Marketing Strategy Blog

How To Use Emotion (Not Logic) to Boost B2B Conversions

happy woman by neon sign

It doesn’t make any sense to you.

You’ve spent hours crafting your web pages to show the logical benefits of your product or service. It seems obvious to you why someone should hire you. You’ve spelled out the benefits as clearly as possible.

And yet your conversion rate is low and your bounce rate is extraordinarily high. People are leaving your site faster than the Kardashians at a thrift shop.

Or maybe you’ve written a lengthy, in-depth blog post. You spent hours researching and writing it. You made sure everything was factually correct. You linked out to authoritative sources and quoted all the right people.

But barely anyone is reading the post. When you look at your scroll rate and bounce rate, you’re baffled and feel like jumping out a window (not really…but you get the point).

So what’s the problem?

Your content is accurate.

Your content is logical and rational.

But your content is boring. It’s like reading an ingredients label on a cereal box.

There’s no heart in it.

In your web pages and blog posts and other pieces of content, you’re appealing to pure logic. You’re not appealing to people’s emotions.

woman with different emotions

But emotions don’t matter for B2B content, right? Isn’t B2B content supposed to rely on logic? Shouldn’t B2B marketing be dry and to the point? Right?

Hey, grab a seat. Grab a cup of joe. We seriously need to have a talk about emotional marketing…

Emotional Marketing: The Conscious vs. The Subconscious

In order to understand why emotions matter so much in B2B marketing, we need to talk about the brain. The brain processes 11 million bits of sensory information on a subconscious level every second, while the conscious mind processes only about 40-50 bits per second.

In other words, the conscious mind – the logical part of the brain – only processes a tiny fraction of what the entire brain processes. Put another way, the human experience spans much further than logic. We are not pure thinking machines like Sherlock Holmes.

Additionally, according to Gerald Zaltman, Professor Emeritus at Harvard Business School, 95% of purchase decisions are based on the subconscious. Put simply, even the most “rational” people are driven by their subconscious.

Our decisions are not primarily made by carefully weighing out all the pros and cons and then deciding on the best, most logical course of action. On the contrary, almost all decisions are emotionally-driven, based on gut instinct. Then, as a next step we rationalize those decisions. It’s simply the way our brains work.

As further proof of this, neuroscientist Antonio Damasio found that people who don’t feel any emotion due to brain damage can’t make decisions, including purchase decisions. They didn’t feel strongly enough about any options, so they couldn’t choose. They endlessly waffled.

In light of this research, Jim Camp makes the following insightful point:

“People who believe they can build a case for their side using reason are doomed to be poor negotiators [and marketers!], because they don’t understand the real factors that are driving the other party to come to a decision. Those who base their negotiation strategy on logic end up relying on assumptions, guesses, and opinions. If my side of the argument is logical, they figure, then the other side can’t argue with it and is bound to come around to my way of thinking. The problem is, you can’t assume that the other party will see things your way.”

Or, to put it another way, without emotion, there will never be motion. If your website visitors don’t feel anything when they read your copy or view your landing pages or consume your blog posts, they won’t be in a mental state to take action. They won’t sign up for your webinar or download your white paper or contact your sales team or sign up for a free trial for your software.

man with many different emotions

If you want people to take action, there must be emotion present. People must feel something.

So if you want to get people to take action, you need to tap into the subconscious. You need to tap into emotion. You need to unlock the 95% of the brain that is responsible for making purchases.

Without feeling, there won’t be action. Emotional marketing really matters.

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Emotional Connection With B2B Brands

There’s yet another reason why emotional marketing is so important in B2B. A study by Google and CEB’s Marketing Leadership Council found that, compared with B2C companies, B2B companies tend to have more emotional connections with their customers.

As Sam Nathan and Karl Schmidt note:

“Of the hundreds of B2C brands that Motista has studied, most have emotional connections with between 10% and 40% of consumers. Meanwhile, of the nine B2B brands we studied, seven surpassed the 50% mark. On average, B2B customers are significantly more emotionally connected to their vendors and service providers than consumers.”

Why is there such a strong connection between B2B brands and their customers? It’s all about what’s at stake. There’s significantly more at stake with B2B transactions than B2C.

Again, to quote Nathan and Schmidt:

“When a personal consumer makes a bad purchase, the stakes are relatively low. Best case, it’s returnable. If not, it might require an explanation to a spouse. Business purchases, on the other hand, can involve huge amounts of risk: Responsibility for a multi-million dollar software acquisition that goes bad can lead to poor business performance and even the loss of a job. The business customer won’t buy unless there is a substantial emotional connection to help overcome this risk.”

The reality is there’s a lot more at stake in B2B purchases than in most B2C purchases. In order to overcome objections, it’s not enough to simply tap into logic. There must also be an emotional connection formed.

There must be elements of trust and confidence and rapport between you and your customer. If these emotions aren’t present, the transaction simply won’t happen.

You Vs. The Competition: A Battle Of Emotions

You may have the best product in the world, but if your website and marketing collateral don’t evoke any emotions, you’re going to lose out to your competitors, even if they have a lousy product.

Virtual Inc. is a great example of using emotion in B2B marketing.

