The ecommerce world is advancing rapidly, and anyone who isn’t running furiously to keep up is going to be left behind. That’s why it’s so vital that you use every method at your disposal to make your ecommerce site as compelling as possible— and embracing the power of emotion often goes hugely undervalued.
We’re not rational creatures at heart. We’re emotional, driven by impulse and desire, and nothing gets us buying more than emotional resonance. Let’s go into some more detail about why your online store must exhibit some kind of emotional appeal.
Snap purchasing decisions aren’t rational
When you arrange house insurance, you might take your time, do a lot of research, and ultimately go with the best deal you can find. It’s a mechanical exercise, dispassionate and sensible. But when you buy online, your emotions and instincts are overwhelmingly more likely to be running the show.
After all, our instincts push us around before our conscious minds have time to get involved. Our brains take the path of least resistance when deciding how to proceed, and that consists of relating the current scenario to memories from the vault and going with whatever seems the best fit. It’s why a smell you associate from your childhood can make you happy in an instant, far before you realize why.
When you introduce emotion to your store through your copy and your visuals, you get extra access to those quick impulse triggers. Make someone smile and their brain will link you to everything good that’s ever happened to them. Provide a cold and listless experience, however, and you’ll just end up related to anything that’s ever bored them— not good company.
Emotion adds to the value you provide
Why do people go to plays, movies, and musical performances? More than anything else, it’s to have emotional experiences. We want to be moved, to be touched by stories and events that linger in our minds and hearts— and while we certainly don’t visit online stores for emotional experiences, they do play a significant role in keeping our attention.
After all, the very basis of commerce is reciprocal in nature. You provide something, and you receive something in return. And the concept of ‘sweetening the deal’ has been around since time immemorial. If you can’t make the fundamental deal any better, you can add little incentives around the deal to break down lingering reluctance.
Consider that every element of your store, from its design and layout to its copy and resources, plays into each sale you make in some way. Have a bad experience with a poorly-designed navigation and you’ll think twice before buying, but chuckle at a self-deprecating joke and you’ll have a good feeling about heading to the checkout.
The more you capture attention with emotional content, the more your users will instinctively feel that you’ve done them a favor in providing it, and the more likely they’ll be to convert. Visual storytelling is a hugely effective way to bridge the gap between emotions and commercial actions.
Personal resonance sparks sharing
Whether you make someone feel sad, happy, angry or hopeful, it won’t just have an effect on how likely they’ll be to buy— it will also affect how likely they’ll be to stick with your business, and, most importantly, vastly increase the likelihood that they’ll directly share your content.
In one fell swoop, a touching article, hilarious product description or spontaneous free gift can solidify the loyalty of existing customers and win over entirely new ones through sharing, all without requiring a great deal in in-house marketing.
This is why loyalty schemes are so prevalent. They’re all about that kind of subtle reciprocation, positioning your company in such a way that your users will likely end up serving as your advocates simply because they like you. (If you’re not already running a reward scheme, you should really consider it— retail sites set up through builders are particularly easy to do this for, because there are plenty of cheap or free loyalty add-ons.) When a company makes you feel good for being a customer, don’t you want to share that experience with others?
Personal resonance is the key ingredient of all the biggest fundraising efforts. Look at Comic Relief, a UK-based charity drive that raises huge sums of money through TV entertainment evenings that alternate cheer-inducing sketches with poignant footage of poverty-stricken areas. It’s that emotional pull that spurs people to donate in the end.
Brands need to be approachable online
Ecommerce stores don’t get to sit back and wait for customers to come to them. This is the age of social media being critical for business. Users expect you to come to them, to provide an experience that’s convenient for them, and to impress them enough to merit their interest. The top online retailers in the world have trained teams dedicated to making them feel approachable and relatable through social media, and it’s not something they’d do if there weren’t money in it.
Whether you’re responding to a customer complaint through Twitter, updating people on your product ranges on Facebook, or sharing in situ product photos on Instagram, it’s real emotion that will attract people to you and make them feel that their comments and feedback are being seriously considered.
Since social media feeds are so utterly packed with content flying by at a rapid pace, anything generic and lifeless gets ignored. It’s the brands that paint in bold strokes emotionally and visually that earn attention.
By introducing emotionally-urgent messages to your content, and building an emotional association with your brand in general, you can stand out from the crowd, drive conversions, and give yourself the best possible chance of winning customer loyalty.
Patrick Foster is a writer and ecommerce expert from Ecommerce Tips — an industry-leading ecommerce blog that shares the latest insights from the sector, spanning everything from business growth hacks, to product development. Check out the latest posts on Twitter @myecommercetips.