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Online Marketing Success 101: Creating Emotional Connections (part 1)

by Karen Talavera

06 30, 2011 | Posted in Audience & List Growth, Content Marketing, Customer Loyalty, Digital Marketing, Marketing Vision | 10 comments

Making emotional connections online

Creative Commons License photo credit: Torley

You might read that title and wonder what in the world emotional connections have to do with online marketing or any marketing for that matter.  Isn’t marketing simply about telling people what you have to offer and letting them know how to buy or work with you? Certainly it’s that, but much more.  Whether you realize it or not, most decisions in life are fueled at least in part by emotion, and that goes for buying decisions large and small.

Our brains are equipped with both reasoning and emotional centers, and both factor into decision making. More often than not, people buy from emotion and justify with reason, so it’s important to know how to emotionally connect with them.

In online marketing, making emotional connections is especially important because the digital world can be fast, furious, and impersonal.  There is a built-in immediacy in digital communication channels that often undermines or bypasses the opportunity to slow down the sale and deepen the consideration process that older, offline channels delivered.  Plus, there’s a huge lack of trust (and fraud) in the digital world so allowing people to get to know you online goes a long way toward creating the confidence consumers and business people alike need before they’re willing to buy.

So, is it easy to create emotional connections online? The good news is “YES!” thanks largely to social media and content publishing platforms that are faster, simpler and more accessible than ever before.

So, how do you do it? Here are the first two of six steps I recommend:


1) Increase Transparency

In the age of Web 2.0 (or 3.0, or whatever iteration we’re in!) transparency has never been greater.  Companies blog about their internal workings and behind-the-scenes processes.  You can Google a person or business name and harvest a cornucopia of information about it in just a few minutes.  Peer reviews, blog comments, complaints and praise round out the 360-degree view of you, your products, or your brand.  Much of what is written or said is not from you, or up to you.

Enlightened Emarketing Tip:  Take charge of the conversation by participating in it and opening the kimono a bit wider than you have in the past.  If you don’t have a blog, start one.  Frequently ask for comments to new posts AND promote your posts on social media.  Include community involvement initiatives and employee profiles or endeavors in your marketing and as blog posts topics to give your company a more human “face”.  Monitor social media mentions and conversations so you can constructively join them, respond to customer service issues, and have actual conversations with your customers.

Remember, people do business with people, not nameless, faceless entities, so give them some names and faces they can clearly relate to. Becoming more transparent doesn’t mean you have to reveal everything, but it does mean coming out of hiding if you’ve been a little too comfortable there.

2) Embrace Authenticity

When you think of American Idol, who’s more interesting  and memorable – Randy Jackson or Simon Cowell? I vote for Cowell.  While he may not be as personable as Jackson, Simon Cowell certainly doesn’t pander to fans or crowds – he’s his own man, like him or not.  In fact, a big part of his staying power as an American Idol judge is that he dared to be brutally honest, even if that meant disagreeing with his fellow judges and the voting audience, or hurting contestants’ feelings.

He’s a perfect example of authenticity – Cowell is not afraid to be himself.  He’s also a great example of how negative vs. positive personality traits can be wildly attractive – you don’t need to be hospitable, warm and fuzzy to get customers, fans and new business, but you do need to be real.  By refusing to pull punches and daring to defy convention Cowell developed a huge following and has grown his business considerably.  He also left Idol on his own terms, when he was ready, unlike other judges who were nudged out.

Enlightened Emarketing Tip:  Take a good look at whether your brand/business personality is what you think it needs to be for your market to accept you, or is what you really want it to be based on the true story behind it.  Don’t copy your competitors or feel you have to mimic them – they have their unique origins, and you have yours, so use your story to your advantage.  The true-life individual personalities of founders, inventors, or practice professionals should permeate their companies and in fact, have defined entire corporate cultures (witness Virgin, Apple, Google and Facebook).

Also, it’s practically impossible to maintain a phony or veneered façade, so don’t try.  Trust that when your genuine values and traits – whether friendly or grumpy, liberal or conservative, soft-spoken or edgy – are visible in your online presence and flow through your digital communications, you’ll resonate with like-minded people who genuinely want to do business with the real you.  And typically, the more they do, the better they’ll want to get to know that real you and the more authentic you’ll become in their eyes.

These are just two beginning steps to creating emotional connections in your marketing, and today’s online channels make it easier than ever to be open and real, then continue to reveal as much as you’re comfortable sharing about yourself and your business.

I’ll continue this next month with two more steps to creating emotional connections in online marketing, but in the meantime, tell me what you’ve done to create emotional connections online? What’s working best for you?


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