8 ways to forge a long-lasting emotional connection with your customers

With customer experience topping the marketing agenda, Jess Pike finds out what it takes to make that sought-after emotional connection with your customers

1. Create a story

Focus on making a human connection, not just structuring a sales pitch. “Delivering content that’s both interesting and engaging will be the spark that ignites a dialogue,” says Richard Dunn, chief strategy officer UK & EMEA at Wunderman. “People aren’t interested in being dictated to; they want to have a conversation.”

2. Remember it’s not all about you

According to John Smart, head of copy at specialist construction marketing agency DGR Marcomms, most B2B activity – websites in particular – focuses obsessively on the company in question, their stats, their achievements and their innovations. “And this is often at the expense of empathy with the audience – it really isn’t all about you,” he says. “One piece of advice I was given at the start of my career was to ‘get heavy with the word ‘you’’. As a rule of thumb, make sure that every time you write the word ‘we’ or your brand name in your copy, you balance it out with at least three ‘yous’.”

“One piece of advice I was given at the start of my career was to ‘get heavy with the word ‘you’’. As a rule of thumb, make sure that every time you write the word ‘we’ or your brand name in your copy, you balance it out with at least three ‘yous’."

3. Be helpful

Providing advice, reassurance and useful information will instil a feeling of trust in your customer. “This could involve helping them fill out a form, making purchases easier or enabling faster bookings. Helping people is as much about incremental touches as big, sweeping gestures,” says Andy Snuggs, managing partner at PSONA.

4. Don’t be faceless

“Building an emotional connection with customers involves not selling your brand,” says Laura Lilienthal, marketing director EMEA at Spiceworks. “In fact, it could mean that you suggest another product to them. This might seem counterintuitive, but in the long term it could reap bigger rewards for the business. The best sales techniques are based on building a relationship; people buy from people they trust and no one likes a cold sell from a faceless corporation.”

5. Go vertical

Knowing where your customer goes for information and engagement is crucial: you need to be on the platforms they’re using. “Move past the likes of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn,” says Laura. “Platforms like Endomodo and HealthUnlocked are full of professionals from specific industries… targeting platforms that relate closest to your consumer demographic will mean you push your message to the right audience on the platform they frequent the most.”

6. Use your employees

Make sure everyone – not just sales and marketing – is acting as the best brand ambassador. “If the purchaser has positive experiences from speaking to the receptionist or bumping into someone who works for your company in the shop it will help strengthen that emotional connection,” says Kim McLellan, client services director at Hunterlodge. “In our experience, we’ve found that consumers are often willing to choose a more expensive option, pay a premium or overlook the fact you can’t solve 100% of their problems if they have a positive experience across all channels.”

7. Be personable

Even if you use a vertical social network to engage with your targets, your efforts will be wasted if all you’re about is the sell, sell, sell. “You should be genuinely interested in helping prospects and in doing so showcasing a ‘human’ element to your brand,” says Laura. “Show a side people can relate to and make sure they don’t just feel like another sales target.”

8. Don’t neglect current customers

Lots of so-called ‘in-life’ communications programmes can be underwhelming, confusing and lead to apathy towards the brand; the ‘you’ve got me now, and no longer care for or recognise me’ feeling is all too common in both the B2B and B2C spaces, as Andy Snuggs points out: “Make sure you’re thinking about in-life communications from a truly customer-centric perspective.”

How to achieve CX success in B2B

The customer experience (CX) is something B2B brands can no longer afford to ignore. Successful CX is becoming a defining element of successful marketing. We surveyed B2B buyers alongside B2B marketers to find out exactly when CX matters most, and where your focus should really be.

Master your CX

CXcellence: How to achieve CX success in B2B