Virtual website design

They don’t simply list their services in a dry, informative, logical way. Rather, they want to help you “Make your mark” on the world and to “Reimagine what’s possible.” They’re getting their audience excited about what they can achieve. They’re not simply appealing to the logical side of the brain. They’re also appealing to people’s deep-seated desire to actually make a difference in the world with emotional marketing.

Now compare this to a second business in the same space:

website without emotional marketing

There is almost no emotion present in the unique service proposition. It’s simply the facts. It’s the same type of business, but the messaging is worlds apart from the first.

Which one do you think will land more customers? We’re willing to bet on the first.

Bottom line: when it comes to winning market share, the company that evokes the strongest emotions is going to win out just about every time.

Knowing Your Audience

How do you create emotion in your prospects? When considering how you’re going to present your brand, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What would get your audience pumped about your product?
  • How can you not only provide a solution to the problem, but also relieve their stress, get them excited about your product, create a sense of urgency, or tap into their sense of pride?
  • How can you make them fall out of their chair laughing?
  • How can you paint a picture of the good life your product will create?
  • How can you speak to their deepest pain points?
  • How will you help them grow and achieve their business goals?
  • What burning questions can you answer?
  • What frustrations can you ease?

But here’s the thing. To do any of these things, you have to know your audience. You have to know what makes them tick. What emotions drive them and what keeps them up at night. What frustrates them and makes them want to quit.

You have to be able to see things from their point of view.

Unfortunately, many B2B businesses do not try to see things from their customer’s point of view.

When we speak at marketing conferences around the country, we typically survey the audience. We’ve found that less than ten percent of businesses appear to have documented audience personas. This is a problem.

After all, how can you get someone to click or opt-in when you don’t know who they are, what answers they’re seeking, or what emotions they’re feeling? How can you get someone to care about your product when you don’t know what really matters to them?

You absolutely must know who you’re talking to.

Here’s the deal, though, with personas…

It doesn’t matter if Marketing Mike is 35 or 45. It doesn’t matter if he lives in Texas or Rhode Island. It doesn’t matter if he likes burgers or hot dogs. These kinds of persona details won’t help you much as a B2B business.

What does matter are the problems Mike is facing, the pain points he’s feeling and the burning questions he needs answers to. Or, to put it another way, you need to know what matters most to Mike and what he struggles with at work every day.

frustrated marketer

And everyone’s problems, feelings, questions and fears will be different. A CMO will experience different pain points than a CTO or COO or a director, manager or specialist. You need to be able to speak to the relevant pain points and questions and emotions of each person.

Sure, you can give them specifications and results and statistics, but unless you know what they’re feeling and what questions they have at each stage of the customer journey, they simply won’t click or opt-in or buy from you.

However, if you do understand the questions they’re asking and what they’re feeling, you can guide them to the appropriate solution.

Alfred L. Yarbus, a Russian psychologist, conducted a study on eye movements and found that where participants looked on a painting was determined by the question asked right before they looked at the painting.

The truth is, we’re hardwired to find solutions to the specific question in our minds at the time.

Your audience is no different. They have very specific questions in their minds when they land on your website or read your blog post. If you don’t answer those questions, they’ll leave fast.

So instead of showing off your company’s history or listing out the specifications of your product or service, answer their questions and make them feel something. And let’s be honest, you’re the only one who really cares about your company history. (Sorry, some tough love here.)

Show Them The Good Life

There’s a concept in neuroscience called “mirror neurons,” and it ties directly into getting people to take action on your website.

A team of scientists in Parma, Italy, implanted electrodes in the brain of a monkey so they could map the neurons that were controlling the monkey’s movements. As they were doing this, a graduate student entered the lab eating an ice cream cone.

When the monkey saw him take a bite of the ice cream, there was a spike in the monkey’s neural activity.

On the surface, that may not seem that impressive. Perhaps the monkey was hungry and the ice cream freshly triggered his brain.

But what makes this sequence of events noteworthy is that the triggered neurons were the very same ones used to move the monkey’s own body. In other words, the monkey seemed to be having the experience of eating ice-cream merely by watching someone else do it.

The same principle applies to marketing.

marketers collaborating on emotional marketing

When it comes to your website, it’s critical that you show your prospects a better future. Don’t just tell them about your products or services. Rather, show them how you will help them achieve the good life they so desire. Help them visualize, with emotional marketing, how your product or service will solve their pain points and make their job easier.

Telling stories is one effective way to do that. Stories change the brain’s chemistry. They’re intriguing and memorable and emotionally laden. We respond to stories differently than we do mere facts. They make us pay attention and lead to engagement. In fact, a website visitor is 22X more likely to remember a fact when it’s wrapped in a story than if it’s isolated.

Emotion Leads To Motion

When it comes to B2B marketing, logic and rationale are not the end all be all. In fact, if you rely solely on logic, you’ll miss out on many conversions and you’ll often lose out to the competition.

The reality: it is primarily emotion that leads to motion. Feeling leads to action. Desire leads to moving in a specific direction. If you can create an emotional experience for your site visitors, they’ll have a better brand experience, engage much deeper with your content and be motivated to become customers.