It’s a fine line. One moment, your brand is doing a great job building a rapport. The next moment? Audiences are making fun of your company’s over-the-top marketing message.

How do you avoid this?

  1. Embrace honesty within your organization. Make it easy for your team to deliver blunt and honest perspectives.
  2. Collect feedback from a variety of audiences. Don’t just listen to your organization’s baby boomers. Ask your Gen Xers and Gen Yers to share ideas too.
  3. Face test your marketing message with a group of customers that you trust. Ask this ‘focus group’ to deliver blunt and honest feedback.
  4. Remember the needs of your audiences. Baby boomers, for instance are more receptive to cheesy marketing messages than other groups. Gen Yers? They’ll tear your marketing apart.

Cheesiness is in the eye of the beholder. The best way to connect with your audience is to put your marketing team in their shoes.

Creating Viral Campaigns

Some brands make viral marketing look so darn easy. Dollar Shave Club, for instance, used a hilarious marketing video to build a customer base. Overnight. Literally.

The thing is, viral marketing campaigns are more formulaic than they look. While performance isn’t guaranteed, brands can optimize their chances of success by striking an emotional chord with their customers.

In a Harvard Business Review article, Kelsey Libert and Kristin Tynski explain how marketers can increase the chances of a creating a viral campaign:

  1. Make people care (and share). Engage them with a powerful message — without trying to sell your brand. Heavy use of branding can push viewers away. They’ll jump to disregard the content as spammy and quickly lose interest. Don’t manipulate your audience’s emotions. Respect them, and make an effort to understand their core needs.
  2. Understand the emotions that drive the success of viral content. Patterns are a core part of human nature. That’s why Libert and Tynski conducted a study of 30 of the top 100 images of the year from imgur.com (as voted on the top social sharing site Reddit). Negative emotions were less commonly found in viral content than positive emotions. However, viral success was still positive when these negative emotions came with an element of anticipation and surprise. Certain emotions were common in viral content (and others were uncommon). Common emotions included: curiosity, amazement, interest, astonishment, uncertainty, and admiration.
  3. Build your brand into an emotional message without being salesy. The key is to think about how your company, products, and services relate to your target audience. Make sure to select a topic that underscores the position of your brand.
  4. Pay attention to the public good.
  5. The world is bigger than your brand. Focus on adding value to the world, and your customers will notice.

The Unspoken Power Of Delight

Delight is a force that is infinitely more powerful than any marketing message. It’s the experience of watching a toddler use a smartphone for the first time. It’s what happens when you walk into your favorite boutique (after a tough day) and are surrounded by racks of beautiful items and great music. It’s when Zappos surprises you with overnight shipping.

Some leaders stereotype delight as something fluffy. The thing is, it’s not. It ties directly into your company’s bottom line. It’s probably true that you can’t measure the correlation between exposure to purple lighting in the Virgin Airlines check-in area and profitability. But honestly, who cares? We know that delight influences sales. It’s a waste of time to chase numbers and micromanage the details. Focus on growing your business by creating delightful brand experiences.

Delight doesn’t happen on accident. It’s carefully crafted into the core functional areas of your business:

  • Product
  • Marketing
  • Account management/client services
  • Aesthetics

Delight can strike a chord with the following emotions:

  • Humor
  • Inspiration
  • Admiration
  • Awe
  • Surprise

The problem with delight is that it is — by definition — a nebulous concept. Your finance and revenue teams will second guess your pitches around the topic. Your sales and marketing teams might be on board, but your number crunchers? Not so much. When asked about your plans, you need to distill your goals into a set of tangible steps. Here are the steps needed to create a delightful brand experience:

  • Evaluate your customers’ pain points. Examine their online and offline behavior, research what they need, and piece together the touch points that illustrate their unique conversion paths. Talk to them directly, and build brand personas around the answers that you receive.
  • Define your brand. Take the research that you did in step 1, and translate the information into a concrete set of action items. Distill what you’ve learned into one or two sentences about your company.
  • Start brainstorming action-items that deliver your intended brand experience.

Branding is something that your company should measure on the macro-level. Pay attention to general trends in your customer data:

  • Repeat Customers: How many customers are coming back to do repeat business with your company?
  • Word of Mouth Recommendations: Shares through social media can help you quantify this important concept. It’s not a perfect 1:1 relationship; however, shares are a strong proxy for how many people are engaging with — and ultimately recommending your brand.
  • Average Order Values: Take a look at how much customers are spending with each individual transaction. A positive sign is when you see growth over time.
  • Lifetime Customer Values: Are your marketing initiatives increasing the worth that your company is generating over the long-term?
  • Market Share: How does your brand compare to its top competitors? Are customers sticking with your company or making the jump to other organizations?

Delight is something that you can craft in tandem with your brand’s personality. Delight is the customer-centric piece, and personality is the brandcentric piece.

Staying Ethical

There is a fine line between courting and manipulating customers. Remember that emotions can make us vulnerable. No matter how strong we think we are, we’re still very complex. In appealing to emotions, brands are constantly walking the line. It is extremely important to treat your customers with the utmost respect.

Fear is one example of a powerful yet heavily abused emotion.

In some instances, fear is appropriate. Especially when it comes to vital health concerns, companies/brands/nonprofits have an obligation to inspire emotion. This ad from the CDC, for instance, is designed to stop people from smoking:

The main element that influences whether a person is likely to take action to avoid a threat is efficacy — a person’s perception as to whether or not they can do anything about the threat.

Marketers and business owners can literally scare their customers into making a purchase. But is it ethical? Probably not — if you’re using fear tactics, then definitely no. If you’re communicating something truthful (and possibly saving your customers from a big problem), then fear is ok.

The key is to give your brand a value test. Is your marketing message adding or extracting value from the world? If you’re extracting value (like a leech), you should probably change your approach.

Logitech is an example brand that strikes this balance well. Here is an ad for a home video security system — it’s based around the questions that parents are already asking. In speaking to its audience’s fears, the marketing message is comforting because it shows worrisome parents that they are not alone in their fears.

Logitech also ran a “busted” video campaign to expose prospective customers to credible, real threats. Unethical? Not so much. But the campaign may make you consider buying a Logitech camera.

Here’s an example of an ad that takes fear too far. The ad reads “If you aren’t totally clean, you are filthy”.

The ad is questionable because it’s unreasonable. Yes, our hands are covered in germs. But are we covered in disgusting cockroaches, and are we allowing those nonexistent cockroaches to crawl all over our children? Probably not.

The thing is, many people have phobias for cockroaches and other insects. They are likely terrified and jolted after looking at this very unrealistic ad.

A point that we emphasized earlier is that emotions expose our greatest vulnerabilities. Marketers should treat carefully and thoughtfully. You never know who you’ll possibly make very, very angry.

Build Emotions Into Your Brand Community

Social media is a great way to encourage customers to talk about how they’re thinking and feeling — especially about your company. It’s important to keep this dialogue open — you’ll promote word of mouth marketing around your brand. A potential issue arises, however, when customers are angry about a negative experience.

Many companies will jump to deleting negative comments or moving all customer communication into a private forum.

Don’t do that.

Instead, if a problem arises, use the opportunity to show that there is a real person behind your brand. Apologize, make the situation better, and try to offer an amicable solution. Don’t let a complaint or negative review scare you away from the experience of talking with your customers in a public forum. Instead, be authentic and show that you care. Reciprocate emotions with emotions, and stay calm — even if the conversation gets heated.

FedEx did a great job striking this balance with this summer, a video of a careless package delivery driver went viral on YouTube. The company released an official video statement to basically say, “I’m sorry. We’re on it”.

Own your mistakes. If all else fails, make it a point to show that you care.

Key Takeaways

  1. Consumers buy because of what they’re feeling — not necessarily what they’re thinking.
  2. Emotions are valuable for marketing. Marketers and business owners need to make sure that they’re connecting with audiences on a human-to-human level.
  3. Emotions are difficult to quantify. Diehard finance people will be skeptical of your marketing initiatives. If you listen to them, however, your company will miss out on valuable relationship-building experiences.
  4. A company should take the time to establish its brand personality upfront, from the top down. Style guides and message architecture templates can help your organization create a centralized workflow for all of your company’s marketing channels.
  5. Remember that your company’s culture will also define your brand. Your teammates are the people who will execute your company’s brand strategy at the ground level — in every aspect of your business from customer communication, sales, and social media. Make sure that you’re hiring the right people who embody your company’s core traits and values.
  6. You can measure delight, brand loyalty, and customer happiness by looking at macro-level ROI metrics including long-term customer value, average order value, company market share, and social media mentions.
  7. Emotions make us vulnerable. Don’t be a jerk. Be considerate of the fact that there are highly public consequences to your actions as a brand.
  8. Social media is a platform for your customers to share what they are thinking and feeling. Don’t inhibit this very healthy dialogue. It’s perfectly normal for customers to feel frustrated and angry sometimes. Don’t feel pressure to squash what they’re saying. Focus on solving the problem, discussing the problem openly, and connecting with your audiences in a very human way.

The Power Of Emotional Marketing

Consumers think with both their rational and emotional brains. Study after study says that when we buy, it’s for emotional reasons. Logic comes into play when we try to justify the money we have (or are about to) spend — especially when we’re giving into our wants.

Here is what one Psychology Today article says about our shopping habits.

  • fMRI neuro-imagey shows that when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences) rather than information (brand attributes, features, objective facts).
  • Advertising research reveals that emotional responses to an ad has greater influence on a consumer’s intent to buy an ad (more so than the ad’s content).
  • According to the Advertising Research Foundation, ‘likeability’ is the measure that best predicts whether an advertisement will increase a brand’s sales.
  • Positive emotions toward a brand have far greater influence on consumer loyalty than trust and other judgments.
  • Emotions are one reason why we gravitate toward brand name products over generics — big brands pump a steady stream of advertising dollars into branding initiatives.

Okay. The findings make sense. In fact, they’re common sense and have been instrumental to marketers for years. But how can businesses harness emotions to connect with their consumers? Harness the following example tacts. We’ll show you how.

Positive Emotions = Long-Term ROI

Emotions are the key drivers behind our everyday decisions. They’re what keep us motivated to get up and go to work at 6 AM. It’s how we convince ourselves to run that extra mile on the treadmill. Similarly, emotions are what convince us to do business with the brands that stand out to us.

The problem is that marketers are on a completely different wavelength. What makes us happy? Clicks, pageviews, time on site, and high conversion rates.

What marketers need to keep in mind is that conversion optimization is a process, not a moment. It’s the whole marketing funnel — not just the five minutes that it takes for your customers to sign a contract or commit to a sale.

Your company needs to prioritize long-term relationships above sales.

Researchers at the University of Michigan wanted to find out how positivity could affect a negotiation scenario. In the study, participants had to coordinate the final arrangements of booking a catering service for an upcoming wedding reception. The business manager of this catering company (a professional actor), explained that the quoted price of $14,000 would need to be increased by close to $3,000 due to market pricing fluctuations.

The study revealed that even a subtle change in pitch could dramatically impact the outcome of the conversation. People who heard a positively toned pitch were twice as likely to accept the deal as people who heard a negatively toned pitch.

Zappos is a brand that thrives on positive energy. The company aims to make its customers extremely happy — and it’s not just to get them in the door. Zappos wants to keep people happy through the entire sales cycle.

