As marketers in the Age of Digital, we are moving at the speed of digital without the chance to assess patterns and think deeply about our work. Meanwhile, consumers' devices are constantly bombarded with marketing clutter and meaningless ads that don't take the time to understand consumers' needs or preferences.

As it always has, our success as marketers stems from using emotional marketing to focus on consumers' needs and preferences in order to capitalize in our markets. However, although emotional marketing is a powerful approach, it cannot stand alone; it needs to be integrated within marketing channels and tactics.

With the emergence of influencer marketing as an important trend, part of our job as marketers in 2019 is to pair emotional marketing with influencer marketing so that we can better target and reach our desired audiences.

Let's review how you can integrate emotional and influencer marketing into your content marketing program this year and beyond.

What is emotional marketing?

Emotional marketing is an method that's driven by your target audiences' feelings and values. It involves connecting with your audience through a captivating story that aligns with their beliefs. Those connections are critical, considering that emotional responses influence intention to buy much more than the ad's content itself, research shows.

But what does emotional marketing entail?

It starts with defining values that your brand was established upon and using those principles to make connections with your customers.

Whether you're looking to play up industry trends, target a specific demographic, or mention the latest social or political movements in your messaging, find something that resonates with the people you'd like to reach.

Don't get too personal, but do understand how they feel.

Across the customer journey, each stage reflects a different stage of emotion. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind:

  • Evaluation of your product/service. Emotionally, they're still not sold on your brand quite yet. How can you get them emotionally involved at this stage of consideration? Here are three tips:

    1. Employee advocacy. Getting customers on board starts internally: Nobody knows your brand better than the people who live and breathe it every day. Let your employees be part of the potential customer's evaluation process.

    2. Demos. The proof is in the pudding. Nothing speaks to the quality of your product or service better than a demonstration, and this is the perfect time to respond any questions or concerns.

    3. Influencers. Hearing validation from someone with influence has a powerful psychological effect. We'll dive deeper into influencers later on.

  • Purchase. In this stage, customers are feeling good about their choice—but not great (yet). They might have some anxiety about the commitment or feel that risk is associated with the product. Make them feel confident that they made the right decision and ensure you're their trusted brand for life.

  • Decided not to purchase. In this stage, they either delayed or went another route. Emotionally, they may be on the fence or have another vendor on a short list. Stay connected, remain positive, and outline your brand's unique selling proposition.

  • Loyalty/advocacy. Keep them active and excited about the brand. Building loyal advocates who rave about your brand will produce a positive return on investment: 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising, research from Nielsen finds.

Emotional marketing helps you become their friend, their confidant, their go-to brand. Most important, your efforts should be geared toward being memorable.

Leverage influencers

But how can you make sure your brand is the one everyone's talking about in today's competitive environment? Here's where influencer marketing comes into play.

According to influencer marketing expert Linqia, 86% of marketers reported using influencer marketing in 2017, and 92% of those respondents said it was effective.

Using influencers to represent your brand allows you to take a more personal approach to engaging with your customers—especially if your personas line up with the influencer's intent and interests.

For example, what industry events are you planning to attend in 2019? Have you considered investigating which influencers will be there, or what they'll be discussing? Events are the perfect opportunity to make connections with influencers. To get your foot in the door, find a way to relate your brand's current services or initiatives with those influencers' passions.

Once you've successfully connected with those influencers and they've endorsed your product or service, your brand is positioned to build emotional connections with customers. Your next step is to humanize your brand through interactions with those influencers across channels.

Content is a wonderful asset for ensuring your influencer relationships are influencing the behavior of your audience: Q&As, blog posts, roundtables, webinars—whether demand gen activities or earned media efforts—these valuable connections should be leveraged across channels that drive intent.

Incorporate emotional and influencer marketing into your content program

Creating emotional connections involves aligning your influencer marketing efforts with your content marketing program. Nothing will hit home for your customers more than a piece of content that brings your brand down to earth. That process can start at a basic level: having a conversation. Initiating conversations with your influencers will automatically familiarize their followers with your brand—increasing your reach and expanding awareness in a seemingly natural fashion.

From there, learn to fully integrate those influencers into your content program. The following four tactics will help you do that:

  1. Events and webinars. Use influencers to bring brand awareness via demand gen activities. This type of content is rich with potential and can help you target your ideal prospects.
  2. Twitter chat. This is the most direct way to have a conversation with your influencers and showcase your thought leadership on a topic. It is also a great way to engage members of your audience who may be listening in. And, who knows, you may pick up a batch of new followers along the way.
  3. Guest blog series. (Emphasis on "series.") The more your influencers are associated with your brand, the more their followers will become emotionally invested. To prove consistency and authenticity, challenge your influencers to commit to a blog series rather than a one-off piece of content. (Bonus: A paid influencer strategy is much cheaper when you pay by the "bundle"—in case you weren't already sold on the series idea.)
  4. Live video/podcast. Nothing says "I believe in your brand" more than publishing live conversations with your influencers on your social channels. Plus, according to research, social videos generate 1,200% more shares than text and images combined. Sounds like a no-brainer.

Learning how to seamlessly combine emotional and influencer marketing will be challenging, but the rewards will be invaluable. Both techniques will become incredible resources for starting conversations with your customers and create a sense of brand validation that can't be found anywhere else.

Figuring out the pattern of your customers and emotionally connecting with them at specific stages of the journey will be the most difficult task to conquer. It comes with a commitment to truly understanding your buyers, personalizing the experience, and taking the time to nurture the relationship every step of the way. Advocacy doesn't happen overnight—it takes years to establish.

So, are you ready to emotionally invest in your marketing efforts?

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How to Integrate Influencer and Emotional Marketing to Improve Your Content Program

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image of Mark C. Nardone

Mark C. Nardone is executive vice-president at PAN Communications, an integrated marketing and PR agency for B2B technology and healthcare brands. He oversees the firm's strategic focus across brand marketing and business development efforts.

LinkedIn: Mark Nardone

Twitter: @MarkCNardone