A new report reveals that only a third of marketers understand what successful content marketing looks like. Here we explore the reasons why and look at how marketers can prove - and improve - their content marketing ROI.
How do you feel right now? Focused and ready to learn something new? Or are you a little distracted? Now watch this film – and tell me how do you feel?
I imagine your emotions have changed.
Of course, this video concentrates on a particularly moving issue, but the effectiveness of emotional storytelling for both B2C and B2B brands is backed up by neuroscience with hard facts to prove its worth. This article will use data-driven insights to demonstrate why the power of emotion is vital and how to harness it in your video strategy to magnify brand voice and increase engagement.
How does emotional marketing work?
Emotional drivers are the key to eliciting behaviour change in your audience to develop long-term brand growth. It’s down to simple human psychology and our two types of brain power – system 1 and system 2. System 1 thinking is based on emotions and how we feel in the short-term, while system 2 is based on reason and more deliberative thinking.
As marketers, we appeal to the emotional system 1 brain. This is especially true in our age of content overload and decision fatigue; to save time and reduce stress, our audience relies on system 1 thinking. We also need to strengthen these emotional drivers with facts and logic, but the content should be front-loaded with emotion to signal to the viewer that this is worth watching.
Neuroscientist, Paul Zak, has demonstrated that watching character-driven stories where the audience makes an emotional connection is highly effective at encouraging the audience to watch, care and change behaviour. Oxytocin is the chemical that our bodies produce when we make an empathetic connection with others. In studies, the amount of oxytocin produced is linked to how much we are willing to help other people and donate to a good cause. To put it simply, we take action when we are emotionally connected to the characters and stories we see on screen. (I’d recommend checking out Paul Zak’s video, here.).
Stories that move in your hand
Before going on to some examples, it’s important to show how mobile video really works to stimulate the system 1 brain. To help explain this, I use the notion of “stories that move in your hand”.
As humans, we’re hardwired to understand stories. Telling tales around the campfire about dangerous plants or the location of wild animals could have saved our ancestors. It could even have helped them attract a mate by demonstrating their storytelling prowess which ultimately could keep the family safe. Similarly, moving images are linked to our primitive brain and survival; we had to respond quickly to decide whether to fight, flight or freeze to watch.
Therefore, film is perfectly adapted to attract us to it, and mobile video is even more finely tuned. How do you feel when you don’t know where your mobile is? It’s likely that you’ll be a little bit twitchy, for our mobile phones are now almost like part of us – an extension of our identity. When we touch the screen, we feel ownership of what we’re tapping, including brand images or products, and the haptics – the physical response we feel – reinforces this connection.
Emotion – fact – go
Now we’ve seen the power of stories that move in our hands, we need to think about how to maximise these human instincts to magnify our brands.
The next step involves identifying the emotional drivers using data-driven insights about your audience, their motivations, and lifestyles at the planning stage. These will be on-brand, but they must genuinely motivate. For instance, your audience wants to save money, but what are their reasons – to travel more, maximise time with their kids and so on. This emotional driver needs to lead the content so that it truly resonates and makes a genuine connection.
We also need some facts to back up the emotion and keep our system 2 brain as happy as system 1. A big mistake here is to add too much detail. It’s more powerful to cut it back to the essentials – even one strong fact. Once you have your audience engaged you can go into more detail in subsequent content.
So, we’ve started with emotion, backed it up with facts, and finally we return to emotion with a compelling call to action. Go with your emotional driver again and use technology such as overlays and click-throughs to encourage viewers along the customer journey.
To return to the charity video we started with, it leads with the joyful emotions associated with a wedding, which the audience will empathise with, and then turns this around with an impactful twist. The logical element is straight to the point using the shocking facts on child marriage and works effectively to reinforce the emotional message. Finally, the go action is clear; to share the video in order to raise awareness.
Global case studies: emotion – fact – emotion
Android’s ‘Furever Friends’ campaign has enjoyed the title of most shared video ad of all time, keying into the emotion of happiness. Google’s technology brand compiled YouTube clips of unlikely animal friends.
On one level, the video advert keys into what people are watching on Google’s YouTube anyway, but it is also a clever brand-building exercise as it reinforces Android’s ‘Be together, not the same’ messaging. This video is a winner because it uses the power of emotion, but backed by an insightful brand strategy and effective drivers. Rather than attempting to sell the hard tech of Android, the campaign channels the emotional lives of its target audience.
But it’s not just consumer brands, which can get emotional. B2B brands are targeting the people behind the businesses and therefore need harness emotions to drive behaviour change in their target audiences. Here is an example for GE, which has embraced video content with successful results.
The film, ‘What Matters’ runs with the ‘emotion, fact, emotion’ video marketing formula almost perfectly. It works on the premise that audiences – whether B2B or B2C – care about what technology can do for humans. The people in the video are all using GE technology, but they don’t really care that about the tech itself, but rather what it can do for them. Common human emotions such as pride in a grandchild’s achievements lead the content. For instance, a new mother is excited that her baby will be home with her soon rather than focusing on the health tech in hospitals.
The call to action reinforces the emotional heart of the video with: “Technology is how we do things. People are why we do things.” This is a strong strapline summarising the brand purpose clearly. The only thing I would suggest is that there could have been a CTA to move to a landing page with more information, but as a strong brand awareness piece, it can work without it. At the time of writing the video has achieved more than 1 million views and some 11k likes, helping to magnify the brand’s online reach and engagement.
Video marketing formula: takeaways
The essential takeaway from this article is to use my ‘emotion – fact – emotion/go’ video marketing formula for success. It’s about really understanding your audience, using insight to identify the emotional drivers and motivators for connecting with your brand. I’ll leave you with some questions to get you started.
- What is the emotional motivator that will feature in your next brand video? Now look again, is that really the emotional motivator that will resonate with your audience? Can you push it further?
- What fact will work best to reinforce your emotional driver and differentiate your brand?
- How will you encourage your audience to take an action?
When you get these three things right, you’ll get real results for your brand.
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