Zappos transformed what most companies consider to be a cost (call centers) into a positive customer experience. Zappos reps are not required to follow a rigid script. Instead, they’re encouraged to live in the moment and let their personalities shine through.

Zappos is famous for sending customers flowers, granting surprise upgrades to overnight shipping, and staying on the phone with some customers for hours.

“Sometimes people just need to call and talk”, said Shaea Labus, the employee who was on a call with a customer for almost 10 hours. “We don’t judge, we just want to help”.

Make your customers happy, and you’ll win their business for life. Your competition won’t stand a chance.

Engaging the Senses

Visual communication is the heart of online marketing. That doesn’t mean, however, that your company is limited to two-dimensional communication.

One way to harness the senses is to appeal to your audience’s imagination. Help them imagine an experience with your company’s products. One option? Sound. Talk to your customers by producing a branded explainer video or by hosting a webinar.

You don’t need to create something expensive or overly complicated, either. When Spotify launched in the U.S., the company created a very simple visual and soundtrack:

Coastal, an ecommerce store that sells contact lenses and glasses, has a ‘try-it-on’ feature that helps customers see what they’d look like in new glasses.

Brand Personality

A personality is something that we usually give our friends, family members, coworkers, and acquaintances. These are qualities that form a person’s distinctive character.

Personalities are in the eye of the beholder. We love people because of their personalities. We hate people because of their personalities. We find some personalities wonderful — and others, we find horribly obnoxious.

It’s weird to think that brands can have a personality. And yet, we talk about ‘brand personalities’ all the time.

What Is A Brand Personality?

A brand personality is the set of attributes that give an organization a distinct character. Some brands have incredibly strong and unique personalities. Others have weaker personalities (or no personalities at all). Usually, these personalities revolve around a distinct set of attributes.

Great personalities don’t happen by accident. They’re planned well in advance.

Moosejaw is a great source of inspiration. This sports and outdoors goods retailer is fun-loving, experimental, adventurous, and has an amazing sense of humor. Their marketing team takes the time to try new branding initiatives (like mystery gifts and freebies) and also deploys subtle tactics of making fun of the company’s own legalese. Check out the company’s return policy, for instance. It’s hilarious. It’s a “living will”.

Where Do Brand Personalities Come From

A brand personality can be whatever its leadership wants it to be — fun loving, serious, professional, or any combination of characteristics.

What’s most important is that the company defines it up front. This process should capture the entire time — not just a select few managers within the organization.

The reason why is that it’s your team members — at the ground level — who will ultimately put this carefully designed personality into action. These individuals will plan new product features, business development tactics, and customer service offerings around this extremely important identity.

As an example, take a look at KISSmetrics. The company strives to be analytical, educational, helpful, to-the-point, metrics-driven, aggressive, and (kind of nerdy). These core brand personality traits are readily apparent throughout the site — on the homepage and especially on the blog where the company is sharing tips, how-tos, and detailed best practices in web analytics.

Who Is Responsible For Your Company’s Brand Identity?

he short answer? Everyone.

The personality that you assign to your brand should touch every aspect of your business from marketing copy to social media, customer emails, and product descriptions. Every single person on your team — executive leaders, mid-managers, and entry level team members should be able to clearly define and embody who your brand is.

In many ways, your team members are your company’s brand identity. In building out your team (hiring) and forming strategic partnerships, you need to hire people who live and breathe your brand’s core values. When your team is committed to a shared and focused set of values, your company will have an easier time.

Culture, marketing, and design are elements that go hand-in-hand. For these disparate business goals to converge, a clear strategy needs to be defined from the top-down.

How Do You Define Your Company’s Brand Identity?

A brand identity isn’t something that will materialize into thin air. The process takes careful planning and consideration. You’ll need to hire a team, and if you have the funds, you may need to hire a consultant. This core business asset will unify your product, marketing, design, and customer communication. In other words, it’s really important. You’re not wasting time by overthinking it.

Here are step-by-step guidelines to help you get started:

  1. Come up with a big list of keywords that represent your brand image (right now). Invite your entire team to participate in this process. You can use a whiteboard, Google doc, or spreadsheet to sketch out the details ­— whatever you think is most effective — to share ideas.
  2. Come up with a big list of keywords that describe how you’d like your brand to be perceived. Repeat the process of involving your entire team. Compare your two lists and examine the gaps between who you are now and who you want to be.
  3. Trim down the big list of keywords to 2-3 key phrases. This process will be excruciating, but there is no way that you can rely on dozens of words to describe your brand. At the end of the day, human beings will be processing this information. If you overwhelm folks with more information than they can handle, you’ll end up wasting time.
  4. Create a message architecture. A what? This is a hierarchy of communication goals that clarify your brand’s most high-impact attributes. These attributes and terms reflect a broader discussion to establish concrete, shared terminology (not just abstract concepts). There is no cookie-cutter approach to crafting your brand’s message architecture. Pick an approach that best aligns with your company’s goals. Just make sure that you’re communicating (and organizing) your brand’s identity clearly.
  5. Create a style guide. This document will translate all of your ideas into a concrete set of instructions for your marketing team. This (short and sweet) document will unify your company’s brand messaging. It takes a few sentences to keep your company on the same page.

Here is an example of a simple brand styleguide:

The concept is just that simple. The less information your team has to filter through, the more they can focus on creating a cohesive marketing strategy.

Avoiding Cheesiness

Emotions can easily transition from effective to downright cheesy. It’s a fine line. One moment, your brand is doing a great job building a rapport. The next moment? Audiences are making fun of your company’s over-the-top marketing message.

How do you avoid this?

  1. Embrace honesty within your organization. Make it easy for your team to deliver blunt and honest perspectives.
  2. Collect feedback from a variety of audiences. Don’t just listen to your organization’s baby boomers. Ask your Gen Xers and Gen Yers to share ideas too.
  3. Face test your marketing message with a group of customers that you trust. Ask this ‘focus group’ to deliver blunt and honest feedback.
  4. Remember the needs of your audiences. Baby boomers, for instance are more receptive to cheesy marketing messages than other groups. Gen Yers? They’ll tear your marketing apart.

Cheesiness is in the eye of the beholder. The best way to connect with your audience is to put your marketing team in their shoes.

Creating Viral Campaigns

Some brands make viral marketing look so darn easy. Dollar Shave Club, for instance, used a hilarious marketing video to build a customer base. Overnight. Literally.

The thing is, viral marketing campaigns are more formulaic than they look. While performance isn’t guaranteed, brands can optimize their chances of success by striking an emotional chord with their customers.

In a Harvard Business Review article, Kelsey Libert and Kristin Tynski explain how marketers can increase the chances of a creating a viral campaign:

  1. Make people care (and share). Engage them with a powerful message — without trying to sell your brand. Heavy use of branding can push viewers away. They’ll jump to disregard the content as spammy and quickly lose interest. Don’t manipulate your audience’s emotions. Respect them, and make an effort to understand their core needs.
  2. Understand the emotions that drive the success of viral content. Patterns are a core part of human nature. That’s why Libert and Tynski conducted a study of 30 of the top 100 images of the year from imgur.com (as voted on the top social sharing site Reddit). Negative emotions were less commonly found in viral content than positive emotions. However, viral success was still positive when these negative emotions came with an element of anticipation and surprise. Certain emotions were common in viral content (and others were uncommon). Common emotions included: curiosity, amazement, interest, astonishment, uncertainty, and admiration.
  3. Build your brand into an emotional message without being salesy. The key is to think about how your company, products, and services relate to your target audience. Make sure to select a topic that underscores the position of your brand.
  4. Pay attention to the public good.
  5. The world is bigger than your brand. Focus on adding value to the world, and your customers will notice.

The Unspoken Power Of Delight

Delight is a force that is infinitely more powerful than any marketing message. It’s the experience of watching a toddler use a smartphone for the first time. It’s what happens when you walk into your favorite boutique (after a tough day) and are surrounded by racks of beautiful items and great music. It’s when Zappos surprises you with overnight shipping.

Some leaders stereotype delight as something fluffy. The thing is, it’s not. It ties directly into your company’s bottom line. It’s probably true that you can’t measure the correlation between exposure to purple lighting in the Virgin Airlines check-in area and profitability. But honestly, who cares? We know that delight influences sales. It’s a waste of time to chase numbers and micromanage the details. Focus on growing your business by creating delightful brand experiences.

Delight doesn’t happen on accident. It’s carefully crafted into the core functional areas of your business:

  • Product
  • Marketing
  • Account management/client services
  • Aesthetics

Delight can strike a chord with the following emotions:

  • Humor
  • Inspiration
  • Admiration
  • Awe
  • Surprise

The problem with delight is that it is — by definition — a nebulous concept. Your finance and revenue teams will second guess your pitches around the topic. Your sales and marketing teams might be on board, but your number crunchers? Not so much. When asked about your plans, you need to distill your goals into a set of tangible steps. Here are the steps needed to create a delightful brand experience:

  • Evaluate your customers’ pain points. Examine their online and offline behavior, research what they need, and piece together the touch points that illustrate their unique conversion paths. Talk to them directly, and build brand personas around the answers that you receive.
  • Define your brand. Take the research that you did in step 1, and translate the information into a concrete set of action items. Distill what you’ve learned into one or two sentences about your company.
  • Start brainstorming action-items that deliver your intended brand experience.

Branding is something that your company should measure on the macro-level. Pay attention to general trends in your customer data:

  • Repeat Customers: How many customers are coming back to do repeat business with your company?
  • Word of Mouth Recommendations: Shares through social media can help you quantify this important concept. It’s not a perfect 1:1 relationship; however, shares are a strong proxy for how many people are engaging with — and ultimately recommending your brand.
  • Average Order Values: Take a look at how much customers are spending with each individual transaction. A positive sign is when you see growth over time.
  • Lifetime Customer Values: Are your marketing initiatives increasing the worth that your company is generating over the long-term?
  • Market Share: How does your brand compare to its top competitors? Are customers sticking with your company or making the jump to other organizations?

Delight is something that you can craft in tandem with your brand’s personality. Delight is the customer-centric piece, and personality is the brandcentric piece.

Staying Ethical

There is a fine line between courting and manipulating customers. Remember that emotions can make us vulnerable. No matter how strong we think we are, we’re still very complex. In appealing to emotions, brands are constantly walking the line. It is extremely important to treat your customers with the utmost respect.

Fear is one example of a powerful yet heavily abused emotion.

In some instances, fear is appropriate. Especially when it comes to vital health concerns, companies/brands/nonprofits have an obligation to inspire emotion. This ad from the CDC, for instance, is designed to stop people from smoking:

The main element that influences whether a person is likely to take action to avoid a threat is efficacy — a person’s perception as to whether or not they can do anything about the threat.

Marketers and business owners can literally scare their customers into making a purchase. But is it ethical? Probably not — if you’re using fear tactics, then definitely no. If you’re communicating something truthful (and possibly saving your customers from a big problem), then fear is ok.

The key is to give your brand a value test. Is your marketing message adding or extracting value from the world? If you’re extracting value (like a leech), you should probably change your approach.

Logitech is an example brand that strikes this balance well. Here is an ad for a home video security system — it’s based around the questions that parents are already asking. In speaking to its audience’s fears, the marketing message is comforting because it shows worrisome parents that they are not alone in their fears.

