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Paid Search Psychology: How Emotions Impact Brand Visibility

David Bosley

Psychology’s role in advertising isn’t a new discovery—but today’s marketers are beginning to understand it at an unprecedented depth. When businesses reach out to customers, they invoke reasons to purchase products and services by connecting with every buyer’s predispositions. When emotions enter the mix—revenue can increase substantially.

Here are some brief examples: In 2015, the most-shared advertisements were those contingents on emotionally charged content—specifically the feelings of inspiration, warmth, friendship, and happiness. While Android’s ad campaign, Friends Furever experienced astounding success, providers like Kleenex launched its Unlikely Best Friends multimedia campaign.

In 2010, the New York Times discovered that its emotionally charged articles were shared far more often via email. Similarly, positive articles were shared more often than negative ones. From all sides, the world of advertising—whether stemming from YouTube ad campaigns or email shares—is deeply rooted in consumer psychology.

The Emotional Priority

Interestingly, consumers are so emotionally driven that they rely on it over direct information—time and time again. An ad’s emotional response determines the consumer’s brand decisions, even if the consumer wasn’t sold on the product, itself. This phenomenon is well-documented, too: Functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, has determined that consumers evaluating a brand tend to process information based upon personal experiences and feelings. Brand attributes, price, and product features, seemingly, take a back seat.

The attention split is rather significant, as well. Consumers engaging an emotional television advertisement, for example, are three times as likely to purchase the ad’s referenced product. Print advertisements, meanwhile, are twice as likely to sell a product when taking the same approach.

It’s All About Likeability

While the realm of consumer psychology will likely never be fully understood, several purchasing factors seem to indicate consistent truths. Here’s the first:

Brands that are “likable,” the Advertising Research Foundation has found, experience more success with PPC-driven sales. Positive emotions greatly influence not only product and service purchases, but even retention. The same study concluded that a customer’s positive emotion, when expressed about a brand, will make them more loyal.

As many of us know: Consumers stick to brand-name products—even when providers such as Walmart, Target or even Amazon offer identical options under a different name. Most consumers can’t be budged even when these providers promote substantially lower prices for said products.

Old Emotions and New Solutions: Today’s Sales Funnel

Consumers haven't changed much, but their digital environment has.

At some point, most digital marketers pose a question in the face of buyers ever persistent in making purchasing decisions based upon emotion: What can we, the brand, do about this? For the most part, brands have always accounted for the psychological components of effective selling. E-commerce might’ve taken the spotlight, in terms of marketing and sales, but the fundamentals of consumer psychology aren’t going to change—right?

Well, not necessarily. While the above-mentioned emotional drivers still sway consumers to pick one brand over another, emerging and established businesses are still finding ways around the emotional barricades. To succeed in their strategies, however, they follow a vital rule:

The same emotions still drive customer-brand interaction—and they aren’t going anywhere, anytime soon. Or, at least, they’re not going anywhere a business can’t follow them. The biggest hurdle today’s marketers need to hop isn’t necessarily a psychological deep dive. It’s merely an initial difficulty in discovering how a constantly changing digital landscape creates plenty of smoke and mirrors.

In the past, business operators only needed to utilize time-tested-and-true psychological strategies to succeed on the selling floor. We’re well beyond the days when lighting, row distribution, music and employee uniform colors are vital to making a good impression. These elements of sales psychology are still important, yes, but social media marketing, email and branded websites need much more attention.

Omnichannel Marketing Comes of Age

To understand your fans, you'll need to engage them seamlessly, and personally, across many channels.

There are several ways you can determine your consumers’ opinions of your brand, online. Before we cover these strategies, however, let’s talk about the foundation upon which they’re built: Omnichannel marketing.

Every business’s sales funnel is already difficult to qualitatively analyze via quantitative data. Fortunately, omnichannel marketing has come a long way—even when very few buyers carve predictable paths across various channels. By and large, omnichannel experts have become more intuitive due to the physical world’s response to e-commerce.

