Emotional Connection

Whether it’s holly jolly coffee cup designs, signature store scents or virtual holiday display windows, there’s no doubt the holiday season offers endless opportunities for retailers to forge stronger emotional connections with customers. Emotional connection as a marketing tactic does more than create warm and fuzzy feelings. It also plays a critical role in helping businesses get their products and services on consumers’ wish lists.

Creating emotional connection in the digital space requires a little extra creativity than in physical retail environments. In fact, according to a recent Microsoft study, you have less than 10 seconds to engage with online customers. The time and effort spent in creating that connection, however, is an investment that can provide significant returns all year long. Not convinced? Here are three key reasons why we believe creating emotional connection should be a priority no matter how, when or where your company is ringing up sales.

1. Emotional Connection Makes a Major Impact on Purchase Decisions

Holiday Starbucks

When your favorite barista suggests something new on the menu you might want to try, if it feels more like an insider tip than a shameless up-sell, consider yourself emotionally connected. And, chances are, you won’t think twice about the added price of that recommendation. According to MBLM’s 2019 Brand Intimacy study, the most emotionally connected brands have two times the number of customers willing to pay 20 percent more for their product. Starbucks’ tactic of encouraging their staff to make personal connections with the customers is a great example. The Starbucks service motto is to create familiarity by their staff remembering your name, order and rewarding repeat visits. This increases the odds of that store becoming embedded into your caffeine routine.  As a converted loyal customer, paying a little more for a specialty or limited-edition coffee likely won’t bother you, because you feel emotionally invested and part of “the club.”

There aren’t too many products or services with prices that decrease over time. Think about the price increase experiences you have accepted in the past without question compared to those that annoyed you. Chances are, those that didn’t bother you came with a healthy side of emotional connection because you trust the brand for the good it brings into your life. Research in Adweek puts an even higher premium on emotional connection, with a statistic that 70% of emotionally connected consumers spend twice as much on the brands that they feel connected to.

2. Emotional Connection Inspires Customers to Grow Your Community

Danny Devito Quickbook StrategyOnline

Positive purchase experiences do more than create fodder for dinner party conversations. When consumers connect positively with a brand, they’re more inspired to become proud ambassadors who share their experiences with their social networks because they want to see their friends and family benefit as well.

Providing online consumers with valuable content is a great way of encouraging social sharing. The keyword is valuable. In a world of information overload, ensuring the content that you’re serving up is relevant and helpful will leave consumers with a stronger sense that you value their time. Intuit QuickBooks emotionally connects with their customers by offering blogs aimed at solving business problems often faced by small business owners. Topics such as, “How to Boost Sales During Slow Season” and “Combating Your Chronic Cashflow Crisis,” illustrate to readers that Intuit understands their stressful issues and is eager to help. According to research from PointVisible, 54% of B2B content marketers have built loyalty with existing clients through content marketing initiatives.

3. We All Want to Feel the Love

Hotel Review

Imagine how good you’d feel if your positive hotel review was acknowledged with a warm thank you and a discount for your next stay. How about a shout out on Instagram from your favorite retail boutique complimenting your new outfit? Thoughtful actions like these don’t just make you feel good, they make you feel noticed. That’s something that makes an experience standout. According to Loyalty 360, 90% of both B2B and consumer audiences agree that experiences that deliver stronger personal interactions offer more compelling brand engagements.

Dig a little deeper into what drives consumer recommendations and make those emotional connections through meaningful engagement.  The popularity of online monthly subscription boxes is an excellent illustration of how eager consumers are to personally connect with products, brands and causes. Subscribers are so excited to discover and share what’s been “picked” for them that the term “unboxing” has its own Wikipedia page!

Takeaway: The Best Environment for Emotional Connection is the One Your Consumer Chooses to Shop From

For businesses born and raised before the dot com era, translating their company’s culture and brand into a digital experience can be a struggle. The disconnect is real. If you’re unsure about how to forge that personal bond with buyers in your digital ecosystem, a solid first step is to build understanding of your customer and the unique value proposition your brand brings to their life. Here are a few examples that illustrate how SMITH has helped our clients amp up their online connection quotient.

  • When one brick-and-mortar retail client wasn’t generating the kind of online sales results they expected, SMITH took their Senior Leadership Team through an empathy mapping exercise. This in-person workshop helped them really see who it was they were serving through their online channels and how this differed from their physical store traffic.
  • Industrial manufacturers often excel in traditional sales channels but can struggle in the online space. In many cases, it’s because they organize their website in a way that mirrors the organizational structure of their company. Websites inspired by org charts create confusion for online visitors. SMITH has guided a number of industrial clients to help them achieve an online user experience that creates that same sense of ease and comfort as a world-class salesperson provides in a face-to-face visit.
  • Online sales and support staff play a critical role in forging emotional connections with consumers. Eighty-six per cent of customers surveyed said that if there was an emotional connection with a customer service agent, they would be willing to continue to do business, according to research found in Forbes. SMITH helped one of our clients take a closer look at their call center’s online experience to help them optimize their phone banks. Helping customers find easy self-serve solutions quickly and funneling more complex questions and issues directly to trained professionals creates more opportunities for emotional connection and repeat business.

In order to deliver a successful experience around a product or service, everyone at your company has to be on the same page when it comes to knowing what the customer wants. But knowing what your customers want isn’t enough, emotional connection only happens when every interaction the customer has with your brand proves to them that your staff AND your systems are 100% committed to solving their problems. The customer may not remember why they called, came into your business or typed a message into the chat window, but they will remember how your brand made them feel. Every touch point elicits a feeling. How is your customer feeling right now?

- Christina Lagoda, VP of Strategy, SMITH


Connect with us today and let SMITH’s experts help you identify new opportunities for your brand to emotionally connect with your customers.


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Tags: Insights, Strategy and Intelligence, customer experience, trends, holistic cx