Logitech also ran a “busted” video campaign to expose prospective customers to credible, real threats. Unethical? Not so much. But the campaign may make you consider buying a Logitech camera.

Here’s an example of an ad that takes fear too far. The ad reads “If you aren’t totally clean, you are filthy”.

The ad is questionable because it’s unreasonable. Yes, our hands are covered in germs. But are we covered in disgusting cockroaches, and are we allowing those nonexistent cockroaches to crawl all over our children? Probably not.

The thing is, many people have phobias for cockroaches and other insects. They are likely terrified and jolted after looking at this very unrealistic ad.

A point that we emphasized earlier is that emotions expose our greatest vulnerabilities. Marketers should treat carefully and thoughtfully. You never know who you’ll possibly make very, very angry.

Build Emotions Into Your Brand Community

Social media is a great way to encourage customers to talk about how they’re thinking and feeling — especially about your company. It’s important to keep this dialogue open — you’ll promote word of mouth marketing around your brand. A potential issue arises, however, when customers are angry about a negative experience.

Many companies will jump to deleting negative comments or moving all customer communication into a private forum.

Don’t do that.

Instead, if a problem arises, use the opportunity to show that there is a real person behind your brand. Apologize, make the situation better, and try to offer an amicable solution. Don’t let a complaint or negative review scare you away from the experience of talking with your customers in a public forum. Instead, be authentic and show that you care. Reciprocate emotions with emotions, and stay calm — even if the conversation gets heated.

FedEx did a great job striking this balance with this summer, a video of a careless package delivery driver went viral on YouTube. The company released an official video statement to basically say, “I’m sorry. We’re on it”.

Own your mistakes. If all else fails, make it a point to show that you care.

Key Takeaways

  1. Consumers buy because of what they’re feeling — not necessarily what they’re thinking.
  2. Emotions are valuable for marketing. Marketers and business owners need to make sure that they’re connecting with audiences on a human-to-human level.
  3. Emotions are difficult to quantify. Diehard finance people will be skeptical of your marketing initiatives. If you listen to them, however, your company will miss out on valuable relationship-building experiences.
  4. A company should take the time to establish its brand personality upfront, from the top down. Style guides and message architecture templates can help your organization create a centralized workflow for all of your company’s marketing channels.
  5. Remember that your company’s culture will also define your brand. Your teammates are the people who will execute your company’s brand strategy at the ground level — in every aspect of your business from customer communication, sales, and social media. Make sure that you’re hiring the right people who embody your company’s core traits and values.
  6. You can measure delight, brand loyalty, and customer happiness by looking at macro-level ROI metrics including long-term customer value, average order value, company market share, and social media mentions.
  7. Emotions make us vulnerable. Don’t be a jerk. Be considerate of the fact that there are highly public consequences to your actions as a brand.
  8. Social media is a platform for your customers to share what they are thinking and feeling. Don’t inhibit this very healthy dialogue. It’s perfectly normal for customers to feel frustrated and angry sometimes. Don’t feel pressure to squash what they’re saying. Focus on solving the problem, discussing the problem openly, and connecting with your audiences in a very human way.

The Power Of Emotional Marketing

Consumers think with both their rational and emotional brains. Study after study says that when we buy, it’s for emotional reasons. Logic comes into play when we try to justify the money we have (or are about to) spend — especially when we’re giving into our wants.

Here is what one Psychology Today article says about our shopping habits.

  • fMRI neuro-imagey shows that when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences) rather than information (brand attributes, features, objective facts).
  • Advertising research reveals that emotional responses to an ad has greater influence on a consumer’s intent to buy an ad (more so than the ad’s content).
  • According to the Advertising Research Foundation, ‘likeability’ is the measure that best predicts whether an advertisement will increase a brand’s sales.
  • Positive emotions toward a brand have far greater influence on consumer loyalty than trust and other judgments.
  • Emotions are one reason why we gravitate toward brand name products over generics — big brands pump a steady stream of advertising dollars into branding initiatives.

Okay. The findings make sense. In fact, they’re common sense and have been instrumental to marketers for years. But how can businesses harness emotions to connect with their consumers? Harness the following example tacts. We’ll show you how.

Positive Emotions = Long-Term ROI

Emotions are the key drivers behind our everyday decisions. They’re what keep us motivated to get up and go to work at 6 AM. It’s how we convince ourselves to run that extra mile on the treadmill. Similarly, emotions are what convince us to do business with the brands that stand out to us.

The problem is that marketers are on a completely different wavelength. What makes us happy? Clicks, pageviews, time on site, and high conversion rates.

What marketers need to keep in mind is that conversion optimization is a process, not a moment. It’s the whole marketing funnel — not just the five minutes that it takes for your customers to sign a contract or commit to a sale.

Your company needs to prioritize long-term relationships above sales.

Researchers at the University of Michigan wanted to find out how positivity could affect a negotiation scenario. In the study, participants had to coordinate the final arrangements of booking a catering service for an upcoming wedding reception. The business manager of this catering company (a professional actor), explained that the quoted price of $14,000 would need to be increased by close to $3,000 due to market pricing fluctuations.

The study revealed that even a subtle change in pitch could dramatically impact the outcome of the conversation. People who heard a positively toned pitch were twice as likely to accept the deal as people who heard a negatively toned pitch.

Zappos is a brand that thrives on positive energy. The company aims to make its customers extremely happy — and it’s not just to get them in the door. Zappos wants to keep people happy through the entire sales cycle.

Zappos transformed what most companies consider to be a cost (call centers) into a positive customer experience. Zappos reps are not required to follow a rigid script. Instead, they’re encouraged to live in the moment and let their personalities shine through.

Zappos is famous for sending customers flowers, granting surprise upgrades to overnight shipping, and staying on the phone with some customers for hours.

“Sometimes people just need to call and talk”, said Shaea Labus, the employee who was on a call with a customer for almost 10 hours. “We don’t judge, we just want to help”.

Make your customers happy, and you’ll win their business for life. Your competition won’t stand a chance.

Engaging the Senses

Visual communication is the heart of online marketing. That doesn’t mean, however, that your company is limited to two-dimensional communication.

One way to harness the senses is to appeal to your audience’s imagination. Help them imagine an experience with your company’s products. One option? Sound. Talk to your customers by producing a branded explainer video or by hosting a webinar.

You don’t need to create something expensive or overly complicated, either. When Spotify launched in the U.S., the company created a very simple visual and soundtrack:

Coastal, an ecommerce store that sells contact lenses and glasses, has a ‘try-it-on’ feature that helps customers see what they’d look like in new glasses.

Brand Personality

A personality is something that we usually give our friends, family members, coworkers, and acquaintances. These are qualities that form a person’s distinctive character.

Personalities are in the eye of the beholder. We love people because of their personalities. We hate people because of their personalities. We find some personalities wonderful — and others, we find horribly obnoxious.

It’s weird to think that brands can have a personality. And yet, we talk about ‘brand personalities’ all the time.

What Is A Brand Personality?

A brand personality is the set of attributes that give an organization a distinct character. Some brands have incredibly strong and unique personalities. Others have weaker personalities (or no personalities at all). Usually, these personalities revolve around a distinct set of attributes.

Great personalities don’t happen by accident. They’re planned well in advance.

Moosejaw is a great source of inspiration. This sports and outdoors goods retailer is fun-loving, experimental, adventurous, and has an amazing sense of humor. Their marketing team takes the time to try new branding initiatives (like mystery gifts and freebies) and also deploys subtle tactics of making fun of the company’s own legalese. Check out the company’s return policy, for instance. It’s hilarious. It’s a “living will”.

Where Do Brand Personalities Come From

A brand personality can be whatever its leadership wants it to be — fun loving, serious, professional, or any combination of characteristics.

What’s most important is that the company defines it up front. This process should capture the entire time — not just a select few managers within the organization.

The reason why is that it’s your team members — at the ground level — who will ultimately put this carefully designed personality into action. These individuals will plan new product features, business development tactics, and customer service offerings around this extremely important identity.

As an example, take a look at KISSmetrics. The company strives to be analytical, educational, helpful, to-the-point, metrics-driven, aggressive, and (kind of nerdy). These core brand personality traits are readily apparent throughout the site — on the homepage and especially on the blog where the company is sharing tips, how-tos, and detailed best practices in web analytics.

Who Is Responsible For Your Company’s Brand Identity?

he short answer? Everyone.

The personality that you assign to your brand should touch every aspect of your business from marketing copy to social media, customer emails, and product descriptions. Every single person on your team — executive leaders, mid-managers, and entry level team members should be able to clearly define and embody who your brand is.

In many ways, your team members are your company’s brand identity. In building out your team (hiring) and forming strategic partnerships, you need to hire people who live and breathe your brand’s core values. When your team is committed to a shared and focused set of values, your company will have an easier time.

Culture, marketing, and design are elements that go hand-in-hand. For these disparate business goals to converge, a clear strategy needs to be defined from the top-down.

How Do You Define Your Company’s Brand Identity?

A brand identity isn’t something that will materialize into thin air. The process takes careful planning and consideration. You’ll need to hire a team, and if you have the funds, you may need to hire a consultant. This core business asset will unify your product, marketing, design, and customer communication. In other words, it’s really important. You’re not wasting time by overthinking it.

Here are step-by-step guidelines to help you get started:

  1. Come up with a big list of keywords that represent your brand image (right now). Invite your entire team to participate in this process. You can use a whiteboard, Google doc, or spreadsheet to sketch out the details ­— whatever you think is most effective — to share ideas.
  2. Come up with a big list of keywords that describe how you’d like your brand to be perceived. Repeat the process of involving your entire team. Compare your two lists and examine the gaps between who you are now and who you want to be.
  3. Trim down the big list of keywords to 2-3 key phrases. This process will be excruciating, but there is no way that you can rely on dozens of words to describe your brand. At the end of the day, human beings will be processing this information. If you overwhelm folks with more information than they can handle, you’ll end up wasting time.
  4. Create a message architecture. A what? This is a hierarchy of communication goals that clarify your brand’s most high-impact attributes. These attributes and terms reflect a broader discussion to establish concrete, shared terminology (not just abstract concepts). There is no cookie-cutter approach to crafting your brand’s message architecture. Pick an approach that best aligns with your company’s goals. Just make sure that you’re communicating (and organizing) your brand’s identity clearly.
  5. Create a style guide. This document will translate all of your ideas into a concrete set of instructions for your marketing team. This (short and sweet) document will unify your company’s brand messaging. It takes a few sentences to keep your company on the same page.

Here is an example of a simple brand styleguide:

The concept is just that simple. The less information your team has to filter through, the more they can focus on creating a cohesive marketing strategy.

Avoiding Cheesiness

Emotions can easily transition from effective to downright cheesy. It’s a fine line. One moment, your brand is doing a great job building a rapport. The next moment? Audiences are making fun of your company’s over-the-top marketing message.

How do you avoid this?

  1. Embrace honesty within your organization. Make it easy for your team to deliver blunt and honest perspectives.
  2. Collect feedback from a variety of audiences. Don’t just listen to your organization’s baby boomers. Ask your Gen Xers and Gen Yers to share ideas too.
  3. Face test your marketing message with a group of customers that you trust. Ask this ‘focus group’ to deliver blunt and honest feedback.
  4. Remember the needs of your audiences. Baby boomers, for instance are more receptive to cheesy marketing messages than other groups. Gen Yers? They’ll tear your marketing apart.

