We'd all like to think that we're rational consumers; people who arrive at their purchasing decisions through reason and logic. The reality is that approximately 95% of what we buy is driven by our subconscious.
In other words, it's our emotions that are usually behind the steering wheel – how we FEEL, not how we think. Logic merely takes a backseat.
That's even the case for some of the biggest purchases we make, like property. Many people often 'know' that a home is right for them as soon as they step through the front door. It just feels right.
Which emotions get customers through the door? The best TV ads cover a lot of the obvious ones: joy, nostalgia, even melancholy or concern. You’re probably thinking that you only want your customers to feel happiness when they interact with your brand – but that’s mere surface level.
So let's go deeper and explore some of the under-appreciated emotions that can help brands convert customers.
Underrated emotion 1. Confidence
Whether it's FOMO ads – "Sale Ends This Weekend!" – or governments scaring you into paying your taxes on time, fear-based marketing has been around since the dawn of advertising. FYI, studies show it can backfire.
But brands can benefit from going in completely the opposite direction.
Don't instill fear, instill confidence. Fear leads to anxiety and hesitancy, which can be great for stopping people doing something (such as smoking), but not always great when you want them to do something, like buy your products.
And don't just to take our word for it. A study from Gartner shows that customers who are confident in their decision-making are 2.6 times more likely to purchase more. In fact, if brands provide their customers with the right information, through the right channels, they can boost buying confidence by 400%.
Gartner's research covers B2B customers specifically, but it should be similar for all consumers. Ultimately, confident customers convert.
How digital humans inspire confidence
This is one of our favorite findings over the past few years. Digital humans can provide 'the right information, through the right channels' because they're designed to guide, support, and provide friendly conversation throughout the buyer's journey.
This is particularly true around purchases that require a little consideration, like more expensive items or when there are a lot of options to understand and choose from.
In these situations, a digital human plays a similar role to an in-store assistant, using their product knowledge and experience to answer questions and help customers make an informed decision.
Take Eve, Kiehl’s digital human, for instance. Eve speaks with her customers to better understand their skin type and then builds a personalized skincare routine around them, recommending products to suit them.
By doing so, digital humans like Eve arm consumers with the information they need to feel confident about their purchasing decisions. And they do it in real time, 24/7 and in 90+ languages.
The results? Our research shows that cart abandonments and returns are reduced when brands use a digital human specialist (by around 9%) with conversion rates up by around 2x – but reaching as high as 5x.
As we said, confident customers convert.
Underrated emotion 2. Empathy
If you're the cynical sort, you might think that brands only pull at an audience's heartstrings purely to drive sales. Then, once a customer is interested, they're bustled through the path to purchase as quickly as possible.
If some businesses do that, it's not a great strategy. Research in the Harvard Business Review shows that emotionally connected customers are twice as valuable as highly satisfied ones.
That's why it matters how a company treats people at every stage of the customer journey. Because even if they're satisfied, it's not as important as if they feel a strong emotional bond to your brand.
And there are few more emotionally impactful moments than when someone empathizes with you, understands you and offers to help.
That could be as simple as acknowledging a person’s frustrations and offering to help move them into a better place – “I’m sorry your last TV stopped working. Let’s try and find you one with a longer warranty period.”
How do you show empathy to customers at the right moments? Well, people need to feel like a company not only understands them and the challenges they face, but also genuinely cares about helping them meet their goals.
Certain technologies can never capture that; we’re looking at you, chatbots. While others have empathy built in…
How digital humans help empathize
There are a lot of opportunities for you to build rapport with customers in-store. Your staff can ask questions, get to know people, and bring their personality into play.
When consumers shop online, however, it's a bit trickier. Chatbots and virtual assistants are great at low-level customer service, like answering pre-defined questions. But they completely fall on their virtual faces when tasked with showing any semblance of emotion.
Digital humans interact in a way that expresses emotions visually and through their voice, in a human way. Their sophisticated conversational AI means they can express concern when a customer is having a problem, or display happiness when someone is cheerful. They can even crack a joke or two if that's in keeping with your brand and the situation.
It sounds crazy if this is your first foray into the world of digital humans. But there’s years of research showing how interacting with humanlike avatars can inspire real emotions (even subconsciously). They’ve even been effective in healthcare scenarios, allowing people to trust and open up in ways they otherwise wouldn’t.
You might even want to check out our Synanim video, to show how our animation platform is built to synthesize emotion.
Put simply, if the aim is to show empathy throughout your customer journeys, you need more human connection – even if it’s a virtual simulation of it.
Underrated emotion 3. Belonging
Everyone wants to be part of a community; to feel affinity with a group that has shared values and common goals. What's more, consumers today expect the brands they interact with to provide that sense of belonging.
Now, perhaps more than ever, customers want to identify with a brand on a personal level. They expect companies to align with their sense of self and beliefs – and not just to win their business either, but with authenticity.
Once a company builds genuine affiliations, it can achieve incredible brand loyalty, sometimes over multiple generations. Take John Deere, for example. It's a business that makes agricultural machinery, and its big, green tractors have become an integral part of the rural lifestyle and landscape in the US.
So much so, that a whopping 77% of farmers who buy John Deere equipment say they're completely loyal to the brand. (That's good news in a sector where almost all businesses are handed down from parents to their kids).
Whatever the industry, fostering a sense of belonging is important, and it's an emotion that many businesses may be neglecting.
How digital humans inspire a sense of belonging
Digital humans are designed to be brand ambassadors. From how they look and sound, to how they behave and interact. Even their clothing choices can be carefully selected to best represent your brand.
These little details matter. Our research shows that customers like digital humans to reflect parts of themselves. It makes them more appealing and approachable, which helps customers connect with them on a deeper level.
That might be in how the digital human looks, the language, accent and dialect they use, the clothes they wear, their subtle expressions, or the environments they live in. We can already imagine what a John Deere digital human would look like – and we bet you can too.
To be clear, a digital human alone doesn’t necessarily create a sense of belonging for brands that otherwise struggle to do so. But when brands (as John Deere does) actively inspire a sense of belonging among their customers, a digital human is a strong extension of that.
Because when a digital human reflects the brand's values well, it should reflect your customer's values too. There are very few better ways (let alone technologies) to achieve that digitally today.