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The Art of Emotion: Turning Trackable Data into Customer Connection

By Inspira Marketing

Customer data is the heart of marketing, and probably always will be. Demographics, consumer profiles, buying trends, regional preferences, and past performance are all part of this the stew (and it's invaluable to marketers). But without hard data on how customers feel about our ads and our experiences, we're only getting half the picture.

What is empathy? It's feeling what another person feels. It's understanding them at a fundamental, even intimate level. At Inspira, we call it EQ (emotional quotient), the partner to IQ.

By understanding the human element of marketing, by making it a real data point, we can ensure the emotional connection is always part of the strategy.

Emotions Create Connections, Connections Create Sales

Farah Brigante, group creative director at Inspira Marketing, stated, "In today's experience economy, it's really important to understand how consumers are feeling. Empathy is at the core of this and it allows brands to better connect with their audiences in a meaningful way."

All marketing is, at its heart, trying to make a connection. A connection between a problem and a solution, a brand and a person, a credit card and a bank account. Emotion is the bridge to connection for basically any human interaction, even when we're not aware of it.

Emotions should be the glue to your marketing strategy, if not the entire core.

A good joke has been proven to dull a product's negative aspects. That means if you can make a customer or potential customer laugh, even if it's specifically about a failure or perceived negative aspect of your product, their chances of buying will increase. Laughter is one of our most basic emotional reactions; go tickle a baby if you're not sure. A simple emotion like humor can override even a legitimate concern about the flaws of a product or service.

Music has charms to soothe the savage buyer. A study by Audacy showed that audio ads with strong "sonic branding" were perceived as more trustworthy, more empowering, more likable, and more relevant. This sonic branding was often created by music, music chosen to capture the value and personality of a brand.

Even just adding music at all to an advertisement increased purchase intent by 5 percent, and memory retention of the ad by 4 percent.

A narrative and/or story, opens a brand up for an emotional connection. It's been shown in studies that an ad that transports a viewer or listener with a story has a significant and measurable effect on its audience. And consumers aren't just slightly more inclined toward a brand with a strong story – they're far more likely to spread their experience to friends and loved ones.

A strong story creates positive emotions, and those positive emotions increase word-of-mouth transmission by an appreciable amount.

Of course, how do we know we're even affecting our audience? How do we craft emotional stories, great jokes, and immersive experiences if we don't know what the audience is actually feeling?

Track the Art of Emotion with the Science of Data

There's a famous quote by American writer and inventor Arthur C. Clarke, where Clarke states, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." You could say the same for the interaction between emotion and data: "Any sufficiently advanced data analysis is indistinguishable from art." Probably too glib, but the idea is simple: The art of emotional connection can be tracked, it can be collected, and it can be analyzed to make stronger emotional connections.

But how do you quantify a feeling?

Brigante also stated that "one way that agencies are leaning in is through emotional trackers. This allows experiences to be evaluated so that we can better measure how emotionally engaged consumers are through their journey. By understanding what people's brains value in the experience, they are able to make more confident decisions. The result: Consumer and brand both win!"

Using devices to track emotion in real time has been a growing field for a while now. University students, for instance, have been set up with wearable devices that use measurements like heart rate and electrodermal activity to track things like "positivity," "anxiety," and "engagement" during class.

This data can then be used to improve educational strategies for keeping students excited and learning.

Wearables have been used in marketing too, of course, and their efficacy has been studied. According to a recent study, emotional tracking in particular has a "great opportunity to overcome the limitations inherent in self-reports of emotion."

Basically, the greatest benefit of wearable trackers is that they measure the actual emotional response happening at the physiological level, rather than the sort of untrustworthy, overly analyzed, or poorly remembered responses you might get from a self-reported survey.

Craft Your Marketing Experience or Campaign Using Emotional Data

So, emotional data is important, it's trackable, it's the key to human connection. Heard, Chef. But how do we collect, categorize, and analyze this data? And how do we turn all this empathic data into actionable strategies?

The first step is learning and listening. This is where marketers collect their data. They run surveys before and after campaigns, they hand out wearables at experiential marketing events, they follow studies, they watch what works for their competitors, they monitor social media conversation around their ads/experiences or ones like it.

Next is analyzing and interpreting. For wearables, when were consumers most excited during a marketing experience? When were they bored? Keying the trackers to sync up with your experience is key. Look for patterns, such as which demographics were most bored when, most excited when? How can the boring be eliminated, the exciting maximized?

For surveys, social media buzz, and other data, just listen. What didn't land? Where did they have questions? Where were they offended or inspired?

Define your audience. Look at the emotions being felt and reported, and segment accordingly. Those customers who reported feeling trust, do they value trust highly? For those who weren't excited, maybe they aren't looking for excitement from their fintech brand. Segmentation helps you find what the audience is after, and if you achieved it.

Target and develop your emotional storytelling for next time. Once you know what your ads and experiences are making people feel, and you know what your ideal consumer wants, craft your stories accordingly.

Then, do it again. Collect more data, analyze again, and make better stories. Forever and ever. Because connecting with your audience at an emotional level is how you build lifelong loyalty.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Inspira Marketing Group is based in Norwalk, Connecticut. Inspira Marketing is a purpose-driven brand activation agency, driven by EQ x IQ. Delivering scalable, results-driven, creative solutions for a diverse roster of clients in the automotive, CPG, financial, technology, food and beverage, fashion, beauty, and quick-serve restaurant markets, Inspira Marketing specializes in Brand Storytelling, Experiential Marketing, and Field Team Activation, and devotes a portion of its profits to finding a cure for pediatric cancer. This combination of excellence and purpose has been recognized with a list of impressive awards, most recently including Ad Age's Best Places to Work, Hartford Business Journal's Best Places to Work, Chief Marketer's CM200 Award, Event Marketer's Top 100 IT List, and more.