Cheesiness is in the eye of the beholder. The best way to connect with your audience is to put your marketing team in their shoes.

Creating Viral Campaigns

Some brands make viral marketing look so darn easy. Dollar Shave Club, for instance, used a hilarious marketing video to build a customer base. Overnight. Literally.

The thing is, viral marketing campaigns are more formulaic than they look. While performance isn’t guaranteed, brands can optimize their chances of success by striking an emotional chord with their customers.

In a Harvard Business Review article, Kelsey Libert and Kristin Tynski explain how marketers can increase the chances of a creating a viral campaign:

  1. Make people care (and share). Engage them with a powerful message — without trying to sell your brand. Heavy use of branding can push viewers away. They’ll jump to disregard the content as spammy and quickly lose interest. Don’t manipulate your audience’s emotions. Respect them, and make an effort to understand their core needs.
  2. Understand the emotions that drive the success of viral content. Patterns are a core part of human nature. That’s why Libert and Tynski conducted a study of 30 of the top 100 images of the year from imgur.com (as voted on the top social sharing site Reddit). Negative emotions were less commonly found in viral content than positive emotions. However, viral success was still positive when these negative emotions came with an element of anticipation and surprise. Certain emotions were common in viral content (and others were uncommon). Common emotions included: curiosity, amazement, interest, astonishment, uncertainty, and admiration.
  3. Build your brand into an emotional message without being salesy. The key is to think about how your company, products, and services relate to your target audience. Make sure to select a topic that underscores the position of your brand.
  4. Pay attention to the public good.
  5. The world is bigger than your brand. Focus on adding value to the world, and your customers will notice.

The Unspoken Power Of Delight

Delight is a force that is infinitely more powerful than any marketing message. It’s the experience of watching a toddler use a smartphone for the first time. It’s what happens when you walk into your favorite boutique (after a tough day) and are surrounded by racks of beautiful items and great music. It’s when Zappos surprises you with overnight shipping.

Some leaders stereotype delight as something fluffy. The thing is, it’s not. It ties directly into your company’s bottom line. It’s probably true that you can’t measure the correlation between exposure to purple lighting in the Virgin Airlines check-in area and profitability. But honestly, who cares? We know that delight influences sales. It’s a waste of time to chase numbers and micromanage the details. Focus on growing your business by creating delightful brand experiences.

Delight doesn’t happen on accident. It’s carefully crafted into the core functional areas of your business:

  • Product
  • Marketing
  • Account management/client services
  • Aesthetics

Delight can strike a chord with the following emotions:

  • Humor
  • Inspiration
  • Admiration
  • Awe
  • Surprise

The problem with delight is that it is — by definition — a nebulous concept. Your finance and revenue teams will second guess your pitches around the topic. Your sales and marketing teams might be on board, but your number crunchers? Not so much. When asked about your plans, you need to distill your goals into a set of tangible steps. Here are the steps needed to create a delightful brand experience:

  • Evaluate your customers’ pain points. Examine their online and offline behavior, research what they need, and piece together the touch points that illustrate their unique conversion paths. Talk to them directly, and build brand personas around the answers that you receive.
  • Define your brand. Take the research that you did in step 1, and translate the information into a concrete set of action items. Distill what you’ve learned into one or two sentences about your company.
  • Start brainstorming action-items that deliver your intended brand experience.

Branding is something that your company should measure on the macro-level. Pay attention to general trends in your customer data:

  • Repeat Customers: How many customers are coming back to do repeat business with your company?
  • Word of Mouth Recommendations: Shares through social media can help you quantify this important concept. It’s not a perfect 1:1 relationship; however, shares are a strong proxy for how many people are engaging with — and ultimately recommending your brand.
  • Average Order Values: Take a look at how much customers are spending with each individual transaction. A positive sign is when you see growth over time.
  • Lifetime Customer Values: Are your marketing initiatives increasing the worth that your company is generating over the long-term?
  • Market Share: How does your brand compare to its top competitors? Are customers sticking with your company or making the jump to other organizations?

Delight is something that you can craft in tandem with your brand’s personality. Delight is the customer-centric piece, and personality is the brandcentric piece.

Staying Ethical

There is a fine line between courting and manipulating customers. Remember that emotions can make us vulnerable. No matter how strong we think we are, we’re still very complex. In appealing to emotions, brands are constantly walking the line. It is extremely important to treat your customers with the utmost respect.

Fear is one example of a powerful yet heavily abused emotion.

In some instances, fear is appropriate. Especially when it comes to vital health concerns, companies/brands/nonprofits have an obligation to inspire emotion. This ad from the CDC, for instance, is designed to stop people from smoking:

The main element that influences whether a person is likely to take action to avoid a threat is efficacy — a person’s perception as to whether or not they can do anything about the threat.

Marketers and business owners can literally scare their customers into making a purchase. But is it ethical? Probably not — if you’re using fear tactics, then definitely no. If you’re communicating something truthful (and possibly saving your customers from a big problem), then fear is ok.

The key is to give your brand a value test. Is your marketing message adding or extracting value from the world? If you’re extracting value (like a leech), you should probably change your approach.

Logitech is an example brand that strikes this balance well. Here is an ad for a home video security system — it’s based around the questions that parents are already asking. In speaking to its audience’s fears, the marketing message is comforting because it shows worrisome parents that they are not alone in their fears.

Logitech also ran a “busted” video campaign to expose prospective customers to credible, real threats. Unethical? Not so much. But the campaign may make you consider buying a Logitech camera.

Here’s an example of an ad that takes fear too far. The ad reads “If you aren’t totally clean, you are filthy”.

The ad is questionable because it’s unreasonable. Yes, our hands are covered in germs. But are we covered in disgusting cockroaches, and are we allowing those nonexistent cockroaches to crawl all over our children? Probably not.

The thing is, many people have phobias for cockroaches and other insects. They are likely terrified and jolted after looking at this very unrealistic ad.

A point that we emphasized earlier is that emotions expose our greatest vulnerabilities. Marketers should treat carefully and thoughtfully. You never know who you’ll possibly make very, very angry.

Build Emotions Into Your Brand Community

Social media is a great way to encourage customers to talk about how they’re thinking and feeling — especially about your company. It’s important to keep this dialogue open — you’ll promote word of mouth marketing around your brand. A potential issue arises, however, when customers are angry about a negative experience.

Many companies will jump to deleting negative comments or moving all customer communication into a private forum.

Don’t do that.

Instead, if a problem arises, use the opportunity to show that there is a real person behind your brand. Apologize, make the situation better, and try to offer an amicable solution. Don’t let a complaint or negative review scare you away from the experience of talking with your customers in a public forum. Instead, be authentic and show that you care. Reciprocate emotions with emotions, and stay calm — even if the conversation gets heated.

FedEx did a great job striking this balance with this summer, a video of a careless package delivery driver went viral on YouTube. The company released an official video statement to basically say, “I’m sorry. We’re on it”.

Own your mistakes. If all else fails, make it a point to show that you care.

Key Takeaways

  1. Consumers buy because of what they’re feeling — not necessarily what they’re thinking.
  2. Emotions are valuable for marketing. Marketers and business owners need to make sure that they’re connecting with audiences on a human-to-human level.
  3. Emotions are difficult to quantify. Diehard finance people will be skeptical of your marketing initiatives. If you listen to them, however, your company will miss out on valuable relationship-building experiences.
  4. A company should take the time to establish its brand personality upfront, from the top down. Style guides and message architecture templates can help your organization create a centralized workflow for all of your company’s marketing channels.
  5. Remember that your company’s culture will also define your brand. Your teammates are the people who will execute your company’s brand strategy at the ground level — in every aspect of your business from customer communication, sales, and social media. Make sure that you’re hiring the right people who embody your company’s core traits and values.
  6. You can measure delight, brand loyalty, and customer happiness by looking at macro-level ROI metrics including long-term customer value, average order value, company market share, and social media mentions.
  7. Emotions make us vulnerable. Don’t be a jerk. Be considerate of the fact that there are highly public consequences to your actions as a brand.
  8. Social media is a platform for your customers to share what they are thinking and feeling. Don’t inhibit this very healthy dialogue. It’s perfectly normal for customers to feel frustrated and angry sometimes. Don’t feel pressure to squash what they’re saying. Focus on solving the problem, discussing the problem openly, and connecting with your audiences in a very human way.

How to Build Quality Links From Resource Pages

Every website needs to prioritize link building. Regardless of your business type or industry, backlinks help drive more traffic to your website and are great for SEO purposes.

So where should you start?

Resource pages need to be a major component of your link building strategy. In fact, 56% of webmasters say that they use resource pages to build backlinks.

This strategy is second only to content creation in terms of the most popular ways to build links. Why is this case?

That’s because the sole purpose of resource pages is to link out to other websites, which makes this an easy process. All you need to do is find authority resource pages that are related to your site, and then convince the webmasters to add your site to their page.

It’s actually not that complex when you know how to approach it.

I’ve dealt with so many website owners who have identified the need for building quality links, but they just don’t know how to do it. That was my inspiration for this guide.

I’ll show you the best ways to build quality links specifically from resource pages.

Find relevant resource pages

This needs to be your first step. You can’t just sit back and hope that your website will get picked up by resource pages. That type of passive strategy won’t be effective.

Instead, you need to start researching resource pages that are related to your brand. Narrow down the ones within your niche.

You don’t need any fancy software or subscriptions to do this. All you have to do is use Google.

For example, let’s say your website is in the food industry. You could try the following search string to identify resource pages.

“Cooking” + inurl:links

Put your keyword in quotes to find pages related to that specific word, which is “cooking” in this instance. By adding “inurl:links” to the query, it limits the search to websites with the word “links” in the URL.

It’s unlikely that people who have cooking websites will be discussing links. So you know that your search results will yield resource pages.

Generally, everything you see in these SERPs will be a list of links in some form or another. Now you just have to go through each site and select the ones you want to pursue.

Be selective. You don’t need to reach out to every resource page on the planet.

When you’re reviewing the search results, the number one thing to look for is page authority. Page authority is more important than domain authority in this case. That’s because you’re trying to get your link shared on a particular resource page.

So even if certain sites don’t have the highest domain authority, you can still reach out to them if they have a resource page in your niche with a high page authority.

Contact the webmasters

Once you’ve found some resource pages with a high page authority that are relevant to your brand, it’s time for you to reach out to those webmasters.

But before you do that, it’s important to take the time to review the links that are already shared on each particular resource page. This will help you figure out what types of links you should be sending to the webmaster.

In my experience, it’s usually rare for resource pages to link out to the homepages of other websites. When they do link to homepages, it’s usually for bigger and more well-known brands.

So if you’re just blindly submitting your homepage to resource pages, there is no guarantee that you’ll be featured. Instead, you’re better off sending them content pages.

Each webmaster is different, so just make sure you can pitch something that fits within the page you’re requesting a link on. For example, let’s say you found a cooking website that’s mostly related to grilling and BBQ. You could pitch a blog post about a barbeque grilled chicken recipe.

If you don’t have this type of content on your website, you should create it. Not only will it help you get featured on more niche resource pages for the purpose of building backlinks, but it’s also valuable content for your website and SEO strategy.

Take a look at this example from Teri’s Kitchen, which was one of the top hits of the Google search results we saw earlier.

