Saturday, 22 August 2015

Why making your readers cry will improve your content marketing

The role of content marketing is to elicit a response from the reader - we want them to behave differently - to switch brands; to try a new service; to talk about us with their family and friends.

The first step in encouraging people to behave differently is to challenge them to start thinking differently - to re-educate; view things in a new way; understand a different perspective - and this in itself can be challenging.

This is where understanding the relationship between emotions and behaviour really comes into play.

Emotion drives action

You share a video with your friends because it makes you laugh; scares you; makes you cry; reminds you of a personal experience. Emotions provide us with feedback that tells us how to react in the present, based on our past experiences.

So whether it’s in personal or professional communication, eliciting an emotional response from people will encourage them to share your content.

Just as importantly, it is also proven to help them remember its key messages more vividly - in the same way that listening to a particular song can instantly transport you to a place and time significant in your past.

This approach, of using emotion to drive action, is illustrated well in the recent shift of approach used by social marketers. Success for a social marketer comes not from selling a product or service, but in proving that they have been able to change people’s behaviour by challenging the way they think.

Out is the content instructing people to stop smoking; drink less; and exercise more - in is the content which encourages people to change by eliciting a ‘what’s in it for me’ emotional response. This advert by Sussex Safer Roads being a powerful example:

Eliciting the right emotional response

Psychologist Robert Plutchik identified eight primary emotions which content marketing professionals can use as a guide when considering the appropriate emotion to elicit from the reader: Joy, Trust, Fear, Surprise, Sadness, Anticipation, Anger, and Disgust.

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The appropriate emotion to target will depend heavily on the product or service being promoted, and the demographics of the target audience. Look at this example from our social marketing friends, encouraging smokers to quit, not by tapping into the fear emotion, but the trust a child places in adults to care for their physical and emotional wellbeing:

Emotional responses can be tapped at different points within your content, and to varying degrees, for example in:

  • an emotive email subject line
  • unexpected video content
  • social media conversation starters.

So, at the start of your next marketing campaign, remember to ask yourself how your reader should feel before, during, and after accessing your content.

About the author

Claire Cresswell-Lane is a UK based, CIM Chartered Marketer specialising in digital marketing strategy and communications. You can contact her via LinkedIn or Twitter.

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