In rural areas known for bustling local business search queries, 38 percent of shoppers feel hesitant to push a digital shopping cart. Paradoxically, geo-location services have never been more effective—it’s just that, yet again, old habits die hard. This isn’t a bad thing, however, as these types of buyer preferences actually help the omnichannel marketing world grow. The more diverse the data—the more relevant cross-channel strategies can be. We’ll put it this way: If customers only used Amazon Prime, cross-channel marketers would be in trouble.

Instead, they’re benefiting from a brick-and-mortar retail boom. As “headless” commerce becomes increasingly mainstream, customers will travel offline more often. Eventually, brands will be able to rely on AI to ascertain effective retention margins. Square studied over 1,100 business owners about Amazon’s e-commerce domination, too. Surprisingly, they found that only 40 percent still sell products and services through social media. Only 16 percent sold through Amazon.

These Two Factors Impact PPC the Most

Educating consumers about your brand will boost its reputation. In turn, you can push education even further.

This is why omnichannel marketing analysis is proving to be an effective consumer psychology barometer. Very soon, a new retail wave will be flooded with buyers emerging from numerous—but well-studied—search-and-go touchpoints. So keep omnichannel marketing in mind. It’ll serve as your strategical lens as you readjust your strategy, year to year.

There are two main drivers that result in insightful consumer communication. These factors have been well-established for some time, now, albeit in the background. Sadly, many marketers simply assume they’re fundamental laws of marketing nature—those which needn’t be scrutinized regardless of the business world’s newest direction. To successfully grasp modern consumer psychology, take a look at the two emotional cornerstones which impact PPC the most.

This first cornerstone is a little tricky, however, as it’s technically one comprised of two initial qualities.

Quality One: Brand Assurance and Reliability

In the past, a business’s quality assurance and reliability as a provider were considered separately—and for good reason. Brand assurance could be analyzed via word-of-mouth reviews, clear-cut affiliate marketing, and heavily segmented online channels. This quality could be separated from perceived reliability analysis, which primarily studied long-time brand followers with reference to an industry at large. These two factors certainly overlapped—but their distinctions were too valuable to allow the risk of over-generalization.

These days? A business that drives a wedge between these two qualities will probably hemorrhage. Even when sidestepping the obvious topic of growing business culture homogeny, the reasons for blurred consumer engagement analysis lines are right in front of us.

Much in the way a business’s separate analysis teams now flow through one another, brand qualities like assurance and reliability simply share too much by design. Once digital marketing enters the picture, a single series of ads can shed light on most things. Remember: We’re in an omnichannel environment, these days. If your brand takes the microphone, everyone will hear what it has to say. Brand assurance and reliability are sourced from the same marketing utility, now: online reviews.

Quality Two: Product Education

To extrapolate further, a brand’s product and service reviews also impact cross-channel visibility, perpetual engagement and—most importantly—its perceived relevancy. Maintaining relevancy can be a challenge, however, when risks associated with a lapsed brand identity coincide with consumers who want and need, more information about your brand.

Product and service education is more important than ever, securing the invaluable consumer trust capable of offsetting the initial pitfalls of omnichannel marketing. If you’re in your campaign for the long haul, you’ll need to be ready when your day-to-day buyers become fans.

Consumers don’t like to be kept waiting if there’s still product information to be had. Where the above-mentioned consumer feedback avenue is considered, the need for speed doubles. Within 24 hours, a sizable chunk of a business’s perceived quality can go out the window—even if a mistake’s origin existed within a small consumer segment.

Fortunately, this also works the other way around: If you can generate enough positive buzz about your brand, a large portion of your current customers—as well as prospective customers—will respond positively. A good example, here, is Coca Cola’s “Choose Happiness” promotional campaign in 2015. It encouraged consumers to indulge one another about positive experiences, unilaterally refortifying Coca Cola as a positive, reliable provider on all fronts.

Brand education doesn’t necessarily need to be prioritized once you’ve appealed to the masses, of course. Ideally, you should utilize your brand’s initial rollout hype to inform buyers as much as possible. Educating your newest fans with branded YouTube videos, Facebook infographics, and blog posts will become much easier, too, as your PPC investments pay off in the form of valuable marketing data.