Based on this, it’s clear that the site accepts submissions. In fact, it almost seems like they encourage it.

So in this case, all you’d need to do is reach out. This is something that you’ll see on most resource pages. They’ll be some type of easy contact form or instructions asking for links.

Most resource pages want more links on their site. Remember, that’s the whole purpose of a resource page.

So if you pitch them something relevant, it shouldn’t be too difficult to get featured. It benefits both parties. You build backlinks while the resource page improves at the same time. The more resources these webmasters have on each page, the more valuable it is for their website.

Your pitch doesn’t need to be too persuasive. Less is more. Just send the link with a couple of sentences about why you think it fits on their page.

Alternative search strings

Link building with resource pages is pretty straightforward. As I’ve described above, the whole process can essentially be broken down into two steps:

  1. Find a relevant page
  2. Contact the webmaster

By following the search string that we used earlier with “keyword” + inurl:links, it will bring you straight to resource pages.

But to get the most out of this strategy, you need to switch up your search queries to find other results. Depending on your search, you’ll be able to identify different resource pages.

I’ll take you through three of the best search options to improve the first step of this process.

Useful resources

Another one of my favorite search strings for finding resource pages is by adding “useful resources” in addition to the keyword in quotes. Here’s what it looks like using our cooking example:

“Cooking” + useful resources

Right away, look at the number of results that this search yielded.

There are nearly 77 million hits. If you refer back to the “inurl” search we used earlier, there were just 244,000 results.

Obviously, you aren’t going to be scrolling through thousands or millions of results. But the point I’m trying to make here is that this alternate search will bring up new results.

In my experience, searching for the keyword plus useful resources usually displays lots of authoritative websites.

Now you just have to follow the same process. Go through each of the top results one at a time. See what kind of content each resource page is sharing. Then determine what link on your site that you’re going to pitch before you contact the webmaster.

In some cases, it can be a bit challenging to get featured on these authoritative sites. They may have a more exclusive selection process. But at the end of the day, they still exist for the same purpose of linking out to other websites, so don’t sell yourself short.

Educational domains

Depending on the type of website you have, you might want to limit your resource page outreach to authoritative and trusted sites only.

For this purpose, I’d recommend using the following search string:

site: .edu “keyword” links

So continuing with our cooking example, the search would look like this:

site: .edu “cooking” links

Again, this query will bring up a completely new set of results.

Now, it’s worth noting that not all of the results will necessarily be relevant to your site. You still have to go through and find the ones that are resource pages that are actually accepting submissions.

For the most part, you won’t see sites with a .edu domain that have something like Teri’s Kitchen, which we discussed earlier. Teri asks for submissions right at the top of the page. That won’t be the case for Harvard’s website.

So you’ll need to work a little bit harder to get featured.

Authority sites with .edu domains usually have a big staff as well. It’s not just one person monitoring the site and adding content. General submissions may not always be sent to the right person. So you need to figure out who is responsible for the particular page that you want to be featured on.

Here’s a trick that I’ve used in the past.

Look to the URL of the page. That can give you a clue of who you should be getting in contact with. The URL might give away the particular department associated with that resource page. Then you can go through the staff listing and see who is the head of that department. Their contact information should be available there as well.

You can also use an employee directory or even LinkedIn to find the right person who manages that page or the webmaster for a particular department.

Here’s another trick. Scroll to the very bottom of the page and it will sometimes show you a “last updated by” note with a person’s name.

If you search around on the site and do some digging, you can usually find what you’re looking for. Here’s an example from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, which was one of the top search results for our .edu query.

Here is the footer of the resource page.

As you can see, there is a separate email address for the food department.

You could even take this one step further by clicking the “food team resources” link just a few lines below that email address on the left side of the footer.

That would bring you to this page:

There’s another link here showing the staff listing and their contact information.

It’s better to take these extra steps now to increase the chances of getting your links featured. Otherwise, it’s just going to be a waste of your time if you submit to the wrong person, department, or your submission gets ignored.

Sending emails to info@unviersityabc.edu won’t get the job done. Your message will just get lost in the shuffle.

These websites have so many other things that are more important to deal with. So if your email is delivered to the wrong person, it’s unlikely that they will forward it to the appropriate party.

Related to keyword

If you have a unique niche that doesn’t have tons of resource pages, you’ll need to find ways to broaden your search to get the best results.

Change the search string accordingly. Here is one of my favorite tricks to find more related sites.

Simply remove the quotes from your keyword. By removing the quotes, it tells Google that you’re not looking for an exact match keyword. Years ago you used to have to add a tilde (~) to search for related terms, but now Google does this by default.

So go back and remove the quotes from your inurl, useful resources, and .edu searches to see what comes up.

Here’s an example to show you the difference.

When we first searched for useful resources with quotes around cooking, we got just under 77 million results.

But now that we’ve removed the quotes, we’re approaching 92 million hits.

Conclusion

Resource pages should be at the top of your priority list when it comes to your link building strategy.

Take advantage of all of the different search strings that I’ve explained above. This will give you the widest range of search results to find resource pages in different categories.

I’d recommend going through the top 50 hits or so within your niche for each query. Then narrow down the options that would be a good fit for your site.

Now find your best content that matches the specified resource page before you ask to be featured. Remember, it’s more likely that your link will be shared if you pitch content as opposed to the general homepage.

Make sure you contact the right person. This will be more challenging for higher authority sites, especially with an .edu domain, but it’s still doable if you dig around.

If you don’t have content that fits these resource sites, you can always create new content before submitting.

Follow the process that I’ve outlined above to build quality links with resource pages.

How to Build Quality Links From Resource Pages

Every website needs to prioritize link building. Regardless of your business type or industry, backlinks help drive more traffic to your website and are great for SEO purposes.

So where should you start?

Resource pages need to be a major component of your link building strategy. In fact, 56% of webmasters say that they use resource pages to build backlinks.

This strategy is second only to content creation in terms of the most popular ways to build links. Why is this case?

That’s because the sole purpose of resource pages is to link out to other websites, which makes this an easy process. All you need to do is find authority resource pages that are related to your site, and then convince the webmasters to add your site to their page.

It’s actually not that complex when you know how to approach it.

I’ve dealt with so many website owners who have identified the need for building quality links, but they just don’t know how to do it. That was my inspiration for this guide.

I’ll show you the best ways to build quality links specifically from resource pages.

Find relevant resource pages

This needs to be your first step. You can’t just sit back and hope that your website will get picked up by resource pages. That type of passive strategy won’t be effective.

Instead, you need to start researching resource pages that are related to your brand. Narrow down the ones within your niche.

You don’t need any fancy software or subscriptions to do this. All you have to do is use Google.

For example, let’s say your website is in the food industry. You could try the following search string to identify resource pages.

“Cooking” + inurl:links

Put your keyword in quotes to find pages related to that specific word, which is “cooking” in this instance. By adding “inurl:links” to the query, it limits the search to websites with the word “links” in the URL.

It’s unlikely that people who have cooking websites will be discussing links. So you know that your search results will yield resource pages.

Generally, everything you see in these SERPs will be a list of links in some form or another. Now you just have to go through each site and select the ones you want to pursue.

Be selective. You don’t need to reach out to every resource page on the planet.

When you’re reviewing the search results, the number one thing to look for is page authority. Page authority is more important than domain authority in this case. That’s because you’re trying to get your link shared on a particular resource page.

So even if certain sites don’t have the highest domain authority, you can still reach out to them if they have a resource page in your niche with a high page authority.

Contact the webmasters

Once you’ve found some resource pages with a high page authority that are relevant to your brand, it’s time for you to reach out to those webmasters.

But before you do that, it’s important to take the time to review the links that are already shared on each particular resource page. This will help you figure out what types of links you should be sending to the webmaster.

In my experience, it’s usually rare for resource pages to link out to the homepages of other websites. When they do link to homepages, it’s usually for bigger and more well-known brands.

So if you’re just blindly submitting your homepage to resource pages, there is no guarantee that you’ll be featured. Instead, you’re better off sending them content pages.

Each webmaster is different, so just make sure you can pitch something that fits within the page you’re requesting a link on. For example, let’s say you found a cooking website that’s mostly related to grilling and BBQ. You could pitch a blog post about a barbeque grilled chicken recipe.

If you don’t have this type of content on your website, you should create it. Not only will it help you get featured on more niche resource pages for the purpose of building backlinks, but it’s also valuable content for your website and SEO strategy.

Take a look at this example from Teri’s Kitchen, which was one of the top hits of the Google search results we saw earlier.

Based on this, it’s clear that the site accepts submissions. In fact, it almost seems like they encourage it.

So in this case, all you’d need to do is reach out. This is something that you’ll see on most resource pages. They’ll be some type of easy contact form or instructions asking for links.

Most resource pages want more links on their site. Remember, that’s the whole purpose of a resource page.

So if you pitch them something relevant, it shouldn’t be too difficult to get featured. It benefits both parties. You build backlinks while the resource page improves at the same time. The more resources these webmasters have on each page, the more valuable it is for their website.

Your pitch doesn’t need to be too persuasive. Less is more. Just send the link with a couple of sentences about why you think it fits on their page.

Alternative search strings

Link building with resource pages is pretty straightforward. As I’ve described above, the whole process can essentially be broken down into two steps:

  1. Find a relevant page
  2. Contact the webmaster

By following the search string that we used earlier with “keyword” + inurl:links, it will bring you straight to resource pages.

But to get the most out of this strategy, you need to switch up your search queries to find other results. Depending on your search, you’ll be able to identify different resource pages.

I’ll take you through three of the best search options to improve the first step of this process.

Useful resources

Another one of my favorite search strings for finding resource pages is by adding “useful resources” in addition to the keyword in quotes. Here’s what it looks like using our cooking example:

“Cooking” + useful resources

Right away, look at the number of results that this search yielded.

There are nearly 77 million hits. If you refer back to the “inurl” search we used earlier, there were just 244,000 results.

Obviously, you aren’t going to be scrolling through thousands or millions of results. But the point I’m trying to make here is that this alternate search will bring up new results.

In my experience, searching for the keyword plus useful resources usually displays lots of authoritative websites.

Now you just have to follow the same process. Go through each of the top results one at a time. See what kind of content each resource page is sharing. Then determine what link on your site that you’re going to pitch before you contact the webmaster.

In some cases, it can be a bit challenging to get featured on these authoritative sites. They may have a more exclusive selection process. But at the end of the day, they still exist for the same purpose of linking out to other websites, so don’t sell yourself short.

Educational domains

Depending on the type of website you have, you might want to limit your resource page outreach to authoritative and trusted sites only.

For this purpose, I’d recommend using the following search string:

site: .edu “keyword” links

So continuing with our cooking example, the search would look like this:

site: .edu “cooking” links

Again, this query will bring up a completely new set of results.

Now, it’s worth noting that not all of the results will necessarily be relevant to your site. You still have to go through and find the ones that are resource pages that are actually accepting submissions.

For the most part, you won’t see sites with a .edu domain that have something like Teri’s Kitchen, which we discussed earlier. Teri asks for submissions right at the top of the page. That won’t be the case for Harvard’s website.

So you’ll need to work a little bit harder to get featured.

Authority sites with .edu domains usually have a big staff as well. It’s not just one person monitoring the site and adding content. General submissions may not always be sent to the right person. So you need to figure out who is responsible for the particular page that you want to be featured on.

