3 ways emotional connections can power customer experience

Kavita Singh shares Paige O'Neill's insight from the Sitecore Experience 2020 conference on how human connection and emotion can fuel the customer experience.

We feel before we think. This has been proven by scientists who’ve found that the feeling part of the brain processes information five times faster than the thinking part. So how can we drive customer experience (CX)  through emotion, especially in the B2B space? 

The fact that feelings can overtake thoughts in such powerful ways, means customers build long-term brand association and customer loyalty which impact buying decisions. Paige O'Neill, CMO at Sitecore, shares three factors to keep in mind. 

Lead with your heart

Strategic appeals to the heartstrings can be very effective, although it can seem much easier to translate in a B2C space.

However, a study conducted by CEB, Google, and Motista found that most B2C brands have emotional connections with between 10% and 40% of consumers. Meanwhile, B2B brands typically surpassed the 50% mark. 

Paige says: “That was surprising to me because there are so many topics and conversations that drive emotion with a B2C brand. From a B2B perspective, I believe we have to think about it less as individual consumers and more as a broader business topic.”

For example, in every CMO role Paige has had, she’s been told her team struggle to produce content. Marketers have common pain points, whether or not they want to admit it - and the frustration of being a marketer is every bit as emotional as a consumer’s response. 

Sitecore’s latest research suggested that customers are 31% more likely to spend more money on brands that make them feel good. For this reason, bringing positive and emotional associations to a brand can be very impactful. Customers are also eight times more likely to trust a company they’re doing business with and seven times more likely to buy more from that company again. Additionally, they’re more willing to forgive companies if they make a mistake.

With this in mind, cultivating this human element can help gain trust as a brand. As humans, we naturally want to believe brands have a higher purpose than simply selling to us. To achieve this, identify the end goal first from a logical point of view, and then lead the rest of the process using emotion. 

Create empathy, not content

Content can be both a joy and a pain for marketers. Given that content is needed to drive personalised digital experiences, marketers often feel they can’t keep up with the demand for its creation. This is otherwise known as a content crisis.

Paige suggests that marketers produce less content, but focus more on effective storytelling that resonates with their goals, thus making a play for quality over quantity. However, this shift in mindset might not come easily.

Some 78% of marketers say they take a strategic approach to content marketing; conversely, 76% say that their content strategies are only minimally to moderately successful. Half say the reason is that they’re unable to make a human connection. 

While those numbers aren’t great, 24% say they’re currently successful with their content approach. Of that, 84% of marketers are thinking about content right from the very beginning of the planning stages - including how to gain customer loyalty and improve experience. So while most marketers might focus on the sales or product message initially, ultimately it is more effective to shift that focus onto the customer's needs. 

In order to do this, you’ll want to ask yourself these key questions: 

  • What stories are we trying to tell?
  • What emotions are we trying to evoke?
  • What actions do we want our potential customers to take? 

Be more human with AI

AI is becoming more prevalent and it can be an exciting, yet daunting, time for B2B marketers, with some having an inherent fear that AI will take over their job.

Paige said: “AI is actually taking parts of our jobs that we don’t frankly want to do and automating those portions, so we can spend more time getting back to being either creative or strategic.”

Years ago, we used to struggle to gather enough data to generate insights and analyse a clear picture of our marketing efforts. Now, we have the opposite issue; we often become paralysed by the amount of data we have and this prevents marketers from drawing conclusions and insights. There’s often delay, or even worse, little to no action towards better customer experiences. 

Rather than spending time analysing what the data is telling us, we can use technology to give us the patterns and pictures so that we can figure out where we go from there. That’s a much more interesting application than just trying to crunch spreadsheets.

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