Getting an emotional handle for conversion
According to studies of emotions that date all the way back to the 1960s and 1970s, there are three basic dimensions of emotion (see the studies of Albert Mehrabian in Perceptual and Motor Skills, 1974):
- Evaluation: good-bad.
- Arousal: awake-asleep.
- Power: strong-weak.
If you look at the face, for instance, the eyebrows depict the basic power dimension (eyebrows tilted up means weak, eyebrows tilted down means strong) and the mouth depicts the basic evaluative dimension (smiling means good, frowning means bad). Arousal as an emotional quality is usually depicted as intensity in the face (e.g., the size of the smile or the size of the eye opening). Quantitative studies show that most of the emotional experience in our lives have to do with expressions of good-bad. We spend most of our time accepting or rejecting things, ingesting things or spitting them out with our mouths.
In essence, arousal being equal, good-bad and strong weak are like the primary colors of emotion. The complex of emotions are like color compounds or mixtures. For instance,
- A face that contains good and strong is seen as powerful and capable and enjoying the power.
- A face with good and weak is seen as a “nice guy” who is accepting but basically harmless.
- A face with bad and weak in it is sad and crying,
- A face with bad and powerful is seen as evil.
Of course, emotional states pertain to situations as well as faces. Emotions are attributed to situations (although sometimes the association is an illusion).
Emotional conversion optimization combines the elements of emotions to drive consumers in a desired direction. According to basic motivation theory, people are driven away from unpleasant (no) emotional states and toward pleasant (yes) ones. The marketer is like a puppet-master using the power of emotions to drive prospective customers in his or her direction. The emotional content of advertising can depict an unpleasant situation and point out a clear path to avoid it, or the advertising can closely associate a product with pleasure, joy and acceptance.
In an interesting paper published a few years ago, small business expert, Alyssa Gregory suggested that there are five important emotional compounds that play into marketing.
- Fear, she says, is “a big one in emotional marketing.” Marketing can present “the bad things that can happen if you don’t act in a certain way.” The “certain way” is the direction of commitment to the seller’s brand or product.
- Guilt is a variation of fear, fear of conscience or a punitive agent or the pain of a loved one. The advertising may tell the prospective customer how to remove all guilt. A working parent may feel guilty for not preparing family meals. Purchasing frozen meals may reduce guilt.
- Pride (good plus power) is a simple emotional compound. Marketing that uses pride to induce action attaches a product to something powerful or admirable. For instance, a private, exclusive membership can give the buyer notoriety and generate the good element.
- Greed is another powerful emotional factor related to pride. Offer a prospective customer something pleasure inducing with the potential of large or unlimited supply can pull him or her toward you.
- Love in marketing is sometimes underplayed. However, the use of marketing to draw potential customers toward gifts or beneficial products that make loved ones happy, can be very powerful.
One form of emotional engagement is loyalty. Loyalty is an ancient emotional state derived from feelings of stability and affection, an ancient recreation of family. A lot of marketing is aimed at creating a fantasy family that a potential customer can be drawn to and accepted in. In our marketing culture, loyalty is linked to being a regular customer (the number of purchases is often the deciding factor).