Here’s a trick that I’ve used in the past.

Look to the URL of the page. That can give you a clue of who you should be getting in contact with. The URL might give away the particular department associated with that resource page. Then you can go through the staff listing and see who is the head of that department. Their contact information should be available there as well.

You can also use an employee directory or even LinkedIn to find the right person who manages that page or the webmaster for a particular department.

Here’s another trick. Scroll to the very bottom of the page and it will sometimes show you a “last updated by” note with a person’s name.

If you search around on the site and do some digging, you can usually find what you’re looking for. Here’s an example from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, which was one of the top search results for our .edu query.

Here is the footer of the resource page.

As you can see, there is a separate email address for the food department.

You could even take this one step further by clicking the “food team resources” link just a few lines below that email address on the left side of the footer.

That would bring you to this page:

There’s another link here showing the staff listing and their contact information.

It’s better to take these extra steps now to increase the chances of getting your links featured. Otherwise, it’s just going to be a waste of your time if you submit to the wrong person, department, or your submission gets ignored.

Sending emails to info@unviersityabc.edu won’t get the job done. Your message will just get lost in the shuffle.

These websites have so many other things that are more important to deal with. So if your email is delivered to the wrong person, it’s unlikely that they will forward it to the appropriate party.

Related to keyword

If you have a unique niche that doesn’t have tons of resource pages, you’ll need to find ways to broaden your search to get the best results.

Change the search string accordingly. Here is one of my favorite tricks to find more related sites.

Simply remove the quotes from your keyword. By removing the quotes, it tells Google that you’re not looking for an exact match keyword. Years ago you used to have to add a tilde (~) to search for related terms, but now Google does this by default.

So go back and remove the quotes from your inurl, useful resources, and .edu searches to see what comes up.

Here’s an example to show you the difference.

When we first searched for useful resources with quotes around cooking, we got just under 77 million results.

But now that we’ve removed the quotes, we’re approaching 92 million hits.

Conclusion

Resource pages should be at the top of your priority list when it comes to your link building strategy.

Take advantage of all of the different search strings that I’ve explained above. This will give you the widest range of search results to find resource pages in different categories.

I’d recommend going through the top 50 hits or so within your niche for each query. Then narrow down the options that would be a good fit for your site.

Now find your best content that matches the specified resource page before you ask to be featured. Remember, it’s more likely that your link will be shared if you pitch content as opposed to the general homepage.

Make sure you contact the right person. This will be more challenging for higher authority sites, especially with an .edu domain, but it’s still doable if you dig around.

If you don’t have content that fits these resource sites, you can always create new content before submitting.

Follow the process that I’ve outlined above to build quality links with resource pages.

How to Avoid Friction Points for Your Customers

There’s many things we can do in order to encourage people to purchase.

But if we’re not careful…

We’ll push people away.

These are friction points, points in our marketing and business that PUSH customers away. In many cases, we don’t even realize it.

Friction points are one of the top reasons why your prospects are hesitating from moving through your funnel.

What is a friction point?

Friction is any variable, website quality, or user behavior trend that is slowing down (or entirely halting) the progression of your company’s sales cycle.

Friction can stem from the most subtle details on your website.

Here are some common sources of friction and ways that your company can avoid them:

Landing Page Length

One common point of friction relates to web page length — in other words, the amount of content and information to share with your website visitors.

Friction happens when you share too much. Friction happens when you share too little. You need to find a happy medium to effectively communicate with your users.

The thing is, marketers tend to gravitate towards opposite ends of the spectrum.

The key to finding the right balance is to continuously test your landing pages.

Consider the following case study where a longer landing page outperformed a much shorter variation. Aagaard was looking at PPC landing page of which the goal was to get prospects to sign up for a home energy audit.

The company is relatively unknown, and the offer was relatively complex.

In this case, the longer landing page performed best and generated the higher conversion rate. In other words, friction was at a minimum.

Let’s look at another example.

DesignBoost provides online courses that teach students how to design mobile apps, landing pages, and more with photoshop. They had the goal of increasing signups.

The original homepage was very, very long:

Now here’s the short version that was tested against:

When a landing page is too long, it can scare people away by making your offer look too complex. If a landing page is too short, it can scare people away by making your company appear (potentially) unprofessional or untrustworthy.

So how do you find the happy medium?

Qualitative research (talking to your customers, running feedback surveys, interviewing prospects, etc.) can help you uncover what people care about when deciding to do business with your company. What we’re about to say shouldn’t surprise you — it’s common sense.

Your landing pages and homepage should communicate exactly what users want to know, in the most distilled form possible.

Answer the question of what your customers care most about, and distill your answer into the most simple and straightforward possible forms. Customers who want more in-depth details will read through your company’s knowledge center, FAQs, case studies, and other in-depth marketing materials. What’s most important is that your landing pages, homepage, and site navigation make it easy to find this information (not that the information is jam-packed into one page that nobody can read).

Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance is what happens when your landing pages, marketing messages, and ads don’t make sense.

Remember that the heart of online marketing is how disparate, moving parts come together. In an ideal world, everything — images, copy, themes, long-form content, product descriptions — would flow harmoniously, but here’s the thing.

It’s really, really challenging to communicate with an audience. Any any given time, we’re wearing our marketing hats. There is always a possibility for disconnect between what you intend to say and how your audience will interpret it.

f you’re a marketer and you’re thinking of copying a competitor’s marketing (winning) marketing strategy, you might actually lose. Why? Because there are subtle details about your brand that distinguish it from other companies (that might even be doing the exact same thing).

Your brand’s personality, tone, and style might be different. Your customer base’s values might also be different.

Cognitive fluency is the opposite of cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive fluency is as simple as making your website easy to read. The fact is that audience eyeballs are all created differently. Your 20-year-old marketing intern’s eyesight might be perfect, but your 72-year-old first-time buyer? Not so much. If people are havingtrouble reading or processing information, they’re less likely to buy.

The Subconscious

Consumers are driven by their instincts. As much as we like to believe that we’re rational and driven by conscious thoughts, the truth is that we’re driven by our emotional brains. We don’t even realize it sometimes.

Friction happens for reasons that we can’t fully capture or explain — for highly emotional reasons.

To effectively reach your audience, logic just isn’t enough. You need to force an emotional bond by appealing to your audience’s intuition, instincts, and senses.

That’s why so many organizations invest so much time (and money) on aesthetics and crafting an experience of delight.

When you get it right, delight is the single-most important variable for eliminating friction. Delight is about taking the minutiae (as well as different parts of your marketing strategy) and connecting them to your company’s bigger picture.

Here are the four steps that we recommend for building delight for your brand:

  • UNDERSTAND YOUR CUSTOMERS’ PAIN POINTS: Brands are most successful when they add value to their stakeholders’ lives. Learn as much as you can about your target customer. Think like an anthropologist, and listen more than you talk.
  • DEFINE YOUR BRAND: What does your company care about? Where do your customers’ values overlap with yours?
  • IDEASTORM: This is the fun part. Take what you’ve learned from step 1 and what you’ve planned from step 2 — and brainstorm marketing initiatives that will help you build the strongest possible connection with your customers and prospects. Think of tactics that build trust, inspire happiness, and are foundational for crafting an emotional rapport.
  • TRACK EVERYTHING: A common marketing myth is that branding isn’t measurable.

Trust

Why should customers trust your company? What makes your brand different from all the shady businesses after the world that have — time and time again -—scammed their customers, been exposed to cyber vulnerabilities, and simply not respected their customers.

At any given time, consumers are thinking:

“Why should I waste my time?”

And honestly, they’re right. It’s the brand’s burden of responsibility to communicate trust signals to their audiences. There are a few solutions available to help your brand prove establish its reputation and customer value.

Customer Reviews & Testimonials

The dark corners of the Internet are looking to eat consumers alive — and that goes for the not-so-shady corners too.

One way to ease your consumers’ fears is to pave a path with the footsteps of those who have been there before.

Customer reviews and testimonials add credibility to your assertion that what you’re selling is legit. Here’s why: today’s consumer is totally self-directed. By the time they arrive at your website, they’re already in the mindset of wanting to buy. By the time they actually reach out to a sales rep or complete a lead gen form, they’re already ready to buy.

FigLeaves, a popular women’s clothing retailer, added product reviews to their website. This change made customers 35% more likely to complete a purchase.

Clarity.fm, as another example, brings together teams of rockstar consultants. When searching for a marketing expert, for instance, how can advice seekers determine who to call?

Reviews from previous callers.

Anyone (who is selling anything) needs to build up a stellar and verifiable reputation to justify the prices that they’re charging customers.

Do your best to personalize testimonials and reviews, directly from the sources. Present a clear and compelling framework for why your company will save your customer time and money. Make sure to summarize the high-level overview, but also dig deep into the detail (like the following examples):

SHORT FORM:

LONGER FORM:

One word of caution: your testimonials need to be thoughtful and readily communicate answers to the questions that your customers are asking.

WikiJob, a career information site, provides the perfect inspiration for this point. The company had three testimonials on their homepage. The problem is that these testimonials had too much wrong with them.

The testimonials weren’t attributed to any specific customers, so nobody could see that they were testimonials. They were just random quotes on the homepage. WikiJob did have testimonials, but they were at the bottom of the page. WikiJob decided to A/B test and move the testimonials to the top of the page.

After making the testimonials look more like testimonials, WikiJob was able to boost conversions by 34%.

Here’s what the original page looked like:

And here’s the variation that was tested:

Safety Seals

If you’ve been following the news, you’re probably well aware that data privacy is a major consumer priority. Cyber security breaches happen far too often — making consumers hesitant to share their personal data and credit card information online. The risks are far too high and outweigh the decision to buy a $10 product on your e-commerce site.

Trust and safety seals can help your brand explain to consumers that you’re serious about privacy.

OrientalFurniture.com — a furniture, gifts, and accessories retailer — published a ‘trust and safety seal’ case study with Internet Retailer in 2011.

This A/B test was able to boost OrientalFurniture’s conversion rate by 7.6% — visitors who saw the trust and safety seal were more likely to make a purchase than those who did not.

Safety, trust, and accreditation seals can be placed in various parts throughout your website — on landing pages, near your website footer, and on company about pages. Make sure, however that they’re placed strategically and ready-to-see when your customers checkout. Maximize the impact of these placements.

Here is another example from ModCloth, a boutique-like women’s clothing retailer, that explains that all transactions are secure:

Here is an example from Sole Society, a women’s shoe retailer that explains that all purchases come with a flexible, generous, and free return policy.

Final Thoughts: Always Be Testing

We’ve just about approached the very last section of this chapter and have covered almost every consumer psychology related concept in this guide.

As we conclude — especially as we’re talking about friction — we’d like to emphasize that you should always be running A/B tests to challenge your assumptions. The truth is that you’ll never know where your points of friction are unless you’re constantly researching your customers’ pain points. Even Google Analytics can be misleading. For instance, you might see that users are spending 5-10 minutes on your website — “yay, that’s high user engagement”.

Actually, no. It could also be the case that your customers are thoroughly confused. A/B tests will help you extrapolate patterns, pinpoint friction, and alleviate pain points that are causing blockages in your conversion funnel.

Qualitative research is the next step — by talking to your customers, you’ll see why certain patterns exist and understand how you can alleviate them. You can also make more educated guesses about future design, copywriting, and UX experiences.

