If you want your customers to be loyal “brand ambassadors,” you have to make them care first. Use emotions in advertising for best results.
Emotions Get You Sales
“People don’t buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons.”
Zig Ziglar, Iconic Salesman and Motivational Speaker
It’s no secret that emotions play an important role in successful advertising campaigns.
We all know, for example, that sugary snacks and drinks are bad for you, but ads for Pepsi and Coca-Cola don’t talk about fat, calories, and diabetes. Rather the focus is on youth, vitality, and good times. Chocolate is associated with luxury, indulgence, and sensuality. And other positive emotions are used to sell everything from laundry soap to video games, mayonnaise, and life insurance.
Studies show that emotionally charged events create powerful memories in people’s minds. In turn, these memories motivate us into taking action. Strong emotions in advertising may drive us to make an expensive purchase or donate money to a cause.
Not surprisingly, the goal of marketers everywhere is to tap into the emotions of consumers in order to make sales!
Types of Emotions in Advertising
Contemporary research suggests that there are six universal emotions we all feel: HAPPINESS, ANGER, DISGUST, SADNESS, FEAR, and SURPRISE.
Let’s take a look at each one to understand how they are frequently used in advertising campaigns.
HAPPINESS makes you feel good and encompasses everything we talked about above (youth, luxury, etc.) plus other positive concepts like romance, adventure, playfulness, and family bonding. It is the most visible and frequent emotion appearing in the majority of ads.
ANGER has many uses but is often seen in ads designed to make people upset about things like environmental issues, government policies, and political candidates.
DISGUST can be used to make people feel bad about themselves in order to sell medications, diet plans, and “miracle” remedies.
SADNESS is used to evoke a sense of compassion or empathy. Ads like these can be effective at drawing awareness to social issues.
FEAR is frequently deployed to deter people from harmful behaviors, such as smoking or drug abuse.
SURPRISE can appear in combination with other emotions and may be either positive or negative. The following ad, for example, shows an unexpected perspective on household chemicals that pose a danger to children.
“The more emotional an event is, the less sensible people are.”
Dr. Daniel Kahneman, 2002 Nobel Prize Winner for Economics
Act First, Think Later: It’s What We All Do
Thanks to many millennia of evolution at work, our emotional responses are so intuitive and deeply ingrained into our brains that we instinctively “react” before thinking or rationalizing a decision. In fact, we often don’t recognize how irrational many of our decisions actually are. And if asked, many people will insist that they favor logic over emotion.
The data paints a different picture, however. One example is a study of 1,400 successful ad campaigns that compared the profit boost from “emotional” ads to that of rational information-based ads.
The results showed a striking difference, with the emotional campaigns reporting large profit gains nearly twice as often as the rational campaigns (31% vs. 16%). Ads containing mixed emotional and rational content came in at 26%.
Such findings make a solid case for creating emotion-based ad campaigns. But are all emotions created equal? And how can your business or organization create unforgettable content that ends up going viral?
Emotions in Advertising: What Makes an Ad Memorable
Ever been happy, sad, and frustrated all at once?
Classifying emotions can be tricky business, but “arousal” and “valence” are two scientific concepts that help researchers distinguish one emotion from another.
Arousal refers to the intensity of an emotion (how calming or exciting it is), while valence deals with the positive or negative character of the emotion.
An ad with positive connotations (such as joy, love, or pride) is said to have high or “positive” valence. Negative connotations (including death, anger, and violence) have low or “negative” valence. Similarly, the more exciting, inspiring, or infuriating something is, the higher the arousal. Information that is soothing or calming produces low arousal.
Studies show that ads with high-level arousal are the most memorable for consumers. When combined with valence – either low or high – the effect becomes even stronger, but positive valence creates pleasant associations that our brains are hard-wired to retain for longer periods of time.
Going Viral: Emotions are the Key
If you’re wondering what makes an ad go viral, it turns out that people are more likely to share content that is both “arousing” and positive. This was recently demonstrated in a study that analyzed which articles published by the New York Times made the paper’s most e-mailed list. But even articles that evoked anger or rage were more likely to go viral than low-valence content that was sad or depressing.
The editors at Gawker learned this lesson firsthand when they – along with numerous other sites – published a video that showed a firefighter rescuing an unconscious kitten from a smoke-filled home. The heartwarming video was hugely popular on almost every site that posted it – but not on Gawker, which chose to include the fact that the kitten later died of smoke inhalation.
Comments from readers said that the article was “uncalled for,” and that it had ruined their day.
As we have seen above, however, negative advertising does have its place, depending on the objective of a campaign. Correctly done, it can be effective at capturing interest and attention.
A study of negative political ads, for example, suggested that negativity in small doses that were spaced out over time could be beneficial to the sponsoring candidate. But people were less tolerant of excessive negativity and did not respond well to frequent ads of this type.
If you want your own ads, blog posts, and videos to go viral, striking the right combination of valence and arousal is a key factor in how your brand is shared and perceived.
Emotion Analysis in Advertising
Advertising has changed drastically over the past two decades as audiences have shifted their attention on-line. If asked to name some of the challenges, marketers might talk about short attention spans, the popularity of ad-blockers, or people’s annoyance with ads that are aggressive or interfere with the enjoyment of their on-line activities.
As a result, it is more important than ever for businesses to be attuned to the emotions of their target audiences.
In fact, one of the biggest threats to your marketing efforts is not knowing how your customers feel about the materials you create. Perhaps you intended for an ad to inspire people, but the tone was preachy and ended up annoying them. Or maybe you wanted people to feel empathy and they felt depressed instead.
Without a doubt, the use of emotions in advertising is crucial to advertising success. But you also need a reliable means of measuring how people are responding to your attempts at emotional branding. That’s where emotion analysis in advertising comes in handy.
Advertising Feedback Technology You Can Use
Traditionally, businesses have used techniques like surveys and interviews to obtain customer feedback. While valuable, surveys tend to focus on opinions (what you think) rather than on emotions (what you feel) – and if too much time passes before a survey is conducted, logic kicks in as emotions fade. People begin to rationalize their responses and are unable to provide an accurate portrait of how they actually felt at the time they viewed your content.
New technologies like neuroimaging and facial coding – both of which capture and record emotional responses in participants – hold promise in this regard. The downside to these methods is that they require special equipment and are typically intrusive and expensive, rendering them impractical for the average business.
Enter Emolytics. Our scientifically designed qualitative feedback tool provides a unique and affordable solution to these challenges in the form of a compact widget that fully integrates into all of your marketing materials.
This may include everything from entire websites to individual blog posts, e-mails, newsletters, advertisements, and other types of content.
To date, over a million people have shared their real-time emotions via the Emolytics ADS feedback widget.
Making Use of Natural Intuitions
These days, the first thing people do when they feel strongly about something they have seen on-line is to look for share buttons and emojis to express themselves. It has become part of our global culture to communicate both interest and disapproval of various topics with a quick tap of the finger.
Emolytics makes use of these natural intuitions by providing you with advertising feedback technology that fits in with today’s on-line habits. But unlike popular tools that reduce feelings into one-dimensional “likes” or dislikes, the Emolytics ADS feedback widget covers the full spectrum of emotions one can feel. Both emotions and the reasons behind them are captured, providing you with an “Emoscore” that guides you to implement meaningful changes.
Think about your own business or organization. Are customers engaged and interested? Or are they bored, confused, and irritated?
Discover the truth with Emolytics. Request a free consultation with one of our experts – or just try our tool for free!
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