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CMO Insights: How to Use Emotional Marketing in Every Step of the Customer Journey

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Author: Mark Nardone, Chief Marketing Officer at PAN Communications, headshot
Mark NardoneChief Marketing Officer

“We would like to believe we’re logical creatures. But it turns out we’re not. It turns out like 95% of our decision making is actually emotional,” says Alicia Hatch, CMO, Deloitte Digital.

Marketers have been working to appeal directly to their customers’ emotional states, needs and aspirations since realizing doing so would have a direct impact on the customer journey. Research conducted by Forrester and inmoment stated that the number one driver of a great customer experience is having an established emotional connection. It may come as a surprise that people rely more heavily on emotion than the actual given information, but it’s now up to CMOs to use this data to build deeper trust with customers and convert prospects quicker.

This doesn’t happen overnight.

Source: used under CC license.

It happens over a lifetime.  Brands are beginning to recognize more frequently that the customer lifecycle value must include more touchpoints that address the “feelings” of the customer journey. There are four stages that are typically outlined when discussing this path: Top of the Funnel, “the awareness stage”; Middle of the Funnel, “the evaluation stage”; Bottom of the Funnel, “the purchase stage”; and Post Funnel, “the loyalty stage.”

“… the customer has a full lifecycle and that has really changed the dynamics of how we think about it. It gives us the opportunity to become obsessed because the process doesn’t start when someone signs an order and we’re done. We have a chance to service them, delight them, and continue to upsell and cross-sell…(Marketers) are constantly working on bringing processes, technology and data together to live around that predictable, scalable model in the full customer lifecycle.” – Insight from Experts: Customer Obsession and Revenue with Scott Vaughan

In this digital age, how do marketers reach an emotional connection at every stage of the customer’s journey with multiple channels and platforms to consider and competitors vying for more brand interception along the way?

Below are some of my key themes that will set you up for success in emotional and trust management and development.

1. Personalization

I’ve spoken to personalization on a continuous basis, but it’s worth repeating here as you cannot establish trust or emotional sentiment with your customer unless there’s some personalization behind it from your brand. Personalization is an easy tackle for B2C brands. Think of all the clothing, food and entertainment that you can get customized and tailored just for you, with one click of a button. Suddenly you’re receiving ads and recommendations that are relevant to you, fulfilling your needs and solving your pain points.

For B2B brands, it’s a different story.

Now B2B marketers are looking to an ABM strategy to accomplish this effect. Last year I spoke with Joe Chernov, VP of Marketing at InsightSquared, on this very topic. He explained how he was able to use ABM to achieve emotional marketing and personalization.

“…we had to do an inventory of our sober content and map that to every member of the buying committee across our customer segment by vertical and by company size. You basically create a master grid, and within that grid you’re going to have some cells that have a surplus of content, and you’re going to have some cells that have gaps. With the size of my team, the first thing I’ve got to do is take the surplus content and modify it to fit the gaps, because I can’t recreate all of that new. And then, if there are very important personas that have emerged that have gaps, I’ve got to either write that in house or contract with experts or people that can turn out really good content quickly – like journalists.” – Insight from Experts: The Evolution of ABM with Joe Chernov

As mentioned in the funnel strategy, marketing doesn’t end once a purchase is complete. Continue to personalize to your current customers so that you can achieve brand loyalty. Nurturing these relationships can be approached in various ways. Tap into your influencers for joint content projects, lean on your employees as advocates for further engagement, tap into your customer’s success stories with case studies, quotes, blog posts or simply a tweet. Opportunities are endless, but for B2B marketers they’re oftentimes ignored.

2. Mapping to the Customer Journey

Customers have needs, emotions and questions that they want fulfilled from your brand. If you can’t be a reliable source, then they’ll go elsewhere. To fulfill these needs, map out a path for EVERY digital strategy that your team is undertaking.

A journey map’s goal is to put the customer top-of-mind for an organization, allowing the company to adapt and optimize, ultimately allowing for enough agility to meet the demands of the customer. The final result is conversation, overall growth, customer satisfaction and loyalty. You might think that aiming for “satisfaction” might be underselling what your brand can do, however, Forrester and inmoment’s survey proves otherwise: 38 percent of buyers associated the emotion of satisfaction with positive brand experience, and 40 percent of those buyers chose that same emotion to describe their experience with brands to which they are loyal.

Accomplishing a customer journey map can be done with a few simple steps outlined below.

  • Step 1: Choose a Buyer Persona(s) to Focus On

If you haven’t developed your buyer personas yet then I highly encourage you to check out PAN’s eBook, How to Master Buyer Personas.

  • Step 2: Understand the Goals of Your Chosen Persona(s)

This is where you can put your marketing and sales relationship to work. Your marketing team will need to rely on the sales team to gather some of this information, while simultaneously working to connect with current customers.

  • Step 3: Establish Your Touchpoints

Don’t rely on every channel possible to connect emotionally with your customers. Have your marketing team analyze your integrated measurement reports to determine your most effective channels.

  • Step 4: Visualize

Marketers understand the impact that visualization can have on engagement and conversion rates with their assets. So, why don’t we do this more for ourselves? Get your team to re-focus on the visualization of the customer journey – pre, during and post purchase decision.

  • Step 5: Analyze

To set your team up for success in the future, make sure results are analyzed for optimizations and insights to increase value and enjoyment for your customer.

3. Telling a Story They Can Connect With

Storytelling in marketing is a powerful tool, but how many marketers have truly mastered this in an integrated sense? Every year PAN Communications conducts its own study focusing on the state of content marketing, and last year we found that a whopping 57 percent of marketers believed they were not effectively integrating their content and marketing efforts.

Integration between earned, owned, paid and shared should be at the cornerstone of your digital marketing campaigns. To tell a story that truly resonates with your audience, you need to have a cohesive landscape to work with. Remember that if you’re telling an impactful story it won’t be the same for every channel and persona. Lay the groundwork first.

Coordinate with your PR team, your content marketing team and even your influencers on the designated message. Influencer marketing has taken off in such a rapid fashion over the last year because of the added emotional connection with their audience. If you haven’t set this channel into motion yet, utilize PAN’s eBook and get started: The Power of Voice: The Art & Science of Influencer Marketing.

Keep an eye out for increasing trends that will help to personalize, tell a story and map to the customer journey. I predict AI will be at the forefront of this helping to pinpoint emotional appeal, subject matter, style, tone and sentiment.

CMO Insights is PAN Communication’s marketing leadership series. We examine the pain points of today’s CMO, how to effectively and emotionally impact the customer along their path to purchase, trends at the forefront of today’s digital landscape, alongside insight from experts. Interested in continuing the conversation? Let’s discuss @MarkCNardone.

An image of PAN's Brand Experience Report on the Potentials and pitfalls of AI for marketers

In our annual Brand Experience Report, we asked marketers and customers how they are using and experiencing AI to better understand how the technology is changing that relationship.