Trust the data — it’s smarter than you.

Key Takeaways

  • In addition to moving people through your company’s conversion funnel, you need to remove barriers that are stopping them from progressing — these barriers are called friction.
  • Friction stems from confusion and frustration. It’s easier to x-out of a window and go visit a competitor than to take the time to truly understand what a company is telling you.
  • The best way to eliminate friction is to keep things simple — don’t overload your customers with information, and answer their questions directly. Create knowledge centers and FAQs to connect information-hungry audiences with more information when they need it.
  • Build trust through testimonials, trust seals, and customer reviews. Be specific about where the information is coming from. Be honest and as transparent as possible. Place this information strategically so that customers are greeted with the information at key decision-making moments.
  • Always be testing and challenging your assumptions. A/B testing and qualitative research should be ongoing processes for your business. Trust your data to inform future learnings.

How to Use Tumblr To Drive Traffic and Land New Customers

With millions of passionate users, Tumblr is a social media powerhouse that can’t be ignored.

Even if you’ve never read a Tumblr blog, I’ll walk you through the steps you need to take to create an awesome Tumblr blog from scratch.

I’ll also go over how you can promote your blog within Tumblr without being pushy or salesy.

Your first step is to head over to Tumblr.com and sign up on the home page. So you put in your email, your password, and your username, and your username is really important so just like at any social media site, like Pinterest or Facebook or Twitter, you want your username to be a brand name.

So if we are signing up for Quick Sprout, you would want to make it Quick Sprout and click “Sign up,” and then put your age, and agree to the terms and services and click done. And you’re in.

Y next step once you have your account is to look for other blogs in your niche and then follow them because Tumblr is all about following other people’s blogs and sharing their content on your blog. Head over to the search bar here and put in a keyword related to what your blog is going to be about.

Let’s say that I search for marketing, and then you just want to find blogs that look like a good fit for the type of traffic that I want, they produce good content, and they are related to what your blog is going to be about. When you find some, just click on the little blue plus sign and you will be following them. Just do it until you’ve found five, and then click on next step.

Next you want to add some more details about you and your brand. So if you’re creating a Tumblr around a brand, you want to add your logo, but if it was more of a personal brand, you’d want to upload a head shot. So we’re going to add a picture of Neil, and you can adjust it, then click “Save” when it looks good, and then under title, you want to add your title and a description. You can put a little description about what your brand is about, and you can put something like a slogan or something that is associated with your brand.

Then click “Next step.” And if you want, you can download their app depending on what mobile device that you use but I’m just going to click I’ll get it later. So once you see this screen you’re good. You officially have a Tumblr blog. So your next step is to find a theme that’s in line with your brand and what your Tumblr blog is going to be all about. So to do that, click on the picture here, and this will actually take you to your blog. So this is what it looks like right now.

Now to find a theme, click on the “Customize” button in the top right corner, and then click on themes. And then you can choose from hundreds of different themes that Tumblr has, just like with Word Press. So, if you want a free theme, you can click on “Free,” or if you have an idea of what you want your blog to look like, whether it’s single-column or two-column, you can choose that. But let’s just choose free themes to get started.

Now when you find one that looks nice, just click on it, and Tumblr will show you a live preview of what your blog would look like with that theme. So depending on your brand, this might be the perfect theme, or, maybe this one, Esquire theme, might work better for you. OK? So when you find one that looks nice, click on the “Use” button, and from here you can make any changes to your theme that you want. So if you wanted to change the background color from yellow to another color, you click on the color, and then choose one that works best for you.

Or if you want to change the accent color, you can do the same thing. And if you want to get really hard core about changing the themes to make sure it’s super in line with what the brand is all about, you can click on “Edit HTML,” and you can actually edit the HTML of the document. When you make a change, click on update preview, and it will show you what that change will look like on your blog.

So once everything looks good, click on save, then go back to appearance, click on “Save” again, and then click on close and you’ll see what your blog looks like with that theme. So obviously, it’s a little bit bare here, so you want to start adding some content to make your blog a real blog. So to do that, click on the “Dashboard” button, and that will take you back to your Tumblr dashboard. Now, there’s a number of different ways to add content to Tumblr.

So if you wanted to add text, you could add text. Now unlike other blogging platforms, you don’t want to do things like 5 tips for whatever at Tumblr. That’s not the kind of content that tends to perform well. It’s more eye-catching and engaging stuff. So you want to do like, “Four Examples of Bad-ass Marketing.” OK, because that’s the type of audience that tends to hang out on Tumblr. And then you can add content, just like you would on any blog post, and when it looks good, click on “Publish,” and then if you want to see what it looks like, on your site, you can always click on your face or your logo and it will take you back to your blog. So this is what it looks like.

Now there are some other ways to add content to your Tumblr blog, one of the most important of which is reblogging other people’s content. So when we first signed up, we followed some bloggers, but now we want to be a little more particular about who we’re following so then we can get their feed. So when you follow someone, their feed ends up here on your dashboard. OK, so what you want to do is follow people strategically who are going to post content that your audience would be interested in and then you can reblog it. So to do that, click on “Find blogs,” and Tumblr will show you some of the most popular blogs.

So what you want to do is look on the right hand side of the page and find a category that fits best with your blog’s topic, so in the case of Quick Sprout, we choose business. And then you want to find blogs in that space that publish content that your audience would be interested in. And when you find a blog that looks like a good fit, hover over it and click on the “Follow” button. And now you will follow that blog.

So, when you go into your Tumblr dashboard, and that blog publishes something new, so in the case of Planet Money they just published this, and if you think it’s cool and something that your audience would want to see, just like with any other social media network, you want to share it. So what you do is you click these little arrow buttons, and that will reblog the post. So now when you go back to your Tumblr blog, the post is here.

So when your audience sees this and they think that it’s cool, they’ll appreciate it just like they would if you shared a great piece of content on Twitter or Facebook. Reblogging also puts you on the radar screen of influential Tumblr blogs, because when you reblog someone else’s content, they are notified. So when we reblogged this piece of content from Planet Money, if we go to the page where the content originally appeared, we can see that it shows that Quick Sprout reblogged it. So, when they see that, they say hey, what’s Quick Sprout? Then they click on it, and when they go to your blog and they see something cool, they reblog to return the favor.

But obviously, for them to do that, you need to have great original content and that’s what I’m going to show you how to do right now. As I mentioned earlier, not all content performs well on Tumblr. In general, pictures perform really well, so let’s say that you wanted to announce that you just opened a forum on Tumblr. Now instead of heading back to your dashboard, clicking the text button and making a text-based announcement like, “Hey, we just launched a forum.” You wouldn’t want to do that.

You would want to announce it with a picture. So you head back to your site, and take a picture of whatever it is you’re announcing, copy the image location, and then click photo, and then click URL, and then enter the image URL, and the image will be the centerpiece of your post. So, whenever you want to publish something, whether it’s tips on how to do something or an announcement for your company, you want to make it image-focused.

So if you were going to do, like five tips for getting more Twitter followers, you would want to put that as five different images or one big image instead of making that text. And to explain what your images are about, you can add a caption here. So, put something like “Announcing for Quick Sprout forum,” and then click “Publish.” And then when you go back to your blog by clicking on your face or logo, you’ll see, it’s right here. It has a nice little frame around it, thanks to the theme.

So, that’s all there is to marketing your business on Tumblr, and just like with any social media site, the most important thing is to get involved with the community and share great content. And the only twist is that when you share content on Tumblr, make sure it’s images most of the time.

The Psychology Of Color

Color and visual cues can have a dramatic impact on conversion rates. On Quick Sprout, for instance, the Hellobar — a red bar on the top of the page accounts for 11% of all new leads.

The same is true for KimberlySnyder.net — she generates around 20% of her revenue through a bright, red Hellobar.

This tool may not be beautiful. In fact, on some websites, it looks like a total eyesore. But it stands out.

You see, audiences online have limited attention spans. They’re powering through websites (and digesting information at a million miles an hour). The only way to grab their attention is to stand out from everything that is competing for their attention. That is where color comes in.

Color has value beyond aesthetics. Yes, we all have preferences, but why? The answer to that question will directly affect your online marketing and conversion optimization strategy. Color is something that’s always around us, but we rarely think about how it impacts us. In this chapter, we’re going to overthink it. Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about color will be captured in the next 20+ pages.

Color Theory

There is a clear science to picking colors that work together. There is a definite element of subjectivity involved (culture, generational perspectives, and personal preferences), but there is also a set of best practices that psychologists and designers will stick to. Colm Tuite, a user experience designer, breaks down color into the following framework.

Pures, Tints, Shades & Tones

PURE COLOR

These are colors that are not mixed with other hues. They’re usually incorporated into bright designs. Anything youthful, summery, cheerful, energetic, or ‘cool’ can benefit from using pure colors.

TINTS

These are colors mixed with white. They convey a lighter, more peaceful, and less energetic feeling than pure colors. They’re also considered more feminine. Companies in the health, spa, and beauty industries could benefit from using these colors.

SHADES

These are colors mixed with black and are effective in communicating mysterious, dark, evil, or dangerous moods. Shades can work well with gradients when used with either a pure color or lighter shade.

The Meanings Of Colors

Certain colors are tied to cultural, emotional, and social connotations. Here are some meanings of colors in the western world.

Tints and shades can help influence the feelings that color conveys. For instance, a darker shade of blue would convey more security and integrity. Lighter shades of blue would convey more tranquility and peace. Some colors have developed a particular meaning over time due to use from certain organizations (i.e. a branding effective).

For instance, the Catholic Church uses deep shades of purple and red, giving the colors a spiritual meaning. Pink has also become associated with femininity. Countries have also adopted certain colors as their own (for instance, Ireland and green).

Maintaining Simplicity

A common mistake when working with colors is to use too many of them. It is usually better to use one prominent color that is offset by a neutral color like white, gray, or black. When you use too many colors, you may end up conveying too many feelings or messages at once — something that will potentially confuse the person viewing your design.

Contrast

For the most part, dark colors are strong complements to bright colors. That is why most books are designed using white backgrounds and black text. Each color has a contrast value (white is the lightest and black is the darkest). Yellow and green have light values (so they would be difficult to read on a white background).

Example

Let’s say that a client approaches your (hypothetical design) company looking for a logo. The company is a beauty spa, which uses natural, organic products. The target market is women, and she is trying to convey a peaceful messages, rather than an energetic one. So, she knows that tints are the best route to take, as opposed to pure colors or shades. Colors to convey tranquility and femininity are pink, yellow, purple, and blue.

The client really wants to drive home that products are organic. One option is green, which conveys thoughts of freshness and the environment. The following shade of green, however, is not very feminine:

So the shade would need to be a little light

If you also want to convey a bit of tranquility, you would add a bit of blue.

Color And Conversions

Here’s the quick facts on how colors impact conversions:

  • 92.6% of people say the visual dimension is the #1 influencing factor affecting their purchase decision (over taste, smell, etc.).
  • Studies suggest that people make a subconscious judgment about a product within 90 seconds of initial viewing. Up to 90% of that assessment is based on color alone.
  • One study found that magazine readers recognize full-color ads 26% more often than black-and-white ads.
  • Heinz changed the color of their signature ketchup from red to green and sold over 10 million bottles in the first 7 months, resulting in $23 million in sales.

