Using Emotional Analytics for Brand Success

Using Emotional Analytics for Brand Success

“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room” (Jeff Bezos).




To truly connect with your audience – to genuinely, properly engage and understand the associative process they are going through – is no longer simply a case of finding an advertising sweet spot or throwing the most money at a campaign.

Personal perspective is now a major player: getting a buy-in on an emotional level, not just winning cold, hard clicks or going for bulk Opportunity To See (OTS) figures. The user experience is borne from a highly personal, often-subjective set of circumstances that are constantly swirling, frequently unpredictable, but not absolutely impossible to harness, or optimise.

This year we will be ushering in a refreshing business mindset- a kind that doesn’t just continue to use the data-driven logic of ‘touchpoints’, ‘likes’ and ‘conversions’ but one that acts on what really drives people: emotion. But how do you use emotion to create better customer experience and improve brand success?

This is where emotional analytics comes in. Emotional analytics is the key to driving business online as we plough ever further into the digital, and social, age.

So where do we begin, and how do we set about gathering all of that lovely, juicy, ripe emotional data – let alone begin to reap the rewards of conducting the analytics?

According to’s Erika Trautman,  ‘measuring emotional engagement and understanding the value of content requires access to qualitative data and deeper audience insights that go beyond surface metrics like clicks and views’. Trautman argues that only through understanding people’s reasons for clicking and depth of connection can we properly design content or strategies that reflect their needs.

First things first – appreciate that the decisions we all make, online and offline, are driven by emotion; heightened emotion, background emotion, untapped simmering-away-in-the-background emotion.

A lot of the time, it is our primal behaviour, our animalistic instinct that dictates our response. Given this universal truth, our marketing strategies can actually be built around several of the key triggers that prompt emotive reactions.
In a raft of studies conducted in the US, research was carried out on the emotional nature of content and how it linked to the amount it was shared – essentially looking to track, monitor and ultimately predict or model the virality of content.

Wharton Business School’s study demonstrated that content with a positive or happy sentiment had a higher propensity for being shared, but that which was worrisome or made the viewer feel anxious was, in fact, the most shareable of all.

Meanwhile, NY Times illuminated this a little further, explaining that some of the reasons for sharing were namely to bring value to others, define ourselves publicly, grow or nurture relationships and to network with others sharing our interests, views or values.

Given the complex nature of human psychology, the triggers that lead us to act on a message or content, are relatively simple to get your head around. They range from ‘belonging’, through ‘fear’ and ‘guilt’ to ‘trust’ and ‘gratification’.

Emotional Analytics in Marketing

As complex beings, we are motivated by any number, or combination, of these triggers all at once. Delving a little deeper into the motivators, let’s apply emotional analytics and consider what each of these prospectively-powerful triggers actually means from a marketing strategy perspective.

emotional analytics content


We all love to feel like we belong to a tribe; to share a feeling of togetherness through a common interest and passion. Examples occur throughout the consumer world, from Apple’s sought-after devices to the social network bandwagon, or even a feeling of drinking your coffee from the same chain as those you respect and follow. It’s imperative to build a marketing strategy that draws – and welcomes – people into this world. We all like to feel part of something bigger than ourselves and develop trust in the wider community. More on that T word later.


Sounds kind of negative, doesn’t it? But in the context of ‘FOMO’ (or ‘fear of missing out’), it is a highly productive and useful emotion to utilise in marketing. Rogers’ Protection Motivation Theory claims we all want to insulate ourselves from threats, while Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotion actually pitches fear somewhere in the middle ground of the emotional spectrum, short of the entirely more sinister ‘terror’. Scarcity or paucity of a product will always be a strong motivator in enticing people to take up a ‘limited time’ or ‘while stocks last’ offer, too.

emotional analytics content strategy

(Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotion) 


Things get a little sketchy when considering guilt as a marketing tool. Used (and not abused) contextually, wisely and carefully, it can help to create a clear and stark contrast and has been very handy for charities in particular in making people think about donating – especially in comparison to spending money on other, more trivial items.


Definitely not a short-term win. Consumer trust, like that in any relationship, has to be built and cannot be bought or faked.

Including testimonials, offering real benefit or reducing perceived risk, presenting real, live human faces on your material and talking frankly and specifically about your offers are some of the key ways to help build this most precious of emotional connections.


Humans act on a pleasure principle. Let’s face it, we all want something, don’t we? Most of us want it yesterday. Or if not yesterday, then ‘now’. We can’t get our hands on the good quick enough; whether it is an immediate download, a next day delivery, movies on demand or some kind of reward, we are not prepared to sit and wait. In fact, such delays can lead to negative association and damage to the relationship. Introducing language like ‘now’, ‘today’ or ‘instant’ to your material can really help to sate the demand for instant gratification, while offering immediate feedback or response via chat service or social media replies can give customers that sense of pay-off, if only in informational terms.

So we understand the ‘what’ of emotional triggering, when should we deploy it?

Emotional triggers should be interwoven into every digital touchpoint of the marketing cycle. Conduct an audit of your touch points, review your plans and work out whether you have an opportunity to introduce a little of each of the above into every element of your online, social, email or ad copy.

emotional analytics

Utilising sophisticated cutting edge emotional analytics technology such as  Adoreboard, Toneapi or Heartbeat AI, VISU.AL  can help you analyse what drives certain emotions towards your brand  and provide a vital leg-up in mapping and ensuring you are optimising content based on emotion and activation levels. Emotion can be shown in visuals and copy but you need to know how you want to make your customers and your audience feel.

emotional analytics

emotional analytics

Putting The Science Into Social Marketing

In a recent blog post for Brandwatch, Dr Jillian Ney discussed how to use insight from social media to grab peoples attention:

“The middle brain is also largely responsible for decision-making, and it’s governed by mood and emotion. So, how do your customers feel about your brand or your product? How do you want to make them feel? Personally, I don’t think there is enough conversation about emotion; there’s a lot of chat about sentiment but not emotion.”

“Measuring keywords and broad topics isn’t going to help you create better content – to create better content you need to look to your customers and their behaviour, you need to understand how they make decisions.”

“Think of your visuals as how you grab attention, the emotion as how you provoke interest and your copy as the final nudge on how to convert action. All these insights are there waiting to be found in social; you just need to know the right metrics to use to find them and stop focusing too heavily on your brand – focus on the customer!”

By shifting your messages towards emotional triggers, your content will  most likely be shared more, engage with consumers and enrich your traffic with genuine interest, beyond cold, hard clicks.

emotional analytics content strategy


Being able to use the right language, being agile to the audience you are seeking and going deeper with your content creation efforts helps ensure real connectivity and interactivity with the audience. Analysis by itself is just that: analysis. It can tell you what has happened. Emotional analytics makes the connection between concepts in text and the emotions to tell you why something has happened. Data needs to power smarter decisions – emotional analytics that gives you an edge.

We can help with brand equity studies, customer experience feed-back, A/B testing, early stage creative development, and online qualitative work. For more information, or to find out how emotional analytics can power your business, contact us.




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