What’s the difference between a good film and an Oscar winner? One word – emotion. It can be said for lots of things; books, your favourite soap opera, a wedding, a birthday present. These things are all better and more memorable if they evoke an emotional response.
When it comes to advertising and brand engagement, toying with our feelings is nothing new. From charities tugging at your heart strings, Christmas ads that make you feel all warm and fuzzy and rousing campaigns like ‘This Girl Can’ – it’s safe to say that emotions and advertising have been in the midst of a love affair for decades.
But what emotion is the right emotion?
It’s widely accepted in the marketing industry that evoking high arousal emotions like awe and anger get the best response. This means making your audience shake their firsts with rage or admire your brand so much they simply have to share it, will make them act – and fast.
On the flip side, low arousal emotions like sadness and contentment provoke the least response. Let’s be honest, above and beyond a mushy overshare on Facebook, no one ever sprang into action over their feelings of content.
We’ll come back to the idea of getting your audience to feel a certain emotion later.
What about printed advertising mail?
Good news, the idea of generating emotions to improve the success of marketing can confidently be applied to strategic print advertising too – in fact, when it comes to valued mail, 92% of recipients say they feel a positive emotion. But before you come over all Steven Spielberg with your artwork brief, there are a few things you need to get your head around.
We’re dealing with the subconscious here
Research shows that humans are instinctive creatures and no matter how digitised we become as a society, that inherent need to react to certain stimuli is still buried within us. This is an important consideration when it comes to advertising on the doormat.
Strangely enough, investigations conducted by Royal Mail discovered that mail’s effectiveness appears to be based partly on deep, subconscious, physical instincts rather than learned cultural responses. Which means we can expect that people are not directly and consciously aware of the full impact that mail is having on them. In their study, nine out of 12 participating households claimed that all mail was ignored, yet all 12 were observed interacting with mail at length.
This subconscious activity was confirmed in the study’s quantitative follow-up, where 62% of people claimed to reject all advertising mail outright, yet when asked what they had actually done with the mail, 64% had opened a piece of mail and most them went on to interact with it.
Their research found that when asked to talk unprompted about the mail they received, there were two key improvements when discussing the more unusual type mail:
- Participants used a wider range of words to talk about the items and were more animated and creative in the way they described them
- The words used were more emotional and less functional - they focussed on the qualities of the piece and the sensations it evoked about the brand, rather than the exact nature of the offer
The endowment effect
One of the reasons receiving and reacting to direct mail is such a subconscious activity is the act of physical touch. The term ‘Endowment Effect’ describes a sense of ownership over something when we see and touch it, compared to only seeing it.
In other words, bring physical touch into the marketing mix (in the form of high-quality direct mail through their door) and your customers are 24% more likely to engage with it than if it were displayed in a medium they could only see, like a poster or online.
Generating an emotional response with mail
Ok, so we’ve convinced you on the virtues of provoking an emotional response with your direct advertising mail and now you want to know how to do it?
So how do you make your customers gasp with awe, grin with delight or as the millennials call it, “get totes emosh”? The answer probably isn’t as glamourous as you might hope – there won’t be any Oscar-winning performances here. All you need is strategy (and a decent helping of creative flair of course!
Research tells us that when it comes to ‘useful mail’ the most positive emotional responses are:
- Feeling better informed – on products and services which solve a problem you face (66%)
- Feeling understood – by a brand which knows your interests, your lifestyle and your preferences (48%)
- Feeling tempted – By new services and products which are affordable but aspirational
Ok, so they aren’t the most memorable emotional responses, right? But they certainly are powerful – in fact, 92% of people who feel one of these emotions when interacting with mail will take action, either acting, advocating, researching or planning around your brand, products or services.
How does print strategy help you evoke these emotions? Well, a solid print strategy will transform the data you have captured about your customers into direct mail campaigns that are tailored to your audience. Helping you to create tactile mail which informs, empathises, relates to and tempts your customers – creating emotion and generating return.