Here’s some additional facts on how color effects purchase decisions:

  • When marketing new products, it is important to understand that consumers place visual appearance and color above other factors when they shop.
  • 85% of shoppers place color as a primary reason for why they buy a particular product.
  • Color increases brand recognition by 80%. Brand recognition is directly tied to consumer confidence.
  • Colors are not universal in nature. Colors that entice in North America are different from those that entice in India. See the infographic (below) to see how different colors affect online consumers in North America.
  • Color is not the only element that influences consumer behavior. For online shoppers, design, buzzwords and convenience also affect the need to shop.

Color affects us in countless ways, both mentally and physically. Psychologists have suggested that color impression can account for 60% of the acceptance or rejection of a product or service. A bad color combination can have the same user experience consequences of poor copy or slow page load times.

Gender

ender is something we’ve talked about in the last few sections — but it’s important for us to call out specifically. At any given time, your audience is some proportion of men and women. For the sake of argument, we’re going to say 50/50, but the reality is that this number can fluctuate depending on your business and industry. If you’re not careful (and create gender-centric marketing imagery), you could end up losing out on up to 50% of your web traffic and conversions.

In our everyday lives, we see the world as individuals. We need to change our perspective and start seeing the world as marketers instead. Color is out of the ways to market to people who aren’t like us.

In general, research says that gender associations with color are ambiguous.

Some observations that some analysts have made:

  • A review of color studies done by Eysenck in early 1940’s notes the following results to the relationship between gender and color. Dorcus (1926) found yellow had a higher affective value for the men than women and St. George (1938) maintained that blue for men stands out far more than for women.
  • An even earlier study by Jastrow (1897) found men preferred blue to red and women red to blue. Eysenck’s study, however, found only one gender difference with yellow being preferred to orange by women and orange to yellow by men. This finding was reinforced later by Birren (1952) who found men preferred orange to yellow; while women placed orange at the bottom of the list.
  • Guilford and Smith (1959) found men were generally more tolerant toward achromatic colors than women. Thus, Guilford and Smith proposed that women might be more color-conscious and their color tastes more flexible and diverse. Likewise, McInnis and Shearer (1964) found that blue green was more favored among women than men, and women preferred tints more than shades. They also found 56% of men and 76% of women preferred cool colors, and 51% men and 45% women chose bright colors. In a similar study, Plater (1967) found men had a tendency to prefer stronger chromas than women.

What’s important to keep in mind is that cultural and social contexts are changing all the time. There is so much variation in the population that you’re not going to be able to appease everybody with just one color scheme. You could read all of the psychology studies in the world, but if you sit around trying to be a perfectionist, you’re never going to get anything done.

The best way to figure out if you’re excluding men and women in your marketing? Talk to people in your target customer base. Research some of the color schemes that your competitors are using. Don’t leave the decision to guess work, but don’t dwell on finding the “right” answer either (because you probably won’t).

The best answer is in your data. In addition to conducting qualitative research with your target customers, make sure that you’re running consistent A/B tests.

Accessibility

As you’re designing your website, keep in mind that your audiences perceive the world differently. Even if you have perfect vision, the world doesn’t. The W3C Web Accessibility initiative has put together a list of resources to help website owners ensure that their websites are accessible to people with disabilities. Here is a guide to help you establish checkpoints for accessible colors.

Brightness

rightness, for the purpose of this discussion, is defined as the intensity of light illuminating an object. It can be calculated as the arithmetic mean of the red, green, and blue color coordinates. The W3C suggests using the following formula to determine color brightness:

BRIGHTNESS = ((RED X 299) + (GREEN X 587) + (BLUE X 114))/1000

A visible color should be brighter than 125

Color Difference

Color difference is the variation in hugh between the foreground and the background color of your website. Here is a formula to help you calculate the color difference:

RED = MAX(RED FOREGROUND, RED BACKGROUND)
-MIN(RED FOREGROUND, RED BACKGROUND)

GREEN = MAX(GREEN FOREGROUND, GREEN BACKGROUND) -MIN(GREEN FOREGROUND, GREEN BACKGROUND)

BLUE = MAX(BLUE FOREGROUND, BLUE BACKGROUND)
-MIN(BLUE FOREGROUND, BLUE BACKGROUND)

= (RED) + (GREEN) + (BLUE)

Background and foreground color are visible if the color difference has a value greater than 500.

Rules Of Thumb

To make sure that your website is accessible, start by following these best practices:

  • Use font sizes that are large enough to read. While this tip is not directly related to color, it is important to keep in mind. Ultimately, color is not a standalone concept — it works together with other elements of your website, advertisements, and landing pages.
  • Keep paragraphs short so that information is easy to digest (and readers don’t feel like they’re looking a giant block of color).
  • Use complimentary but contrasting colors between your background and foreground. You can use a color wheel to figure out which colors will potentially work well together.

Relevance To Sales

When you’re choosing colors for your website, landing pages, and call to action buttons, you’re not just choosing colors for the sake of aesthetics. Here is a chart from Ren Walker at AdPearance that gives an overview of colors within the context of call to action buttons (in the Western world):

Wow. That’s a lot of options. Which one should you choose? Even if you’re a color psychology expert, it can be tough to decide on just one color — for a form button, for instance. What if you want to create a sense of urgency but also trust?

The most important way to narrow down your options is to consider the context of your form. What type of information are you looking to collect? If the potential lead needs to include personal information beyond basic contact details, you might consider choosing a calming color like green or blue. You should also consider what the rest of your page looks like. A red button, for instance, won’t stand out on a page that is based on the same color. Choose contrasting colors so that your call to action (CTA) buttons stand out on your landing pages.

Capturing Audience’s Attention

Take this commonly cited A/B test, for instance:

Performable — an email marketing platform that was acquired by HubSpot, experienced a 21% boost in conversions when the company changed its call to action button color from green to red.

The effect of the color change has everything to do with the CTA’s context.

The page on the left is very-much geared towards a green palette. The green CTA just blends within the page’s surrounding context. Red, however, presents a drastic visual context. The button truly stands out from the other elements on the page.

Website Elements Affected

In a blog post for CrazyEgg, Stephanie Hamilton put together a comprehensive list of website elements impacted by color:

Text Links

One solution for drawing attention to monochromatic links is to give them a faint background to lift them off the page. This technique helps to remind users where they are on your website. Check out how AppZapper makes the “overview” link by highlighting it in green when the user is on the page.

Navigation

Bronto uses saturated colors to bring attention to its website navigation. This helps focus the reader’s attention to this extremely important (but small) part of the website.

Buttons

Use colors to make your website’s call to action (CTA) buttons stand out from other elements on your website. Large, vibrant buttons will help your users understand what actions they should be taking on your website.

Headings

Vibrant (but minimal) headings can help illuminate the most important concepts that you’re trying to communicate on your website.

List Items

If you want to draw attention to a certain feature or section of your website, you can use colors in a way that don’t overwhelm the rest of your page’s design.

Complement Your Brand’s Personality

Brand personality is a concept that we’ve talked about earlier in this guide. Color presents a powerful opportunity for self-expression. Use colors to accentuate your existing brand identity, and make sure that you piece together a cohesive style. At the end of the day, color is only one part of your branding equation and ultimately needs to complement your voice, persona, tone, and company values.

Here are the steps that we advises marketers take:

1. Decide which emotions you want to convey

This decision will help you decide what color(s) you want to pick and whether you’ll need to create a blend with others. You’ll need to pick a range of colors from the following options:

  • Monochromatic: stick with colors that belong to one color family (such as brown or blue)
  • Analogous: use two or three colors that appear next to one another on the color wheel
  • Complementary: Chose two colors that are opposite one another on the color wheel
  • Triadic: Chose three colors, equally spaced around the color wheel

2. Choose the palette that best communicates your company’s style

Warm and Comforting Browns
Browns evoke home, hearth, comfort, and warmth. You can combine different shades of brown with grays or blues to create a highly comforting vibe.

Playful Greens
If your brand is playful of energetic, consider using a palette with greens, blues, and oranges. This color scheme combines a pleasing, down to earth vibe with high energy.

Serious Blues
Blues are calming and serious You can combine your color scheme with gray, tan, or orange, but you’ll want to keep secondary colors toned down so that you’re not overloading your audience with a chaotic look and feel.

Energetic Reds
Reds provide a burst of energy. If you’re not careful, however, you’ll risk overwhelming your audience. Offer plenty of white space to give your users’ eyes a break.

Know Your Niche

Your industry has everything to do with your website’s color scheme and brand personality. A finance website, for instance, should be down to earth. If you move too far from the established path, you’ll risk confusing or causing cognitive dissonance with your customer base. Here are some examples of color schemes that work well for finance sites:

This color palette relies on greens that users are used to seeing with financial institutions. The gold switches it up a bit, and the black gives the scheme a foundation of strength and authority.

This is a strong color combination for a financial brand because it goes beyond the obvious association with money (green). Gold and black reinforce the concept of wealth and provide a sense of stability.

Here is an example of a ‘cool’ color palette that uses traditional financial colors (green and blue):

By using these colors in lighter, brighter values, the brand associates itself with the finance world in a way that looks modern and youthful rather than heavy and overbearing.

The use of white space gives the website a clean, light feel. This is especially valid for a finance site, which drives business by building trust with its user base.

Key Takeaways

Color is something that we could seriously talk about forever, but there are still many more topics that we need to cover in this guide. Now is a good time to step back, reflect on key concepts covered, and prep our brains for what’s coming next.

  • There is a clear science to picking colors that work well together. Pure colors, tints, and shades are some of the most basic color variations that you’ll be working with. Know the moods and feelings that your color choices are likely to evoke.
  • Colors come with social and cultural connotations. Remember your frame of reference when you think about how your color choices will affect your audience.
  • Remember that people are reading your content from different perspectives. Eyeballs were not created differently. Some of us have perfect vision while others strain to read text on a screen. Make sure that your text is easy to read by using contrasting colors.
  • Red and green are the colors most affected by vision deficiency, especially among men. Be careful when you’re working with these colors.
  • Color can help you boost conversion rates. When creating your CTAs, pick colors that contrast dramatically from the rest of your color scheme. This boldness ensures that your visual cues stand out. Remember, people on the Internet have limited attention spans and are flaky. The more that you can (quickly) capture their attention, the easier time you’ll have engaging them.
  • A/B testing should be a part of your conversion optimization process. Instead of debating which colors to use, let the data decide for you.
  • Pay attention to standard color schemes in your industry. If you choose something that is too out-of-the-box, you risk causing cognitive dissonance among your audience. In other words, people will have no clue what your brand is about.
  • Remember that gender can have a significant impact on color. One way to play it safe (and appeal to a wide audience) is to choose blues and greens.
  • When buying new products, consumers are heavily swayed by visual appearance. Don’t take any shortcuts with your color choices and design. There are professional designers and branding consultants who can help you figure out what works well together and what doesn’t. Ultimately, everything should complement your brand personality.
  • Color can help you accentuate elements on your website (like navigation, lists, certain buttons of content, etc.).
  • Color has the potential to increase brand recognition by 80%. Choose color schemes that are memorable (but for the right reasons). A carefully chosen color scheme will help your identity shine.
  • When in doubt, ask your customers what they like. Take a look at the colors that brands catering to the same audience are using. There are so many free and creative resources out there — you’re never just jumping in blind